Last week, I had a narrow miss myself when left turning across fast traffic at night, and an amateur biker darted in from the wrong way from the dark, almost getting hit. He cursed me, but when I stopped to assure no collision had occurred, he seemed more apologetic.
Seriously, many amateur bikers do not realize how difficult it will be for drivers to see them in time. Pedestrians are moving slowly (although joggers could be moving quickly) and can claim right of way in crosswalks and many situations. But cyclists are often moving at least 20 mph, close to the speed of a car. There is no time for drivers to see them from the wrong direction.
Yet, some amateur bikers talk as if they are on the moral high ground (having no empathy for driver exposure to liability as well as there own safety), and that people shouldn’t drive at all, and that life involves taking risks for some common good. I mention this as an attitude of many boys in section 3 of Chapter 1 of my DADT-1 book.
Bikers often run red lights, meaning they have to be passed multiple times when otherwise riding legally with traffic.
Here are a few references(bikeeasy, Bicyclesafe, npr), especially on the topic of “salmoning” or wrong-war riding for convenience. Note the other terms, like “shoaling”.
I am nearing the completion of my downsizing, selling and moving out of an “estate” house and into a smaller condo.
I approached this subject with a posting here May 13, and said this would be an OJT experience. I tried to preview the issues that could come up, and indeed there were a lot of unexpected twists.
It will take several postings to cover in detail some important points of what I learned from what actually happened, and some of this will be discussed with more specifics on my “doaskdotellnