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Eleven Tweets

Normally, I use my blog as a soap-box for spouting complex opinions. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is very constrained: it's almost impossible to express long, nuanced opinions. But sometimes it's necessary to eat your own dog food. Here's a series of eleven tweets I posted last week, expressing a hypothesis about what's wrong with twitter today.

If your business model relies on ads for income, you require eyeballs. Easiest way to get them is to generate outrage/emotional kick. /1

Hence clickbait news sites. Hence internet rumours. Hence paranoia. Outrage draws eyeballs to ads, it's as simple as that. /2

The ad networks don't care about truth, honesty, accuracy in reporting, public discourse, or democracy. Just eyeballs and CPM. /3

Ad networks compete. They drive ad prices down b/c we only have 168 hours/person/week to look at them. This promotes escalation. /4

Trying to build a business on ad revenue is like building on quicksand. FB and Twitter are huge; have to keep growing or die. /5

So FB/Twitter are driven to escalate, become more addictive, push the dopamine reward button harder all the time, to keep selling ads. /6

Traditional TV/newspaper news didn't continually escalate emotional engagement b/c ad space was a rivalrous resource; barriers to entry /7

... were steep. New media know they can be killed and eaten in months by upstarts. So the competition to be the most addictive is fierce. /8

Solution? Global ban on ad-supported social media. Instead, micropayment architecture funded via ISP subscriptions. Unfortunately ... /9

That's not what we've got. It's the phone system (you pay your provider for access) but the web was free to push growth in early days. /10

And it may be too late to re-engineer the web so that it doesn't destroy democracy and promote politics of hate on a global scale. END /11

So here's my question for the blog discussion: what is to be done?

(Point of clarification on tweets 9-10: the phone system effectively runs on micro-billing, with costs for services passed on to the end-user eventually, either by being bundled up in a line rental fee or by being charged per unit consumed. But the internet was originally a corporate/academic system where commercial use was actually forbidden (I'm thinking back to NSFNet and ARPANet days). And as the web was built out from about 1993 onwards, everyone agreed to make the new internet free but for infrastructure fees (the line rental on your DSL modem), and that services provided over the internet should be funded on a per-service basis by subscription or advertising. So there's no universal micro-billing mechanism in place.)

373 Comments

1:

What is the fundamental difference between sites trying to get lots of eyeballs for ads, and sites trying to get lots of micropayments? Seems like both systems would provide the same incentives.

2:

As I've said before on this subject here, I don't think microbilling is the answer. My experience of user attitudes suggests it's too late to make the switch (and my job is such that if you're currently paying a digital subscription to a certain UK national newspaper, you're following a conversion strategy I designed).

Even if the attitudes can be made to work, a more subtle failure mode of the microbilling approach is that in a centralised world scale builds scale, which has the effect of pulling the oxygen away from everyone but the big orgs, the majority of which are the same ones that dominated the pre-digital era.

I don't like being in the post-truth era at all. I didn't get into news publishing to see this happen to it, and I got out because the stress of dealing with it was affecting my mental health. But I also don't like the idea that in solving the post-truth problem, we'd return to a landscape where only Murdoch, Rothermere and a handful of other rich and unpleasant people get to control the definition of truth.

As for what is to be done, I don't think this is a problem that we solve in purely technical terms, because a "fake news" filter has to make judgements about what's a fact and what's not, and as any number of "legitimate" news outlets will demonstrate, you can prove any fact with a strongly-held opinion. Meanwhile, a technical solution has to be near-perfect. For reason to prevail, orgs that report true facts have to win every time, while orgs that report a lie only have to win once.

Right now, I think fact-based journalism needs to take a very, very hard look at one of their most sacrosanct principles. Sorry CP Scott, but right now facts are patently not sacred and comment is enough to win the electoral college. In times of such crisis I think there need to be editorial judgements about when pure reportage should pass moral judgement on lies. Reporting on a bullshit tweet that Trump writes off the top of his head as if it's one legitimate side of an argument elevates it to being one legitimate side of an argument, no matter how much post-hoc fact checking you apply to it. Relegating your moral response to the opinion pages is essentially apologia for reality. Whereas it's a different thing if you report "Trump lies about Boeing contract in tweet" and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous commenters.

Especially when the same orgs that carefully build a wall between reportage and opinion will happily take six figures from a baby food company to write whatever they like.

3:

Perhaps an even more important question is, who is going to do it, and how? I often find that people come up with solutions that would work if there were an all-powerful actor motivated to implement the solution; the problem is coming up with a solution where the incentives align with the desired outcome.

We can't do a Nestle Boycott, because none of the people who would do it are the target audience for the clickbait ads. The clickbait ads go after people who are _really gullible_. Nobody else would click on that crap. This is at least true on Facebook. So one solution is to kill facebook. Is there a way to get audience and motive to align so that that happens? It's been tried multiple times, to no effect--Facebook is a juggernaut.

I think that if we want this to happen, we actually have to form a grassroots movement that understands the problem and is willing to sacrifice to solve it. If you can get all of the people who are upset about the world situation to go cold turkey on facebook, that would really damage the facebook value proposition. Similarly HuffPo and outlets like that.

OTOH, does this just empower even worse bottom feeders?

I think that investigating the grassroots and trying to work the problem from that angle is the only way that works. When I talk to people out and around, they all seem thirsty for solutions, but one thing I hear too often is "when are they going to fix this?" If it's "they" who are responsible for fixing it, I don't see this ever changing.

4:

It's a really good point that any use-based structure is going to incentivize bad behavior, whoever it is that's doing the paying. If it's not flat rate, you still are going to wind up seeing clickbait.

5:

As to what should be done. Easiest way to get a sort-of micropayment system is probably a successful Spotify or Netflix for journalistic content. I have no interest in reading foreign news in my local, Swedish, newspaper. But I may pay for a service where I could read my local news as well as content from The Guardian, New York Times, etc.

May solve the problem of how to finance good content. Would probably not solve the problem of how to compete with all bad, ad- and algorithm-driven garbage.

And it would unfortunately not be the open web.

6:

This predates Twitter by a long way, though I agree that it has taken it a step further than even the gutter tabloids. While I can think of solutions, I can see no chance of any being adopted against the informal conspiracy of the demagogues and media mongols. E.g. we need to reverse the dumbing down of the electorate.

7:

Re #5: have to keep growing or die

I.e. a Ponzi scheme. (See also: Roman Empire.) The problems come when growth is no longer possible, and break up/down occurs. Then things get messy.

The big problem with micropayments is that the transactional costs also have to be micro (or nano) and the initial revenue stream is guaranteed to be small, but even in the days of by the yard computing like AWS and Google CE you still have startup costs.

I think the only way we'll get micropayments is evolving them out of existing payment infrastructure like Visa, but there's the usual risk of cannibalising the current business model that puts executives off. However, if they can continually reduce transaction costs, both for use and initial sign up, then maybe we'll get there. I suspect a lot of banking regulation and money laundering concerns would prevent that though.

8:

When radio and television first came around, governments invested in public broadcasts to various degres. In many western democracies, public networks still form the backbone of the media ecology. They can be slow-moving and have difficulty adapting to new circumstances, but on the whole I think the influence they had was positive.

The Internet is very different - if only because of its global nature - but I wonder what publicly-supported, not profit-driven social media would have looked like.

9:

I think it'd be pragmatic to be a bit more precise about this. While you are absolutely correct about the economics of ads driving attention seeking, I think there is an axis that you're missing here - amplification of voice/opinion.

Phones were designed as a one-to-one communication system. Two parties have the attention of the other party, and each are on equal footing.

Broadcast radio/television is a one-to-many distribution system. In this model it has a fundemantal asymmetry in terms of attention (with one party gaining a lot of attention from many people) with having limited radio spectrum and high content production costs being major barriers that prevents anyone from doing it. The early years of both radio had similar issues with people taking advantage of this mechanism, leading the FCC to use frequency scarcity + public interest as an excuse to not only control allocation, but also place limits on content.

Cable TV was largely free of those limitations, but the economics of attention often force content producers to target that baseline so that it can additionally be broadcasted over the air. So, NBC/CBS/ABC sacrifice the ability to say and do whatever they want so they can reach a larger audience, whereas HBO is free to do what it pleases. The economics here did not favor HBO until the internet becomes a thing and allows them to bypass local cable companies.

Fast forward to the internet. In the early days you could say what you wanted, but you had to know where to look. Content discovery was a problem, and the only companies with enough resources (both in terms of personnel and money since servers weren't cheap) were the traditional media companies. Already used to working within established rules and regulations (and wanting parity with other mediums), they wound up artificially limited to the lowest common denominator. That said, there were many communities where you see this kind of dynamic in play. They just were off on the sidelines, in USENET or IRC chatrooms. They often were isolated and hard to find, though - you pretty much had to know someone to get into one - because none of the major gatekeepers (AOL, Compuserve, etc) would touch them.

Anyways. The issue you're describing existed this entire time, but was never a problem in this way because someone somewhere was deciding which voices got amplified and which didn't. And for the most part, the companies large enough to gain an early online presence were ones that came from other established mediums that had more economic motive to maintain their existing stricter editorial standards.

But that changed in the 90's. Altavista + geocities provided everything that was needed for anyone to find your crazy attention seeking views, and SEO started being a major problem. Still, that's not quite the mess we are in today. So what has changed?

Amplification, mostly. The tech industry has invested a lot of time and money into amplifying content, even if it is not directly associated with ad revenue.

Google won the search war by weighting the relevance by how popular they were. This amplified the voices of major sites so that smaller ones couldn't hijack search results.

Twitter is about building a network of followers, which allows you to not only share your view, but also amplify the voices of others. The Arab Spring is another instance of amplification but for positive effect. Gamergate is another, more negative example.

Facebook was originally about tight social circles, but as it's moved into media and attempted to drive engagement it regularly amplifies posts that are popular or it decides are relevant, regardless of how true or false it is.

Reddit as a website rewards indiscriminate amplification of any arbitrary view.

Ad revenue only incentivizes designing towards these kinds of systems, but isn't the sole cause: internet scale means it is impossible to find relevant or meaningful information without some amplification occurring. Editorial control is way to slow, and we've built out automated systems that are entirely indiscriminate about whose voices they amplify or what the impact of it is.

So while the FCC realized waaaayyy back in the broadcast radio days that it was not in the publics interest to allow anyone to broadcast anything they want, I would say the problem here is that Silicon Valley has yet to realize that having automated systems that indiscriminately amplify arbitrary voices is actually really dangerous.

I totally agree that ad economics heavily favors this kind of system with high engagement rates, but I think any sort of social presence at internet scale would force the issue regardless.

10:

Simply this: who pays for the product?

Remember, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

11:

I think Luke nails it, it isn't so much the ads model as the self amplifying echo chamber based on organic amplification

Facebook and Twitter could have been flat subscription models and brexit and trump would have still happened

Unless you have some imperial fact checking service built into the platforms to de amplify the results will be the same

13:

I agree, which is there the issue with the collapse of the rest of the media comes in. For example in the UK, they are generally right wing, or nonsense peddlers, or both, hyping things up as much as twitter. Obviously there has always been problems with media lies and lack of scrutiny, but the mainstream media seems so contaminated now, and with such uniform outlook and approach to things (e.g. the both sides do it approach which helped trump win) that nothing remotely like accuracy can get inside. And when the media is so uniform and lies, nobody gets good information.

Which then links back to the lack of alternative power structures and centres. I understand that in the good old days at least they existed more than they do now, whereas, in the UK, over 40 years of relentless centralisation means there aren't any. Hence a lack of alternative voices which can reach the public. ANd there are a lot of people out there to be reached, as you can see by the % of the voters who don't bother voting at all.

14:

Fact based journalism
Or fact-based anything.

I just discovered a wonderful facts site
( U of Oxford supported )
I suggest everyone bookmark it - how to kill the deliberate public liars in one go.

Our World in Data

Enjoy
USE

15:

NO
I still just have a Twotter account on this computer, but for reasons totally obscure to me, my phone version of the SAME ACCOUNT is dead.

I can't be arsed, really to do anything about it.
Why should anyone else?
[ P.s. I only got a twatter account to be able to report water-leaks & malfunctioning street-lights (honestly)
But now, the utilities have map-based programmes for that.... ]

16:

At one point I tried to build a site for writing truthfully about history. The site which was designed on the premise that one should start with a (hopefully) valid source, footnote that source extensively, to the point of 1-4 paragraphs and then build the story out of those footnotes. The footnotes were to be hyperlinked, with careful connections to the source material being available. The idea was to make it as easy as possible to prove that an article about history was truthful, and to do automated checking of articles; i.e. how many footnotes for each 500 words of text, were the footnotes verified, etc., plus there was the ability for people to comment on articles and apply their own expertise, right down to commenting being available on every footnote, historical source, and photograph - in other words, fact-checking was built into the site on a fundamental level. Crowd-sourcing was heavily encouraged by the design.

The project died because I work full time. But I think it would be possible to revive the approach for a news site (and it would actually be much easier in many ways because some of the things I wanted to track historically aren't necessary for presenting news.)

Would anyone be interested in this approach? The site was written (very badly) in Ruby, with Postgres, Linux and Apache.

17:

Hi Greg, that link isn't working.

18:

I don't really understand how this distinction between being the product and being the customer changes anything with micropayments.

Let's say the scheme is paid out from your ISP subscription like telephone service: Clicks = money, the same as today. There's an added bonus for browser hijacking to click yes, as well, with a soupçon of extra pain for poor users and the gullible.

Alternatively, maybe it works like Google Contributor: you pay up front for the right to view a certain number of web pages. Even better! Now the most enticing headlines will consume your daily allowance right away, and those boring "real news" stories will be behind a paywall. Are they really worth it?

19:

> Reporting on a bullshit tweet that Trump writes off the top of his head as if it's one legitimate side of an argument elevates it to being one legitimate side of an argument, no matter how much post-hoc fact checking you apply to it. Relegating your moral response to the opinion pages is essentially apologia for reality.

This. A thousand times this. The traditional media approach to providing "unbiased" reporting is patently broken: it is biased, and its biases are trivially easy to subvert.

20:

Probably https://ourworldindata.org/

I'm a believer in tech solutions; the key will be getting them widely adopted in the face of business models that want them dead or degraded, but ad blockers managed to become a thing despite such opposition, so there's history to justify hope.

Have a bunch of relevant links, some mentioned in earlier threads. Short summary is that there is a bunch of tech interest in developing solutions to reduce the scope of this problem. Mainly technical, but also methodological, e.g. for professionals such as journalists and for highly motivated amateurs.

21:

And this point has been made for as long as I've been discussing things online (17 years so far) and yet the media has gotten steadily worse in this respect. I wonder why.

22:

I agree with most of what you said, that the amplification of garbage is near the heart of the problem.

It's not just indiscriminate amplification though. What Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. do is algorithmic and thus highly subject to SEO and AI/big data techniques, which is exactly what the right wing has been using to great effect.

Fox News / Murdoch style talking heads emotional propaganda is an older weapon, but social media allows for personalized control. This has been going on for years in various ad-hoc ways: spam, chain letters, clickbait, SEO, etc. but social networks combine the amplification function with enough Orwellian surveillance to make it highly targeted.

23:

It's almost like the massive media consolidation under a small number of right-wing ideologues has led to some sort of editorial shift. Strange.

24:

What's to be done? Immediate term, nothing.

Under Drumpf in 2017: Well, the EFF (was it?) was wailing after he got elected that net neutrality was dead. Assuming this piece of agitprop comes through, what does that do to clickbait? Presumably corporate-sponsored clickbait gets through, but the rest of it? Meh. The evolutionary race gets a bunch of different cost-benefit parameters, and probably costs go up and speed goes down, at least in the US.

The killer? Web War I, during which we forcibly dismantle our internet of things to save ourselves (paging the Herbert family, the Butlerian Jihad might be closer than it appears). While I love the web, there are times when I wonder whether it's actually useful enough to keep around, and I can't really answer yes to that. A lot of the stuff that I really care about was quite a bit simpler and easier before the web hit.

25:

In Peter Watts' Starfish dystopia the internet was no longer used, but was still a self contained world of spam and parasites.

27:

The gnomic answer is to ask in whose interest it might be that the public discourse involve facts? (That is, who cares more about reaching the least incorrect answer than winning?) Whoever that is, you put them in charge.

Since we can't do that, the obvious solution is to pull the net, like the roads, into the public realm. (Only in the US the roads are being kicked out of the public realm....)

The even more obvious solution is to forbid advertising. In a world with search engines, it has no public-good justification whatsoever.

28:

The even more obvious solution is to forbid advertising. In a world with search engines, it has no public-good justification whatsoever.

The Washington Post contained ads when it broke the Watergate Scandal. ITV created The World at War. Very, very large numbers of websites with real value (and not just of the financial support) exist now that couldn't have been funded any other way*. It's a mistake to conflate the worst of what a funding mode does with everything it's capable of.

*And which, if as I believe, micropayments are an unworkable red herring for solving this problem, can't be funded any other way.

29:

Dammit, typo. "financial support" should read "financial variety."

30:

if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

This sentence is wrong in such many ways that properly cover them would require a whole post or even series of them. Just most important and obvious issues:

1) You do pay for the product. It just not a plain money transfer. You pay by watching ads with possible following click on them with sincere interest in an advertised product.

We can imagine material-world analogue for this scheme: lets suppose that a big goods store (e.g Wall-mart etc) gives "free" (e.g. actual expenses are included in goods costs) lottery tickets to their customers. Then suppose some local coffee-shop appear that sells tasty cappuccino in exchange for those tickets (price measured in tickets is set such that it is statistically profitable with regards to lottery wins).

Does buying a coffee via such scheme makes you a product?

1a) "paying for the product" is itself a crippled version of "participating in the exchange". Transition from narrower to wider concept raises significant implications which I can't cover here (e.g. "require a post or series").

2) What really makes difference between being a party in exchange or a product is whether you have a choice or no. If you are free to chose if you participate or don't then you are the party. If you forced to participate or forcedly banned from then you are the product (see: slavery).

P.S. Sorry for my English. It is far from fluent, this inevitably affects text and not in a good way.

31:

That advertising happens to move money around is incidental to the reason it should be forbidden.

Advertising is a machine for increasing insecurity. Given sufficient ability to correlate data, it's a machine for making you, specifically, insecure enough to do what you're told. Statistically, it's startlingly efficient.

It's a net loss to society by existing.

(I don't buy "can't be funded any other way"; a truly public internet could fund creatives from public funds based on some measure of public interest. Kickstarter works. So does "advance my views/increase my reputation" patronage funding.)

32:

(I don't buy "can't be funded any other way"; a truly public internet could fund creatives from public funds based on some measure of public interest.

This "measure of public interest" would surely only be the most trivial thing to agree.

So does "advance my views/increase my reputation" patronage funding.)

Tell me, have you heard of a gentleman by the name of Peter Thiel?

33:

1) You do pay for the product. It just not a plain money transfer. You pay by watching ads with possible following click on them with sincere interest in an advertised product.

You're not wrong, but there is nuance in the sentiment that may be missed if English is not your first language (or cultural basis).

When you pay money directly to me for a product, it's in my interest to make a product that is aimed directly at your needs. You're directly paying me £9.99 a month for news? Then it's in my interest to give you the best content reading experience I can, so that you feel your money is providing value and you keep paying it to me.

When someone else pays me money for access to your eyeballs, it's in my interest to make a product that captures your eyeballs as much as possible for them. I suddenly have to balance how easy it is for you to read a story with how many ads I need to show you to make a profit. And the ads will be distracting, because they need to compete with the content for your attention. And the content may be shorter, because if I can make you read more stories in the, say, 20 minutes you have available, you'll see more ads and I'll get more money. And then I might stop worrying so much about the quality of my journalism and more about how to suck you into stories that are cheaply written, but serve the same number of ads...

Believe me, while the content may get paid for either way, every newsroom currently finds itself at the sharp end of the distinction between customer and consumer.

34:

Sure have.

"Malicious billionaires/a defacto aristocracy" is a different problem than "whups, we've gone and build a machine for amplifying the public id and giving society panic attacks"; the fix for an aristocracy is income and asset caps.

"measure of public interest" is pretty trivial, yeah. You direct an appropriate career public servant to create one; you present that to the legislature; you get it passed into law. A measure based on time spent listening/watching isn't difficult to have these days. It's not like the YouTube model hasn't got substantial barriers to entry or that the broadcast model isn't on very shaky ground as audiences fragment. It's not clear that the existing advertising model will keep working even for what it is supposed to do, since it more or less depends on having a big audience which is harder and harder to arrange.

35:

"Malicious billionaires/a defacto aristocracy" is a different problem than "whups, we've gone and build a machine for amplifying the public id and giving society panic attacks"; the fix for an aristocracy is income and asset caps.

Ah, so all it takes to get rid of advertising is the small and easily-sold matter of wealth redistribution, got it.

You direct an appropriate career public servant to create one; you present that to the legislature; you get it passed into law.

Yep, you got me there. That's exactly how it would work. The legislature doesn't suffer any problems such as a partisan view of what constitutes truth, ideological corruption of principle, or financial interference from people whom it would benefit to have a certain type of "public interest" succeed over another. Of course we'd need to find an appropriate career civil servant–I assume by this you mean someone free of bias, and balanced within the class system perfectly in such a way that their decisions would neither be elitist nor populist. And would this person be distributing the funds for all internet content, or would they be part of a team?

OGH once said something about economists seeing human beings as frictionless spheres of uniform density. I rather suspect your plan here suffers from the same malady.

36:

About Charlie's comment:
Remember, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

My take is this; When you are paying for the product, the provider is beholden to give you what you want to the best of their ability, as the cliché goes "the customer is always right".
When you are not paying, in this case looking at a "free" site that is ad supported, the advertisers have paid the site for your attention - that makes you the product.
I think I had another point, but it seems to have slipped away.

38:

I don't really know what is to be done, in general terms. It might be a case of "the grass was greener in the past", but I really feel that the quality of the discourse on the Internet has fallen dramatically in the past years. I think part of the blame is on Twitter / Facebook, who really encourage you (it's their business model -- if Twitter had one, anyway) to share whatever you come across and find interesting with little or no commentary at all. Everything is implied. There is no space (on Twitter) or time (on Facebook) to publish a well-though, researched comment along with the link you want every single of your contacts to read.

No idea what to be done about this, and my diagnosis might be off, but I, for one, am reducing greatly what I share on any of these two platforms and going back to my old blog where, if I don't post at least two or three paragraphs that have some substance on them, I don't feel good at all.

We had a pretty good system of blogs + RSS readers (even Google Reader, with all its flaws, but outstanding) that allowed us to share content in a decentralized way. All that went to hell; the adoption of this system was not huge even at its peak, but now it is really marginal. We should encourage it.

39:

Another point (not the forgotten one), when you are commenting or sharing something on these sites you are providing them with content for free, they can do whatever they want with it, depending on their ethics.

40:

I agree with the idea of banning advertising, both for the specific reason of it being toxic to the web, and for the general reason of disapproval of psychological manipulation - a disapproval which is all the stronger for the fact of people in general being so poor at spotting it and arming themselves against it, and even at calling out the evil in it when they do perceive it. (I see little difference between rape by putting drugs in someone's drink, and the more polite version which achieves the same end by psychological manipulation, despite the latter being generally condoned under the euphemism of "seduction".)

As for the "funding" matter, my general reaction is "oh shut up and stop being so greedy". For one thing I find that the signal-to-noise ratio of a website is inversely correlated with its dependence on advertising. Wikipedia is perhaps the best-known example, but there are plenty of smaller ones, such as the websites of academic institutions, or the personal websites of people with a deep interest in a particular subject.

And for another, the "cost" is greatly exaggerated, often by the accountant-style insistence on making most of it up; in reality it is usually zero or at least no more than a couple of pints of beer a month. A website born out of someone's deep interest can more than likely be hosted for nothing by judicious choice of ISP - either one that gives you some free webspace as a matter of course, or one that gives you a static IP and does not block port 80. If that isn't adequate, shared hosting is available for beer-type prices.

I have a dedicated server with sites on it that total similar traffic levels in terms of hits to what Charlie quoted for this blog in the previous thread, but a lot more in terms of bandwidth. The site responsible for most of this I can't actually be arsed with any more, and haven't been for some time, but I still keep it going because I feel an obligation not to let down the people who use it. The server costs me about a sixth of my total income, not because the cost is very large, but because my income is very small. To be spending that proportion on something I don't even really care about any more gives me no sympathy at all with people complaining about spending beer money on something they do care about.

Concerning twitter specifically, I think its main problem is the ridiculous 140-character limit. This is plenty to post a pithy slogan like "Pigeons of the world unite!", or to call someone a cunt. But it is totally inadequate to explain why someone is a cunt, or what pigeons of the world would gain by uniting. It promotes thoughtless abuse and thoughtless acceptance of unjustified statements because its format inherently prevents anything better. And their excuse of SMS compatibility holds no water at all; not only does it ignore the trivial solution of multiple SMSes, but if you use a twitter client that reports what client other people are using it is obvious that nobody uses SMS for twitter and hasn't for years.

41:

As for the "funding" matter, my general reaction is "oh shut up and stop being so greedy". For one thing I find that the signal-to-noise ratio of a website is inversely correlated with its dependence on advertising. Wikipedia is perhaps the best-known example, but there are plenty of smaller ones, such as the websites of academic institutions, or the personal websites of people with a deep interest in a particular subject.

So to replace the New York Times, do we need a crowd-moderated team of newsgathering/analysis amateurs whose consensus view will be presented, or are we looking at one guy who's just really interested in gathering news?

42:

"When you are paying for the product, the provider is beholden to give you what you want to the best of their ability..."

To match with reality, that sentence should conclude "...to make you think it's what you want." Because what you really want would cause them more effort (even if trivial) and bring them less profit.

Examples are legion, one being the amount of inert or plain toxic crud that they put into food in Victorian times, and that they are still dead keen on doing today if they can find a way to get it past the legislation - itself hard-fought-for, when it should have been so obviously beneficial as to go through on the nod - intended to prevent it.

43:

I would suggest that some kind of cross between wikipedia and the BBC / university politics departments would be more useful than what we have at the moment.

44:

Micropayments are a great idea technically, and the internet is already in the process of transitioning to micropayments. But they just make commerce more efficient. They don't have a bias towards truth or justice.

Karl Schroeder's novel Permanence showed an oppressive regime that controlled the micropayment system. It is chillingly plausible.

45:

It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does.

It's currently the case that a selection of bloggers will beat the besnackers out of amy newspaper for analysis.

46:

Patreon is the most creative thing up-and-coming in this space. it's subscriptions, but your subscription goes towards making a thing freely available even to non-subscribers. That was always the one reason everybody comes back to advertising despite its glaring awfulness: it was the only way that all this internet goodness could be given away for free and without the drag and expense of a commercial relationship with every separate site.

Plus in practise, Patreon is kind of like basic income for popular artists, it cuts them loose from having to have a day job (or work from advance to advance, constantly at the mercy of publishers). They can do their thing, without worrying.

47:

It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does.

I spent all of 2014 and 2015 trying to work out how to get sufficient people to pay a pure subscription for online news. If it were as easy as you make it sound, we wouldn't be talking about micropayments as a solution here. Hell, Aaron Pilhofer just quit the sector entirely because he couldn't get a workable strategy together for the Guardian.

I'm remembering why I withdrew from the last thread on this subject. A lot of people who have no idea how news is made, and at what scale, treating it like a systems design problem. Protip: the bits you think are trivial or unimportant are the bits that have evolved over centuries to result in the press you're familiar with. There are good reasons they exist.

48:

In an environment where advertising has been banned, the pure-subscription model isn't competing with something that appears free. I would expect there's a different answer under those circumstances.

One of the things I find most concerning about the advertising-pays-for-news model is that it's crowded out everything else, and I think Charlie is correct that makes public opinion the product, rather than the customer.

49:

In an environment where advertising has been banned,

And in an environment where photons are made of watermelons, everyone's afraid of leaving the dark. I'm going to scope my contributions to this thread back to only responding to people with a grasp on reality.

50:

There are vast well-funded networks that spread right-wing propaganda, conspiracy theories, and general craziness. There is no reason why they can't set up subscriptions or crowd-funding and take micropayments. They surely will, if they haven't already.

Traditional news reporting started to decline well before blogs and Twitter and Craigslist. There were several factors: media consolidation, journalism becoming a white-collar occupation, and the decline of unions. The internet just accelerated what society was already doing. It would be great if that could change, but what we're really talking about is changing values. People need to value truth over falsehood.

51:

Charlie's pointed out the fundamental problem of advertising-supported media: you get what you incentivise for. The problem's not new, but certain dynamics, I like to think of them as data physics, change with electronic and online media.

My proposed solution: a universal broadband tax. This is what others, notably Phil Hunt (Pirate Party UK) and Richard M. Stallman (Free Software Foundation) have suggested.

Why? Because:

  • Data access wants to be free. Information providers want to be paid.
  • Information and markets play very, very, very poorly. For a great many reasons. Among them:
  • Celine's 2nd Law: accurate information is only possible in a non-punishing environment. (From Robert Anston Wilson).
  • The generalisation of C2L: Accurate information is only possible when accuracy is the only aspect of the information that's the basis for selection.
  • Gresham's Law: This isn't a specialised observation of money, but a generalised and universal observation of information accessibility: Rapidly-determined value assessments trump slowly-determined value assessments.. That is, whatever property of something that is easy to determine will override the hard-to-determine qualities -- either positive or negative.
  • The assessment of information value is itself an expensive operation and one which scales poorly. This is why we use reputation (or "branding") as an indicator of quality -- these subsume a large set of assessment information into an easily recognised signal.
  • Another alternative to content syndication might be a universal basic income, though both are essentially tax-and-redistribution schemes. The former has the advantage of specifically rewarding content based on quality.

    More on content syndication: https://redd.it/1uotb3

    More on information and markets: https://redd.it/2vm2da

    More on micropayments: https://redd.it/4r683b

    52:

    Addenda:


    Content syndication can also be seen as a form of superbundling, the opposite response to micropayments antibundling. Effectively, you're aggregating sets of published materials in such a way as to reduce the costs of reputation assessment. The author, editor, publication, and publisher, all carry a _reputation assessment_ which can rise or fall with the experience of content. That assessment itself also informs as to whether the information under it is likely to be high or low quality.

    I've been digging into the history of publishing and media, how we got here, and what the history of business models and social impacts has been. The history is fascinating. My general premise is that _every_ change in communications, starting with language and speech, have given rise to massive changes in social and political structures.

    In particular I'd recommend:

    Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1979). A long-form history of publishing and its role on society.

    Hamilton Holt, Commercialism and Journalism (1909). A history of the preceding 50 years of publishing and the rise of advertising, and its influences, as the Industrial Age gave rise to mass production and consumerism. Freely available at the Internet Archive, 115pp, a short, quick, and informative read.

    Edward Bernays, particularly Propaganda and Public Relations. (Adam Curtis's The Century of the Self (BBC), is an eye-opening treatment of Bernays. His later Great Bitter Lake addresses current modes of media manipulation, particularly by Vladimir Putin.)

    Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

    Hanna Arendt, generally.

    Marshall McLuhan, generally.

    Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.

    Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopoly. A student of McLuhan's

    John R. Gillis, The Development of European Society, 1770-1870 (1977), particularly chapter 10. Also Chapter 3, "Intellectual Opposition".

    53:

    if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

    Another facet of the problem is that, when advertisers are footing the bill, not all viewers are equal. Viewers who respond to advertising in measurable ways are much more valuable than those who don't. Websites have strong incentives to make content attractive to the highly suggestible (and the wealthy, of course). Viewers who think critically and stay focused are much less likely to click through the ads, make a purchase, and make the advertisers happy.

    On the other hand, it's not like pre-internet history was a bastion of gentle reason. Our demagogues use Twitter instead of handbills, but I'm not sure how much difference that really makes.

    54:

    There is a new one too, Propaganda and Rhetoric in Democracy - History, Theory, Analysis (SIU Press, Oct 20, 2016)
    Some libraries will have access to allow downloads from that link, else it's available from booksellers. Haven't read it yet but for one chapter ("PROPAGANDA DEFINED", Thomas Huckin) that a friend downloaded for me. (Paperback on order but prefer electronic.)

    55:

    "Traditional news reporting started to decline well before blogs and Twitter and Craigslist."

    Well before. While taking works of fiction as a reference requires caution, hundred-plus-year-old novels in a contemporary setting, written by authors who themselves have often been involved with journalism before they "made their name", are pretty consistent in describing (if, of course, journalism is related to the plot at all) very much the same deficiencies that we complain about today. I rather wonder if it's ever been inclined.

    "People need to value truth over falsehood."

    Aye, there's the rub. What they actually value is assertion over diffidence, and what they hear first over what they hear second; and such irrelevancies do they take as being the determinants of truth or falsehood.

    56:

    "Our demagogues use Twitter instead of handbills, but I'm not sure how much difference that really makes."

    I read this the other day: Secret Armies: The New Technique of Nazi Warfare, by John L. Spivak (1939). A fair amount of it seems to be bollocks, but a fair amount of it also had me thinking that it sounded horribly familiar.

    57:

    It seems to me that the kind of thing we see on Twitter and FaceBook is accurately described in Aristotle's study of rhetoric. What Aristotle says is that where actual science relies on induction and deduction, rhetoric substitutes striking examples for induction and enthymeme (arguments where some premises are unstated and taken for granted, without critical examination) for deduction. I see a lot of that sort of thing online. So I don't think it's necessarily a product of current technological innovations.

    58:

    There is no space (on Twitter) or time (on Facebook) to publish a well-though, researched comment along with the link you want every single of your contacts to read.

    Surely not so. On Twitter, you can post a URL to something you've written elsewhere, maybe on a completely free site such as Blogger or wordpress.com . On Facebook, you can take as long as you want to reply to a post or comment. No-one is forcing you to reply immediately.

    59:

    Twitter: nope, if you do that maybe 1% of your followers will read it if you're lucky. This is a fairly generally applicable rule of thumb, and certainly I've seen what happens in the webserver logs when someone posts a link on twitter: in the first ten minutes it gets hit by a bunch of bots and maybe two actual people, a couple more bots show up over the next so many hours, and that's about it.

    Facebook I gave the boot to long ago and haven't logged on for years, so I don't know what it's like these days, but as I remember it things did still tend to drop off people's bottoms quite rapidly, and nearly all the views something got would be in the first twenty minutes or so. It wasn't quite as bad for burying the past as twitter is, but it still makes it awkward to look very far back.

    60:
    Propaganda and Rhetoric in Democracy - History, Theory, Analysis

    Thanks, noted.

    While we're at it, I caught wind of a report on the Rwanda massacre of the 1990s, and the role of radio in that. The maps accompanying this remind me strongly of epidemiological studies, and I'd already started suggesting that political tendencies be viewed through the lens of public health.

    Propaganda, media effects, and conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide.

    From the referenced paper, this quote:

    Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, called radio “the most important instrument of mass influence that exists anywhere” (Welch, 1993). Elites in control of autocratic states have repeatedly used mass media – often under their direct control – with the intention to induce citizen support of, and participation in, violence against certain groups (Lee, 1945; Lasswell, 1971). Cross-country evidence indicates that when persecution of certain groups in society is made the official ideology of the elite in power, the likelihood of a conflict transitioning into political mass killings is significantly higher (Harff, 2003). Yet, it is an open question whether and how propaganda that explicitly encourages violence against a certain group can, in fact, directly induce violence against that group.
    61:
    There is no space (on Twitter) or time (on Facebook) to publish a well-though, researched comment

    A very useful technique for countering bullshit is to have a prepared set of references for rebutting specific points. That's what old Usenet, mailing list, and weblog hands are familiar with -- we use FAQs not because we expect others to read them first, but because we can either link or copy them after the bullshit appears.

    Snopes does this admirably, and in previous studies of fake news and hoaxes, it's been shown that "Snopsing" a post is a very effective mechanism for damping its propogation (suggesting that an auto-snopsing tool might be one weapon in the anti-propaganda arsenal).

    I've compiled sets of frequently-iterated responses in various areas and unleashed them. Three specifically to Charlie, in my first post on this thread ;-)

    It's also quite helpful to have a sense of what the bullshitter's techniques are. I'm not sure if the "Karl Rove bag of dirty tricks" document is entirely legitimate, but the methods it lists are quite widely used: https://redd.it/2d0r1d

    There's also knowing the various forms of bullshit: https://redd.it/28ge14

    (See what I did there?)

    62:
    Traditional news reporting started to decline well before blogs and Twitter and Craigslist. From Robert J. Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth, a truly eye-opening graph was the number of newspaper subscriptions per household in the US, beginning about 1945. Rather than a sudden and precipitous cliff, the decline has been almost entirely linear and constant. Slight bobbles with events and recessions, but only very, very barely. After WWII, interest in news simply fell with time.

    David Simon, creater of The Wire and Tremane has an excellent talk, "The Audacity of Despair", which talks of his experience in the American newspaper business, from the 1980s onward, and yes, there were some clear bunglings. Highly recommended, though long:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nRt46W3k-qw

    I also recommend a "Day at Night" interview with I.F. Stone from 1974, possibly the high-water mark of the US news industry (or perhaps a time with a different set of filters and filter-problems).

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qV3gO3zxQ1g

    (The Day at Night series has a number of other excellent interviews, including Ray Bradbury, Joan Baez, and Jacob Bronowski, highly recommended.)

    64:

    Even then, you run into the problem that the BBC is the one organisation routinely accused of bias by everyone... that may mean it's doing its job, but you only have to watch how SNP supporters react to it (for not supporting "their reality") how the more extreme wing of the Conservatives reacted to it ("liberal bias") and how the extreme left spent decades reacting to it ("tool of the state").

    You won't get a perfect solution (to echo OGH on fast and slow money); I use the BBC as my primary web source of fast news "X and Y and Z happened today" and pay for it through the license fee; I subscribe to the Economist for my medium-speed news "significant thing X happened, here's the detail background", even though it carries advertising, because the content is excellent and the adverts are sparse. I (might as well) subscribe to Private Eye, similar reason for my slow news"here's why A reported X in the way it did".

    I realise that state broadcasters have their own issues [1], but then BBC News and Channel 4 News seem to do pretty well within their structures. Perhaps the solution is for more independent, non-commercial organisations in the news arena?

    :) Anyway, what happens when someone sets up a rival to Snopes - how does it compete? :)

    Example of perceived bias: I used to compete in target shooting (smallbore rifle - about as far removed from gun nut territory as it is possible to get). There was a strong case that BBC Sport made an editorial decision not to show any of the shooting events from the 2002 Commonwealth Games on domestic TV, for its own reasons - and then denied it afterwards. The cameras and crews were working, the BBC was the host nation broadcaster, the feeds were shown in Australia, India, et al; and yet nothing appeared on UK TV. Trust me, we were looking for it. Thankfully, they improved slightly by 2006; but managed to completely avoid coverage of Mike Babb making the Olympic final in 2004.

    Some of the English athletes got a bit miffed on behalf of Mick Gault, who was now the most successful English medal-winner of any sport, at Commonwealth level; unnoticed, invited to SPOTY as guest, not contender. Charlotte Kerwood was put up for junior SPOTY (she'd won Commonwealth Gold at age 16), when it was unsurprisingly awarded to a spotty, rude, and ignorant lad who had just started playing football in the Premiership at 17 - called Rooney or something...

    65:

    One possible... well, not solution, but next stage, would be if someone with the imagination takes over FB and starts tweaking the newsfeed to push an agenda. Not by heavy-handed censorship, but by subtle nudges; that would be almost undetectable and probably much more effective than something more obvious.

    We already know FB can make people happier or less happy by minor tweaks to the newsfeed.

    66:

    I reckon the best way to bring in a micropayment system is to piggyback onto a Ad Blocker.

    Imagine a cross-platform ad blocker that also lets you create an account for micropayments. The ad blocking functionality provides you an immediate reason to use it, regardless of micropayments. At the same time, the ad blocking service negotiates micropayments with a number of sites. So instead of sites detecting which users are using ad blockers and refusing access, they respond to a standard API requesting a standard rate for viewing each article. If you as reader want to read these sites, you can authorise the ad-blocker to pay the micro-payment fee.

    At regular intervals (possibly daily), the service pays the sites the cumulative income from all the readers who have viewed articles on that site, in a single transfer of funds. Readers will probably have to top-up accounts in advance. Standard marketing practices will no doubt appear, such as offering people a number of free visits up front in order to get them using the system.

    The main reason I see this working is that it resolves an existing problem: the ad-blocking wars. The longer term benefit is a working micro-payment system that my in time replace ads altogether.

    67:

    It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does.

    But there are costs we don't see. Recalling the autobiographies of Kate Adie and John Simpson, I wonder how your collective could ever provide the facilities that they took for granted, diplomatic clout included. Or even the Royal Marines training mentioned in Vicky Baker's New Statesman article "How do journalists keep themselves safe in warzones?". Personal note: I've seen the BBC's news facilities from inside while working on the Budget. The people with the cameras are only the tip of the iceberg. One example: the BBC Pronunciation Unit. Not needed for print, I suppose, but very reassuring if you're making a video.

    It's currently the case that a selection of bloggers will beat the besnackers out of amy newspaper for analysis.

    But suppose that I'm not already an expert in the topic being blogged. How do I decide which bloggers to read, and which whose besnackers I shouldn't touch with a bargepole?

    68:

    My experience of Twitter is clearly the opposite of many on here. I find it useful for communicating with others interested in the same topics as I am, such as history of science and alchemy and archaeology. My interactions on these topics have been sane and useful. Moreover, the lack of space issue is dealt with by everyone tweeting links to their blogs or articles. This works fine.

    Where it breaks down is highly charged topics such as politics. Also it is woefully inferior to old bulletin board like setups when arguing with morons, because the moron acts like a seagull and can't be pinned down. In the good old days of forums, you could link everything together and basically destroy said moron, so that anyone reading it in the future could see that they were. With Twitter, the time element and permanence is lost.
    So as far as I am concerned, people are trying to use twitter for what it isn't good for.


    69:

    finagl: You do pay for the product. It just not a plain money transfer. You pay by watching ads with possible following click on them with sincere interest in an advertised product.

    Your eyeballs are the product being sold. The real customer is therefore no longer you; it's whoever paid for the ad that is being injected into your eyeballs.

    If you're not paying for the product, you are the product. That's how advertising works; it's just that you failed to parse the sentence as implying that the customer is someone else.

    70:

    Replying to the latest post, not the most relevant.

    I regard almost everything said as merely scratching the surface, and thus not considering the real issues. Forms of payment are NOT the direct cause of the dysfunctionality. The point is that, when a supplier has a captive market, the supply is limited to below demand by other constraints, or when the supplier(s) have an authority-backed monopoly/cartel, the so-called customers rapidly become the commodity. Definitely NOT the product, because the product is how much they can squeeze out of the commodity. In the UK, this included 18th century monopolies and commissions, the 1960s car industry and Raleigh, and now includes the banks, airlines, many/most privatised 'public services', anything run by G4S etc.

    Requiring that private services provide something for free creates those conditions unless firmly controlled, because they have an incentive to limit the supply and get as much out of the commodity as they can. But there are ALSO plenty of examples where appropriate control can make such mechanisms work - at least in the short term. The problem is designing a viable, stable one, so that it isn't certain to fail as soon as the control slips.

    I can think of several solutions that would work. All are radical beyond the acceptance of existing monetarist politics; in this context, it should be noted that Old Labour and the extreme left are as monetarist as the 'neo-libertarians'. What I am talking about is moving towards a society where money is not the primary measure of value, medium of exchange and instrument for managing society.

    71:

    Sorry, but that really grates every time I see it. The product is their sales of advertising - you are the commodity, which is used to obtain the product!

    72:

    Ah, so all it takes to get rid of advertising is the small and easily-sold matter of wealth redistribution, got it.

    If you can solve that, you've solved the biggest social problems confronting us today. Globalisation? Most of the objections to it boil down to capital seeking the cheapest labour or resources to exploit. Capitalism in general? Most of its unpleasant side-effects of a non-environmental nature boil down to wealth distribution anomalies (e.g. derivative traders being "valued" more highly than nurses). The vested interests behind continuing practices that damage the environment? They're mostly driven by individuals who see it as a way to get rich. And so on.

    And we came close to solving the problem in the UK in 1945. Marginal income tax rate of 98%, inheritance tax that resulted in most of the Great Mansions of the aristocracy ending up sold to the National Trust (with the noble families who'd owned them renting back living quarters and acting as curators for them as museums), GINI coefficient through the floor, cradle-to-grave health care, pensions, unemployment cover ...

    Yes, it took barely winning a world war, losing an empire, the nation coming to the brink of bankruptcy, and a massive landslide vote for near-revolutionary levels of change, but they did it, at least in one fairly significant industrialized nation. And it didn't require a totalitarian regime or curtailment of democracy.

    The problem is figuring out how to do it on a global scale, and this time making sure that the bastards don't roll it back a generation later.

    73:

    It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does.

    Actually, nope. There's one thing the NYTimes can bring to the table that no reporter collective can touch, without legislative help: liability protection.

    The NYTimes has experienced lawyers on tap and deep enough pockets that even Peter Thiel would think twice before taking them on in a libel/defamation lawsuit. More importantly they also have (or had) fact checkers and a commitment to due diligence that would in principle prevent them from publishing the kind of clickbait that gave Thiel his excuse to take down Gawker Media, or provide a clear, audit-able chain of supporting evidence they could take to court in defense. There's a reason few people sue real newspapers for defamation and win, and it's not just that most people can't afford to lawyer up for a libel suit: experienced editorial teams are really good at avoiding the bear pit.

    In contrast, bloggers ... a sometime blogger of my acquaintance (they mostly stopped a few years ago) was at one time on the paper trail of a major international arms dealer (currently I believe in US custody awaiting trial on the kind of charges that end with a hundred year prison term, i.e. selling missiles to the wrong side in a war) when it was made clear to them that if they persisted they would be systematically ruined. Not murdered or physically attacked — just subjected to repeated litigious attacks with the specific goal of driving them into bankruptcy and costing them their home, their marriage, and their reputation. So said blogger went looking for legal liability insurance of the kind used by professional journalists ... and found it simply wasn't available at any price they could afford to pay.

    There is a good reason for the stuff in my moderation policy about defamation. And there are a number of topics I self-censor on, because unless I'm so angry I'm willing to make a metaphorical kamikaze run at a specific target, I have no desire to turn myself into a bug smear on the windscreen of a speeding multinational. (See also: my "Invaders from Mars" hypothesis.)

    74:

    I don't think that micropayments can be the answer because if you have everything as micropayments that could lead to increased pressure to be more abusive with regards to that system. So instead of taking one big payment once instead you just concentrate on taking micropayments but jack up the quantity that you take each time (the amount of times you take the payment, not the actual amount).

    It sounds a bit like an idea that seemed to become briefly popular back in the late 90s. Wasn't there supposed to be something whereby .... well, think of your next "brand new cutting edge media player"; you buy one, plug it up but find that the buttons on the remote control all have price tags attached. It is that whole "rent out the pause button" business model.

    But there's one problem a micropayment system can't really resolve that well. What is that? Well - just what do you do when you actullay have no money at all? Are you going to deny people access? How far would you like that to extend in society? If everything became micropayments would we see a bizarre iteration of the payday loans companies creating such things - let's call them "pico-loans", to be sold to the super-poor? A system whereby you always owe and although the amount isn't large you can't ever quite escape?

    Me personally, I think this all more akin to tinkering around the edges. Demanding payment or tough you don't get it won't work. We've had 30 years of making literally *everything* in society be about making money and have money the measuring metric of everything. That is what needs to change - I don't think it is impossible, but it would for sure take a long time.

    BTW, someone mentioned patreon above. It's an intresting idea .... until artists decide to not show their stuff publically and then patreon just becomes a paywall.

    ljones

    75:

    do you see no possible long term economic problems from a 98% tax rate?

    Sure you can push that slider all the way to the right and even reap some temporary boosts in tax income but people respond to incentives and that pretty much strips away all incentive to do anything useful with wealth.

    76:

    It was a marginal 98% tax rate. In other words, income above a certain level was deemed to be illegitimate and taxed to fuck. Below that threshold, the income tax level was more moderate; IIRC it began at roughly 40% (however, there was no VAT in those days — as VAT currently accounts for 20% of the retail price of just about everything, while there's a lower threshold for income tax, it's deeply regressive and a 20% income tax rate plus 20% VAT ends up costing the poor more than a straight 40% initial income tax rate).

    77:

    You overstate the case
    I (just) remember those days.
    NOT good.
    Actually a top normal rat of 40 or 45% is sufficient... PROVIDED other taxations, especially on corporates are handled so that they don't emulate the pre-1914 "aristocracy".
    Now that is a problem, currently with no solution visible.

    78:

    Micropayments (that is, payments below a buck or two) have been tried a bunch of times, and they never really worked. The main reason is that the decision to pay money for something, regardless of the cost, triggers a certain amount of reticence in consumers. The reticence is strong enough that the consumer doesn't feel much difference between being asked to pay a nickel and being asked to pay a dollar, so the seller might as well charge a dollar.

    http://www.dtc.umn.edu/~odlyzko/doc/case.against.micropayments.pdf

    79:

    In other words, income above a certain level was deemed to be illegitimate and taxed to fuck.

    I just want to point out (due to the state of affairs in my area) that you probably want to also consider all kinds of income in the same way if you tax income above certain level "too much".

    With larger incomes, it's easier to modify if they are salaries or capital income, and this is kind of a problem in Finland as the largest incomes don't get taxed in any consistent way. This is because salaries are taxed in a somewhat progressive way, but capital income is more of a flat tax or even a regressive tax. This creates incentives to move larger salaries to capital income (dividends, rents) and get less tax.

    I'm not sure about the situation and tax law in the UK, though.

    80:

    It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does. It's currently the case that a selection of bloggers will beat the besnackers out of amy newspaper for analysis.

    It has been tried multiple times. At some point the people involved start to get hungry (not greedy but just plain need to put food on the table) and the switch to another business model to switch jobs.

    Being really really really, err really, convinced that a business model will work doesn't mean it will.

    81:

    One of the things I find most concerning about the advertising-pays-for-news model is that it's crowded out everything else, and I think Charlie is correct that makes public opinion the product, rather than the customer.

    In the US the early days of the internet were an aberration. Radio, TV, and newspapers were all ad supported. Most people thought that these were entertainment and news companies but in reality they were advertising companies using entertainment to draw you to their ads.

    I know Europe had a different model for TV most of it (ABICT) being under state control. I'm a bit clueless about the history of European radio but I suspect the newspapers worked in a similar way to the US model.

    Back to the comment. The "slant" of the news provided to non large metro areas depending a lot on who owned the major newspaper. And they typically owned the first TV station in the area.

    82:

    Here is a somewhat optimistic trend (taken from here and here. See more here):



    If the trend continues, at some point the whole edifice built on the concept of selling eyeballs will implode. It will be a sight to behold, especially if it takes down Google Search.

    Maybe we should discuss strategies to accelerate ad blocking (and anti-anti-ad-blocking) penetration.

    83:

    "And we came close to solving the problem in the UK in 1945. "

    No, we didn't. If you had lived in a rural community, you would know better. The taxation system was as vindictive, vicious and, above all, socially harmful as what we have at present. There were many good things about that era and, initially, the taxation system could be regarded as justified, but not by the 1960s. Here are some of the social harms it caused, and answers I actually got from Labour activists:

    It reduced many retired people to penury, because there was no personal allowance for unearned income. Activist: but they are rich, so they can afford it. No, I said penury and I meant it - they often had less than the median income BEFORE tax.

    It directly caused the rise of tax avoidance, tax evasion and expense account abuse, and the latter two were often deliberately ignored in order to avoid worse problems. Farmers were unofficially-officially permitted to use farm expense accounts (including for fuel and food) for personal purposes, because so many had effectively a zero net income for long periods. The alternative would have been widespread bankruptcies and a collapse of food supplies. If we had moved to a just tax system, it would have been much harder (politically) for the monetarists to introduce the viciously unjust one we have today.

    It led to the rise of 'the country owes me a living' mentality among many of its beneficiaries and the visceral loathing of Labour that was part of the cause of Thatcherism. Farm workers did not have access to council housing and THEREFORE had to pay full rates (or get many other benefits), subsidising the far richer urban workers. Oh, you do remember that farm wages were limited by law, unlike almost all other sectors, don't you? Activist: why should we do anything for them (the rural working class) - they won't vote Labour, anyway?

    The inheritance tax led to some improvements, but it ALSO led to massive ecological harm and (surprisingly) a massive reduction in public access to the countryside, often by passing control from the traditional landowners to large, London-based corporations and what happened thereafter. This particularly affected woodland and pasture (especially meadows). That would have happened to some extent, anyway, but not with the same speed and thoroughness.

    And the marginal tax rate went above 100% one year, incidentally.

    84:

    Lots of comments later. I still think the problem is not Facebook or Twitter, and the solution is not micropayments, ad-blockers, journalist collectives, or Socialism 2.0. The problem is morons who believe everything they read, and the solution is education. Learning how to estimate what's true and what isn't: a vital part of everyone's cultural tool kit.

    And, teaching them that Twitter and its ilk really don't matter that much anyway. Has my enjoyment of life diminished because I hardly ever use Twitter? No. There are heaps more interesting things to do. Just treat Twitter like a slice of cake or a morning coffee: fun for ten minutes while you relax from work, but if you take it more seriously than that, you really do need to get out into the fresh air and go for a good long walk in the countryside.

    Or, as Jerome K. Jerome prescribed in another context:

    “1 lb. beefsteak, with
    1 pt. bitter beer every 6 hours.
    1 ten-mile walk every morning.
    1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
    And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.”

    85:

    >>> The problem is morons who believe everything they read, and the solution is education.

    While I agree with you, this is like saying "the solution to hunger is food". Yes. But how?

    86:

    The real problems with the BBC are (a) what they won't report, (b) what they report in places that are hard to find and, on some sensitive topics, (c) their use of biassed language. Oh, yes, what they report is fairly good, but that's not the same as being unbiassed. They weren't great before the disgraceful Hutton Report, but are largely a government mouthpiece today.

    87:

    Lots of comments, so I don't know if this idea came up. But what about a "polluter pays" model, where non-factual rumor spread through social media is a form of pollution. If you create or spread it, you have to pay for it in taxes.

    This may work if you trust the independence and objectivity of the agencies charged with fact-checking. So you can imagine it as a tool of soft(?) censorship. But, as an American with an incoming Authoritarian Kleptocracy, there are many other ways to censor, and I guess this would be relatively cumbersome as a tool for censorship.

    During the election campaign, we had fact checking nonprofits evaluate claims made by politicians. They had graphic representations of their evaluations with dials that said "mostly true", "mostly false" etc.

    In the likely absence of any meaningful laws, I can almost imagine a model that's sort of like an industry certification system (say for "organic" produce, or water conservation). A social media outlet may try to attract users on the basis of being certified as "fake-news-resistant"?

    88:

    teaching them that Twitter and its ilk really don't matter that much anyway

    Good luck with that.

    At a recent staff meeting we had to sit through a presentation on the new "21st Century Skills" we were supposed to start teaching our children: creative problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, personal development, global citizenship and digital competency. Things that (apparently) were unknown in the 20th century, when the Bright Young Thing making the presentation was a child. (And as many of us old farts noted quietly among ourselves, things we have been teaching before she was born.)

    She's seen this mentioned on Twitter, you see, and just had to share this amazing new information.

    This is someone who is a professional educator and who has been promoted into a leadership position.

    Sadly, training in evaluating sources and information seems to be lacking in teacher training (at least here). And when someone comes into teaching from marketing, where the emphasis is on convincing people rather than conveying accurate information…

    89:

    That's actually easy to answer, and the solution would also improve our international competitiveness, but it would cost money and offend some camps (not mainly the expected ones). For example, we were a hell of a lot better in the 1960s, due to the post-war policies, and I would base it on that. The dumbing down of the British electorate was the result of deliberate policies.

    90:

    Off Topic, but about a Charlie Tweet. *Possibly a Spoiler*

    My first thought was midair. Then, Yeesh, Charlie's been getting brutal, between that and the carnage in "The Nightmare Stacks"...

    91:

    Maybe we should discuss strategies to accelerate ad blocking (and anti-anti-ad-blocking) penetration.

    That's where adding a micro-payment facility to an existing ad blocker would help. Instead of news sites fighting the ad-blockers, they could sign up for micro-payments, so that each view of a page would give them a similar amount of income whether it comes from people viewing the ads or from people blocking the ads. This shifts the balance of expectation from adverts to micro-subscription, without a completely new system.

    News sites would then get an alternative income stream. If people really are willing to pay for content on a per-page basis (which remains to be seen), there will be a mechanism for us to do so.

    Whether this will affect the tendency towards clickbait headlines is another question entirely. But I think it's a step in a better direction.

    92:

    Send every household in the country copies of Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders and Martin Gardener's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science.

    93:

    THANK YOU kind sir.
    You have expressed in some detail what I was complaining about in general.
    In particular, the transfer of tax-dodging to the corporates, which is what we are stuck with now.

    94:

    The dumbing down of the British electorate was the result of deliberate policies.
    By Labour guvmints, overwhelmingly, unfortunately.

    95:

    Yes, I'm aware it's a marginal rate. I was talking about the effects of a 98% marginal rate.

    So, say you own a business, you're doing pretty well, you're near the top tax bracket, you see a low risk chance to create a pile of wealth in some way which in general would benefit society in some minor way. say you've got a neat idea for a slightly cheaper way to do something or manufacture something.

    Do you take the chance? your maximum return is 2% of whatever cash it brings in so if you have to take even the most minor risk it's no longer worth doing. Betting on a horse at 50 to 1 wouldn't be worth it even if you were pretty sure the real odds of the horse winning was 50%. Applying the same rule to startups you have no reason to invest in any startups.

    Once you've got £20,000 (£187K in modern money) for the year why would you risk a penny of your money on any other venture in the UK? If you have the option of taking a small risk investing some of your money in something else (and in doing so vaguely benefiting everyone) why take the risk? If you had the option of loaning some of your money to someone else starting another business, why would you?

    You're better off keeping anything you have under a mattress with all the knock-on economic effects that entails.

    96:

    That's a useful idea. Another useful idea is that website advertising doesn't have to be intrusive. You probably get less hits that way, but you also don't find advertiser's big data driving the surveillance state. So there's room for sites to be good advertising citizens and accept only ads which don't carry a surveillance payload. When that happens, I'll stop blocking those sites.

    97:

    know Europe had a different model for TV most of it (ABICT) being under state control.

    Not even remotely true.

    There are state broadcasters; but they're not so much under state control as funded by the states. Mean Mr. Moustache gave everyone a very bad feeling about state-owned propaganda outlets, and the credibility of a state-funded broadcaster is inversely proportional to the degree of political control, and the BBC fought viciously to retain editorial autonomy, so ...

    In addition, there are plenty of commercial competitors. They're regulated — European nations don't generally have a first amendment equivalent right to free speech: freedom of political expression is guaranteed, but there are generally constraints on general speech (in particular, it's easier to prosecute for incitement to violence under most legal codes) — but they're still privately owned. As witness the career of, e.g., Silvio Berlusconi.

    98:

    Not even remotely true. There are state broadcasters; but they're not so much under state control as funded by the states.

    Sorry but to many over here the person paying the bills has control. Even if that control is indirect in that if upset enough the money can be reduced.

    I listen and read BBC report more than almost any other non US source. I (and others) find their claims of unbiased impartial news "quaint". Still worth it but...

    In addition, there are plenty of commercial competitors.

    As a history of TV I understand this is not the way things went at first in the UK. And definitely not in France.

    99:

    I find it interesting that most of the comments here seem to think that most people WANT things to change. From what I see in the US people on both sides think the "other" guys have it wrong and just need to switch to the politics of (you pick, msnbc or fox) and everything will be fine. They want their feelings about things vindicated. This objective news argument makes no sense to them as they know the news they follow is objective.

    100:

    Almost all of the post-war political disasters were created by Labour, and then taken to the limit by the Conservatives :-(

    101:

    I have been thinking about Charlie's post and his comment on Newspapers and broadcasters maintaining large legal teams to prevent libel problems and want to make a suggestion.
    Currently ISP's are carriers(like the Royal mail) and as such appear to be immune to prosecution for content. I suggest that the ISP be legally defined as a broadcaster and make them legally liable for content, Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter would become articles rather as an article in a newspaper is.
    I submit that if a suitably aggressive series of fines (e.g £500m for a first offence, doubling for each subsequent offence) were available to the courts to punish lies, defamation or aggressive trolling,ISP's would crackdown hard on culprits possibly blocking Twitter or Facebook until either they cleaned their act up or indemnified the ISP.
    I am sure that the ISP's would complain and I am sure that you will all find faults in my suggestion but for the benefit US readers, I am British and we do not have the ridiculous shibboleth which is the First Amendment so do not quote it as a reason.

    102:

    That this is an old idea doesn't make it invalid. And critical thinking has become much more important with the rise of fast communications.

    And it's also true that while some people have been taught critical thinking, or had tendencies in that direction, through most of history, a large number of people do not appear to have any skill in that area, either natural or developed.

    The only problem is that it's not at all clear HOW to teach critical thinking. The current success rate is quite poor, and tends to lead people to find evidence to believe what they want to believe anyway. What criteria do you use to evaluate a source for reliability? I can't verbalize the ones I use, and haven't been able to convey them to others.

    E.g., what is the plausibility that the "Bigfoot" exists? I have a friend, a quite intelligent friend who plays go better than I do (not difficult) and who has published papers in mathematical theory who strongly believes that it does. He also believes that neurons rewrite their DNA. He will refer to various papers but when I read those same papers to me they look very different. I see them as talking about epigenetic modifications that occasionally cause an error in the DNA. (Apparently the methylation of cysteine cannot be removed without literally replacing the cysteine molecule.)

    103:

    Martin Gardner was excessively conventional in what he believed. I trust him in mathematics, and when he says that something is possible, but he's much to willing to take a narrow view of the evidence, and sometimes he's been wrong. Other times he's being an opinionated bigot, but is still probably right.

    I think this is probably Clarke's first law in action, combined with a very rigid personality. But, I admit he's often right.

    104:

    That this is an old idea doesn't make it invalid.

    Not arguing with the ideas. As I said, us old farts have been teaching those skills for decades.

    It was the irony of hearing it presented as a new idea by someone who, although a Millennial (and thus of the digital generation) seemed to think that "I saw this on Twitter" was an adequate reference for why the whole school should change what they do[1]. And apparently hadn't researched past one website to see if, just maybe, this had been done before, and what the results were, and what techniques had been found to be more or less effective…

    Being told to teach critical thinking by someone (in a leadership position) who doesn't seem to have done it themselves doesn't give me confidence that Education (as a system) is in a good position to do so.

    So I guess I'm saying that I agree with Jocelyn that education is the answer, but lack confidence in the education system to deliver that type of education.


    [1]Not that she seemed to know what other people do, because like I said a lot of us have been emphasizing those skills for years.

    105:

    Exception
    Rail Privatisation
    Oh & the "Beeching" (Marples) rail destruction, stared by the tories, continued under Labour ....

    106:

    As a USian, it seems to me that British libel law is skewed heavily to the advantage of the rich and powerful, who use it to censor legitimate journalism. And somehow, in spite of strict libel laws, the news is filled with lies, damn lies, and smears. Funny how that happens.

    Making ISPs liable for libel just expands the list of organizations that are responsible for enforcing a fundamentally unjust law. It would also require them to closely monitor all the activities of their users.

    Much better would be to create broad protections against libel lawsuits, whether through legislation or through support of vigorous legal defense for civil liberties.

    107:

    To me the thing is that a news story cannot stand on its own. Where are the notes, the recordings of an interview, the mark-up from the fact checkers, the editorial notes? Clearly stories are moving off their moorings to the truth; how does this happen?

    108:

    I've had a feeling for a while that control of information might turn into one of the defining political issues of the 22nd century, with the capacity to overturn the existing right/left coalitions and redefine normal. I confess that I did not expect it to blow up quite this big this soon however.

    So, what can anyone do to preserve and extend open society against the attacks it's now under? I don't feel like private sector solutions are going to be adequate to the problem.

    First, you have the problem of getting your solution in front of enough people. Anyone smaller than the size of Facebook just isn't going to be able to reach enough brains with their solution to blunt a concerted attack. You also have the problem of uptake, private solutions are offerings rather than mandates, and many of the people most affected by the problem of disinformation are the same people who least want a solution, because they are hearing what they want to hear.

    Second, private solutions are always going to be at the mercy of their owner. Perhaps Zuckerberg is a sweet faced angel, but that's no guaranteed that the next head of Facebook (or Google, Apple, MSNBC, etc) will be, and they could do an incredible amount of damage in a very small amount of time if they decide to tamper with public information flow. Reference the recent election, and also Mr Murdoch.

    No, this feels much more like a problem where the solution is bureaucracy, and specifically government bureaucracy. Government bureaucracies can issue mandates rather than offerings, and operate as oversight for all major public spaces.

    It won't be a perfect solution, the internet is international, so you'll always have a chunk of your public space which is not subject to oversight. There are endless problems with political interference. But it might be the least worst solution.

    As for specific steps? I feel like the first step should be getting the internet classified as a public utility. That will get an initial layer of regulatory oversight in place. Once that is done, you can start sorting out the quality of your public utility and the information flow that it is providing.

    109:

    Government solutions are always going to be at the mercy of their officials, which is great if those are Barack Obama, but not so much if they are Donald Trump.

    Private sector solutions at least are not comprehensive; if Facebook promotes fake news you can go elsewhere; if the Trump Administration Internet Regulatory Agency prohibits the dissemination of truth where do you go?

    110:

    You know, I'd disagree with the idea of education being the answer. For example, Steve Bannon's a Harvard dude, and many of the creeps who are causing so much trouble in Washington are Ivy League creeps who try to pretend that they're not.

    That said, I think Altemeyer was onto something when he pointed out that liberal education was a great way of making people less right wing and less authoritarian. The key, he thought, wasn't the teaching, it was the environment. If you're forced to rub elbows with people who are gay, lesbian, male, female, trans, jewish, black, hispanic, punk, poor, rich, or in some way different from you, that very interaction helps reduce the innate bigotry you might have acquired by growing up in an ideologically rigid community.

    That may well be why the more authoritarian groups so hate liberal institutions. They blame the professors for alienating their children from them, but dorm life apparently plays a much bigger role than the droning professors normally do.

    From that, I'd say the bigger way to start getting around the BS is to mix more, not less. In the US this is a problem, for it's not economic for, say, a gay couple to set up a coffee store that doubles as a community center in most parts of the US. This isn't because of bigotry necessarily, but it is because of the economic suffering of so many areas. Still, if you've got a clever idea for revitalizing the rust belt and you have to be one of those people who scare bigots, I'd say that it's a great idea for you to get a group of your friends together, go settle the area, make friends with the local pastors and police chiefs if you can stand to, and show them that you're an ordinary person. Scary as it is, that's one of the best ways to start getting around a bunch of problems that we're currently dealing with, from flight to cities to increasing (still rural) xenophobia.

    111:

    it's not economic for, say, a gay couple to set up a coffee store that doubles as a community center in most parts of the US. This isn't because of bigotry necessarily, but it is because of the economic suffering of so many areas.

    Remember that that is more because most of the "working poor" don't have the time and the non-working can't afford the cash.

    I volunteered for a while at a queerspace that was partly local government supported, but largely self-funding through renting it out at night to (mostly queer) groups that had money. Local government helped set it up, primarily by providing someone to help negotiate the permits and other stuff that they required before we could rent out the venue and sell food.

    But without that swirl of people who could afford to pay $200 for a meeting space, or attend a $20+/head fundraiser it couldn't have worked at all.

    The better system in some ways was the liberal university/college one - everyone pays for facilities, everyone uses them, and everyone gets thrown together as a result. Deliberate de-stratification is IMO a necessary part of that. But even then, it's quite possible for students to evade the throwing-together and come out with their prejudices intact (or reinforced). And it is extremely draining to be the odd one constantly explaining stuff to the concerned liberals.

    112:

    I've lived in small towns, although I grew up in a city. Financially moving to a small town after retirement makes sense (with Toronto house prices I could retire now if I did that), but psychologically it doesn't — I love the mixture you get in a city, and wouldn't want to trade that for the monoculture of (most) small towns. Frankly, I don't think I have the energy to deal with close-mindedness anymore (certainly not when it's the default state).

    And moving to a rural area can be hazardous: look at what's been happening to non-white (and mixed) anglers up near Lake Simcoe, for example. I know gay people who've moved to Toronto for safety.

    Looking at the numbers, by moving to a rural area you are moving somewhere with more alcohol and drug problems, might rates to teen pregnancy, more STDs, higher rates of domestic assault… that's a lot to ask someone in a target group.

    (I agree more mixing is good. I'm not certain how to get it safely, without trampling people's rights or causing a backlash effect.)

    113:

    I thought at one time that the internet would be an excellent tool for reducing prejudice by allowing mixing to take place without people even being aware of it. When someone is identified solely as "jghd207" or "isaac_hunt" you have no idea how much melanin or what sort of genitals they have or what they do with them. If in the course of subsequent conversation they allude to some personal characteristic against which you are prejudiced, I would suggest that the outcome would usefully often be the continuation of the established friendly relations and the weakening of that prejudice.

    Facebook must again take a large share of the blame (though not all of it) for actively discouraging people from using such identifiers, and making them instead think it was normal to post their identifiers with obvious sex/race correlations, photographs of themselves, and their intimate personal details, for all the world to see.

    114:

    Not certain I agree. Even when anonymous, people seem to self-sort into communities that express similar views. That behaviour's been around since the days of BBS systems (i.e. before Internet access was common even among undergraduates), including exclusivity and aggression against those expressing different opinions. And having seen the results of people "coming out", well, for a distressingly large number of people even having established family relations isn't enough to weaken the prejudice.

    I used to think that the problem with the internet was anonymity, and that if people were forced to stand behind their public statements there would be less bile, prejudice, trolling, etc. I'm no longer confident that would solve the problem, as many people seem to be happy to express those sentiments in their real identities. Maybe the shield of anonymity that protected trolls etc. has normalized that kind of negative behaviour, to the extent that people now feel free to say publicly what they once kept private. (Or maybe Facebook's lack of privacy has had the same effect.)

    Or maybe the difference is that crazy/prejudiced/racist people can now easily reach the entire world, while a generation ago they could only reach those in close proximity — and there's enough of them that existing laws against hate speech etc can't cope with the numbers. And discovering that lots of other people think that way (encouraged by the echo chamber) emboldens them further.

    Most people I know mistake "all my friends" for "everyone" on a regular basis — I think it's a common failure mode in human reasoning, made worse when we self-select into like-minded communities.

    That seems to be the basis of Bishops The Big Sort (on my too-read pile):
    http://www.thebigsort.com/

    115:

    This guy's thinking about how to have a diversity of social media:
    https://koljakleineberg.wordpress.com/

    I half-remember a seminar where one of the success criteria was a ratio between discovery of a social media provider through relationships to people vs discovery through broadcast advertising, but it's a bit fuzzy.

    116:

    People do indeed self-sort as you describe, but there are positive aspects to it as well. People will associate themselves with a number of groups, which intersect more or less at random, based on shared views on or interests in any number of unrelated topics. Within those groups the conversation centres around those views which are shared, and the other views which differ are each of interest to such a small percentage of the group that they are more or less never talked about; instead they are talked about among their relevant groups. You can chat for years about railways and never have a clue what anyone else's skin colour is, while developing a liking and respect for the people you're talking to based purely on the shared interest.

    I'm certainly not saying it works all the time or acts as a panacea. The extent to which it can happen depends a lot on the nature of the platform in question and its scale, and those with strongly-held, rabidly-articulated prejudices are less likely to benefit from it than those whose prejudices are milder and less conscious. But then it could be argued that the best way to deal with the strongly-prejudiced may not be to attack them head on, but instead to edge them out by educating the people who don't have much of a strong view but will vote Trump out of herd mentality, etc.

    As to the "shield of anonymity", I think it's rather the straightforward shield of distance (and some contribution from the echo chamber). If you call someone a cunt in the flesh, you might get punched in the face. Do it online, and there is nothing they can do in return that you won't just laugh at. It's ideal for the mentality that enjoys pissing off the chained fierce dog from just outside its radius of restraint.

    Laws are unable to deal with it not just because of scale, but inherently, because they are far too slow. The possibility of some may-or-may-not-happen nebulous legal consequence at some undefined but distant future date, preceded by a dependable expectation of a round of back-slapping with your troll pals, has effectively no deterrent effect. For a decent deterrent, what is needed (but don't ask me how) is a way to reproduce the effect of when you drop your clever crass remark into the conversation and look round grinning to see who's impressed, to find that everyone has gone quiet and is looking at you like a wart.

    117:

    I'm hoping we can bring back the micropayments idea, and I've used funding from the Knight Foundation to create a prototype: http://tipsy.news/

    118:

    Sorry but to many over here the person paying the bills has control. Even if that control is indirect in that if upset enough the money can be reduced.

    We-ell. In Finland, the Yleisradio (Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) funding was changed to be more under parliamentary control a few years ago. This made things easier in some ways, because now the fees are collected as taxes instead of mandatory payment for each television (with checks on people not paying, if they have an unlicensed television), but this also created public discussion about control.

    This has become more pressing now that many of the members of the Administrative Council have expressed opinions that Yle should be disbanded or limited more. This is not a good thing, and for now they have mostly been ignored. However, a year ago our (Centre Party) prime minister wanted and got a television time slot for a propaganda speech, which was quite unprecedented, and during the last couple of weeks there has been a scandal about him trying to influence the reporting by the Yle News. This was about the mine in Northern Finland, Talvivaara (which was the translation of "Winterfell" from the Song of Ice and Fire books, and source of some humour) and how it gets money from the government while not being able to produce much anything - and about the relatives of the said prime minister getting part of that money. In addition, the prime minister has not disclosed properly his wealth, which he should do, and he doesn't like Yle reporting on this.
    He did also threathen Yle and a commercial channel with a short comment a while ago: "What *if* you did not exist?" which wasn't received very well in the media.

    So, yeah, while the goverment has some control over their own media channels, it's not clear-cut, and at least a portion of the journalists working for them want to do their job properly. Mostly I follow the Yle news as the one Finnish media *not* paid for by big corporations. There is a bias, but I still think they are a good thing to have. Things could be better, for example they could be more independent from parliamentary control, and I obviously don't trust them completely, but they still dig into things the commercial media as a rule don't.

    There are commercial channels which I particularily like, for example the long-format web magazine Long Play, who are mostly subscriber-paid. The price is 44 € a year, and they have written very good investigative journalism.

    119:

    For a decent deterrent, what is needed (but don't ask me how) is a way to reproduce the effect of when you drop your clever crass remark into the conversation and look round grinning to see who's impressed, to find that everyone has gone quiet and is looking at you like a wart.

    A big problem is that trolls often bring friends with them, who are more than happy to egg them on. So they look round grinning to see their yob mates grinning and backslapping, and keep going.

    (Thinking of GamerGate and similar online pile-ons here.)

    Off to shovel snow right now (probably an hour before I can get on the road). More (and hopefully more coherent) thoughts later.

    120:

    We are talking about education of the public, not the spin-doctors, self-serving publicists etc., and education as distinct from the simple teaching of employment skills. It is not a panacaea, but education helps people resist propaganda, which is why authoritarian governments (including the UK's) dislike it, and try to restrict it to the teaching of employment skills.

    121:

    The problem with a marginal rate that is so high is that you create a tremendous incentive to avoid the tax. Different people meet this challenge different ways, the simplest one being to simply work less. In this case, congratulations, you just turned a highly productive individual from whom much more tax could be harvested into a much less productive one; talk about shooting your own foot off!

    Other ways around a super-tax are various forms of tax evasion, and of course the simplest one of all: go live somewhere else that isn't so bloody stupid.

    You are slightly older than I am, so must remember the Thatcher years passably well. Cast your mind back to what happened when the former super-tax was reduced (twice): both times the tax rate was reduced, the gross tax take for government increased.

    At this point you are more or less faced with a choice: is taxation simply a way for government to raise money to do things with, or is it a social tool to be wielded in various ways?

    122:

    Andy, do you know how a modern ISP actually operates?

    I've worked for one and the general idea is that you automate everything you can, and reduce the staffing costs and staff as far as possible in all areas. The bulk of your staffing costs are for help-lines, and for actual network engineering people. You will for a small outfit have perhaps one or one and a half people working on net abuse and security stuff.

    Legally in the UK, an ISP enjoys Common Carrier Immunity from prosecution over any content delivered by them to the end user, as long as they themselves do not make any changes (apart from the IFW stuff) to what the customer can see. As soon as the ISP takes it upon its self to censor the net, it becomes legally liable in a very big way.

    123:

    Hear hear!

    And it happened, too, and it's still happening, among people who can live and work anywhere; pop singers for example, or F1 drivers like Lewis Hamilton.

    I'm increasingly convinced that many "liberals" either haven't heard of the Laffer curve, or don't care because their idea is to soak the rich and punish them for being rich. After all, rich people never deserve their money, in the eyes of said "liberals".

    Unless, of course, said rich people spout the correct "liberal" claptrap. For example, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are super-rich by any halfway sensible definition, and neither of them earned it by doing anything useful.

    124:

    The opponents said that people would work less, but the proponents denied it; the latter were right, and that was and is not a problem. As I pointed out in #83, the problem was evasion, and we are still living with the consequences. Supertax was a vindictive tax, because it cost more to collect than it brought in; if I remember correctly, you are talking about the peak tax rate, and she simply (and rightly) abolished supertax as such.

    I have no objection to using taxation as a social tool, but there are constructive tools and destructive tools, and too much of the taxation of that era was the latter, as was the poll tax, as is the benefits change, and so on. They can also be a way of using public money to subsidise the government's supporters (not necessarily the electorate).

    125:

    I would myself tend to be more of a pragmatist regarding taxation than anything else. I am unashamedly right wing, but apart from a drastic simplification of the British tax code, I would strongly support greatly increasing the tax-free allowance.

    This would take many of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether, which then means that the benefits paid to them to compensate for their being taxed do not then need to be there. Taking money from someone then giving it back via a means-tested benefits system is highly inefficient; better not to take away money in the first place.

    A final thing to remember is that if you as a government are busy tying yourselves in knots trying to stop tax evasion, even up to declaring that you're going to make up the law as you go along (as is the case with the general anti-avoidance rule), then you're as good as admitting that you're losing the battle badly. At this point, stopping and looking at why and how people are dodging your taxes is a very good idea.

    126:

    Your first thought was, in fact, correct. (The ~USA circa 2020 in "Empire Games" is not a friendly and forgiving environment for world-walkers ...)

    127:

    That's, I hope you'll pardon me, a really dumb suggestion. The simple solution for any ISP under such an incentive system would be to simply stop carrying blogs altogether, unless the owner can post an eye-watering bond to indemnify the carrier against lawsuits; so the state of the internet to such a carrier's customers would converge with network TV. Meanwhile, ISPs who refused to engage in such a race to the bottom could be priced out of the market quite easily ...

    128:

    As a USian, it seems to me that British libel law is skewed heavily to the advantage of the rich and powerful, who use it to censor legitimate journalism.

    Correct! Because the libel law was brought in as a move to get posh boy aristos to stop settling points of honour with the sword and get them to use the courts instead.

    And somehow, in spite of strict libel laws, the news is filled with lies, damn lies, and smears. Funny how that happens.

    Hint: look at the names of the people who own the media. People with names like "Lord Rothermere". Doesn't this suggest something to you?

    Much better would be to create broad protections against libel lawsuits, whether through legislation or through support of vigorous legal defense for civil liberties.

    It's been tried, and even done. It doesn't work very well (although I will note that litigation-happy folks vastly prefer to sue under English libel law than Scottish defamation law, which is rather different). Problem is, English-model libel laws are useful to the rich and powerful and their cronies. See also Singapore.

    129:

    “It's really hard to imagine that a pure-subscription model and a reporter collective wouldn't do a better job than the New York Times does.”

    Actually, there is an organization that covers that particular model called the Associated Press (AP): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associated_Press

    130:

    The UK establishment has not improved its mindset significantly since the New Poor Law of 1834, and even the four decades after the war were riddled with the same thinking.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Law_Amendment_Act_1834

    And remember that any simplification of the tax laws would both reduce the powers of the mandarins and reduce the ability of the demagogues' backers (and retired senior mandarins and demagogues) to dodge tax.

    131:

    I'm going to take this opportunity to act in character as local Project Xanadu fanboy and recommend a transcopyright-style remix-centric micropayment architecture over a straight view-style micropayment architecture: you can see an article for free, but quoting it costs some fraction of a cent per character quoted. This disincentivizes clickbait: if your article isn't even worth reading, you get no money. Instead, it incentivizes long, compulsively readable and quotable content that's worth responding to at length and in detail.

    (Downside: people who don't write things on the internet don't really get to participate in this kind of economic transaction. So, it's bloggers writing for other bloggers. Maybe adding patreon-style support mechanisms will supplement this so that it doesn't devolve into the french postmodernist scene of the early 90s.)

    132:

    Re: 'Yep, you got me there. That's exactly how it would work. The legislature doesn't suffer any problems such as a partisan view of what constitutes truth, ideological corruption of principle, or financial interference from people whom it would benefit to have a certain type of "public interest" succeed over another.'


    This is already being measured by a non-profit outfit - so, yes, it is demonstrably possible/feasible to do this. Mostly this org looks at outcomes such as longevity, health, education, housing, income distribution, access to food/starvation, etc. Interestingly enough what they look at and measure are also the touchstones/planks of most (if not all) political parties.

    http://worldhappiness.report/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

    Excerpt:

    'The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

    In July 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. On April 2, 2012, this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting on "Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm," which was chaired by Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, the first and so far only country to have officially adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.[1]'

    133:

    Haven't read all comments yet, but decided to post top-of-mind ideas before I forget them.

    Re: What can we do? ... I'm assuming that AIs are already participants in our socioweb.


    FB/Twit – Develop an app or AI that reads then adds completely opposite verbiage to tweets … and circulate these to the same people.

    Run a contest to identify true/false statements … human vs. AI … and see which is better able to judge.

    Source check – rating service for BS vs. non-BS news sources …

    Implement AI to scan all in-coming tweets for themes and memes … useful in segmentation for good/evil purposes

    Run stories, do movies portraying heavy FB/Twit users as social losers of a particular sort: not dweebs but scum, hangers-on, abetters, used-and-thrown-away doormats, etc.

    DOS – FB/Twit – use spam to target worst offenders of inflammatory messaging … either they shut down because they can’t afford additional servers or their gains get eroded – either way makes it more expensive for them to operate

    Do not allow ‘forwarding’ of any messages if the source is FB/Twit… people are less likely to pass a message along if there’s time/effort involved

    Tweets - limit their life span – message self-erases after 5 minutes … make recovery from archive possible but requiring minimum of several hours of effort plus jumping through security hoops

    Analyze twit accounts looking for ‘bouncing walls/echo chambers’ that amplify tweet volumes – sending tweets between a hundred or so so-called different accounts that are all owned by the same person/org. Guessing that much of what makes it into media coverage is probably this sort of stuff, i.e., blurbs sent back and forth really, really fast between a few fake accounts to build fake momentum.

    Any agency that reports on anything 'going viral' must be required that these are unique individuals and not a bunch of echo chambers/fake accounts.

    Grade every Twit account on a continuum of 0 (drone/echo chamber) to 10 (original) ... and include that grade as part of every tweet they send. This way recipients will have some way of knowing how much thought was put into that Tweet.

    Any org with multiple ‘accounts’ is considered ‘media’ and by law required to conform to media regulations or risk penalties, fines, loss of license, etc.. Foremost this means being able to get sued for libel which means having a real bank account to cover potential liability which means lots and lots of $ in reserve. This also means corp officers’ names and addresses must be published, as well as up-to-date lists of all their ‘handles’. If any 'handle' is found guilty, then that corp is guilty – and all of their accounts get frozen for set time. No Internet/online acct can be owned by a numbered/anonymous company.

    Limit FB/Twit accounts to two-per-human-per-lifetime – one identified and one anonymous – identified traceable by authorities … ends absolute Internet anonymity … but currently of the impression that more bad than good is done under cover of anonymity.

    FB/Twit – acct summary – ‘how evil/dumb are you?’ --- AI provides a summary at end of month of all incoming, forwarded, and composed/sent messages and grades the acct holder on just how evil/stupid/dupable they are. Users below a specified cut-off have their accts frozen for a set period of time and get signed up for ‘truth-vs.-lying’ detection courses until they pass. Each time they revert to previous evil/dumb behavior, they’re cut off for a set minimum (increasingly longer per fail) time span. About half of all tweets are AI generated to provide benchmark for true/false dumb/evil testing.


    134:

    For a decent deterrent, what is needed (but don't ask me how) is a way to reproduce the effect of when you drop your clever crass remark into the conversation and look round grinning to see who's impressed, to find that everyone has gone quiet and is looking at you like a wart.

    FB at least has its range of emoticon responses. This at least makes the response to readers more obvious. There could be other approaches, like Reddit's ranking system, as well as others untried, like fading the text, or reducing the font size.

    What I worry about is going in te other direction, making everything so non-abrasive that self-censorship abounds and authoritarian control slips in.

    135:

    I don't read twitter, ever. I have no account, and have no intention of *ever* having one.

    I'll assume most of you here know *why* there's a 140 char limit.

    In the mid-nineties, I spent about 1.75 years wearing a pager 24x7x365.25, except for the couple of months I wore *two* of them. ESAD is how I feel about pages.

    mark, actively hostile to twitter

    136:

    I concur that education would be a good option. But you cannot force people to be educated even if they must attend school. Where I live, the uneducated wear that a badge with pride as part of their despising elites.

    As for "fake news" didn't we get something like that back when newspapers were the main information source and reflected the bias of their owners? British newspapers might not have been propaganda outlets like Pravda or creating fake news deliberately, but the bias between the Telegraph and The Mirror were pretty obvious. Creating fake news, even inadvertently, is a problem. In the US, for example, the NY Times was "suckered" into reporting about non-existent Iraqi WMDs. How would critical thinking techniques have helped in that case?


    137:

    You have fallen into the authoritarian trap.

    138:

    Stephenson alluded to a trust filtered internet in his novel "Anathem". I would like that as a support to my preferred sources.

    However, I don't want that enforced, as it then becomes a target for corrupting influences. Unforeseen consequences are always something to be aware of. Design won't eliminate them.

    As Michael Shermer has pointed out, even smart people can believe weird things. Education didn't work for them. It probably isn't working for most of us either, we just cannot see the weirdness easily.

    While I want to improve my thinking, not everybody does, and that is their prerogative in a free society. What I would prefer are institutions that will act as good checks and balances to prevent weird things from damaging society as a whole. It appears to me that many media sources are failing in that regard. (And I hope that isn't a weird thought.)

    139:

    Re: '... where the emphasis is on convincing people rather than conveying accurate information…'

    Different segments need different things to persuade them: some need an emotional appeal, others need a linear or mathematical logic, others need a combination of emotional and logical approach, while yet others act on their whim and some never know what they want/think/feel. The marketing/communications trick is being able to steer all the different segments into whatever you're selling ... which is being made ever more successful courtesy of G**gl(:.

    140:

    On news slant... every source that has a dog in the fight , has an agenda to push. Varying from choice of words to outright howls of anger. Seeing as the truth would be tricky to winnow from this mess- I have a solution. Pick 2 diametrically opposed sources, average them. what falls out of the bottom of the reaction is the truth. If you can find another source that matches this product- it is trustable on this subject.

    On echo chambers,,, this is why I try to infiltrate odd groups on facebook. Its fun, also educational..

    141:

    A few comments/thoughts ...

    Journalism predates advertising with the first ad posted in 1472. Below is a timeline re: history of advertising. There is nothing sacrosanct about advertising - what it says, what it looks like, where it's used, to/from whom, how much it charges/costs, how it's supposed to work, etc. (If anything, I would push my ad manager to put the ad agency on a %-of-incremental-sales-model with the ad agency proving that they did in fact deliver value.)

    https://offers.hubspot.com/history-advertising

    Below is specific to the US:

    http://adage.com/article/special-report-the-advertising-century/ad-age-advertising-century-timeline/143661/


    Advertising varies across countries/cultures ... TV advertising in India is very different from US and European models as it applies to consumer esp. packaged goods marketing/advertising for multinationals. Indian advertising focused/focuses on name/brand awareness/recognition and category performance using very short spots (:10-:15) vs. developed nations that use mostly :30 spots which almost forces them into story-telling ... ambiance, emotion, satisfaction, etc. Advertising targeting other user groups, i.e., professional, industrial, B2B tends to be similar worldwide mostly because the media used for reaching these groups are different (historically more targeted) from that used to reach consumers.

    Also - recent news item re: India is going whole-hog into new electronic money aka digital currency. Seems such a move could also provide an excellent test of transaction-based economics, specifically, transaction-based seller-buyer taxation.

    http://www.newsbtc.com/2016/11/26/india-needs-to-adopt-digital-currency/

    142:

    I know you like being controversial, but there's a different issue here.

    I happen to agree that wealth inequality in civilization tends to increase over time. However, it's an unstable situation, and the two outcomes, historically, are redistribution or revolution. Redistribution takes any number of forms, from jubilees, bread and circuses, or social safety nets, and, well, so do revolutions.

    I'll note that "the wealthy keeping all their money" never happens over the long term. Either they redistribute some of their wealth, or they risk losing it all, along with their lives, their family's lives, and everything they value.

    So if you're angry at liberals for favoring redistribution over revolution when there's a societal explosion brewing, unless you're an avowed anarchist, you may want to think about whose side you're actually on.


    143:

    Pick 2 diametrically opposed sources, average them. what falls out of the bottom of the reaction is the truth.

    If 2016 demonstrated one thing, it's that the obvious exploit of this algorithm can be used successfully to gain political power.

    144:

    The never-ending Quest For Eyeballs may be part of the problem, but I don't think it's the big one.

    The big one is that the round-trip times on the news/information cycle have dropped from days/weeks down to hours. You can't build up a good head of outrage and sustain it through days of nothing happening. You need a constant irritant to keep the adrenaline flowing. The shorter the RTT, the more positive gain there is on the feedback loop.

    This might be a testable hypothesis. If you could simply delay FB posts or tweets by a couple of days to a set of users, you could probably get quantitative comparisons of their rage levels vs. those that got the feed ASAP.

    Of course, FB and Twitter would probably be committing suicide by performing this experiment...

    145:

    The Never Ending Quest for Eyeballs may not even entirely be about ad revenue. Crackpots, cranks, and propagandists are entirely ok with pursuing venues that don't generate CPM cash. Unfortunately, reputable writers and producers also use non-monetized channels to build their audience so the bad actors always have a vector to get their stuff out disguised as real news.

    Slowing the news cycle might change the nature of the beast as outrage-based clickbait would be less effective, but the true fake news artists would still be able to infiltrate public discourse.

    146:

    Charlie said: Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is very constrained: it's almost impossible to express long, nuanced opinions.
    This is also the problem with powerpoint, or any slide presentation, or any format that forces text into small boxes.

    147:

    @60 (Edward Morbius, Bill Arnold)

    I haven't read it for a few years, but I recall first encountering the discussion of the influence of radio on the Rwandan genocide in Daniel Goldhagen's Worse Than War. (Yes, it has its critics.) IIRC, he made reference to works like the article cited by Edward. I've put a hold on the book at my library to reread it - the times call for it...

    The most striking note I remember from the Rwandan radio (and poster) propaganda was the persistent likening of the Tutsis to snakes, reminiscent of the likening by Goebbels' propaganda likening Jews to rats.

    The role of radio in incitement is being replaced by blogs and podcasts now. Watch for instances when some maligned subgroup starts regularly getting likened to some pest animal.

    148:

    @84 (Jocelyn Ireson-Paine)

    While I broadly agree, "education" by itself can't be the whole story. There are plenty of highly educated people who commit egregious fallacies and believe in utter nonsense. Whichever sector of politics you live in, you can point at another sector and its lunacy.

    There were a lot of professors and doctors in the SS...

    Of course, education is not uniformly distributed, and that may account for the incredulity of twitter, fb, etc followers. And that feeds into the weird anti-elite sentiment (reverse-elitism!) that is rearing up everywhere.

    Some forms of education are not that great at training people to detect internet bullshit. For example, some science courses are taught as what I call "astrology courses". There's a paradigm, sort of a mechanism, and look, there are even formulas and numbers. But very little in the way of justification, and why some ideas don't work. The message: accept this dogma, don't question its basis.

    So good education needs to show people how to question what's being taught. Where do we see that? "Clear thinking" material in English subjects; axiomatic mathematics (with counterexamples); history, showing where people's ideas were falsified by events; philosophy. This is not to say the other worthy subjects (arts, sciences) should not also be studied, but these ones are the ones that help immunise people against bullshit.

    149:

    @97 (Charlie Stross)

    The ABC in Australia is state-funded, but not under state control, a distinction which was lost on our penultimate prime minister: [[ link here - mod ]] At the time, people pointed out (look it up, ICBF) that this was a call for the ABC to be more like a state propaganda organ than an independent, state-funded broadcaster.

    This is one of a broader set of claims, usually from the right, that state-funded bodies (judiciaries, police, education departments, hospitals, arts bodies, independent commissions, etc.) should do the bidding of the government, just because government pays.

    150:

    Oops, I left out languages in the list of worthy subjects - they show different perspectives and ways of doing/thinking about things.

    Apologies to other disciplines I've left out.

    151:

    One way to build trust in independent media might be to create a sort of bloggers' guild.

    Membership would mean paying dues and adhering to a code of conduct. Members would be accountable to the group and could be kicked out for violating the code. Members in good standing would be endorsed by the guild and get a presence on the guild's web site. If the guild got big enough, it might be able to use dues to defend members. The guild might also vouch for anonymous members.

    Such a guild might be organized along the lines of free-software/open-source projects like Debian. Anyone can download and install Debian, and anyone can contribute bug reports, but to become a contributor you first have to show yourself to be useful, then be vetted by one or more current members. This entails meeting a current member in person, displaying personal identification, and exchanging encryption keys. If the applicant is accepted the current member vouches for them. Membership can be revoked through some process.

    https://www.debian.org/devel/join/

    152:

    @145 Tom M:

    Yes, I agree that ad-monetized eyeballs are not the only thing of value on the internet. People are minting real power out there, too. Cf. Trump, Donald J.

    You guys may have already seen this, but I'd managed to avoid the Toxoplasma of Rage essay until recently. This is sort of a memetic treatment of what makes Bad Craziness on the internet propagate, and why the propagation becomes an end in itself, rather than a process in service of some sort of persuasion--or even monetization. Long, but well worth it.

    That's sort of why I'm more inclined to look at the factors that have increased the gain on the rage feedback loop than simply to toss this off as a natural consequence of monetization or power-seeking. I don't doubt that the elimination of a finite inventory of ad space has made the media inclined to be more inflammatory, but that inflammation used to die out on its own, not so much from lack of oxygen as from the inability to maintain enough heat for long enough to make the fire self-sustaining. The cycle time now manages to preserve plenty of heat.

    153:

    "There are plenty of highly educated people who commit egregious fallacies and believe in utter nonsense."

    Yes. I find it particularly baffling that doctors, who have a longer education than most and in a highly science-founded subject, seem also to be noticeably prone to espousing just the kind of idiotic viewpoints that you might expect such an education to lead them to reject. Maybe a study of doctors would throw some light upon why people do this sort of thing.

    My A-level chemistry course was such a science course as you describe: understanding was not required; or even, apparently, desired - the information given, and not given, in the course was so selected as to make it next to useless for any purpose outside passing the exam at the end of it. (I strongly suspect this was a deliberate policy to avoid schools turning out thousands of people a year with the knowledge to successfully synthesise many common drugs and explosives.) Passing that exam was at least 95% a pure test of memory; as long as you could remember arbitrary facts and regurgitate them on demand it didn't matter a toss whether you understood them or not.

    But I didn't nickname such courses "astrology", I nicknamed them "history", because that was a subject which didn't even make any noticeable pretence of being anything other than a test of memory. Of all the subjects I did at school, history is absolutely the last I would consider as a useful aid to thinking, because it never called for any kind of thought at all.

    English was little better. It wasn't a pure test of memory because you were expected to dress up the teacher's waffle in your own words rather than simply regurgitate it straight; and there were also exercises involving reading a passage and then answering some questions on it, but you'd have to be a special kind of moron not to be able to come up with the answers in rather less time than it took to write them down, so that hardly counts. "Clear thinking exercises"? Wossat then?

    Philosophy I would regard as tending to achieve exactly the wrong result, because it is simply twitter with a stamp of bogus respectability. It doesn't matter that you have no evidence and no testability, it doesn't even matter if it's fundamentally impossible to obtain evidence or perform a test; as long as you can dress up "because I think so" in sufficiently deep sounding language and find an impressive enough pulpit from which to declaim it, fame and status is yours. It doesn't matter if some other philosopher answers the same question in a completely opposite manner: it is impossible to decide which answer is correct since there is nothing to back either of them up but different flavours of "because I think so", and so you just get to drag on "well I think this", "well I think that" indefinitely. It doesn't matter if, some centuries after you've managed to establish your "because I think so" as a "fact", scientific knowledge advances to the point where there now is some evidence, and that evidence shows it's not a "fact" at all: you can just stay within the walls of the philosophical ivory tower, still broadcasting the "fact" from the parapet and ignoring the inconvenient evidence, and still get away with it. It begets absurd obstacles to progress such as the medieval Catholic church forcing people to express their ideas in a manner compatible with Aristotle's views even though those views were now patently untenable due to the advance of scientific knowledge, or (as I mentioned in the previous thread) people today continuing to insist that there cannot be a distinction between mind and body on no more foundation than that some dead geezer didn't like the idea, despite the abundant evidence provided by computer technology in particular that if you don't understand the nature of the distinction and the interaction between the physical and the logical structure of something it's a quick way to fuck up big time. (And then Wittgenstein came along, pointed out that it was all bullshit and replaced it with something even more bizarre and inexplicable; which of course means that all anyone in the street knows of him now is his name.)

    Really, I think it is missing the point to champion any subject or group of subjects, since they will inevitably fail to cover the range of subjects which those at school will actually enjoy. Rather, it would be better to move up a level and endeavour to produce a change of culture in schools. At present kids learn not to value intellectual pursuits, partly because of the insults and mockery directed at those few who do, and partly because schools have such an amazing talent for sucking any possible enjoyment or interest out of everything and anything they impose on their pupils. (My interest in physics made it out of school intact, but my interest in chemistry took a beating, and it was many, many years before I would touch anything that even smelt of history or "literature" with a bargepole.) I find it not uncommon to still encounter people who have a horror of anything "schooly", despite having left school decades ago.

    Of course, this state of affairs does not have to obtain. AIUI the attitude in Japan is very different, although I'm not sure the reasons behind the difference are all that healthy; and there do exist places where wisdom is generally valued independently of the concept of gaining qualifications and certificates for purely utilitarian purposes. So we do know it can be done, even if it is not easy. (And even the colours and nature of the furnishings of classrooms are factors which need to be considered.)

    154:

    ...Solution? Global ban on ad-supported social media. Instead, micropayment architecture funded via ISP subscriptions....

    ...Since we can't do that, the obvious solution is to pull the net, like the roads, into the public realm....

    ...The even more obvious solution is to forbid advertising...

    ...My proposed solution: a universal broadband tax...

    ...

    PEOPLE.
    WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
    PEOPLE.
    STAHP.

    Stop proposing "solutions" that involve either:
    A) People paying money.
    B) Bans/laws.

    A is not going to happen. B will make things even worse.

    155:

    Oh, that is fairly well-known! They have been through a long period of being taught that Eminent Authority has the answers (such as they are), what patients and other individuals say is unreliable, and that there are no flaws in the official story. As many of my friends in medical research say (some of whome have multiple doctorates), medical doctors generally make very bad researchers indeed. Physicans are nearly as bad as physicists in their adherence to the official dogmas and their inability to handle statistics.

    156:

    Facilities cost money to provide. Someone has to pay that money. Public services in a socialist society merely mean that everybody pays. There may be fairies at the bottom of your garden, but there are compost heaps at the bottom of mine.

    157:

    Yes
    It is quite amusing (so far) to be an informed & educated patient, gently trying to point out to a medi-quack, or worse some nurses, that actually, I'm relatively well-informed & have an IQ greater than that of a potato.
    Because, I'm usually greeted in condescending child-speak - which gets them nowhere, of course ....
    Exception: last year, when the specialist who treated my (late-diagnosed) broken arm, who twigged, almost instantly, that giving me more, detailed information, was the way to go ....

    158:

    There are two things I'd like to say about the experience you describe of school years:

    1) It got better. People recognised that better ways were needed and they have tried them, from the late 60s to the present - in some cases very successfully. My own experience in the 70s and 80s was markedly better than what you describe, though containing elements of it.

    2) When people advocate "back to basics" education, often in a context of complaining about standardised curricula, or often in the FORM of standardised curricula, the shit you describe is what they are talking about, the way they think it should be.

    I also have a perception that people who only did high school level education (and plenty who went further) and who are of a certain age, mid to older baby boomers mostly, while having great handwriting and mostly pretty decent spelling, often have strikingly poor reading comprehension and limited numeracy beyond basic arithmetic.

    I personally favour a mandatory high school level course on general philosophy including inductive versus deductive reasoning, philosophical logic as well as symbolic logic, the major fallacies in some depth, probability and stats, the history of the western intellectual tradition (and why we think some bits of it are worth keeping) and the epistemological basis of the scientific method (and of other forms of knowledge-claim in widespread use, at the very least by way of contrast). Rationalism versus empiricism, what observation and measurement really gives you, the range of meanings of precision versus accuracy, subjectivity versus objectivity, how people abuse them. It actually doesn't help to just piss on the humanities because you think they are not evidence based, because all that does is show that you are leaving your own way of understanding evidence unexamined (and there's no particular "you" I have in mind here, and no offence to any person intended). You need most of those things to read 18th and 19th century thinkers and do them justice - or even grasp what they are getting at. Otherwise moving further forward is a compounding of divergence and a lot of, hopefully creative, innocent errors that add up to a bit of a messy soup.

    159:

    It used to be bad around here, but now is pretty good - probably because of the number of patients who have more qualifications than the doctors :-)

    160:

    It is known that doctors make the worst patients

    161:

    A big problem is that trolls often bring friends with them, who are more than happy to egg them on. So they look round grinning to see their yob mates grinning and backslapping, and keep going.

    True, that. However, it's not inevitable: it's a symptom of negligent moderators.

    Part of what I do to keep this blog going with discussions like this is ruthlessly cull anything that looks like a pattern of trolling — sock puppetry, concern trolling, and numerous behavioural quirks that come under the rubric "I know it when I see it" — and ban the fuck out of the perpetrators and delete their comments. I also have a posse of backup moderators in various time zones.

    If trollish behaviour isn't allowed to take root, the result is a discussion forum with self-perpetuating community standards that provide an unwelcoming environment for trolls. And conversely, if you don't root them out, like attracts like.

    162:

    I wondered when the Laffer Curve would come up. Shorter version: there's no such thing as a free lunch (and the Laffer Curve only works in really extreme cases).

    163:

    This would take many of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether, which then means that the benefits paid to them to compensate for their being taxed do not then need to be there.

    Already happened (from 2010 onwards); didn't work. Turns out that most of the families on benefits have at least one wage earner and are working at least 40 hours a week: income stagnation means that even with income tax not cutting in until you're earning over £10,000 a year, lots of people are needing state top-ups to survive despite working full-time.

    164:

    Do not allow ‘forwarding’ of any messages if the source is FB/Twit… people are less likely to pass a message along if there’s time/effort involved

    Congratulations: you just banned cut and paste.

    Tweets - limit their life span – message self-erases after 5 minutes … make recovery from archive possible but requiring minimum of several hours of effort plus jumping through security hoops

    Congratulations: you just destroyed Twitter. (Hint: not everyone reads their tweet stream in real time 24x7; some of us like to sleep and eat and catch up later ...)

    Any org with multiple ‘accounts’ is considered ‘media’ and by law required to conform to media regulations or risk penalties, fines, loss of license, etc..

    Congratulations: you just shut down this blog for good (and precluded a replacement).

    Limit FB/Twit accounts to two-per-human-per-lifetime – one identified and one anonymous

    Congratulations: you just drove teachers, doctors, lawyers, and everyone else who maintains a work/personal separation for professional reasons right off the internet for good. You also fucked over women trying to get away from abusive exes stalking their online identity, and a bunch of other dangerous edge cases.

    See, this sort of thing is harder than it looks.


    165:

    One way to build trust in independent media might be to create a sort of bloggers' guild.

    Under what national legal jurisdiction? How does enforcement work? How does your guild stop non-members from blogging?

    C'mon, this stuff should be obvious ...

    166:

    Re: ..'.a mandatory high school level course on general philosophy including inductive versus deductive reasoning, philosophical logic as well as symbolic logic, the major fallacies in some depth, probability and stats, the history of the western intellectual tradition (and why we think some bits of it are worth keeping) and the epistemological basis of the scientific method (and of other forms of knowledge-claim in widespread use, at the very least by way of contrast).'


    This is exactly what is covered in the 'Theory of Knowledge' course which is a mandatory subject in the IB Diploma program. In my neck of the woods, an increasing proportion of middle/upper-middle folk are sending their progs to (mostly private) schools that offer IBs.

    http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/publications/recognition/core_tok.pdf


    Wikipedia:

    'The International Baccalaureate (IB) ... is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and founded in 1968.'


    167:

    Yes. I find it particularly baffling that doctors, who have a longer education than most and in a highly science-founded subject, seem also to be noticeably prone to espousing just the kind of idiotic viewpoints that you might expect such an education to lead them to reject.

    Do you know any doctors/medical students socially?

    The training is protracted and so tough that there's literally no time for studying anything else ... including, dare I say it, critical thinking, never mind civics.

    AIUI the attitude in Japan is very different

    Nope: the Japanese education system is all about rote memorization and performance.

    168:

    More detail ... and yes, this course includes projects (papers/research - primary and secondary) and exams.

    'Component

    Knowing about knowing

    TOK examines how we know what we claim to know, by encouraging students to analyse knowledge claims and explore knowledge questions. A knowledge claim is the assertion that “I/we know X” or “I/we know how to Y”, or a statement about knowledge; a knowledge question is an open question about knowledge. The distinction between shared knowledge and personal knowledge is intended to help teachers construct their TOK course and to help students explore the nature of knowledge.


    Ways of knowing

    While there are arguably many ways of knowing (WOKs), TOK identifies eight specific WOKs: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. Students must explore a range of ways of knowing, and it is suggested to study four of these in depth.


    Areas of knowledge

    Areas of knowledge are specific branches of knowledge, each of which can be seen to have a distinct nature and different methods of gaining knowledge. TOK distinguishes between eight areas of knowledge: mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. Students must explore a range of areas of knowledge, and it is suggested to study six of these eight.'

    169:

    IMO, physicians can be split into two distinct groups: the clinicians and the researchers. Very different mindsets required ... clinicians mostly go by what is the likeliest thing to have happened given what they see/can measure in a few minutes. Typical GP/FM office visit is about 10-15 minutes - and since many Western countries have GP/FM/primary care shortages - this is being further eroded/shortened. The advantage for this type of physician (clinician) is to have excellent recall of a very large number of diseases/conditions that do not require referrals or hospitalization.

    MDs who are mostly researchers/academics take much more time evaluating whatever is put in front of them. Partly this is because the patient wouldn't have landed at their door if whatever they had lent itself to an easy diagnosis, and partly because that's how this groups' mind works anyways ... always poking into things, explaining things in great detail (if it's a teaching hospital, and you're the lucky/unlucky patient that's part of their grand rounds for that week).


    Back to GP/FMs ... consider how much the population demographics, esp. ethnic background, has shifted over the past 30 years in many of the largest cities in the West. Now consider that your local GP/FM is supposed to be able to provide the same standard of care (ability to diagnose and treat) everyone regardless of their geographic and genetic background. Basically, your local GP now needs to be able to spot/diagnose diseases that in previous generations were 'rare' and got written up in Lancet, NEJM, BMJ or Nature.


    170:

    I personally favour a mandatory high school level course on general philosophy

    A better single-semester course to run in high school, probably just before graduation would be taught by con men, stage magicians, card sharps, advertising executives, online marketers and political consultants, educating the students about the deluge they face as adults with disposable incomes and votes in their pockets. Even explaining some of the open-book manipulation basics like the "I tell you three times" rule would be a good start.

    171:

    I have been close to both communities, and their overlap, for 40 years in one of the UK's leading areas for those. The number of qualified medical doctors who are even competent researchers is very small indeed, and almost all of those have given up medical practice.

    172:

    I hear that mostly from the PhD segment usually because the MD-researchers are 'ignoring' the vast amount of detail that the PhDs among them have worked their entire lives to discover. (And, because MDs make tons more money ...)

    173:

    You moderate this blog, but who moderates (or could moderate) Twitter and Facebook? Those platforms seem taylor-built to allow for trollish behaviour.

    To a first approximation, moderation is a form of censorship — albeit one agreed to by the community that is being moderated. It's also time-consuming — automatic systems are unreliable and game-able right now. [1]

    So I see moderation as a (labour-intensive) solution for an individual blog — I don't see how it solves the larger problem of the internet. And I'm not certain what direction to look for a solution, either. Ideally we'd have something like the Tobin Tax, that affects mostly the behaviour we want to curtail, but I don't see a way of having an equivalent (whether it affects money, or time, or whatever).


    [1]Although given it was alt-right complaints about Facebook's human moderators that changed Facebook's policies to open the door for Macedonian teenagers to game the US election for ad revenues, we have clear evidence human systems are also game-able.

    174:

    You didn't say the fixes were supposed to be easy to implement or follow-through on.


    SFr: Do not allow ‘forwarding’ of any messages if the source is FB/Twit…
    CS: Congratulations: you just banned cut and paste. -
    SFr: Yes ... just think of how much shorter my average posts on your blog will be from now on.


    SFr: Tweets - limit their life span –
    CS: Congratulations: you just destroyed Twitter. (Hint: not everyone reads their tweet stream in real time 24x7; some of us like to sleep and eat and catch up later ...)
    SFr: Hey, if the tweet is that important, it'll still be blasted about when you decide to look. (Didn't your parents ever use this rational on you when you were a kid?)


    SFr: Any org with multiple ‘accounts’ is considered ‘media’ ...
    CS: Congratulations: you just shut down this blog for good (and precluded a replacement).
    SFr: Well, you are media ... and if you were operating in the US, you'd be covered by EO (something-number from 1976) that specifically allowed you 'freedom of speech'.


    SFr: Limit FB/Twit accounts to two-per-human-per-lifetime – one identified and one anonymous
    CS: Congratulations: you just drove teachers, doctors, lawyers, and everyone else who maintains a work/personal separation for professional reasons right off the internet for good. You also fucked over women trying to get away from abusive exes stalking their online identity, and a bunch of other dangerous edge cases.
    SFr: Nope because the same protections that apply to obtaining new identities would be transferred over to online identity. Also, there are such things as blockers to minimize/prevent stalking. And, maybe it's time to look at the other side of things ... such as whether stalkers once found guilty/sentenced would retain their 'right' to online presence.


    CS: See, this sort of thing is harder than it looks.
    SFr: I know, but you have to start somewhere ... and there are plenty of bright folk reading your blog and maybe one will come up with something that might work.

    175:

    The school that our kids attend offers IB as an alternative to Higher Grade qualifications. Takeup hasn't been great; I suspect most are watching to see whether it helps or hinders university applications (my sister's oldest child is facing this choice in England; according to her, the Russell Group still appear to prefer A-levels).

    It certainly looks to me like a laudable approach - but the market can be cruel, and involved parents are always going to be cautiously conservative around life-affecting choices...

    176:

    Results show IBs do much better getting into and while in university vs. regular high school programs grads, with proportionally more IBs going on to post-grad. It's a very tough program though, and not for every kid ... burn-out happens.

    http://web.wis.edu.hk/public_html/IB_University_Acceptance_Rates.pdf

    I'm not familiar with the UK education system, so not sure how the IB would compare. IMO, the TOK course though is the only unique part of this program because there are quite a few very strong academic schools around but none that examine the idea of 'knowing' in this way or to this degree. TOK could probably be adapted to fit any school system/curriculum.

    177:
    Congratulations: you just drove teachers, doctors, lawyers, and everyone else who maintains a work/personal separation for professional reasons right off the internet for good. You also fucked over women trying to get away from abusive exes stalking their online identity, and a bunch of other dangerous edge cases.

    One of those "there are two types of people" things I've observed is thinking on identity running in three main categories (SFReader's proposal is a fourth I've not seen before):

  • There should be one identity, non-anonymous, per person per lifetime

  • Category 1, except that under special circumstances (usually to do with fame or social justice) certain people should be permitted an exception. If you're a "normal person" you won't meet those criteria and deserve no protection.

  • You can have lots of identities, and they may or may not be openly connected. Systems should be designed to accomodate this. (I'm in this one)

  • Congratulations: you just destroyed Twitter. (Hint: not everyone reads their tweet stream in real time 24x7; some of us like to sleep and eat and catch up later ...)

    Twitter and anything else you apply this policy to. Or rather, you'll turn it into something along the lines of IRC, where the service itself denies persistence, but a large fraction of users leave a client running all the time so as to peruse at their convenience the accumulated messages. Funnily enough, practically everything more modern has some technique for moving the persistence back into the service, to eliminate the annoyance of everyone having to maintain it themselves.

    178:

    "Do you know any doctors/medical students socially?"

    Oh yes. My mum is a doctor :)

    "Nope: the Japanese education system is all about rote memorization and performance."

    Wasn't what I was getting at - I was thinking about the attitudes to education of those undergoing it. AIUI pupils in Japanese schools are not inclined to take the piss out of other pupils for being zoks in the manner which is customary over here, but instead consider valuing education to be a positive attribute.

    179:

    SFr: Limit FB/Twit accounts to two-per-human-per-lifetime – one identified and one anonymous
    ... whether stalkers once found guilty/sentenced would retain their 'right' to online presence.

    That latter right is the least of the human rights concerns with your proposal.

    The first practical problem I see here is the lack of a current world dictatorship, but one is required for this to work. You need a single global authority to enforce these rules, and it needs to be able to act both quickly and harshly (the internet works in seconds or hours, not days and months). That rules out any legal system, making it a dictatorship.

    Then we need to know who you are - a single, global, unambiguous unforgeable identity. With the global dictatorship it's fairly straightforward, we simply implant a set of ID chips (one per major bone?) shortly after birth. Then we make it a capital offence to possess any of the tools needed to reverse engineer or manufacture those chips (basically, any chips, which is less ugly than it sounds since fabs are big and expensive - you can't build one in a garage).

    The transient nature of online companies and their low revenue per customer makes proper enforcement difficult. To be affordable it would have to be simple, fast and unambiguous. I'm thinking that when you connect you have two or three attempts to authenticate and then your ID chips self-destruct. That would discourage experimentation and only cost lives, which we've already established have little to no value in this scenario.


    But in terms of a practical solution for the world we live in now... I can't imagine how you would even start to implement any of the main prerequisites for this.

    180:

    One of those "there are two types of people" things I've observed is thinking on identity running in three main categories

    I've got a hybrid for you that probably has lots of flaws I haven't thought of:

    Everyone has an identity (like we do now). All internet identities must be tied to that identity, but the tie does not have to be public. It can be revealed with a court order (allowing cases of hate speech or threats to be tracked back to a real person).

    Obvious flaws:
    • eventually government agencies/police would have access, either covert or creeping legal erosion
    • hackers/whistleblowers/stupid mistakes could spread the links between internet identities and real identities

    I forget where I first saw this scheme, but those were the two flaws I immediately thought of.


    And having your real identity involved doesn't stop people doing dumbs things, like that MacWilliams woman in Belleville (who should probably be looking at a lawsuit for defamation, if not criminal charges if applicable).

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/12/07/belleville-woman-helped-cook-up-pizzagate.html

    Highlights:

    Stefanie MacWilliams, a contributor to Planet Free Will, wrote an article last month that took off on social media. In it she recounted a man’s claims about a politically connected pedophile ring housed at the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlour in the U.S. capital.

    “I kind of wanted to put out the information that was there with the statement I’m not accusing anyone of anything, there’s no concrete evidence of anything,” MacWilliams said Wednesday, adding that her readers were very interested in it.

    Among the claims are allegations that aides to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were involved in a child prostitution ring hidden in mysterious tunnels beneath the pizzeria.

    Planet Free Will was among the websites recently called out by the New York Times for sharing fake news.

    “I was personally a little bit insulted,” said MacWilliams of the label, adding, “Fake news has become used as this ridiculous term . . . it’s the new ‘conspiracy theorist.’ ”

    Despite the fallout of Pizzagate (as it’s come to be known) that resulted in an armed man entering Comet Ping Pong in search of alleged child sex slaves, MacWilliams said she has no regrets.

    “I really have no regrets and it’s honestly really grown our audience,” she said.

    James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, felt differently. In a statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Monday, he wrote, “I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here (Sunday), and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.”

    So, we have a young woman who feels that spreading allegations of criminal activity is OK, and hey it's grown her audience. As long as that kind of activity is rewarded and there's no downside, some people will do it.

    181:

    Robert has me blocked, but this was something I purposely didn't mention as it has real power to it (but, as it turns out, Our Kind really do think alike).

    So, we have a young woman who feels that spreading allegations of criminal activity is OK, and hey it's grown her audience.

    No, this is precisely the level of MF snark / cynicism hidden as "adult maturity" that gets the American Liberals into so many holes they dig themselves:

    A Weaponized Mumsnet is 100% where to embed this kind of thing if you're looking for maximal damage - "think of the children" can seem gauche and cynical when run by ancient GOP tomb horrors who have skeletons and dead rent boys in their closets. A million earnest (and oh so very naive) middle-class mothers?

    Quite another.


    Oh, and to prove this - this case is a point in question. Your culture is Patriarchal and damaging, and maximizes the 'virtues' of 'protecting' women, so you get this kind of thing:

    When 4chan /lit/ destroyed the innocence of a woman book-reviewer ~Imgur, so safe - contents as you'd expect, but fairly mild.


    Tarring someone who is probably deeply emotionally and psychologically damaged by considering these things as 'one of the deplorables' is why you lost.


    Everyone has an identity (like we do now)

    No, sadly, you've missed the lesson of all of this Mr R. Prior: Authoritarians deny Identity to Others, so soon... that statement will not be true.

    And if you think the American Democratic Party isn't full of Authoritarians, I've a bridge to sell you - highly encoded and socially enforced hierarchy is at its core.

    182:

    Digital passport, available for different levels of anonymity to start. 'Passport' is the selling concept because most cultures already use such a document. Where the digital passport authority resides is probably more important in terms of how it might be used or abused.

    More surreptitiously .. and probably how this will evolve ... is via the smartphone and/or digital wallet. Smartphone - everyone I know who upgrades their phone usually just inserts their old simcard into the new phone because they don't want to lose their old data (contact info, pix, etc.). Combine with a digital wallet (or hybridize the smartphone into also being that type of device) that contains other very important and very personal info, you will have everything necessary to identify someone. So if you/a gov't could control the distribution of either smartphones or digital wallets, you could control that person's digital life.

    People of almost all ages have smartphones ... from kiddies in elementary school through to old grannies. This device's ubiquity makes it non-threatening and near-invisible ... plus it's quite addictive for some users.

    183:

    My wife and many of my friends are medical researchers, and the problem they have with qualified doctors doing PhDs is the latters' mindsets, not that they won't accept knowledge. Mainly for reasons related to those I gave in #155.

    184:

    So here's my question for the blog discussion: what is to be done?

    Serious answer: you need to tear down edifices and have a real long look at totally rebuilding the systems you rely upon. And start forcibly retiring some ancient ghouls who need to be retired.

    Case in point:

    Scáthach nUanaid, #525 on Nov 21st 2016 points to Yeltsin, and the USA interactions with his Presidential elections as "obvious, right?". She didn't make the comment earlier, because she assumed from ~July onwards American Minds would be tuned into this.

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/11/playtime-is-over.html#comment-2014088

    Dec 13th, 2016 - US Liberals & Media start waking up to the reality that Russia is merely playing a reverse play-book, 20 years or so later. That Time Cover and so forth, as Tillerson exxon mobil starts drooling over $500 bil in Russian oil contracts (the SEC meanwhile, well - we're sure JPMorge will be right on that).

    Then we hit Murdoch and the ghouls who currently despoil Christianity in their purveyance of hatred. His ex-wife, Putin's new beau - hint, she's Chinese Intel, Special Circumstances division, main-line to the Party Elite. (Derp, this is obvious).


    China's New Blueprint for an 'Ecological Civilization' The Diplomat, Sept 30th 2015

    Green finance provides fast lane for cleaner future Telegraph on China, 21st Sept 2016

    12th International Congress of Ecology (INTECOL 2017 Beijing)

    Being seen going green Shanghai Daily, 2nd Dec 2016


    They're pretty serious about it, esp with the US-RU meld going on. Can provide White Papers / PDFs / Chinese stuff if wanted.

    ~


    Anyhow, something pretty neat by N. K. Jemisin ~ The Evaluators: To Trade With Aliens, You Must Adapt Wired, 12th Dec 2016.

    Seems someone saw the message of "ADAPT OR DIE"... *nose wiggle*


    America has chosen to raise the flag on the Hill they want to die upon.

    So Be It.

    185:

    Oh, and take one thing from Wikileaks:

    The Idea of "Scientific Journalism" with embedded hyperlinks, sources and networks created is a fantastic idea, and something we attempt to show.


    The fact that places such as the Guardian do pathetic weak-sauce versions where they hyper-link to their own content, or stuff such as the NYT can't even source fucking history is a point in case.


    These are the baby steps - and very very few are making them (we, on the other hand, are toning them down. Ms JIP *nose wiggle* at you indeed).

    186:

    Oh, and one last one:

    Reddit, which at this point is a worm-riddled zombie lurching towards Bethlehem, infested by Eglin USA PSYOPs, Russian troll-factories, $.50 cent warriors, Stormfront, Ex-Dig Libertarians / Randians, CTR and so on and so forth, got one thing correct: "Explain like I'm Five".

    The median reading comprehension required for print / online media has been trending downwards like a fucking Michael Bay movie.

    You don't do it like that.

    You make 4 versions, all interlinked, with stratified reading comprehension, with easy ways to tier up/down on your arborescent branches (no, sadly most of your Minds are not ready for Rhizomes) if the reader needs a lesser / more complicated version.

    And you make it non-judgemental / hierarchical so the ignorant (not stupid, ignorant) don't feel barriers to switching between streams.

    ~


    That's the fucking fix, idea wise.


    Capital?

    LOL.

    QE made the top 5% something like 60% richer in the last eight years, and you're all still playing by a rule-book that imagines Capital doesn't fucking cheat.

    Take 1% of QE, fund decent media - whelp, there's a model that would have worked.


    Instead you've got a bad case of the soulless Ghouls running the show.


    [Hint: Kill them with fire]

    187:

    Oh, and sorry for the spam, but:

    I mentioned Reddit for a reason - there's some very decent little bots running on there which do "News digestion" and parse down long-articles into pertinent data points. They're getting fairly good at it.

    You start with the top-tier, highly informed, highly linked and highly informationally dense stuff written by H.S.S and then you employ bots to structure your trees. Using bots, you slave them to the source doc / human journalist and then make sure other bots credit them.

    Bot-nets run by Journalists, obvious answer.

    DERP.

    It's not like this wasn't the original model for Democratic Media. (c.f. "Yes Prime Minister")


    To stop the rot of the 20th C models, you start deploying extremely aggressive neutral bots based on truth. Call them "Portia Web Spiders".


    And you make them either a) answerable to no-one or b) answerable to the U.N.


    ~

    Or, someone will do it for you, then you're all fucked as they gut all the secret little places like Panama.


    *serious side-eye*

    188:

    Jaron Lanier (in his book 'You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto') succinctly summed up the dysfunction at the heart of our present ad driven clusterfuck as follows:

    “Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth.”


    189:

    Oh, and serious point:

    The Web used to be "archive everything" (c.f. scientists desperately moving data outside of US hosts due to Trump - or web archives themselves).

    Places like thememoryhole.org (sadly long nuked, 2009) used to host proper information.

    Certain agencies have been waging non-stop war on source materials for their (incredibly stupid and short-sighted) goals.

    ~

    A proper PWS would trace all sources, and all data, all social networks and all connected nodes (yes, Gibson nod there).

    Hint: Super-Computers, derp.

    It's already being done.

    That's what they're being used for, really. The (risk) modelling comes afterwards.

    ~


    The problem is that they're being run by a) dumb apes and b) really ego-thin and stupid Archons - or c) Ideologically inept apes whose Minds still don't even grasp the basics of ecology / biology so try to frame everything in a mechanical / digital analogy and then are spoilt as shit and eradicate anything that goes against said view.

    And that, kids, is why the fucking Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (ex) and Exxon Mobil get on so well.

    No, really. That's the issue.


    Or did you miss the fact that two 70 year olds just ran for election in a country that demographically is switching from Boomer to Millennial?

    190:

    via the smartphone and/or digital wallet. Smartphone - everyone I know who upgrades their phone usually just inserts their old simcard into the new phone

    But your proposal is that it be a crime to have more than two online identities, not that "most people who have smartphones" should find it inconvenient to do so. Especially when by identity you appear to mean effectively "screen name", which means that "Bob", "Bob Smith", and "Robert Edwin Joeseph Smith" either need to be allowed for as "the same", or steps taken to inform users that they must choose exactly one name. By one interpretation I have credit cards in three different names...

    It is interesting to decide just what level of anonymity you're willing to establish against which particular sets of actors. On the one hand I have persistent psuedonyms that have been around for decades (online and off), to the point where many people who know me couldn't tell you my legal name(s). On the other, it would be fairly easy for google to link my contacts and preferred apps/add-ins with my location and work out who I am even after I change phones/SIMs etc. But on the gripping hand, when I got a copy of my police record it turned out that I had been arrested and charged under at least one name that they had failed to link to the meat puppet they had their hands on. It puts the difference between "are you X" and "what is your name" in a whole new light.

    191:

    Rule #1: Predators parse reality differently than you do.

    Never make Laws without considering what Predators do with them.

    In fact, never allow Predators to make rules, they just ignore / break them anyhow. (c.f. various Texan anti-women Laws, outgoing Republican leaders stuffing Senates etc etc).

    They think they're Predators.

    They Cheat.

    They Win if you play by their rules.


    If you want a 100% true reason why Antisemitism is a thing, it's usually due to ruling Elites (Christian, but also Muslim, zzzzzz fucking Abrahamic Religions get out of my fucking skull you fucking sociopaths) getting outsmarted / leveraged / indebted to players playing smarter than them.

    Derp, that's why the whole Jews = Parasites Meme was born, and why Shakespeare sought to remove its pernicious fakery with The Merchant of Venice. (Hint: all the ruling Lords of Venice were Catholics, parse that onto Elizabethan England Anglicanism of course).


    ~


    Oh, but they're not real Predators.

    They're just pretending, they've no real idea how to run Governments or Businesses (extraction model of Capitalism, c.f. Mitt Romney).


    @Host. Apologies, but really.

    Someone tell y'all that the Trump Expendables is only #stage II in the SF play-book. They expect they'll get impeached / resisted / force-back, then comes stage III (which is unrest / the S.A. muppets of Kek / Alt-Right / Spence etc) then comes stage IV.

    This shit is so obvious.

    *nose wiggle*

    We have other ideas.


    They want the Real Deal[tm]?

    So Be It.


    p.s.


    Harvard MBAs arguing about fish quotas as "need to be at the table to make deals"? Yeah, you're totally fucked.

    192:

    I agree about medics doing research. My last-but one job was in part advising registrars and research registrars on making their research projects practical. They were so focussed on their profession that they needed guidance. A surgeon who had just operated on a ruptured aortic aneurism with no problems had visibly shaking hands when I gave him one of my standard practical tests for new researchers - to calibrate the pipettes they would be using for their assays. He passed with flying colours with less than 1% cv on a 10 microlitre pipette. He admitted that he'd lost sleep worrying about the test.
    It was more difficult persuading their consultants when their projects were impractical. I had to get backup to persuade an endocrinologist that the urine iodine method he had found in a decades old paper would be fairly certain to destroy my lab (and probably me) in an explosion. Luckily I couldn't order the reagents without clearance from the US authorities that I was not a terrorist.

    193:

    "It was a marginal 98% tax rate."

    98% tax on the highest incomes probably would stifle some of the tech innovation we all so dearly love, but a 70% rate would be...no problem at all! How we know this is simply because Gates and Jobs started Microsoft and Apple in the 1970s when the highest U.S. brackets paid 70% tax. Thereby proving that at least from Messrs. G. & J.'s perspective, it really wasn't a deal breaker. And the '40s and '50s boom years did in fact have top earners paying 90%, without depriving the Truman and Eisenhower eras of growth or innovation. So from a rational standpoint, arguments against income redistribution citing growth concerns are weak. Now all we need is a rational world to live in.

    194:

    NPR (US based National Public Radio, a quasi government funded radio network) did this story about tracking down one source of "fake news" in the last election.

    www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/23/503146770/npr-finds-the-head-of-a-covert-fake-news-operation-in-the-suburbs

    195:

    98% tax on the highest incomes probably would stifle some of the tech innovation we all so dearly love, but a 70% rate would be...no problem at all! How we know this is simply because Gates and Jobs started Microsoft and Apple in the 1970s when the highest U.S. brackets paid 70% tax.

    The rate on capital gains was about 1/2 of this in those times. Gates and Jobs got their incredible pots of money not via a paycheck but rather based on owning a non trivial amount of stock that grew in value by many powers of 10. And this increase in value was taxed at the lower capital gains rate. Mostly when they cashed out and sold their stock.

    196:

    Sorry. Most like about 1/3 of those high tax rates.

    197:

    Been done a long time ago.
    It's called:
    "Scientific American"

    And
    NAtional Geographic
    &
    New Scientist
    etc .....

    198:

    I could probably parse that, if I wanted to bother, but what's the point?

    Oh, & stop talking about "Minds", will you please - it's simply more pretentious posturing.

    You appear to be:
    Female
    human
    resident in the USSA
    probably ethnically jewish.

    Like I said, please stop pretentious/posturing/posing/pouting/preening.

    [ Alliteration, huh? ]

    199:

    Scientific American - Reads like Engadget these days. And will apparently let anyone write anything. eg (https://www.scientificamerican.com/author/matt-ridley/)
    National Geographic - Owned by Murdoch
    New Scientist - Admittedly pretty good but paywalled.

    I'm sure there are some good mainstream, and reasonably popular scientific websites out there that actually do journalism, but I don't think these were good examples. I'm also fairly sure that when Minvera said "Scientific Journalism" they didn't mean journalism about science but journalism about general subjects that followed good scientific method and publishing principles. When did you last see a mainstream news article with footnotes and a table of references? When did you last see a mainstream news article that was even as structured as a typical wikipedia article?

    Does anyone read Wikinews any more? Maybe that's an experiment in a journalism that has some resistance to fake-news gaming and without an advertising business model (or much of any business model!).

    200:

    Mattias: such a thing already exists and is netting substantial sums for publishers in Germany, and is making inroads in the UK. It's called Blendle (www.blendle.com), and it works well and has a tolerable user interface. Basically, you put about £10 in an account (the system gives you a free trial), and every time you read an article a small amount goes to the publisher. You can get a refund if the article proves unsatisfactory.

    wg

    201:

    [Reddit is] a worm-riddled zombie lurching towards Bethlehem, infested by Eglin USA PSYOPs, Russian troll-factories, $.50 cent warriors, Stormfront, Ex-Dig Libertarians / Randians, CTR and so on and so forth

    Hasn't it always been like that? It certainly was the 2-3 times I looked over the last 10 years.

    Proposed solutions to fake news are starting to sound a lot like all the wacky anti-spam solutions being proposed what must be getting on to a generation ago (which is probably 7 internet generations or something).

    On the other hand the best we ever seemed to get with spam was bayesian filtering, and this sounds like a sort of an analogue.

    202:

    I don't think you're thinking that through. You're treating it as some kind of wishy washy problem made of dreams and rainbows where the options are none, some and lots.

    In reality it comes down to numbers. Investing in a startup is a gamble. Investing in a business is a gamble. It's always a gamble.

    extremely high tax rates crush down the potential return, if you can only ever possibly receive back 10% of the potential profit from investing in a venture you're only going to invest in close to sure things. If you have the choice of investing 100 pounds and you think the business has a 80% chance of failing then in order to make sense you need the return if you win to be 500 pounds, the buisness has to grow to 5 times the previous value. if you don't think the business can grow that much then you don't invest. Slap a 50% tax on and it has to grow 10x bigger. Slap a 90% tax on your proceeds and it has to have the potential to grow to 50x the current value just to make it worth taking the risk. Slap a 98% tax rate and it has to grow to 250x or else you're better off keeping that money under your mattress.

    So, super high tax rates murder investment in startups. You can still start a business if your parents are rich etc but you're taking the golden goose and stabbing it through the neck.

    Investors tend to be reasonably rational actors. They're not investing for the sake of your feelings. The numbers have to line up. Betting a pound on a fair coin flip where your potential winnings are 10 pence is a bad bet even if you taking the bet is good for society as a whole.

    203:

    >a) answerable to no-one or b) answerable to the U.N.

    aka:

    option 1: 4chan in bot form

    option 2: "motion passes to implement technical measures to ensure that the official news bots cease making baseless accusations of genocide against the turkish government related to the Armenian issue"

    204:

    One answer:

    Bundling.

    I will happily pay for an Amazon Prime like service, such as, oh, Amazon Prime, with a monthly subscription rate, if in exchange I get bundled ad-free access to my usual sources of good information.

    For regular publication, they should just get a flat rate piece of my fee to the bundler. That way they are under pressure to keep my browsing experience pleasant and informative. No more rumor mongering or clickbait.

    Since blogging is your side line, and you can't guarantee a steady stream of content, you'd get paid by the click, but even though that puts pressure on you to be a troll, the bundling service would be under a countervailing pressure to keep my experience pleasant.

    And best of all, it would be in the bundler's interest to protect my privacy to some degree, and discard my logs, because their interest would not be to keep me clicking. It would be to keep me subscribing.

    It worked for cable TV. It can work for long form journalism and essays. And no micropayment insanity. Bundling services already exist for video content: Youtube Red, Amazon Prime, Netflix, et cetera. Also, since the operating expenses for such a service would be way lower, there is no reason why such services can't enroll every single person who wants to make money posting prose on the Internet. If the monthly cost is low, I'm really not going to try pruning my bundle like a cable subscriber.

    205:

    AIUI the attitude in Japan is very different

    Nope: the Japanese education system is all about rote memorization and performance.

    The difference in Japan is that one is expected to restrain one's opinion on matters in which one has not engaged in extensive rote memorization.

    206:

    Your numbers while appearing logical, miss both reality and history.

    As Keith pointed out, investments were being made during the high tax era, especially in the US. That has to be accounted for.
    As for investment returns, you seem to miss the details of reality. Firstly, CORPORATE profits are taxed at a much lower rate than high marginal income. Profits before tax are reduced by capital spending, interest payments based on leveraged debt/equity ratios, and a host of other tax offsets. Income from owners could be paid in kind, e.g. housing, as well as paying into offshore tax haven accounts (a popular wheeze for the UK). Because high rates or taxation are marginal, that doesn't stop smaller investors doing well with lower tax rates. Finally, income is based on dividends and capital gains (when stock is sold). Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than income. In the high marginal tax rate post-WWII period, executive incomes were low multipliers of average worker incomes. That didn't mean that this income constrained consumption. Corporate vacations, golf memberships, etc (all for "business" reasons and therefore write=offs against taxes) were the benefits given to executives.
    Outside investors have been able to structure their income such that those high marginal tax rates were much reduced. Even today, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

    So in reality, there are many ways to ensure that returns to investment risk are compensated, despite high marginal rates of taxation.

    In addition, lower rates of taxation don't necessarily increase investment risk, as anyone who follows VC investments can attest.

    207:

    "I don't think you're thinking that through. You're treating it as some kind of wishy washy problem made of dreams and rainbows where the options are none, some and lots. "

    To be fair I should credit the source I borrowed it from, Martin Ford's "Rise of the Robots", winner of the 2015 Best Business Book, got my attention when it was promoted on PBS' Nightly Business Report last week. Brief excerpt below:

    "Everyone agrees that incentives are important, but there are good reasons to believe that our economic incentives could safely be moderated somewhat. This is true at both ends of the income spectrum. The premise that even modestly higher marginal tax rates on top incomes will somehow destroy the impetus for entrepreneurship and investment is simply unsupportable. The fact that both Apple and Microsoft were founded in the mid-1970's, a period when the top tax bracket stood at 70 percent, offers pretty good evidence that entrepreneurs don't spend a lot of time worrying about top tax rates. Likewise, at the bottom, the motivation to work certainly matters, but in a country as wealthy as the United States, perhaps that incentive does not need to be so extreme as to elicit the specters of homelessness and destitution. Our fear that we will end up with too many people riding in the economic wagon, and too few pulling it, ought to be reassessed as machines prove increasingly capable of doing the pulling."

    And while your objections do have some impact at first glance, how do you account for 90% top rates during the go-go 1950s? Certainly growth and innovation weren't stifled by Ike's tax regime. And fortunes were clearly made, how else could Trump's father have gotten his millions.

    208:

    Two comments:
    1. Re:
    Simply this: who pays for the product?

    Remember, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

    I skimmed a lot of comments, but folks seem to be misunderstanding. If you buy, then you pay, and some of that goes to the folks serving the ads. If you don't, but you click, the advertiser pays. The "vendor" is the provider of the ads is selling your clicks - *YOU* - to the company paying for the advertising. The middle man is being paid, in both cases.

    2. What might the 'Net look like without advertising, you wonder? At that point, I look fondly back to the days of usenet, and "fair use"....

    mark

    209:

    I remember reading somewhere (in a discussion of corporate management) that in the 50s executives didn't get paid a lot, but they got a lot of tax-free perks in the form of corporate facilities for their use. So the corporation might have a country club membership for the president and officers, for example.

    The writer was pointing out that this included a built-in incentive for the executives to run the companies well, as if the company tanked they lost a goodly portion of 'their' lifestyle.

    No idea how much of a simplification that is — mid-20the century corporate governance isn't my field — but it sounded plausible at the time.

    Sorry, no links because I can't find them again (and the wifi is really dodgy today —took several tries to post this).

    210:
    Likewise, at the bottom, the motivation to work certainly matters, but in a country as wealthy as the United States, perhaps that incentive does not need to be so extreme as to elicit the specters of homelessness and destitution.

    There is evidence that income security actually improves conditions. It prevents "learned helplessness" and encourages enterprise. I have always maintained that the biggest problem in the US for entrepreneurship is lack of guaranteed healthcare. Entrepreneurs often have a working spouse to ensure H/C insurance, or they must be young and healthy. H/C has also been cited as the reason many people stay in jobs they hate simply because of the H/C insurance ties them down. The potential to be liberated from those handcuffs is a lost opportunity.

    Back in the 1970's when I was at university and doing a summer job, one of the older workers explained how he was stuck in the UK poverty trap as taxes rose more steeply than his income rose with his particular job, a council manual worker. I've no idea how that works today in the UK, but it is clearly a problem in the US today, as benefits like food stamps, Medicaid etc are lost as income rises above a threshold so that doing more minimum wage jobs becomes counterproductive.

    211:

    The two flip side(s) of the 90 percent tax rate were first, that it didn't kick in until your income was over $200,000 per year at 1950s prices (with a ton of inflation since then) and also that you could still take plenty of deductions. The tax code wasn't as complicated then as it is now, but a good accountant could still work wonders with your tax bill.

    The right way to do a tax code, IMHO, is to keep taxes fairly low on the first $250,000 - keep the doctors and lawyers happy - with a steep series of rises after that, such that the really high taxes don't kick in until you're bringing in a million dollars a year or so.

    212:

    The deductions were intentional -- the explicit goal was to get money spent (either by buying things, investing in companies, charitable donations, etc.).

    Taxing capital gains (and dividends) at a low rate certainly helps me personally, but it encourages horrible things.

    213:

    Oh, and that Finnish thing about reporting about the prime minister by the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation? Things have gotten a bit serious over there, as two journalists quit Yle yesterday over that.

    Here's the story in English.

    There have also been demands for removing the Yle budget from direct parliamentary control, again.

    214:

    One point on the "paid-for advertising is bad" meme; advertising itself splits into two categories:

    1. Commercial provision of information to an audience that's already interested in the type of product you're selling.

    2. Attempts to persuade someone to buy something they would not otherwise be interested in.

    There are parts of the first form of advertising that are definitely worth saving - this blog is an obvious one (it's advertising that Charles Stross is good at writing, and therefore you should consider buying his books). Decorative labels on beer pumps is another - you're already going to buy a beer by the time you see the label, and the labels are trying to persuade you to choose one beer over another.

    Less useful, but still on the net positive side IMO, are the adverts that tell you about suppliers that you might not have been aware of - e.g. an Onkyo advert coming up when you search for Hi-Fi gear, or an advert for Royds Withy King when you search for "house conveyancing Oxford".

    It's the second chunk that has virtually no redeeming value; the only part of the "buy something they would not otherwise be interested in" adverts that has some value is the part that tells you about a product or service type that you would have been interested in had you known it existed at all. The rest, well...

    So, if you're talking about banning paid advertising - how do you do so in such a fashion as to continue to allow OGH to use this blog to advertise his professional writings?

    215:

    When did you last see a mainstream news article with footnotes and a table of references?

    Great Ghu! I would love to see that!

    I'd also like to see a site for EXTENSIVELY critiquing journalism. Give journalists letter grades and explain why they've screwed up!

    216:

    On the other hand the best we ever seemed to get with spam was bayesian filtering, and this sounds like a sort of an analogue.
    No, better than that, though Bayesian classifiers are an important part (or were years ago); one interesting twist was normalization of the headers, and images and such, so that Bayesian classifiers had something to work with in addition to words.
    Plus there are(were) black lists and white lists and other such features applied to the headers.
    Plus there are(were) honeypots and reporting mechanisms to quickly get samples of mass-distributed spam, which were(are) then normalized (potentially involving NLP (Natural Language Processing in this case)) to try to remove any variation added on a per-instance basis by the spammers so that they can be precisely identified as instances of "known spam".
    Plus custom stuff; e.g. everyone had their favorite regexps for identifying 419 (advance-fee fraud) spams. (The combined approach has been called Hybrid Filtering as implemented by e.g. SpamAssassin.)

    Etc. Arms races are like that. Which is to assert that classifiers are possible for "fake news" and related information, but they would need to be maintained against active adversaries (though legislation could hobble adversaries more than for spam) and would be imprecise.
    In general any tech solution would need to be monitored by minds at least as smart as the adversaries.

    One interesting new toy is Generative Adversarial Nets (2014). Don't know if anyone is using them for spam/ham classifier creation, or spam obfuscation to evade classifiers.
    We propose a new framework for estimating generative models via an adversarial process, in which we simultaneously train two models: a generative model G that captures the data distribution, and a discriminative model D that estimates the probability that a sample came from the training data rather than G. The training procedure for G is to maximize the probability of D making a mistake.

    217:

    Re: 'It is interesting to decide just what level of anonymity you're willing to establish against which particular sets of actors.'

    If you're a purveyor of services/goods - no anonymity available ever because if your product/service fails to deliver, the lawyer needs your name/address to file suit, as does your local tax authority. (Same for officers of the corporation.)

    Private individuals - I think two 'permanent' online user identities (one anonymous and one 'declared') should handle the large majority of cases/people. People do not switch residences, private phone numbers, change their names, etc. all that often for no good reason ... so probably would be similar online. What I think Charlie is concerned about is an individual's freedom from harm - as am I. But I think that unless the authorities (police, social services, hospitals, etc.) start to really take stalking seriously - regardless of the medium used AND have at least a chance or mechanism for stopping the stalking - no laws/regulations will reduce this particular type of harm. So this isn't a tech-only fix. But limiting the total number of active online identities one can have may likely reduce trolling, spreading of dis-information/libel, etc. At the very least, limiting the number of available online personas would act as a disincentive - for the reasonable, not-completely-sociopathic folk. There will always be sociopaths, but they're only about 1% of the total population. Anyways, the fewer total personas out there, the fewer files/users to chase down, which may be helpful in tracking down and stopping those who use online personas to do harm.

    As to how to determine which individuals get to do what online ...
    Licensing ... same as for driving a car, ability to get into debt/get a mortgage, apply for university/job, etc. Most of what adults do (in the West anyways) is based on fulfilling a minimum competency set out by society at large. That the Internet take-up was so rapid means that we (as a society) have to review the pros and cons of usage based on actual data collected re: problems that have arisen in an unregulated digital world and then we need to figure out some rules. For the pooh-poohers ... I imagine that the second batch of car owners/drivers got upset when laws were passed requiring a driver's license, and then insurance ... simply because the first batch of car owners/drivers got into serious accidents. Well, all I'm proposing is the same deal for the Internet ... the 21st century highway.

    Agree ... 'In fact, never allow Predators to make rules, they just ignore / break them anyhow.'

    Except by narcissistic cult leaders, aka those who would be 'GOD'.... Rules' most important purpose is as a benchmark for 'good' people to measure 'evil' in non-believers/aliens.

    218:

    Cough Scientific journalism.
    Scientific journalism is the practice of including primary sources along with journalistic stories. The concept has been championed by Julian Assange of Wikileaks[1][2] and is inspired by the philosophy of Karl Popper.[3]

    Of my daily reading feeds, http://phys.org/ probably comes closest, but they have a constrained format where each article is basically about a new paper.

    219:

    "As to how to determine which individuals get to do what online ...
    Licensing ..."

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Are you or have you ever been a socialist? No, you aren't allowed to post.

    220:

    "Etc. Arms races are like that." We are already well down this path, both in the USA and UK, as has been extensively reported.

    221:

    I think two 'permanent' online user identities (one anonymous and one 'declared')

    I'm not disagreeing that it might be an interesting experiment, I'm questioning your sanity because you can't think of an enforcement mechanism but continue talking as though the idea is practical.

    Even the RIAA and associated music companies have struggled with linking online identities to meat puppets for legal purposes, and appear to have largely given up - they now mostly sue the lessees of IPv4 addresses and hope the judge doesn't notice.

    In the US, for example, they have a significant series of problems caused by acting as though the fantasy that cellphones can be linked to legal identities is true. If nothing else they've created a tidy small business sector of people buying prepaid phones then reselling them for profit to people who don't want to show ID to the retailer. So any "you can only have two online identities" is going to have to first solve that problem.

    In related news, not everyone is a homeowner with a fixed address. My house has five or six residents, at least two of whom are not registered with any authority as living there. But they have the wifi password (and access to the switch if they want a wired connection). The internet subscriber signed up to a "share your wifi, get shared wifi" deal which means all residents can access wifi hotspots all over the country. AFAIK the provider considers us all to be the same person.

    It's all these little implementation details that make it very hard to jump from "various companies track you to some degree online" and "we can prove beyond reasonable doubt that Bob Smith has been using the online identity DeathBringer2029".

    222:

    Well done, thatsthejoke.jpg, glad you understood it.


    What should have happened is that Top Minds[tm] should have supported a meta-meta-media ecosystem and cultivated it like a garden, or even treating it like an Orchestra, each singing voice appealing to different aspects, but all in tune for the benefit of your species.

    Instead, you applied crass "Red in Tooth and Claw" and gross MBA type misunderstanding of Nature to it all, and you got ~6 or so conglomerates, total laxitude of spirit and a white bloated underbelly that Breitbart etc could nuzzle at the anus of, then move in to slash and gnaw through into the guts.

    All while ghouls and pathetic little penis-obsessed personas like Ailes forced the "News Bimbos" to give him blow-jobs as a path to success.

    *shrug*

    Too late now, #Wildhunt 2017


    The last giant kelp forest on the east coast of Tasmania has been lost, report divers and scientists

    Ocean heatwave destroys Tasmania’s unique underwater jungle Climate Home, 14th Oct 2016


    You're seriously fucked and the best you can come up with is tinkering around the edges.

    ~

    The Fix is to Change Minds so that 'fake news' (looking @ you, CNN, with those "It's illegal to look at Wikileaks emails, let us look for you") no longer works.

    And trust me: Our Way has a high casualty/causality rate.


    But ~ better than let your World Die.


    Fini.

    223:

    The Fix is to Change Minds so that 'fake news' (looking @ you, CNN, with those "It's illegal to look at Wikileaks emails, let us look for you") no longer works.

    And trust me: Our Way has a high casualty/causality rate.

    OK, running with this, perhaps there is a kinder, gentler way with respect to the casualty rate (getting e.g. 50% there, more among the very young), combined with well-enough-funded tooling and media projects?


    224:

    Of course there is: the problem being since Stalin and the Gulags and Edward Bernays you've been eradicating the possibility / flourishing / growth / becoming / emerging from cocoon.

    You have to give up the addiction to Capital-as-Meaning first though - and given that Russia is responding to the CIA (hello Langley) giving ~$6-10 bil (old dollars before QE etc) direct to the worst mental cases / mafiosi who survived the gulags, there's a lesson here.

    Capital is a tool, nothing more. As a 'means to an end' it's Ouroboros and leads to Death Spirals (along with the eschatological death spiral of mis-using Christianity / Abrahamic religions in particular).


    And like all addictions: you control it, or it controls you. (derp).

    225:

    Yes - I understand what you're saying ...

    Which is why what I'm saying is that - if people are really serious about stemming online problems - the easiest way may be to start over. In a way, that's what happened with cars and drivers licenses but with many more users already on the roads*. Or we wait for a new generation of online tech, and implement then. Or, if demand for identifying individuals grows enough, someone will take the problem on if only for the $.

    * Possible other analogous product/service: pharmacies/chemists --- once these retailers'/services' growth spurted and problems arose, they got regulated.

    226:

    # 222 - 224 appear to be content-free (again )

    227:

    In South Korea, you don't get online without showing ID.

    https://thearrivalstore.com/korean-guide-getting-internet-korea/

    • there’s no such thing as Internet anonymity in Korea
    • every Internet connection has to be traceable to a Korean ID or corporate registration number.

    So it's a possible solution. There's VPNs and stuff, but at your access point you (or someone) has a real-world ID on the connection.

    228:

    Possible other analogous product/service: pharmacies/chemists --- once these retailers'/services' growth spurted and problems arose, they got regulated.

    Utilities in general are regulated. One could make the argument that the Internet is a utility and needs regulation.

    Yes, this would cramp corporate freedom. But many measures for the public good already do that.

    I can sympathize with the American Indians who lost their Facebook access because their actual names weren't considered authentic. Ironic that this policy is in aid of suppressing fake and malicious accounts, which were allowed carte blanche in the recent election because the alt-right complained.

    https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/arts-entertainment/facebook-name-police-native-american-names-arent-authentic-enough/

    Should Facebook be allowed to do that? I know of several organizations that require Facebook accounts to communicate with them — and Facebook claims to be a common carrier like the phone company, which is regulated. Maybe it's time to regulate Facebook and Google?

    229:

    Long time lurker, but felt I had to respond to this one. (Full disclaimer - I generally like the posts of CD / MO or 'whatever the appropriate handle is', though I don't puzzle through all of them. They remind me of Cicadi 3301.)

    While Catina Diamond / Minerva Owl / etc isn't exactly a _direct_ poster, claiming there's zero content is... not really accurate.

    My take on 222 & 224 above:

    Despite our society here in the US regarding the media, journalism, etc as an essential part of our freedoms since the Founding of our Republic (an event that has itself been turned into something of a civic religion), we took this essential public, moral, and governmental function and threw it into the free market and then had the audacity and/or stupidity to pretend we were surprised when we got bad results out of it, even as we spent years (decades) watching it degrade in front of us.

    The Wild Hunt is the European myth about an otherworldly group of hunters and their beasts who variously pursue the guilty, or anyone foolish enough to be caught in their path, or are harbingers of generalized catastrophe. Any or all of these seem applicable to the Trumped United States.

    Education and teaching how to think is a quite obvious fix, but how to successfully and broadly apply it to our place and time is rather less obvious. Wiping out most of us by running humanity through such a tight filter that thinking becomes a necessary survival trait will do the job, but is going to be far, far from pleasant. (See William Gibson's Jackpot for what something like that could look like.) Rather than willingly adapt and improve, since the early 20th, we actively and deliberately been crippling our collective and individual thinking abilities as a species.

    I'm not certain of exactly what the meaning of the second paragraph of 224, but I'd guess it's about the US aiding the worst elements among post-collapse Russia during the 90s, and the blowback that's resulted for the US now, as well as the Russians.

    The concept of Capital is a tool, but that's all it is - if you confuse a tool for the goal (as American society, broadly speaking, does), you can get locked into a death-spiral, aka. a nasty positive feedback loop than ends in destruction.


    While it's all in a unique choice of format, and you are of course free to spend time on it or not as you wish (and agreement is personal) to claim that it is "content-free" is unworthy, particularly from someone like yourself who also adds a great deal of value (at least from my perspective) to OGH's blog.

    230:

    I suspect that the driving factor behind the rise of untruthful news sources is inherent in the increase in available content. 'content', whether it be news or politics or even species evolution, is driven to the mean when there are a limited number of alternatives. When there is a sudden expansion in the environment, diversification happens.

    So, the easy answer is that banning advertisements wouldn't help much. Eg, the same problem didn't exist for television or newspapers - which were both ad-driven... (maybe less so for newspapers) Well, I seem to remember more that the propaganda was more consistent.

    The second easy answer is that hate has always been with us, perhaps muted by a lack of available channels.

    Transparency might help, in combination with either weak or strong AI. Since we have the technology to build a surveillance state, why not surveil the state? And then put together accurate measurements of what has been surveilled and make them as simply comprehensible as possible.

    From a purely US driven perspective, I wonder what would happen if states were taxed based on their federal outlays...it appears that diverse states would have lower costs. ;)

    Stuff like karma is interesting. I just think it doesn't matter because most people don't care.

    I dream of a change to debates. Instead of letting candidates get away with lies, bring in a bunch of fact checkers from both sides. Let the candidates talk. Then let the fact checkers argue. If a fact checker supports clear BS, kick them from the group. If the fact checkers all agree that the candidate is lying, that's a strike. Punish strikes appropriately, starting with a snarky graphic over their head, progressing to a hostile graphic over their head, and ending by dousing them in slime and then fecal matter... It'd be great TV, even if it wasn't live. :) Probably not doable, but it'd work and I'd watch it.

    --Erwin


    231:

    "...Minerva Owl..."

    Ahem: it's Minvera... goddess of Orwellian wisdom... Not sure why I feel the need to point this out, but I do think the transposition is meaningful and should not be missed.

    232:

    Charles, you've nailed the problem in this post. But even if I disagreed with the commenters who point out that micropayments attached to views of content would still produce clickbait and all the other problems you cite (I agree that they would), there are a number of economic reasons why micropayments will never work. Clay Shirky explains them better than I could here:
    http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/02/why-small-payments-wont-save-publishers/

    Putting aside the major headache of trying to come up with an effective technical means of implementing micropayments (an unsolved problem littered with the corpses of peppy tech start-ups). Skirky's basic thesis is that any system that attaches a fixed price to viewing some pieces of content while others are free simply drives people away from the priced stuff (eg Wikipedia vs. paywalled Britannica even with their legacy advantage), in the same way that increasingly intrusive web ads drive people to image-blockers, flash-blockers, then ad-blockers. Whatever system we create, it must depend on enabling something users *want* to do (eg support news platforms they value) rather than tricking them into doing something they don't.

    The best TL;DR is Shirky's own concluding comments from the piece linked above:

    "What matters at newspapers and magazines isn’t publishing, it’s reporting. We should be talking about new models for employing reporters rather than resuscitating old models for employing publishers; the more time we waste fantasizing about magic solutions for the latter problem, the less time we have to figure out real solutions to the former one."

    233:

    Re the Russian gulag-survivors link, made me look. Perhaps it's this (or not):
    Glencore’s $11 Billion Russian Deal Raises More Questions Than It Answers
    Cynics suspect that the investors who took Rosneft’s paper are just other state-controlled Russian institutions who will dump the bonds at the Central Bank in due course. If the central Bank creates money to refinance the bonds, then it will, effectively, be printing money to fund the government’s budget deficit. But the Kremlin is afraid of doing that openly: the ruble nearly collapsed two years ago when Rosneft used a similar trick to refinance its $55 billion acquisition of TNK-BP.

    234:

    Indeed... and this very thread is an indication of how deep the addiction runs. The entire subject is a problem from the class of problems which arise because money as a motive invariably fucks things up, and yet hardly anyone is making any suggestion of tackling the cause; nearly all the suggestions boil down to "solving" the problem by transforming it into another problem from the same class - choosing a different fuckup from the same fuckup space, just one which the suggestor considers less deleterious. (This in a context which depends for its very existence on a software infrastructure generated in major part not by the money motive at all, but on the motive of enjoyment.)

    Then there's the subsidiary argument over high tax rates "stifling innovation" (no, it's not "innovation", it's just same old same old in a new coat of paint) by way of making things less effective as a means of making money and so putting people off doing them. None of the responses, of whatever viewpoint, question the unspoken common assumption that that is a bad thing to do. Everyone seems to be working from an axiom along the lines of "effort and activity should be maximised", whereas to me it goes without saying that it is efficiency that should be maximised, so that needs are met with the minimum of effort and activity: to argue otherwise is to make a rod for your own back. It doesn't matter if people aren't doing things to make money: if they need to be done then the need will itself be sufficient motivation (otherwise it's not a real need); if they don't need to be done then it doesn't matter if they aren't done, and indeed it is better so because doing things that aren't needed is inefficient; and if they do need to be done, but are being done not to meet the need but to make money, then the making of money takes over and fucks up the fulfilment of the need, and we end up with things like the Hatfield rail crash and people drinking poisoned water in Michigan.

    The money motive, indeed, does nothing to ensure the fulfilment of need whatsoever; worse, it tries to create greater need, by such means as intensifying existing needs, creating structures which give rise to an artificial need, and fucking people's heads up so that they consider things as needs which are not. That last is arguably its principal method of immunosuppression. I doubt anyone would dispute that moving to a system which is not fundamentally broken involves considerable practical difficulties, but perhaps the greatest difficulty of all is that nearly everyone not only fails to perceive that it is broken, but even sees the bugs as features. (Even among a group of people who I would expect to be more open than is the norm to unconventional concepts - and I accept that my observation may be at fault here - it seems that it is only thee, me and EC (#70) who are sufficiently resistant to the addiction as to recognise it as an unnecessary constraint on the solution space.)

    235:

    ... it's worse than that. Means-tested benefits apply a marginal 100 percent stoppage rate, backed up by criminal sanctions. Government is incentivised to do this, partly to minimise social spending, but mostly because it plays well to the voters on the next rung up. "Benefit scroungers get benefits shock!"

    236:

    With one fewer 'e' ...

    https://twitter.com/hashtag/elven

    ... leading me to wonder what would have happened if the Morningstar Empire had gone the cyberwarfare route, stealing faces online ...

    237:

    Very much so. If you want to design anything useful, you need to spend most of your design effort thinking about why, how, at what level and how often it is going to fail, what effects that will cause, and how to avoid, alleviate or recover from failure. But that's called 'negative thinking' nowadays :-( Every proposal I have seen in the above has has pretty obvious and highly undesirable failure modes - #164 and others have mentioned a few.

    238:

    I have always maintained that the biggest problem in the US for entrepreneurship is lack of guaranteed healthcare. Entrepreneurs often have a working spouse to ensure H/C insurance, or they must be young and healthy.

    Novelists are small-scale entrepreneurs — we're self-employed but the business doesn't scale up (except in extreme cases: folks like GRRM or Neil Gaiman can pay assistants to do the non-writing stuff, most of us can't, beyond bookkeeping). Worse. Novelists are typically middle-aged; it's rare to sell your first book before you're in your mid-thirties, by which time you have family and healthcare concerns.

    Over the years I've observed that in my own field there are proportionately more full-time SF/F authors working in the UK than there are in the USA per capita. Not because Brits are more entrepreneurial or better writers, but simply because their US counterparts are trapped in shit jobs purely for the healthcare benefits and thus have to write in their spare hours. And I know that Obamacare helped at least one bestselling author of my acquaintance ditch her annoying 40-hours-plus-healthcare gig so she could focus on the writing.

    There used to be this thing on Hacker News where healthcare was a hot-button isssue: young tech-bro libertarians didn't want to hear the middle-aged folks explaining that middle-aged folks aren't dumb or stupid or timid, they simply can't found or join start-ups without healthcare coverage for themselves and their families. But I can speak from experience: the folks at Datacash when it started up in the UK were all over thirty and two-thirds of them were parents. Without the NHS, that particular division of Mastercard (as it now is) wouldn't exist.

    239:

    The money motive, indeed, does nothing to ensure the fulfilment of need whatsoever; worse, it tries to create greater need, by such means as intensifying existing needs, creating structures which give rise to an artificial need, and fucking people's heads up so that they consider things as needs which are not.

    I agree with you on the money motivation thing. I haven't been talking about it here, because it's both hard to get out of the mindset and it's also hard for me to talk about this in a foreign language.

    I've been dabbling in the local politics for a bit, and one divide which seems to be (on the city level at least) between the right and the left is money. The left-side people seem to think money is more of a means to an end, that is, for example when considering local politics they start from the things that need to be done and after that where the money comes from and how much of it is needed. The right-side people seem to think first of the money, how much of it there is and after that what can be done with the money we have.

    This is of course an exaggerated example, but this could explain the "we just *can't* take care of the sick (or whatever) people because there is no money" attitude I see more often than I'd like.

    The other thing that comes to mind is that "capital is blind", in other words, the people who have the capital to invest aren't as a rule that interested in what they are investing in, only how much interest their investment brings in. This creates of course incentives for the parties where the money is invested to mostly just try to bring in more money, instead of concentrating on *what* they want to do with the money.

    240:

    Not to mention legacy details - one property we manage is a relatively recent build that merged a block together. It has fifteen different former street addresses, from four different streets, six postcodes, and a single front door and nominal location. Dealing with service providers is a nightmare, because every individual service has a different address of record etc, none of which exist any more.

    And online has even less tangible presence than bricks and mortar. I have maybe a dozen different long established online identities, some professional, some personal, some gaming based. Each has a reputation and a recognised voice. How do you tie them to me, when I use different devices, locations, access methods and even written attitude?

    Over time, I expect we'll get a multi tiered internet - a regulated, controlled public service space, a less regulated commercial space, a very loosely regulated commercial space, and an unregulated open season space which includes everything we have today. Your limited public identities would probably apply in the top tiers only, there is no effective way of controlling them outside of a walled garden.

    241:

    I have maybe a dozen different long established online identities, some professional, some personal, some gaming based. Each has a reputation and a recognised voice. How do you tie them to me, when I use different devices, locations, access methods and even written attitude?

    Could probably be done, at least partially, by an entity with enough resources and extra-legal access. No idea what the methods would be, but I don't know how they crack iPhones either; I just know that cracking an iPhone is possible. I've got an acquaintance in the business, and from what he says it's possible to tie a lot together if you have the resources to keep digging for a while (and analyze what you find).

    Whether this hypothetical entity would get all your identities, and whether they would include others that aren't you (roommates using your computer, say) probably depends on how much time/resources they had. And whether they could let you know they were interested or had to remain secret. And whether you were actively trying to keep those identities separate and secret, or just doing so because it was convenient.


    Your limited public identities would probably apply in the top tiers only, there is no effective way of controlling them outside of a walled garden.

    The South Korean approach seems to be that you need a real identity to get an internet connection. This can be your own identity (for a home connection) or a corporate identity (for the wifi in a coffee shop).

    After that I think you're free to call yourself what you want, but I've been told that any bad activity can be tracked back to the connection you used and a real-world entity can be held accountable for online actions. Haven't been able to verify this (because I don't read Korean) so it may well be outdated or an oversimplification.

    242:

    True. State actors and similarly resourced groups are at a different level. Even so, it'd be interesting to know if they can pull identities within a game for example without the assistance of the gaming company, since the game itself acts as a further walled garden and abstraction layer. I presume however that they are working on it as a matter of course.

    I did consider the South Korea idea, but SFReader is advocating control of your identity online, whereas they seem to be making sure that a physical person is liable for any activity. The RIAA would love the latter, since *someone* has to pay, whereas the former is more applicable to an intemperate regime who wants to know specifically who spread that particular gossip.

    Hmm, I wonder how South Korea (and Japan) cope with international mobile device roaming, since as I understand it they are starting to allow that as modern devices are made multiband so as to work anywhere.

    243:

    The South Korean (IMF) model is pretty serious about such things:

    The South Korean parliament has passed an amendment to a law on promoting the gaming industry. Based on this law, manufacturing and distributing programs that are not allowed by the game company and its Terms of Service is now directly illegal.

    That would include aimbotters, hacking programs, scripters, or anything not allowed by the ToS.

    The punishment? A maximum of 5 years jail time or $43,000 in fines (50 million KRW).

    South Korea Passes Bill to Directly Punish Hack Makers PvPOnline, 2nd Dec 2016 (Unsure of providence of said source, but does contain an image link purporting to be of the law in question at the very least).


    Obviously, to prosecute that you need a fairly good method of IDing who is using the computer already in place - which presumably they have.

    244:

    Hmm, I wonder how South Korea (and Japan) cope with international mobile device roaming, since as I understand it they are starting to allow that as modern devices are made multiband so as to work anywhere.

    Good question. Do they allow mobile devices from outside the country to connect as soon as they arrive? Do they need to be registered? Do you need to get a Korean SIM card?

    245:

    Re: '... but SFReader is advocating control of your identity online, whereas they seem to be making sure that a physical person is liable for any activity.'

    Actually I'm 'advocating' for the latter part of your sentence above, i.e., consequences. Frankly have no idea where you got the 1984ish notion of total control from what I wrote. To repeat: Limiting the number of online identities may be one way of reducing harm done via this medium.

    246:

    First: Thanks for the info re: Korea, Robert!

    The second url also mentions how to get connected via smartphone.

    Anyways, key findings from a very quick search shows:


    1 - Overall internet penetration/usage is very high .. about 90%.

    https://www.statista.com/topics/2230/internet-usage-in-south-korea/


    2 - Internet backbone/speed, etc. are superb:


    Excerpt:

    'South Korea boasts what is arguably the world’s best Internet. At an average speed of 24.6 Mbps it is definitely the fastest, 36% faster than Hong Kong’s (the second fastest Internet), more than twice as fast as the Internet in the USA (11.4 Mbps), and more than 6 times the global average of 3.8 Mbps. The average urban broadband speed in South Korea is a whopping 100 MBit/s, and they’re experimenting with a 1 Gbps system.'


    https://thearrivalstore.com/korean-guide-getting-internet-korea/


    Conclusion: Seems that like universal healthcare, it is possible for countries (other than the US) to provide fundamental services for 'free' and not suffer perilous economic hardship or social breakdown.

    247:

    I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. You seem to want to be able to trace an online identity back to a specific person, who can then accept the consequences of an online action.
    South Korea wants to make sure that any connection is linked to a specific person, who is liable for any actions taken on that connection. This is similar but not the same thing, since if I was to say offend the thai king on my friends connection at a party, he would be liable, but neither he nor the government might know it was me that did it or another visitor, and I am still free to do it somewhere else.
    This is a big problem for anyone running internet-as-a-service, like cafes or hotels, because they are no longer necessarily indemnified as common carriers, and will have to have far more intrusive logging if they want to be able to pass the buck.

    248:

    About healthcare and US business - about 10 years ago, I think, I read that about 300? 500? major companies, including the Big Three automakers, wrote a letter to Congress for a national healthcare system.

    Of course, that was under Bush, so it was just another paper in the trashcan.

    249:

    Have been trying to locate data/evidence to see whether/how well the SKorean model actually works in terms of minimizing online harm. (Note: I'm not (yet) inferring any cause-effect, just gathering some observational data.)

    First ... even centrally registering online users does not prevent botnets - domestic or foreign - from infiltrating devices and spewing spam. (SKorea is in the top-10 for spam-source as per IEEE article below.)

    Second ... US and China report the most cyber crime. SKorea despite its super-duper internet speed (therefore a prime target for those wanting to zombie fast connectivity) is ranked 14th. This is Symantec's data as reported on:

    http://www.enigmasoftware.com/top-20-countries-the-most-cybercrime/


    1. United States of America
    Share of malicious computer activity: 23%
    Malicious code rank: 1
    Spam zombies rank: 3
    Phishing web site hosts rank: 1
    Bot rank: 2
    Attack origin rank: 1


    14. South Korea
    Share of malicious computer activity: 2%
    Malicious code rank: 21
    Spam zombies rank: 19
    Phishing web site hosts rank: 4
    Bot rank: 15
    Attack origin rank: 7


    Online harassment/stalking has overtaken physical harassment/stalking ... can only find data for the US (below). If anyone has data for other countries, esp. SKorea, please post.


    http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/

    Excerpt:

    'Harassment—from garden-variety name calling to more threatening behavior— is a common part of online life that colors the experiences of many web users. Fully 73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online and 40% have personally experienced it, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.'


    South Korea 2016 Crime & Safety Report
    https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=19449

    Excerpt:

    'Cybersecurity Issues

    South Korea ... On an individual level, the threat of cyber crime is moderate but is steadily increasing; phishing schemes and theft of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) for criminal intent have increased; defamation, which is considered a criminal offense, also appears to have increased.

    At the institutional and multinational company level, South Korea has experienced an increased number of intrusions, Distribution Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and the use of malicious software to disrupt networks. Korean financial institutions have also been targeted by hackers, who have stolen Korean Identification Numbers (KID) and other PII with financial motives. (KID is similar to an American Social Security Number and used in Korea as a primary identity document for personal and financial transactions). The use of malicious software to disrupt or shut down government, public, and private networks continues to negatively impact the economy and jeopardize the security of critical infrastructure. In December 2014, malicious software was used to gain access to the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company.'

    Further down this page it notes that ... 'Political demonstrations are extremely common. In recent years, there has been a marked decrease in violence associated with political demonstrations, but even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational quickly.' So - no, this is not some sort of 1984ish/totalitarian state.


    Found this paper on how to evaluate malware efficiency including some math/equations (used by malware purveyors as 'proof') that the authors of this article played with and dismissed as questionable/spurious.

    http://www.ieee-security.org/TC/SPW2014/papers/5103a077.PDF

    250:

    Education and teaching how to think is a quite obvious fix, but how to successfully and broadly apply it to our place and time is rather less obvious. Wiping out most of us by running humanity through such a tight filter that thinking becomes a necessary survival trait will do the job, but is going to be far, far from pleasant. (See William Gibson's Jackpot for what something like that could look like.)

    "Oh, it's not that. I hope you don't think I was trying to chicken out. I just—hadn't—"
    "No, you just hadn't bothered to think it through. You'll get used to doing that, living in the Belt," Einar said kindly. Damn him.
    From Larry Niven's Protector
    251:

    Conclusion: Seems that like universal healthcare, it is possible for countries (other than the US) to provide fundamental services for 'free' and not suffer perilous economic hardship or social breakdown.

    I know I've recommended him before, but I suggest reading a couple of books by Ha Joon Chang:

    23 Things About Capitalism

    Bad Samaritans

    In both he takes issue with the usually neocon version of capitalism, especially about free trade. Among other things he talks about his how both the US and South Korea modernized, and how that pat is very different from the one being taught on most economics classes today. (In essence, economic history has been rewritten to promote an ideology, ignoring the facts about what actually happened.)

    252:

    I dream of a change to debates. Instead of letting candidates get away with lies, bring in a bunch of fact checkers from both sides. Let the candidates talk. Then let the fact checkers argue. If a fact checker supports clear BS, kick them from the group. If the fact checkers all agree that the candidate is lying, that's a strike. Punish strikes appropriately, starting with a snarky graphic over their head, progressing to a hostile graphic over their head, and ending by dousing them in slime and then fecal matter... It'd be great TV, even if it wasn't live. :) Probably not doable, but it'd work and I'd watch it.

    Lovely idea, but let's have the fact checkers work while the candidates are talking. In a small way, this is what we used to do during the Chancellor's Budget speech. We'd be sitting in the Millbank studio, listening to the Chancellor and frantically converting his up-to-now embargoed policy announcements into updates to our economic models. Then running the models, and interpreting the results into easy-to-understand headlines such as "Penny on the average pint of beer", and in turn, converting those into nifty captions and images to be superimposed onto the House of Commons feed or sent to the press. And, updating the web-based simulations we'd ported to the BBC servers — hack economic assumptions, hack tax-and-benefit parameters, hack sample families, hack Pascal, hack Bash glue script, hack HTML, hack output graphics, hack explanatory text, help help help where's our down-arrow graphic for "worse off after Budget", oh bugger those two table cells are merged and should be red not green, where's the mum-and-dad-with-two-children picture, nooooh why isn't that href to the Treasury functioning, surely you don't spell it "Exchecquer", when's the news flash oh not right now please no, yes please I'd love another coffee, sod sod sod got to chmod that scratch output file, funny all the radio buttons are unchecked, why am I getting income graphs in last year's colours ah should have symlinked to that directory, Blair why do you look so smug I hate the HoC feed, oh please no the family cat's being given child benefit and a pension, oh god the half hour is up — so that the public could try these things for themselves.

    Now scale up by however much is necessary to deal with all the information that might emerge during a debate, and change the task from "make speech intelligible to public" to "make speech and results of fact-checking intelligible to public". Hyperlink results so that readers can follow back the justifications for themselves, and use AI research into understanding the structure of arguments to make the backtracing easy.

    253:

    As of 2007 I was able to take an early (and rather crap) 3G phone to Japan and it just worked on international roaming. (The main issue there was that Japan doesn't/didn't have any 2G/GSM networks.) As of 2010 it was even easier.

    (Can't speak for South Korea.)

    254:

    Let me just note that the USA is a backwater in broadband terms.

    It's not entirely their fault — the distances are longer, so signal loss over DSL is horrible and the cost of laying cable is higher — but it's not aided by the likes of AT&T and the cable monopolies being utterly horrible companies who aren't interested in upping their game.

    255:

    Apparently South Korea is cracking down on online pornography, such that you can't really get it at all. Or so says a student at a Scottish university who is from South Korea. He rather enjoys the comparative freedom we have in this country.

    256:

    Here's the latest news from FB.

    News Feed FYI: Addressing Hoaxes and Fake News
    By Adam Mosseri, VP, News Feed

    http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/12/news-feed-fyi-addressing-hoaxes-and-fake-news/

    257:

    Thanks!

    After reading the review of this book on Guardian (reviewer not entirely sold on the ideas) found this file which appears to be a pdf freebie key-points-only summary.


    https://mafhom.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/23-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-capitalism.pdf

    258:

    Regarding Reddit~ caught this when it was only at ~2k or so views, which was interesting.

    New UK outfit has launched with this video: Reddit For Sale: How We Bought The Top Spot For $200 YT, "The Point", Dec 14th 2016, 8:27

    For those who don't watch, it's a fairly obvious breakdown of how common account selling, bot usage and buying upvotes is on Reddit.

    Doing a little due diligence, appears to be Gruaniad / BBC sphere, so legitimate:

    Jay Mcgregor Twitter account


    259:

    (Note ~ Mr McGregor, despite the Scottish / Farmer surname, is not what your stereotypes imagine: sadly he's not fronting the video, which kinda sums up just how "white-bread" you need to be to even get Reddit to watch content)

    260:

    And tangent, but !!FINALLY!! someone decoded what Mirror stuff is all about and took the time to think a little.

    For Martin / .mil wonks here, posted because it's hilariously inept / US middling .mil thinking, but at least it's an attempt to grokk stuff.

    Srsly.. best line: "Semiotic (pronounced See-My-Oh-Tick) is the science of signs. For Peirce this meant a higher logic that included speculative grammar, critique (lower logic), and speculative rhetoric..

    No dear, it's not pronounced like that. And also, it's fucking Lacan, you muppet, who quite-possibly-maybe-might-have-been-a-CCCP-plant.

    OOOOH, DO YOU GET THE FUCKING MIRROR JOKE NOW, BOYOS?


    Russia’s Reflexive Control Theory and the Military Journal of Slavic Military Studies 2004 PDF.


    Hosted by the Rochester Institute of of Technology if you want to do some real due diligence. (*waves at MI5*).

    261:

    Oh, and freebie to prevent the set-up:

    Someone is totally going to use that as a spring into a denunciation of Slavoj Žižek btw as a pay-back for Trump comments.


    I mean, he's got issues, but you're fucking not that great at this Game.

    262:

    Apparently South Korea is cracking down on online pornography, such that you can't really get it at all.

    I suspect-but-don't-know that that will be much harder than it sounds. Porn doesn't churn the way news does, or even the way TV does. So getting a few terabytes of porn that's 3 months old isn't going to perturb the average consumer.

    Here in Australia I have seen more than one workplace with a communal non-work portable storage unit that people take home, and it's full of TV and movies. From what I've overheard, not all the content is to everyone's taste, but there's been agreement not to delete it. Generally it's fed by one person with a torrentbox hosted offshore, but everyone kicks in for that subscription. I, of course, am above such things (I have my own VPN subscription).

    These days 128GB uSD cards are so cheap that it's quite practical to use those instead when crossing borders. I suspect but don't know that you can buy, or could easily get if you wanted, such cards with mislabelled capacity so that when a customs official sticks your "32GB" card in a card reader it shows up as a 32GB drive, and the second, hidden, encrypted partition is only visible to ... well, by the standards here, anyone with a clue. If that became an issue I suspect we'd see non-obvious toggle mechanisms that hide the extra capacity.

    But really, finding the uSD card hidden in someone's luggage is a significant hurdle, and the difference between "oh, *there* it is, I've been looking for that for ages" and "carefully slipped into the gap between the case and the liner" is easily arguable.

    263:

    FWIW, our VPN is mostly used to watch TV in/from foreign countries where there's either more TV, or various idiocies mean we only get the content months or years after the rest of the world has lost interest. To my knowledge "Cambodia's Next Top Model" was never shown in Australia, just like most of "Scrapheap Challenge". And iPlayer seems to spend a lot of time chasing shadows, when even DNS hacks often allow it to work. They should say "BBC: one planet, one internet, one broadcast". Ahem.

    Certain companies have seen how well the media content clampdown has worked and are trying to do it with physical goods too. I wonder how long before Australia becomes a hotbed of old-school piracy as well ("aaargh me hearties, this shipload of US-only consumer goods is off to Australia")

    264:

    I can't see getting this done adequately in real time, but I can see this working well as a series of short debates. It'd be even nicer if the fact checkers were also tasked with identifying meaningless gabble - which would be replaced with something humiliating.

    And. Heh. South Korea actually takes cyberharassment surprisingly seriously. First offense might get you a couple of years...

    265:

    But really, finding the uSD card hidden in someone's luggage is a significant hurdle...

    I have to agree; at today's storage densities trying to stop sneakernet at the borders is a lost cause. Doubly so when hiding hundreds of gigs is as easy as slipping a tiny chip into one pocket and then packing the garment in with a dozen others.

    Frequent travelers probably have at least a few pockets with accumulated detritus at the bottom anyway; if someone drops an SD card or USB stick in with the lost toiletries, spare change, crumpled receipts, dead pens, and other crud who's going to find it?

    266:

    [Replying to a bundle of ideas, from all the way up and down the thread. Will tend long.]

    Charlie @ 72: As you pointed out, the other problem with that one is figuring out how to sustain it. Once things get out of immediate crisis mode, and the people who used to have the money (and who don't have it at present, but remember what it was like when they did) have recovered from the trauma of being pulled down the socio-economic hierarchy at a rate of knots, and once the nimble thinkers who took advantage of the previous situation to climb the social ladder reach the highest point they can get to and start looking around themselves at what they've earned... well, then you have the problem of monkey politics taking over. One of the unfortunate things about monkey politics is it's rather like cat politics in some respects - it's not just about you winning, it's also about everyone else knowing they lost. So people start demanding status symbols, or making status symbols where they have to... and the whole mess starts over again. The clever boys on the make get married off to the daughters of the aristocrats on the decline (or vice versa; aristocrats, as Pterry pointed out, survive by knowing when to trim sails and travel with the winds of change), and they (and their children) start demanding the sorts of status displays which were common in the aristocratic side of the family, so the rules get changed (just a little tweak at first, but lots of little tweaks equal a major revamp) and then, when the generation who knew why the rules were put in place to begin with starts dying off (and one of the first tweaks is the one where "recent politics doesn't count as teachable history for schools" - have a look at where the "history" curriculum for schools stops these days - probably around VE/VJ point), the rules start getting rolled back wholesale.

    Thatcher and Reagan (and Hawke and Keating here in Australia) were part of the generation which took advantage of post-war egalitarianism, and did well from it... and who started the process of pulling the ladder up after themselves, little by little.

    (The other thing to note: you don't need a conspiracy or bureaucracy to be running these things. A dozen rich and powerful people each acting out of their own self-interest will have the same effect as a massive conspiracy, and be a lot simpler to run than any bureaucracy ever manages to be).


    Pigeon @ 153: It's not just doctors. It's also engineers, computer scientists, computer programmers, teachers, managers, nurses etc - people who are in an applied discipline (whether that be applied science, like medicine or engineering; or applied humanities like teaching or management) tend to be very prone to the notion their particular skillset can solve any and all problems, and they therefore don't need to learn anything else. They certainly don't need to open their minds to new facts which have come along since they ceased the process of formal education.

    (I strongly suspect this was a deliberate policy to avoid schools turning out thousands of people a year with the knowledge to successfully synthesise many common drugs and explosives.)

    Oh, look much closer to home. They don't want to turn out people who are capable of (safely) distilling their own alcohol, because that takes a lot of money out of government coffers, and creates one heck of a lot more immediate problems.


    Murphy @ 202: Just recently, the Australian Taxation Office released figures which showed some interesting pieces of information about various companies in Australia in the 2015 tax year. It showed their corporate income, the amount they declared as taxable income, the amount of tax paid, and the amount of tax paid as a percentage of the company's taxable income. Now, at present the top corporate tax rate in Australia is about 30% (reduced to 27.5% for small businesses). However, there were a lot of companies which were declaring $0 as taxable income (despite doing billions of dollars worth of business) and therefore paying no tax at all (It's possible they were even claiming money back from the government). This included companies like QANTAS, BHP Billiton, News Corporation and so on - companies which made a lot of money in this country.

    Now, there's a lot of talk here in Australia about how our corporate tax rate is too high, and how we need to lower it to induce business to flourish and grow and so on. But I think this (much like your screed about the incentive value of lower tax rates) is so much bullshit, because we already know how much tax a lot of companies want to pay: none whatsoever. Until we lower the tax rate to 0%, they're not going to cough up - they're just going to employ accountants to shuffle their funds from one country to the next while stating cheerfully they're obeying the letter of the law (even as they shit on the spirit of it) - and of course, when we finally give in and tell them they don't have to pay tax at all, they'll still shuffle the profits out of this country and off into the bank accounts in the Caymans and the Channel Isles, and the Swiss bank accounts and so on. Because why shouldn't they?

    After all, their parasitism is being rewarded.


    Pigeon @ 234: It doesn't matter if people aren't doing things to make money: if they need to be done then the need will itself be sufficient motivation (otherwise it's not a real need); if they don't need to be done then it doesn't matter if they aren't done, and indeed it is better so because doing things that aren't needed is inefficient; and if they do need to be done, but are being done not to meet the need but to make money, then the making of money takes over and fucks up the fulfilment of the need, and we end up with things like the Hatfield rail crash and people drinking poisoned water in Michigan. (my bold)

    Yes! Exactly! This is something I've been trying to coalesce for a few years now - humans get too distracted by side issues from effective solutions to problems.

    When it comes to a "market economy", the problem we're trying to solve is "how to distribute things in the most efficient fashion". We invented the concept of "value", and said "exchange like value for like" as a way of establishing a distribution mechanic - and indeed, this is how most markets work, down at the base of things. And then we all, collectively, got bogged down in defining "value". There was a temporary reprieve when the idea of currency came along - X weight of Y metal equals one loaf of bread, and that seemed to pin things down nicely. But then everyone got obsessed with counting how much weight of Y metal they had, rather than transforming it into bread, or work, or buildings. So we tried fiat currency - "one dollar equals one dollar, and we figure out how much bread a dollar buys by seeing what happens" - and again, everyone got so interested in counting the numbers of dollars we forgot the point is we're supposed to be distributing resources here. The same thing is happening with virtualised currency - we've hooked the number generator up to the currency units, and everyone's focused on seeing how high we can get the number to go (do we have to create a new "illion" yet?)... meanwhile, the resources we're supposed to be distributing are sitting around, waiting, and people are starving because they can't get resources because they can't get money because they can't get resources because...

    (Housing booms work like this - everyone stops seeing a house as a thing which prevents you from getting rained on, snowed on, blown away in high winds, scorched in summer and so on, and starts seeing it as a value-generator, at which point the housing game shifts from "how do we get as many people as possible living in permanent shelter?" to "how do we stop the value-number from dropping ever ever ever?" Prices go up, and everyone thinks "I'm rich" (insert Daffy Duck monologue here), without stopping and thinking... "well, no, actually I'm no better off than I was yesterday, because the reason prices went up is because someone else can't afford a house, and that person has to be unable to afford a house in order for me to get richer". Housing price booms happen at a time where homelessness is historically increasing, because they need homelessness to generate the demand for housing which drives the prices up.)

    Capitalist society has increasingly focussed myopically on the idea that maximising the total number of dollars is the only important thing ever ever ever. What nobody's bothered to ask is this: does this actually solve any problems?

    Hence the fundamental fucked-upedness of capitalist society, and neo-liberal capitalism is just the most modern (and possibly extreme) version of the fuck-up.

    267:

    Mixing the groups. This is one of the functions that used to be served by Public Schools. The incoming Trump administrations putative Department of Education is nominee is a known Voucher/Privatizer enthusiast.

    Public schools were NEVER about teaching critical thinking, but socializing the rabble to keep clock time and show up for work. Maybe a little bit of public health and hygiene education.

    Maybe teach enough money management so the Landlord gets his rent reliably. Note that Universal (state funded) primary schools didn't appear in the American South until after the Civil War (the 1861-1865 one). One of the FIRST things the Freedmen (ex slaves) did was self organize schools, pooling what little cash they had to hire teachers, etc. The Confederate Armies were only about 50% literate (vs. the Union 90% or so).

    So White legislators were dragged along post reconstruction.

    And the Draftee Military, one reason for (US) Federal enthusiasm in the 1950's, WW II demonstrated (again) the value of educated and literate conscripts. The Military used to serve as another mixing institution. These days in the US they are self selected from the same groups that voted Trump, and sit there watching FOX.

    268:

    recent politics doesn't count as teachable history for schools
    Nothing new there.
    Back in the day, I did "O" level history - passed exam in 1961 - it stopped at the Treaty of Versailles, & effectively at 4th August 1914.
    I had no idea at all, how we got into the mess that was 1933-51 ... at all, AT ALL (etc).
    What's the situation now?

    Capitalist society
    What's that?
    As the one thing the more intelligent, limited libertarians point out, we do not have a capitalist society, we have corporate one ... and as they do not pick up on, that is one of the better-known routes to fascism - as discussed elsewhere in these blog-threads

    269:

    They should say "BBC: one planet, one internet, one broadcast". Ahem.

    That would be neat, but much of what the BBC broadcasts doesn't belong to them. The copyright holders have sold/leased them the rights to broadcast what they produce to an area of the planet they choose so they can sell that property to other broadcasters and DVD producers and Netflix/Amazon etc. -- ask Charlie about rights sometime and why he and his agent fight like demons to maximise the return on each geographical rights area covered in their contracts with publishers.

    If the BBC had enough money to buy world rights for a program (and remember the BBC official tartan is "small checks") then it would be good. A lot of the non-entertainment broadcasting they do, like news, is available world-wide but in those cases they own the property outright and don't have to wrestle copyright lawyers on their way to work every morning.

    270:

    Not to put too fine a point on it but some of what you describe is straight up tax evasion, not legal avoidance, evasion, the kind that can land you in jail. (rightly)

    Calling for insanely high tax rates and then more or less turning around and saying, "oh but it's ok because we can make sure we leave lots and lots and lots of loopholes" doesn't make it better. Unless you honestly want a system which even more heavily rewards the weaseliest companies, like our current system but *even worse*.

    pointing to a point in time a few years after half the worlds horded wealth has just been thrown into industry, military production and R&D.... it may not be the best example.

    271:

    I suspect but don't know that you can buy, or could easily get if you wanted, such cards with mislabelled capacity so that when a customs official sticks your "32GB" card in a card reader it shows up as a 32GB drive, and the second, hidden, encrypted partition is only visible to ... well, by the standards here, anyone with a clue.

    TrueCrypt 7.1a is your friend. (Note: do not go for TrueCrypt 7.2. Basically it looks like the NSA leaned on the TrueCrypt project to backdoor their software and on Google to throw security errors, effectively shutting down the project — but it's open source, so there's a collaborative security audit in progress that so far hasn't found any issues with 7.1a: more details here.) TrueCrypt can, among other things, create steganographically hidden filesystems on your volume that don't show up unless you have TrueCrypt drivers and the correct password to mount it.

    There's also the VeraCrypt project, a fork of TrueCrypt.

    272:

    Very true. The biggest thing I've noticed from following Adam Curtis is music rights - the music played in the background of various BBC clips can't be used outside the UK, so his blog content is geo-locked.

    I think the BBC has a blanket agreement with the various rights groups to use what they like wherever they like, and anyone reusing the content (inc BBC Worldwide) then has to arrange their own rights on top, meaning either a huge amount of effort to strip it or a lot of cost in negotiating the rights.

    The most obvious place for most Americans and others was Top Gear, where the music used in the UK was frequently very different when the program was shown overseas, though they did a surprisingly good job in editing it to fit.

    273:

    Microsd cards are wonders of technology far beyond what most people realize.

    They even have their own microprocessor which can be altered. A friend of mine was hacking one to make a prank microsd card that messed with the data on it.

    That was a normal microsd card.

    Then there's some special ones:

    "the smallest fully fledged computer imaginable: Its running an ARM5 and a 2.6 Linux Kernel, has 32MByte ram, access to the full 32GByte of flash AND can use WIFI to communicate."

    http://haxit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/hacking-transcend-wifi-sd-cards.html

    Hiding a volume is about the least interesting thing you could do. You can run a whole shadow OS on the card with it's own network connections, gigabytes of it's own hidden space and small enough to hide inside other normal components.

    274:

    Errr... no. Please don't get all excited and swear at everyone about stuff you don't understand (although I suspect you'll now claim that you and your minds fully appreciated everything all along, ear wiggle).

    The military has been doing deception planning forever; look up Operation FORTITUDE, how the Egyptians completely fooled the Israelis on the Bar-Lev line in 1973, the successful 1991 effort to convince the Iraqis that Main Effort was Kuwait, not a huge left flanking attack to cut off and destroy the Republican Guard, the 1999 Serbian force protection efforts in Kosovo. Deception planning, showing your enemy what you want them to see, making them think what you want them to think, working inside the decision cycle of your opponent, this is all well-known and obvious stuff; whether it's at the macro scale (Army Groups sweeping across countries) or the micro scale (a feint in Judo, fencing, or boxing).

    The paper you linked to, is a US study of Russian formal perspectives on "how to describe this sort of stuff in a formal way". No biggie, nothing new to it; why do you think we have the Intelligence Corps, EW Regiments, tactical / operational / strategic reconnaissance? You'll find a mandatory "worst case enemy course of action" when considering any plan; you'll find "deception plan" as a paragraph in most sets of formal orders. It hasn't been critical for NATO forces for a while, because they've had such a force advantage that it didn't really matter. Note that "knowing what's going to happen" is trumped by "being unable to stop what's going to happen". Oh, and it isn't going to be broadly publicised, because obvious really.

    275:

    Music has a long history of blanket rights for, say, radio stations. There's also the quaintly named "Mechanical Reproduction" rights, designed to deal with the invention of the gramophone and separate out sheet music publication rights which used to be a big thing back in the day. TV and video and movies etc. don't have the same historical rights structure.

    Most video and movie productions these days provide a separate Music and Effects track (M&E) when they sell on a property to specifically deal with music licencing problems in different countries.

    In some cases a single company like Sony Entertainment holds the licences for a number of works and might negotiate a broadcast agreement for some or all of them, for a limited period and over a specific geographical area but in other cases it's dealt with on a case by case basis with independent producers and holding companies. It's a bit of an embuggerance for a would-be viewer in the wrong country but it's the way things work.

    276:

    The impact of paywalls on the dissemination of "true" news has been enormous, and has vastly undercut the influence of the New York Times (as just one of countless examples). The NYT still touts itself as "the paper of record," but when ordinary web-surfing people cannot access more than 10 stories/month, even its official editorials (to say nothing of its reportage) without paying a fee, they will turn to other, less-reliable sources for their information. And indeed, that's what many people have done. (I'm willing to bet a lot of people don't even visit NYT even to scoop up the 10 free articles/month at this point, unless someone posts a link via Facebook.)

    In terms of maintaining their influence, NYT, Washington Post, et al., would have been better far served to have remained open to all comers and handled revenue issues via ads, while giving readers the option to subscribe to avoid ad content. The very notion of a paywall only exacerbated their reputation among conservatives as publications belonging to the "liberal elite."

    277:

    I think if anything the real WTF moment is discovering that military deception planning/psyops doctrine is being applied to undeclared cyberwar attempts to influence foreign state policy from the top down, in the absence of actual existing hostilities.

    I suspect when the dust settles November 8th, 2016 will be seen as the "cyber Pearl Harbor" all the stuffed shirt/talking head cyber-pundits have been yammering about for the past 20 years. Except it won't be possible to say that if you want to keep your job until after November 8th, 2020 at the earliest.

    278:

    WTF? It was scarcely even news. I agree that, if it genuinely was state-approved, it's the first time I know of that it has been done in quite that way, but that's very much a detail. When was it that the USA publicly stated that it had authorised cyberwarfare? Before Stuxnet, anyway. And leaking 'stolen' documents to influence foreign governments or discredit hostile foreign politicians has been done as far back as I can remember.

    I side with Kerry, in that we don't currently have any evidence. There were enough people with grudges against Clinton (including Assange) to make it possible, and even likely, that this was personal. I sincerely hope that you are right that it isn't a "cyber Pearl Harbor", because I am not convinced that many of us will see November 8th, 2020 if that is the case.

    I am amused that Martin mentioned 1973 - I would have mentioned 1944 but, as he implies, the technique is many millennia old.

    279:

    I linked it for a reason, not due to the content (it was linked somewhere else by another person, I don't claim I searched it out - merely reposted it to show that people are bringing the .mil aspects into this).

    There's somewhat credible (but who knows these days) scuttle-butt / rumors that Obama's address today might be a bit of an eye-opener (or it could just be a traditional "Happy Holidays from the Whitehouse").

    Obama vows action against Russia over election hacks BBC 16th Dec 2016

    Gloves-off White House creates rift between Obama and Trump teams CNN, 16th Dec 2016

    ~

    In other news, Trump's picks for Interior and US Ambassador to Israel are further Hard-Cases with baggage (e.g. pro-coal / frakking in charge of State Lands? Good one). The intention to move the Embassy to Jerusalem is one of those warning signs (wasn't Clinton the one who was the warmonger?).

    Last night I watched: India Pakistan Partition DocumentaryYT , BBC, 1:29:15 - at around 42min, Louis Mountbatten's sign with "11 days left".


    Little Mice like me are nibbling ears of corn and wondering.

    280:

    It doesn't matter if people aren't doing things to make money: if they need to be done then the need will itself be sufficient motivation (otherwise it's not a real need); if they don't need to be done then it doesn't matter if they aren't done, and indeed it is better so because doing things that aren't needed is inefficient;

    Problem with this approach is that "what is needed" can only be seen in hindsight. Nobody could make a convincing case in 1990's that a globe-spanning network of TCP/IP routers was "needed" -- and in fact once it was built, it was not objectively needed for several years (and people who built it lost tons of money). Then all of a sudden, this network became very much needed, as software and processing technologies advanced far enough to take advantage of it.

    My favorite definition of "mature technology" is one which is used for purposes which original developers/inventors never imagined. Building only what "is needed" would result in never exploring many technological alleys.

    281:

    Yes.
    On the morning of the 9th, I commented to the Boss that "The US election has just been won by Vladimir Putin".
    Think that you are ridiculously optimistic re, post Nov 2020 - do you really think that Pence & his cronies will allow anything remotely resembling a free election by that date?
    The ONLY hope for the remains of US "democracy" is that Trumpolini ( nor Pence neither) take that stand next month.

    & EC @ 278
    Assange, yeah - not so much a "grudge" as a paid agent.
    Snowden was almost certainty genuine, betrayed by his own employers, but (IMHO) Assange is a paid FSB agent, sowing discord for "fun" - see the "Global Warming Hoax" in wikilieaks if you want further evidence.

    282:

    Building only what "is needed" would result in never exploring many technological alleys.

    As will building only what "gives enough return on investment", which I think was part of Pigeon's point.

    283:

    I don't share your conspiracy theory. Do you think the same is true about (the more effective anti-Clinton leaker) James B. Comey?

    284:

    No, because of the "leaks" concerning AGW/CC which were definitely in Putin's interests (to make trouble) but no-one else's ....
    Coney appears to be purely internal to the USSA

    285:

    I suppose we have to ask Pigeon, but my impression is that his position is exact opposite -- that "build only what gives return on investment" results in building too many superfluous things, not too few good ones.

    286:

    Decades ago in history of technology course I remember the prof saying that both canals and railroads were built and went bankrupt, assets bought and building continued and went bankrupt, repeatedly, until the last group of investors made money (and earlier investors lost their shirts).

    It was so many moves ago I've lost the course notes (and so many decades ago the my memory (or the state of historical knowledge) may be dodgy. But ISTR the prof's point was that tech pioneers build in advance of need, and hope the need catches up with them before their money runs out.

    287:

    Yes, the process your professor described happened many times over last 200 years; the Internet backbone is but one of the most recent examples. History is also littered with inventions which never met a need, and faded away.

    Pigeon's approach (see #234) would prevent the latter, but also the former. I do not see how the former could happen without money motivation.

    288:

    By exactly the same argument, NATO organised the coup that overturned the demoncratically elected government in Ukraine. I don't believe either, though I am not excluding some encouragement.

    289:

    I am a bigger fan of VeraCrypt, some of the tweaks they've made are handy, and the auditing gives me a bit more confidence. Almost everything in my collection uses crypto in one form or another, although with Windows 10 I have given up and use it strictly for playing that one game. And dual boot into a less exhibitionist OS for everything else.

    As far as running stuff on the uSD card itself, I know it's possible to modify the OS on a standard card (it's not trivial, but it is very handy - I use it to persuade modern cards that they are low capacity enough to work in older devices).

    Getting one of the bigger processors with wifi tends to rule out decent storage capacity, though. Admittedly I say this as someone who is closely watching the market waiting for 512GB uSD cards to become affordable... I suspect most people are not so worried about that side of things.

    290:

    Actually, this is hilariously wrong.

    Assange started out straight & narrow (ex-Cult member !warning bells!), was egotistical enough to believe that Things Could Change[tm] and ran into the Shadow World. The fact that Manning is in prison and having PSYOP style torture added to her already suicidal Mind (look that one up - staging armed insurrection / prison break stuff is... well. MI5 always do the "sexual kink / BSDM / found in an old bunker wearing a WWII gas-mask" one, the Americans do the "24" (Greg: it's a TV series) hyper-drama.

    Snowden, on the other hand, was 100% produced. We even know how it was done now.

    Without getting into too much [redacted] territory, it's worth looking into his (then) girlfriend and a spate of neurological damage that happened just prior to his "Run n Gun". Hint ~ epilepsy & we're pretty sure his old MRIs wouldn't match the new improved White Hero Ones.

    Of course, Snowden thinks he's genuine, and the Media have treated him as such. But if a middle/lower tier grunt with Libertarian Bents leaks some files that doesn't lead to the "Great White Libertarian Hope who went to Russia" narrative.

    Pro-tip: Something was running a very naughty thing there. And yes, I use the word "something" instead of "someone" quite deliberately.


    Oh, and this post is all SF / "Goddess of Orwellian Wisdom", 100% fantasy, of course.

    291:

    Oh, we've mentioned it before: but you should read the Night Watch triology (Amazon link).

    Think Jackson Pollock for a little bit while reading.

    292:

    Oh, and FFS.

    The internet wasn't made due to Capital / desire for cash.


    It's military, and ilya187 needs to name the concurrently functioning US / RU / China ones that are all online.

    OH, and FFS - the Canals in the UK were pushed through Parliament - do your research. They weren't built by accident, it was due to Salt and Coal. (Naval Power)

    OH, and FFS - the Rail-Roads in the US were pushed through Congress - do your research. They weren't built by accident, it was due to Pacification / Expansionist goals.

    Seriously, where the Holy fuck do you learn this crap from? Capital in the 19th/20th C was 100% always tied to ulterior goals.

    293:

    Oh, and... Mr Prior doesn't see my comments, but really: he's pushing so much bullshit over canals etc it's annoying. Or his teacher was an idiot.

    Never any fucking sources.


    Pro-tip: They weren't meant to make money, infrastructure outlay really never had this function till the late stages of the 20th C (of course, Robber Barons etc made them make money, but that was largely tied to the raw material production attached to them).

    You spent on the ships / infrastructure, you made bank on the monopolies / Royal Charter / Provisions / Sole Trader status.


    That's the fucking point of Mercantilism.

    294:

    Without getting into too much [redacted] territory, it's worth looking into his (then) girlfriend and a spate of neurological damage that happened just prior to his "Run n Gun". Hint ~ epilepsy & we're pretty sure his old MRIs wouldn't match the new improved White Hero Ones.
    Thanks for the diversion (really; needed it); will be fun to fill it in; might have spotted something about the girlfriend (still with him yes?) that bears further investigation, curiously related to a study read recently. (Not entirely kidding.) This from such an incorrigible sci-fi fan that the first time I had tinitis one immediate self-amusing speculation was that it was leakage from an alien nanotech listening apparatus.

    Real Americans in real life sometimes accidentally off themselves with the "sexual kink / BSDM" thing, e.g. the two wetsuits and a dildo dead reverend mentioned in OGH's "Rule 34". (autopsy report - page 2 for detailed inventory)
    The gov guys are too prudish perhaps.

    295:

    Well, your tutor was wrong, in part at least.
    The first two major railway projects in the UK, the Stockton & Darlington (1825) for freight, mostly & the Liverpool & Manchester (1830) - principally for passengers to start with ...
    Made lots of money

    296:

    Agree Snowdern certainly thought he was "pure"
    Do not agree re. Assnge, though the way Manning has been treated is a disgrace ... he/she was seriously USED - by both Assange, the FSB & now the US "security" agencies.

    @ 292
    Tat is so far off-beam, I don't even know where to start ... ( Pathetic, isn't it, everyone? )
    I'm a serious amateur student of railway history, so please don't do that?
    Ditto 293 - read my comment, above @ 295.
    Look at the dividends paid by the major pre-grouping railway companies in the UK 1830-1914.
    Not even wrong - again.

    Last note: "MErcantilism" is a technical term referring to the "pre-capitalist" era, where it was believed that commerce was a zero-sum game - i.e. that there was a fixed sum of wealth, & that it could not be increased - which is wrong.

    297:

    Greg: Think that you are ridiculously optimistic re, post Nov 2020 - do you really think that Pence & his cronies will allow anything remotely resembling a free election by that date?

    The US system has a lot of inertia baked into it. In particular, presidential elections are not centrally controlled — they happen on a rigid timetable and are administered locally. You can't change that without hacking the constitution.

    So the question is whether the Pence administration (because that's what it's going to be) can hack the constitution before 2020. To do that, they need at least another 4 state governorships to turn Republican.

    Other factors: the Pence administration is heavily backed by the fossil fuel lobby. But the carbon bubble (per Mark Carney) is almost bound to burst in the next couple of years, regardless of policy within any one nation, no matter how big (i.e. the USA). At that point, there's going to be another financial crisis because while our carbon infrastructure won't go away overnight it accounts to about $70Tn of assets globally and they're about to devalue shockingly fast.

    Also? The angry folks who voted for Trump were voting for Change. They're not going to get it: they're going to get Dubya-style misrule on afterburners, and then an even worse financial crash, plus climate change and eroding shorelines.

    So it's anyone's guess where we'll be at by 2020. It could be outright fascism, but it could be the smoking crater left by an embryonic fascist system failing to take off from the end of the runway.

    298:

    Yup. And the last two paragraphs apply, mutis mundandis, to Brexit. Which, together with the Eurozone crisis, is going to make the USA debacle much worse on the global stage. Europe wouldn't have been exactly united, but might have been a large zone of stability, which in turn could have helped stabilise the world; as it is .... I agree about the inertia, which is a large part of the reason that I am not expecting the Trump presidency to be what most people seem to think - which is not to say that it won't be bad. In addition to Dubya-style misrule, we will also get Reagan-style mavericks and Obama-style deadlocking. God help us all, but I am expecting Nyarlathotep to be in the ascendant.

    299:

    Rather than blame Jim, blame my poor memory and hurried typing. As I said, a class decades ago and no notes — and an approaching storm to deal with.

    It was part of a general discussion on technological improvements and how technology was only part of the picture: the best technology didn't win just because it was the best technology. Sometimes the first mover had an advantage, sometimes they were too far ahead of the pack and ran out of money before demand caught up with capabilities. Bubbles were mentioned and dissected at length, and I remember some remarks about unfettered capitalism being prone to boom-bust cycles and government controls used as a tool by well-connected capitalists.

    Wasn't there a Canal Bubble? There were Railway Bubbles in both England and Canada. Although Western Canada didn't have a bubble, as the government had a much larger role in planning (and funding) the western railway — which was seen as a strategic necessity to prevent Western Canada being claimed by the Americans. [1]

    Anyway, not my field and old analysis even if I'm remembering it correctly. I'd welcome hearing current thinking on the subject if it's someone's field. Which would be you for British railway history, I suspect.

    Anyway, off to shovel again before the freezing rain arrives and turns last nights 15cm snowfall snow to ice. I'm really feeling this one right now:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT34hX7oFlk

    ("Another Storm" by Humphrey and the Dumptrucks, a Canadian folk band from the 1970s.)


    [1] This also explains the southern route of the first railway, which was deliberately run close to the border. And the formation of the North-West Mounted Police (originally North-West Mounted Rifles, name changed to avoid provoking the US, the War of 1812 and American invasions looming large in political memory).

    300:

    Greg, you're awfully easy to leg-pull - and yes, I've noticed that quite a few here are much more knowledgeable about railways / industrialization, was looking for correction.

    But, it did have an iota of sense to it:

    Parliament used Private Acts - so-called because they conferred powers or benefits on specific individuals or bodies rather than the public in general - in order to authorise new canal routes

    The first canal Acts were those of 1759 and 1760 which enabled the Duke of Bridgwater to construct a canal linking his colliery at Worsley to Manchester. Others followed, including major trunk canals such as the Trent and Mersey in 1766, the Forth and Clyde in 1768 and the Leeds and Liverpool in 1770. Acts for new inland navigation projects totalled 40 in 1760-89; 52 in the five years 1790-94; and 52 in 1795-1829. After that there was just one important scheme - the Manchester Ship Canal (1884).

    The canal system in fact developed slowly, and individual schemes were often delayed by financial and engineering difficulties.

    Canal Acts UK Parliament

    The joke / reference to rail privatization is found in this line:

    Parliament did not ensure any sort of consistency between canals, so varying widths and other restrictions prevented the canal system from operating as a network.

    History repeats itself?

    ~

    Anyhow, was just cheating / jumping the gun anyhow -

    It emerged last night that several academics at Cambridge University have stepped down from an intelligence forum over fears of Kremlin influence.

    An expert in Russian affairs and former adviser to the government told The Times: "They [Whitehall] have just woken up to Russia. They are embarrassed to admit it. They don't really know what to do because the logic is we should increase our defence spending and we should create a cross-governmental strategy for defending ourselves against this."

    Russia accused of waging secret warfare against Britain using cyber attacks, espionage and fake news Telegraph, 17th Dec 2016 (hot off the press)


    Whatever else is going on, wheels are turning. Here's hoping there's a Grand Meta-Meta strategy where Tillerson is actually helping the Russia Federation not collapse (if Reddit / Chans etc has taught anything, if you remove dive-bars, you unleash the Gremlins on everyone else) but transition to a more modern economy.


    Then again, allegedly I'm a horned one, so no idea.

    301:

    Yes, there was a railway bubble, but the point is that it was in the 1840's, ie ten to twenty years after the ones that made a profit. There were different waves of building due to various reasons.

    When doing history, dates really are important.

    302:

    The Telegraph article is propaganda, and quite a lot is complete bollocks. "Whitehall officials have for the first time acknowledged that Russia is waging a "campaign" of propaganda and unconventional warfare against Britain." Well, I have been reading such claims from them for many months. Of course, it isn't admitted that the UK has been doing the same for years. So what else is new?

    I am a bit puzzled about what "It emerged last night that several academics at Cambridge University have stepped down from an intelligence forum over fears of Kremlin influence" really means, and may enquire. i can think of several possible interpretations, none of them good.

    304:

    You can't change that without hacking the constitution.
    Rrpublican/Trumpolini/Pence majority across all three (out of 4) elements of structure - Constitutional Convention, here we come... &/or "State of Emergency".
    Simples.
    But, you also said:
    ... but it could be the smoking crater left by an embryonic fascist system failing to take off from the end of the runway.
    That's my bet, actually, & a "state of emergency" (because of the "crisis") is an easy way out, for short-term versions of "easy".
    The USA is about to get a rule of the saints, but without Ollie C dying conveniently. Could be really bad/interesting.
    In case y'all hadn't noticed, just for once, my predictions are even more doom-laden that Charlie's, which IMHO is not a good sign.

    305:

    Oh it was only a "joke" was it?
    You have tried that before, when you have been caught out.
    You are becoming tiresome, again.

    306:

    There is another possibility which is that nothing much happens. Business as usual continues with a few more cracks showing. DJ Trump manages to portray enough of a facade of youthful energy to get elected for a second term which he then spends in his pyjamas. Meanwhile FEMA has to be sent in to Miami and some property developers lose their shirts. Unmitigated evil turns out to be plain old corruption. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, same old, same old, and that's about it.

    I've been waiting for the axe to fall since the early 70s and I still think the real collapse (Limits to Growth, resource constraints, pollution, meathooks, etc) won't happen for a few decades yet. Which means I probably won't see it. What's happening now feels like warnings from the future, not the real thing. At least I hope so!

    307:

    America will have its Presidential election on schedule in 2020 and Mike Pence won't be the Republican candidate.

    (1) It is not possible currently to eliminate elections or change the constitution the way you envision because the political support for doing so isn't there.

    In addition, as a legal matter, 38 states needs to ratify the results of any constitutional convention and the Republicans don't control 38 states.

    In fact, Republicans control both houses of the legislature in only 30 states and would need to gain control of another 4 state legislatures to even call a constitutional convention.(It is legislatures, not governorss, as under Article V it is the legislatures that have the power to apply for the calling of a constitutional convention.)

    (2) I'm not sure what you mean by the Pence administration.

    (a) It is very clear that Trump will not be impeached as (i) it proved to be a disaster for the Republican in Congress the last time a Republican president was impeached and (ii) Trump is strongly supported within the Republican party and therefore Republican Congressmembers in their safe, gerrymandered districts, who care primarily about Republican votes will not try to remove him for the sake of their own political futures.

    (b) If you mean that Pence will effectively control the administration the way Cheney did the first term of W's administration, that also appears to be incorrect. Pence appears to be powerful but only one of 5-6 competing power centers including Bannon, Sessions, Kushner, Ivanka, and Priebus. Pence does not appear to be the most powerful of these.

    (3) What is going to happen is that lots of ancillary rules are going to change in ways that disenfranchise poor and minority voters, who disproportionally vote Democratic.

    The Republicans have control over the legislature and the governorship of 26 states (including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Iowa), a veto proof majority of the North Carolina legislature (which is busily stripping
    the newly elected Democratic governor of significant power including control of the Board of Elections) and the governors of a number of other states including Nevada, Illinois and New Mexico.

    Our new Attorney General is likely to change the mission of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice from protecting minority voters from disenfranchisement to ensuring ballot integrity; at the least minority voter suppression will not be vigorously prosecuted.

    Thus what you are likely to see is a proliferation of petty rules (voter identification requirements; questioning the residence of students) and active discouragement of minority voting (e.. fewer more distant polling place in minority areas) which will depress minority/poor/student turnout and make it harder for the Democrats to retake the White House in 2020 and the House in 2018.

    Note that this is the standard Republican playbook and we've beaten it before.


    308:

    More-or-less what I have been predicting, which makes the assumption that he doesn't actually go to war with China (or Russia). The Roman Empire declined and fell over 1-2 centuries, and the USA hegemony is very similar to it in many ways.

    309:

    Note that this is the standard Republican playbook and we've beaten it before.

    Pence, Bannon and other hard-line positions on Israel (mentioned due to the eschatological angle) are very easy to align.

    This is, with me putting aside my usual Fool's Cap, wildly irresponsible / dangerous thinking. It's also completely misunderstanding the shift within the GOP itself:

    Mulvaney is one of the most conservative members of the House, helping found the House Freedom Caucus, a group of rabble-rousing Republicans who have been a thorn in the side of House leadership.

    A member of the tea party, Mulvaney is a hard-liner when it comes to spending, unafraid to shut down the government over spending deals. He's also against raising the debt ceiling. Mick Mulvaney, who held prayer sessions on whether to force the US into default, will be in charge of the entire budget under Trump

    Mick Mulvaney is Donald Trump's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget Policy.mic 17th December 2016

    You should probably be concerned about that pick (even if it doesn't get ratified):

    The group, which includes many veterans of the Tea Party movement, was formed in January with the declared aim of pushing the House GOP leadership rightward on certain fiscal and social issues. More broadly, the caucus wants power shifted away from the leadership to the rank-and-file (by, for instance, giving committees more leeway on which bills to move forward and allowing more amendments to come to floor votes)...

    Though it represents less than a sixth of House Republicans, by acting as a bloc (decisions agreed to by 80% of the caucus are supposed to be binding on all) and choosing their fights carefully, the Freedom Caucus has certainly made an impact since its formation. The group’s defiance of Speaker John Boehner, over issues such as fast-track trade authority and defunding Planned Parenthood, contributed to Boehner’s decision last month to quit the job. And the group’s decision not to back House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy prompted McCarthy to pull out of the race and positioned the Freedom Caucus as a kingmaker.

    What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership, up to and including Boehner, and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood. That latter stance, in fact, cost the Freedom Caucus one member, Tom McClintock of California; another member, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, quit the group earlier this month.


    What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who’s in it? Pew Research Centre, Oct 2015

    ~


    Put it this way: they've already shown they're happy to push the US Government to default & at the first sight of a market crash, they'll be first to squash 'too big to fail' bail-outs. They're also on-record as not seeing a problem with the USG actually defaulting on the ~20tr national debt.

    Oh, and Trump's Twitter already affects stocks, so...

    310:

    Two data points I've been looking at:


    Venezuela pulls 100-bolivar note from circulation to 'beat mafia' Guardian 12th December, 2016

    Narendra Modi Bans India’s Largest Currency Bills in Bid to Cut Corruption NYT, Nov 8th 2016.


    Given that 33% of Dollars (physical) are outside the USA, imagine what a combination of:

    a) Debt crisis / Market crisis
    b) Pulling, say, the $50 / $100 bill to be replaced 'against corruption'
    c) GOP determination to 'deal with' that National Debt issue


    It would probably crash & burn a lot of countries as well as the USA.


    If you think that's unthinkable - don't, it's been somewhat common thinking on the more fringe Teaparty places for a while now.

    311:

    And yes, I'm well aware of quite how insane that all sounds and the repercussions of doing such moves:

    Mulvaney said the Trump administration “will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington”.

    “Each day, families across our nation make disciplined choices about how to spend their hard-earned money, and the federal government should exercise the same discretion that hard-working Americans do every day,” Mulvaney said.

    Trump Says He Picks Mulvaney to be White House Budget Director Fortune, 17th Dec 2016


    Ask Krugman (who had his private emails etc recently probed) just what they mean when they start doing the old Family Budget = Running a Global Empire / Economic system and how bat-shit insane it is.

    Wall Street will shit the bed if they don't get very serious promises that "only" Government will be targeted.


    Joker is the Hero in The Dark Knight Reddit, 2015

    312:

    The standard Republican play book referred to the Republican history and strategies of voter suppression.

    I am aware of the ideas of the Freedom caucus and recognize that they are highly radical and will have a lot of influence in certain policy areas. On the other hand, there are reasons why former Goldman Sachs partners are heading the Treasury and the National Economic Council. Certain truly daft moves are fairly unlikely. Others are almost guarranteed.

    313:

    You're aware that Bannon is ex-GS, we presume - they're looking at a different picture than you are. It's one with a few less people in it.

    Currently trending: http://metrocosm.com/map-international-trade/

    Pro-tip: it's crap, it doesn't track through flows.

    https://www.shipmap.org/


    Combine both. (Warning: requires decent connection).


    Pro-tip: we're under immense pressure atm and certain indicators predict we're for the gallows (literally) - but this is not a usual election.


    If you'd stop pretending it was, that'd be great. Or did you forget that moment when oil was $145 / barrel and now is $51, and that's with a huge push from producers to lift it?


    I am aware of the ideas of the Freedom caucus

    I'd be more worried about their actual abilities to shut Government down.


    Oh, and I mentioned Chile in a prior thread?

    Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt NYT, 16th Dec 2016


    Front-running stuff is getting lonely, esp. if y'all just hiding in the fetal position.

    314:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/11/a-reminder.html#comment-2015319

    Dec 7th.

    +1 week.

    And we're getting death threats for this kind of stuff, literally.

    315:

    Oh, and for the record:

    Where we are, we've passed the casual cat-calls / under-tow of snide comments and have moved into not-so-sutble markers of marking houses and whispered stuff and "plausible deniable" hate talk said loudly in conversation that is "totally not about you".

    These are 100% boring shit psychological weapons used as terror-tactics and to allow the users to "gear up" into the next phase (which is, usually, violence).


    And yes, the Council is in on it - from 500+ lit lamps, very proud of it, they've produced a list of addresses where the "lights go out" due to budget cuts.


    I see families moving.
    I hear nasty nasty little whisper campaigns.

    People are feeling it's "OK" to threaten violence and so on.

    Spoilers: Western Country, allegedly democractic.

    Fuck Hiding.

    316:

    Bannon was far more junior when he left GS. He is not at all the same.

    I am not in any way pretending this was a usual election, but there is a lot of ruin in a nation. Just because someone has taken an ax to Yggdrasil, does not mean Ragnarok starts tomorrow.

    There are a number of possible outcomes here; none are very good but the most catastrophic are unlikely. Not all is as it seems on the surface and not all those who wander are lost.

    The Freedom Caucus has no need to shut down government; they'll take apart pieces they don't like where they are allowed to. Fireworks are entertaining, but the show isn't over there.

    317:

    ...Trump is strongly supported within the Republican party and therefore Republican Congressmembers...

    Among the many other problems in the pipeline, this is not the case. Donald ran through the election cycle like a drunken college kid running naked across a sportsball field in the middle of the game, endearing him to the players just as much as you'd think. He's repeatedly taken a big stinking dump over the usual assumptions of business as usual and mutual profit. The more perceptive potential suck-ups have noticed his history of cheating his own flunkies when he thinks he can get away with it.

    He's not just scraping the bottom of the barrel for his cabinet, he's digging up people who've never been anywhere near a government before. Europeans may not have heard this but he's even having trouble finding entertainers to perform at his inauguration.

    Nobody knows how this will shake out but it won't be pretty.

    318:

    Yes, the party establishment does not love him for the reasons you mentioned. However, his support from Republican voters is staggeringly high - you notice all the things Paul Ryan is not saying? This is't from liking but from weakness.

    Trump's victory tour is not entirely about ego.

    319:

    Donald hasn't had a chance to really screw over the GOP base yet. Signs are he's working on it.

    Can he get anything done other than lining his own pockets? Darned if I know. There's plenty a president can do just by ordering it. On the other hand Hillary Fucking Clinton is more popular with the Republicans in Congress than he is; that's not a promising starting position.

    320:

    @ 309 - 311
    THank you.
    So much better when you post like that, unbelivaby scary though it is.
    And yes, I think you are correct.
    IF there is an election in 2020 it will be massively rigged, to enable the fascists, because that's what they are, to retain power.

    OTOH, if Mulvaney gets his way, then the USA's economy will crash & burn, so their reactionary revolution might not happen.
    Either way, not good for the inhabitants though.

    [ @ 315 - who is being targetted, apart from jews, that is? ]

    321:

    I am amused that Martin mentioned 1973 - I would have mentioned 1944

    I did - I'm surprised you didn't recognize FORTITUDE as the OVERLORD deception plan :)

    I've been quiet lately, because my ISP's broadband provider went bust without notice (mob called 186k)... and with the big suppliers quoting ten-business-day reconnection times, it was interesting to note the impact on normal household life over just three days (not least a pair of young boys looking at a holiday without YouTube, BBC iPlayer, or PlayStation Live...).

    If you want to distract or disrupt, communications channels are a terrifyingly effective way to do it. You don't use conventional or cyber means, you use economic ones - just set up a business, get it into a critical dependency, then have the CEO defraud it, or buy an overpriced asset and watch the firm implode. Who remembers Marconi? What impact had Fred Goodwin? If you're clever, you do it to firms small enough to be allowed to collapse. Slow war, to match slow money. Granted, I'm a firm believer in incompetence over conspiracy, but there's room to riff on that one for the truly paranoid fiction ;)

    322:

    Careless of me. No, I am not a milporn addict, and don't keep a list of such things in my head. Ones like Project Habbakuk, yes :-) Actually, I was thinking of the dead airman dropped in the Mediterranean with forged papers, but can't find a link.

    323:

    Appropriately for this time of year, Operation MINCEMEAT... ;)

    324:

    Thanks. So I got the date and campaign wrong, too :-) Ah, well.

    325:

    Rat's, beaten to it. There's been a couple of books out about Operation mincemeat.

    Martin, funny you should say that about crashing a company, given how much of our infrastructure is now foreign owned by companies with dodgy links to governments.

    A work colleague changed broadband supplier recently, but they had troble connecting him, and even worse, when they ran into said trouble they cancelled his connection and put him to the start again. Really really badly setup system. Fortunately him and his wife have smartphones, but they are out a lot of money on data because of how much has to be done by the internet these days.

    326:

    Thanks. Definitely dodgy memory on my part. (Remembered the sequence, not the 1/2 generation gap.)

    Can you recommend a good potted history of British transportation? My back is locking up after the fourth shovelling in three days, and I need something to keep my mind off it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F6dp1m7qPs

    (Motrin painkiller ad. Not so funny this morning, after the plows came through again and moved a snowbank into my driveway.)

    327:

    Re
    b) Pulling, say, the $50 / $100 bill to be replaced 'against corruption'
    there may be very significant pushback against such a move.

    The pro seems to be driven by Rogoff, Sands, Summers and a few others:
    Costs and benefits to phasing out paper currency (KS Rogoff 2014)
    Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes (Peter Sands, February 2016)
    It’s time to kill the $100 bill (Lawrence H. Summers 16 February (WaPo))

    but there was immediate pushback among conservative/(US)libertarian US pundits:
    Why are we talking about getting rid of the $100 bill? (29 February 2016 by Jazz Shaw Hot Air)
    Glenn Reynolds: Cash is the currency of freedom (29 February 2016)
    If You Don't Need Those Big Bills, You Probably Don't Need Cash At All. Do You, Now? Harvard and other elites take aim at any possibility of financial privacy in the name of curbing criminals flashing their big cash. (Brian Doherty 17 Feb. 2016)
    The War against Cash, Part III1 March 2016 by Dan Mitchell - Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute

    I did not spot any polling about the issue. Would be hard to poll though even with honest polling questions.

    Personal (and therefore anecdotal) experience suggests that the informal economy in the US skews conservative/libertarian (not intellectual in particular, but base beliefs) and uses a lot of cash, both for tax evasion (duh) and for hiding income for other reasons (unstated, perhaps child support and similar, and to make it easier to obtain government services and other services for low-income people). A lot of it could get by with $20 bills perhaps though.

    The opposition to such a move to eliminate or stop producing high-denomination US bills could easily (and properly, IMO) become vociferous. It would grab news cycles from other nefarious moves FWIW.


    328:

    What he is going to be able to accomplish is cut taxes for the ultra rich and gut regulations across the board. Beyond that it's pretty unclear.

    329:

    Re the Trump's Mick Mulvaney pick for OMB, pretty scary agreed. Another scary tab in my nominees gallery browser window. (Aside, nodding to the original post, such news and analysis is rather easier to find than say 20 years ago. May a new news model emerge and become popular.)
    Kevin Drum (US pundit, rationalist) points out an additional feature of this pick, partisan control over cost-benefit analyses:
    Mick Mulvaney, a lunatic budget hawk who entered Congress in the great tea party wave of 2010, will be our new director of the Office of Management and Budget. Most people probably think this is bad because he's a lunatic budget hawk, but I'm not sure how much that matters.
    ...
    Mulvaney will be the patron saint of "cost-benefit" analysis of federal regulations—which, in Republican hands, normally means totting up the costs and ignoring the benefits. In particular, it means that environmental regulations, even those with immense benefits, will be scored into oblivion and never see the light of day. Lucky us.

    330:

    I'm afraid I don't know much about British transportation, instead I read what you wrote first about investors losing their money and the next lot getting the assets cheap, somewhere else to do with economic history. Which is a very interesting topic itself, one that a lot of economists should learn.

    IIRC, the book was either:
    British economic and social history, 1700-1939 C. P. Hill
    or
    A history of economic change in England, 1880-1939 R. S. Sayers


    Publius J #328 - it is also clear that the Republican's war against women and minorities will be energised and broadened.

    331:

    Thanks. I'll have to look for those.

    I found the following on bubble bubble

    Some of the seeds of the Railway Mania were sown back in 1825, when the government repealed the Bubble Act, which was enacted after the South Sea Bubble debacle of 1720 and was designed to regulate the formation of new businesses and limit joint stock companies to a maximum of five separate investors. The repeal of the Bubble Act also allowed the general public to buy shares of stock and allowed companies to heavily promote themselves, abetted by new media such as newspapers.

    Railroad companies became some of the most aggressive promoters of their own stock, which they portrayed as a virtually risk-free investment. To further entice investors, railroad companies offered promotional deals on their stock in which they allowed investors to purchase their shares with only a 10% deposit, while the company held the right to call in the remaining 90% of the purchase at any time (Camplin, 2010). Investors soon became enamored with railroad companies’ growth prospects, creating a level of excitement that was similar to the excitement over technology stocks during the initial stages of the 1990s Dot-com bubble.

    The British government pursued a virtually laissez-faire approach toward the regulation of railroad development. Though companies were required to submit a Bill to Parliament for approval of new railroad lines, there were no limits on the number of railroad companies and nearly anyone could form a railroad company and submit a Bill to Parliament. Financial viability of railroad lines was not a requirement for Parliament’s approval and most Bills were approved due to the fact that many Members of Parliament were heavily invested in railroad companies – a blatant conflict of interest (The Science Museum, 2004).

    http://www.thebubblebubble.com/railway-mania/

    Which ties in with what I remember: repeal of safeguards (if any), market mania, rise of fraudulent practices, regulatory capture (if regulated), and eventual bust with small investors taking a bath and bigger investors often doing OK in the long run.

    332:

    Your impression was correct :) And I would contend that the internet (per your comment @ 280) provides a fine example of the artificially-created illusion of "need". The phrase "all of a sudden, this network became very much needed" is only conditionally true, the condition being to define sustaining methods of making money which depend on the existence of the internet as a form of "need". And it is such definitions that I am taking exception to.

    333:

    Sorry, but definitely not. Whether you regarded it as a need or not is a matter of taste, but it was predicted as far back as the 1960s, and its start had essentially nothing to do with ways of making money. Academia, research and the military, yes, but not commerce - that came much later. Now, the recent development of the Internet is another matter, and I would agree with you there.

    334:

    "there may be very significant pushback against such a move."

    OTOH there has, I believe, been a similar move to get rid of high-value Euro notes, and it has created so little fuss that I don't even know what the outcome was without looking it up: it hasn't generated enough signal to make it into my awareness apart from the chance of happening to read whatever article it was that mentioned it to me in the first place.

    Not that that surprises me too much if my assumption that Euro notes are treated much like pound notes is valid. In Britain we effectively don't have anything bigger than a twenty at all. A fifty does exist, but it is very rare to see one, and they are hard to spend because people think they are likely to be fake. I've never seen anything larger, and I'm not sure anything larger even exists in general circulation.

    What worries me is the "thin end of the wedge" aspect and the obvious desire to get rid of cash altogether. Partly the resulting impossibility of buying anything except from an actual shop - no more informal trades with friends or neighbours - and partly because I personally, along with the few million others who don't have bank accounts but whose existence is consistently overlooked or discounted, would be completely fucked.

    335:

    Yes, it was the recent development I was thinking of - that being what ilya187's "it became very much needed" was referring to. I had half a page of ill-formed thoughts concerning both the history you refer to and alternate history scenarios of an "enthusiast internet", but decided they were too ill-formed to be worth trying to mould them into a postable form :)

    336:

    But that's alright because all financial transactions could be traced and taxed, except for the ones done by the masters of the universe and the right kinds of criminals. Given the history of involvement of 'intelligence' agencies in dodgy stuff, e.g. BCCI, I see no reason to think that getting rid of cash will actually stop fraud and crime.

    You may or may not be surprised by the number of people I've met who think cheques are an ancient irrelevance. Many of these people are usually classed as intelligent. But can't see how useful cheques are for situations where someone or an organisation doesn't have paypal, or when electronic access is not possible or desirable.

    337:

    By "there may be very significant pushback" I mean that the seeds for pushback are present, in the US.

    What worries me is the "thin end of the wedge" aspect and the obvious desire to get rid of cash altogether. Partly the resulting impossibility of buying anything except from an actual shop - no more informal trades with friends or neighbours ...
    Me too. The moves and attempted moves strongly imply that cash transactions are irritatingly more opaque, to those who care including the Government, than banking-system transactions. Moves toward ids on currency (robust ESD (static) proof rfids (latest paper I could find: Built-in ESD Protection for RFID Tag ICs (abstract 01 December 2016)), per-instance speckle patterns on coins, whatever) are another possibility but they would need the participation of at least one party, plus equipment, for most transactions, to be effective.

    ...and partly because I personally, along with the few million others who don't have bank accounts but whose existence is consistently overlooked or discounted, would be completely fucked.
    https://www.fdic.gov/householdsurvey/
    Estimates from the 2015 survey indicate that 7.0 percent of households in the United States were unbanked in 2015. This proportion represents approximately 9.0 million households. An additional 19.9 percent of U.S. households (24.5 million) were underbanked, meaning that the household had a checking or savings account but also obtained financial products and services outside of the banking system.
    So not inconsiderable numbers in the US. (Household sizes not clear but certainly well greater than 1).

    guthrie @336: You may or may not be surprised by the number of people I've met who think cheques are an ancient irrelevance.
    Cheques (checks is USian) in the US are still commonly used though fading. (I'm one of the holdouts, and mocked a bit for it, but so it goes.)


    338:

    For an encyclopaedic reference to the railway era, you could do worse than to take the Oxford Companion to British Railway History as a starting point. Note the italics - it is not complete or accurate enough to be taken as authoritative, but it is good enough to give an overview and to indicate avenues to follow up in more depth. (In which respect, beware of OS Nock - some of his stuff is OK, but a lot of it is unchecked and erroneous sources presented as if they were direct knowledge.)

    Railways in Britain were built for all sorts of reasons. As Greg says, the early lines in a railwayless land mostly did pretty well (though the Stockton and Darlington is a stunted backwater these days). Some were built (and many more proposed) in the 1840s as rip-off schemes. Quite a few were built for territorial reasons, to keep a neighbouring railway company out of the area. Some of these always had a crap service as the important point about them was simply to exist and therefore prevent another company arguing that their own proposal fulfilled a local lack; some were never intended to be actually built, but Parliament tended to take the attitude "we've given you the Act with the powers to build it, now you're jolly well going to do it" and forced the construction against the railway company's efforts to procrastinate; and some of them, once built, became important trunk routes. Some lines were built with the express intention of selling out to a big company in the area as soon as they were up and running, the more so if the big company was one that liked to extend its network by fostering such operations, or if there was more than one big company in the area and a reasonable chance of being able to get them to bid against each other for the line. Some routes were built to cut off gaps in the network where the route of the original line had not correctly anticipated the future requirements of traffic, or had been constrained by the limits of early locomotive technology to follow a circuitous but less arduous path.

    And large in numbers, if not often so in significance, were those routes built to serve an area whose inhabitants wanted a railway, but which other companies thought would provide too little extra traffic for them to bother building a line themselves. The story of any of these lines is much the same sad tale as of all the others. Locals petition large railway company in the area to build them a line, repeatedly and without success. Eventually they get fed up enough that a group of local bigwigs (who are rich by local standards, but not at all in comparison to a big railway company) put together a scheme off their own bat. Act passed, much rejoicing, beer in the streets etc. Construction begins. Construction continues. Construction continues to continue. Opening date passes and line is still not half built. Remonstrances with contractor. Contractor cites unforeseen geological difficulties and asks for more money. There isn't any. Is told to shut up and get on with it. Asks to at least have the money they owe him already. Gets half of it. Goes bust. Promoters raise more money by agreeing to ever more esuriently usurious terms, and hire new contractor. Repeat through two or three more contractors. Board of Trade inspector finds corners cut to save cost and denies opening on safety grounds. More frantic fundraising to fix problems. Line finally opens, but barely has the money to run a train. Any money it does get is immediately eaten by trying to pay off all the enormous loans; it is crippled from the start and powerless to improve its situation. It may manage to struggle on as a walking corpse for years, but even if it has the luck to be taken over by a big company the limitations of its minimum-cost infrastructure still preclude much of an improvement, and its demise is at the most postponed to the time people begin to get cars. Fifty years later, copies of a history of it are occasionally to be found on second-hand book stalls, and are barely distinguishable from the histories of all the others like it.

    339:

    Indeed, the only criminals who do deal in large amounts of cash are the relatively minor ones. As the amount gets larger it tends to attract attention more than evading it, and so the not-so-minor criminals have already developed methods for concealing their activities which do not depend on cash.

    As for fraud, the less physical things get the easier it becomes. It takes far fewer bits and far less physical equipment to forge online credentials than it does a banknote.

    340:

    For an encyclopaedic reference to the railway era, you could do worse than to take the Oxford Companion to British Railway History as a starting point.

    Thank you. I'll try to hunt down a copy.

    341:

    Cheques (checks is USian) in the US are still commonly used though fading.

    I find cheques very handy for paying tradespeople. They don't carry around bank machines, and with a cheque I have a record of payment (if necessary).

    I probably have a lifetime supply of cheques now; I just got a new box when I started online bill payments, which accounted for over a hundred a year. But I wouldn't like to give them up.

    342:

    I don't think Trump will be impeached. For a House member in a gerrymandered district, the greatest fear is a primary from a Trump loyalist. Remember in 2010, the Tea Party primaried several Republicans who were willing to work with President Obama for not being loyal enough.

    343:

    I find cheques very handy for paying tradespeople.
    In the US tradespeople often prefer cash (sometimes agreed to before the work is started), though they'll take a check particularly if the amount is large.
    A "cash discount" can be often be negotiated. I don't make a habit of this because the bank records can be useful if there is an issue with the work or some other dispute. Also tax evaders are cheating me, a full-up taxpayer. (Philosophical objection I know.)


    344:

    A "cash discount" can be often be negotiated. I don't make a habit of this because the bank records can be useful if there is an issue with the work or some other dispute. Also tax evaders are cheating me, a full-up taxpayer.

    Agreed on both counts.

    345:

    Do you think that the Great Lakes States will remain in the Trump camp in 2020, or will revert back to blue?

    346:

    I don't think Trump will be impeached. For a House member in a gerrymandered district, the greatest fear is a primary from a Trump loyalist.
    This seems reasonable, but normal rules no longer apply [1] and it seems likely that the rules will be shifting (i.e. be shifted), soonish.
    That is, I was surprised at Trump's electoral win, and expect continued surprise for a while, not a reversion to the mean.

    [1] e.g. Outsiders Selected by Trump Aim to Unnerve Washington
    Some of those chosen — 17 picks so far for federal agencies and five for the White House — are among the most radical selections in recent history.

    347:

    Oh, and I mentioned Chile in a prior thread?
    Front-running stuff is getting lonely, esp. if y'all just hiding in the fetal position.
    That was a bit uncanny, no matter what the mechanism (not the right word).
    Been trying to work out personal courses of action. The confusion is deep though; we're (USians, not including any perpetrators) all pretty clueless (or at least not confident) about the ways (the possibility distributions that is) that the future will unfold. Just being honest. I don't confidently understand the plays or know the full inventory of key players.

    By way of saying that the fetal position is not total, decent guide to "Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security" at a mid-tier US politics blog.
    eff.org has a similar guide: https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/attending-protests-united-states. Protests are obviously not sufficient, but they are necessary.

    348:

    The way I think about it is this: Trump has managed a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. He's currently at the stage where he tells employees of the newly taken-over company what they want to hear while installing his own managers and HR people. What happens next is anyone's guess - I suspect that the upper management of the Republicans is next for the chopping block.

    349:

    Also R Prior ...
    The "mania" of the late 1840's was largely irrelevant, though one major company came from it - the GNR.
    Of much greater importance was the great Bank Crash of 1866, which screwed some companies permanently, & forced the mergers of others> In the last case, the late-built lines which never really paid: There was a burst of this in the 1880's & the results were disastrous - look up the Hull & Barnsley R, The Barry R & the "Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast R"

    350:

    Re OP call for solutions to the eyeballs mess.
    Bot counterattack. New ap that lets you select sites, or types of sites, that you like or support. The ap constantly clicks on those sites whenever your device is inactive. Only responsible people (and interested parties) will get the ap, so the types of site selected will all be good.

    351:

    Cheques are essential for small non-corporate associations & groups.
    I am Treasurer for two such:
    Chingford Morris Men & my local Allotments association ....
    (And there's an allotments-grouping as well, that also has a similar situation)
    I also still write something like 5-8 personal cheques a year, because setting up on-line (etc) Bank Transfer arrangements, is, quite frankly, not worth the hassle.
    There was a deliberate attempt to nuke cheques here, about 18 months back & it came to a screeching halt, partly because of all the unincorporated associations involved - i.e. the "third" sector - voluntary, which actually represents a huge amount of money, once it's all added up.

    352:

    Trumpolini s going to smash everything he can't control directly or squeeze money from, whilst pissing all over millions of people, most especially those who voted for him ....

    Next question, will it all disintegrate fast enough, that the rigging/postponing of the 2020 "election" never happens & a really new administration takes over (whenever) or will the system, unfortunately (?) hold together for long enough that Pence's christiofascist administration can take over?

    353:

    Do you mean this? ''Nobody could make a convincing case in 1990's that a globe-spanning network of TCP/IP routers was "needed"''

    If so, my response applies, redoubled in spades. The requirements were very clear and the case was made in the 1960s, and it was well under way by the 1970s. Do you know what it was like trying to collaborate internationally before modern networking (and cheap air freight, incidentally)? Postcards were quite commonly used, because they were the only cheap mechanism. I had to support some software used in Australia, with communication by overnight Telex, unreliable multi-day letter, and very unreliable multi-week (often multi-month) magnetic tape. The first available-to-all network was UK academia using X.25 (IP was very patchy) and, by the mid-1980s, the global TCP/IP network was well under way, though it took longer before the OSI people realised they had lost the politics.

    354:

    No need for that; co-opting is so much easier than chopping. Ryan is neutered, McConnell is partly paid off - who needs to be chopped?

    355:

    I forgot to mention the hidden assumption in any discussions of the Laffer Curve and associated subjects. That assumption being, of course, that maximising tax revenue is a good idea in the first place.

    I happen to think that it isn't. Concentration of monetary power in any one organisation (or any other form of power, for that matter) leads inevitably to uncaring and inefficient bureaucracy, inappropriate centralisation and corruption.

    This applies to other large organisations, but government is usually the largest one around - and usually (at least in a halfway functional country) the one with a monopoly of armed force and access to such things as prisons.

    I suspect you disagree with much of that. Fine; I'll agree to disagree.

    356:

    292:
    OH, and FFS - the Rail-Roads in the US were pushed through Congress - do your research. They weren't built by accident, it was due to Pacification / Expansionist goals.

    Well, not quite - that was after the Civil War (US). From the 1820s, with it's canal building madness, to railroads starting in the 1830s, in the US, there was *big* money to be made. Being from Phila, PA, home for almost a century and a half of what was one of the biggest railroads in the world, the Pennsy, the huge push for them was western and northern Pennsylvania, for the huge deposits of coal and iron ore. PA was the core of the steel belt.

    mark "moi? a railroad fan? Naahhhh, nor would I *ever* think of having a model rr layout in my basement...."

    357:

    304:

    You can't change that without hacking the constitution.
    Rrpublican/Trumpolini/Pence majority across all three (out of 4) elements of structure - Constitutional Convention, here we come... &/or "State of Emergency".
    Simples.

    Not quite that easy. Really. Please note about Constitutional Amendments need 2/3rds in House and Senate, AND THEN 2/3rds or the states. The ERA (Equal Rights, women) never became an Amendment because it didn't get 2/3rds of the states.

    Also, for y'all on the other side of the Pond, a) Agnew, Nixon's VP, resigned, not impeached, and then was convicted and went to jail for monetary misdeeds as a governor. Then Nixon resigned, rather than be impeached.

    So we need to get Francisco Pence out first.... Which would be good, because I'm *sure* Trumpolini will delegate him to do the work, while he plays star.

    mark

    358:

    “Do you think that the Great Lakes States will remain in the Trump camp in 2020, or will revert back to blue?”

    You mean the Pence camp, and probably not. Union jobs have been decimated by factory closures over past 25-30 years and are never coming back. And the unions have been castrated by Republican controlled state governments. Most of those people who lost their union job have migrated to other states.

    It won’t matter because the people who voted for Trump will be too busy struggling to survive with a gutted healthcare system to treat their health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer (which will be considered pre-existing conditions by the private insurance companies). While those who still have jobs living paycheck-to-paycheck and waiting for their right to be fired/laid off.

    However, 2020 will not be the critical point, it will be the midterm elections in 2018 that will ultimately decide the path the US will take. As for the Great Lake States it may be too late, the damage done.

    359:

    AND THEN 2/3rds or the states.

    3/4s I believe.

    I hope I'm right, I just mailed my US citizenship application in this morning. This may come up in the test.

    361:

    Not that that surprises me too much if my assumption that Euro notes are treated much like pound notes is valid. In Britain we effectively don't have anything bigger than a twenty at all.

    Agreed on all counts. I am Italian, living in Germany and visited most Euro countries: the largest denomination in current usage is the 50 Euros note.
    I have personally handled a 100 Euros maybe 3-4 times since the introduction of the Euros, and never seen a 200 or 500 in the wild. I also remember signs at airport exchange booths stating that they won't deal in larger denominations.

    I have recently visited London, and I was delighted by the fact that I never had to pay cash for anything (except visiting the Dr.Who museum on the back of the Who Shop, but that was done by the person I was with). It is really convenient, just like online banking for most bills. At the same time, I would oppose moving to a completely e-money society, in part because I know that older or less educated people would be at a disadvantage, and also because it would be a limitation of my freedom: I want to be able to decide if I prefer electronic or cash (or even cheques, yeah, why not?) according to my own preferences.

    Finally, the (now quite old) Neuoromancer trilogy by William Gibson had an interesting take on what happens when everybody is forced to use e-money: old, outdated New Yen banknotes are used as a sort of illegal currency, i.e. they are used mostly for illegal deals, but still hold great value, precisely because these are not traceable.

    362:

    I would oppose moving to a completely e-money society

    Me too, because having a bank account is a regressive tax[1] on the poor.

    Leaving aside all worries about privacy etc, a bank account is an expensive thing to have. To avoid crippling fees[2], you need to maintain a certain minimum balance. To those of us with savings, that's just our savings. But to someone living paycheque-to-paycheque, that's a significant amount of money. Fall below, and the fees add up fast.

    I've heard that in Europe the post offices have banks that are geared for very small amounts, but in Canada user fees and transaction charges are a perennial complaint about the banks.


    [1] OK, it's a privately imposed tax by the banks, not the government, but the effect is the same.

    [2] Crippling in terms of the transaction cost.

    363:

    Me too, because having a bank account is a regressive tax on the poor.

    This is another excellent point that I had missed.
    Also, regarding post offices providing saving management: yes, this was already in place many years ago, at least in my country, but then Banks were providing alternative forms of saving management, too (when I was before legal age to open an account I had something called Libretto di Risparmio, i.e. a booklet where deposit and withdrawal were manually registered by a bank officer, you kept the booklet at home, but I presume that the bank had a log too).
    Post offices now are closer to a normal bank (but I suppose they have much lower fees) and will provide an ATM card and possibly even a Credit Card: this is also due to the fact that "traditional" postal services have been either privatized (package shipping) or have declined in usage (letters and postcards) so Post Offices have scrambled to diversify their offerings as much as possible - see for example: http://www.vox.com/2016/4/29/11536246/finland-postal-service-lawn-mowing-USPS

    364:

    No, I meant the bit after that, the bit I quoted... I think we have a crossed wire somewhere, but I'm not sure quite where.

    365:

    I think that I see.

    366:

    There are a bunch of takes on this.

    One is that this is why blood diamonds and drugs are so popular: they're lighter than cash, and just as hard to trace.

    In a related note, there's a push to get rid of higher denomination bank notes in various countries, because they tend to be used mostly for criminal enterprises. Also, lower denominations weigh more for the same value, so getting rid of $500 notes means that someone has to carry five times as many $100 notes to make the same purchase.

    On the third side, there's a whole industry out there designed to hide wealth, and if you believe the newspaper articles, there's more wealth being hidden by international shell companies and the like, than there is in the US national budget. This is the ultimate form of untraceable wealth. I mean, theoretically it is traceable, but once you go through the layers of shells, the countries who have deliberately designed their laws to make these transactions opaque, and so on, it's very difficult for an outsider to figure out exactly who owns what.

    I'd point out that this whole elaborate set-up is ripe for a jubilee hack, wherein (like the iron and bronze age revolutionaries who burned the debt books so that everyone would be free), you crash the financial systems of various countries, leading to no information on who owns what, in which circumstance revolutionaries can simply claim stuff, distribute it to their followers, and set up new ownership rules as they go.

    367:

    Totally unrelated to anything that's gone before, but I have a question for the group: is there any consistent slang that's grown up around 3-D printing, including mistakes, cute names for remnants and extras, and such? I've used Google, but while I've found mentions of things like "thin arm syndrome" it doesn't seem like the 3-D printing community has the bugs, hacks, and bit buckets of the early computer days. Am I wrong?

    368:

    And then other terms, like "short shot", will come from existing moulding/casting vocabulary.

    369:

    In point of fact, nothing is to be done because the system is path dependent. What you see is what we're going to get, only more so.

    370:

    Do you think that Hillary's "blue wall" crumbled in part because of an out-migration of Democrat-leaning voters from those states to other states where their votes wouldn't affect the Electoral College outcome, rather than because they voted Trump this time in defiance of globalization?

    371:

    Kind of like what Emilio Estavez's character does in
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_(film)
    except using a computer instead of an uzi.

    372:

    To avoid crippling fees, you need to maintain a certain minimum balance.

    When I arrived in Australia about 2000 that was the case. But there was a wave of change and these days fee-free accounts are the norm. To the point where I have accounts with three different banks purely because that's easier than grinding through the process to close the accounts.

    There's no need for those fees any more, at least with the more internet-enabled banks. An accurate fee would be a few cents a year which would mostly over the reporting costs (in other words the exact cost will be determined by regulation). If the bank is required to post you a bit of paper every year the cost will go up to cover the paper.

    Down here I get an email every few months saying "you didn't use your bank account" plus an annual "you didn't do anything that causes taxes" email statement. Amusingly I did get an email saying "your card expired. If you want another one you have to ask" (there was no fee, I suspect it's a way to de-activate unused accounts).

    373:

    One thing in Australia is that post offices are often agencies now, a corner of the chemist or part of the newsagency. But they all offer a whole heap of services, to the point where it's common for staff to look up the thing on their computer and say "right, I print this form, you fill it out, I stamp it then scan it into the computer, you pay $10.25, and I give you a receipt". They literally have never seen that form before in 99% of cases. We have had to do this several times to get a mortgage via a mostly-online bank, to verify ID documents and suchlike.

    You can also deposit cash, but only $3000 at a time. As I discovered when I sold a DSLR online and the buyer opted to pick it up and pay cash (which is quire reasonable and entirely legal but somewhat annoying. Still, it beats waiting 10-20 minutes for a bitcoin transaction to finalise).

    The pain point is people paying bills. Partly inherent, in that a transaction takes a certain amount of time, but partly it seems to be the people who pay bills that way are generally not the fastest or best-prepared sorts of people. So half the transactions involve the person behind the counter having to explain things (like, bob help us, "if you only pay half the bill you're likely to get cut off, even if that number is printed somewhere on the bill" (two different people trying to pay the connection charge but not the usage charge on a utility bill while I waited behind them).

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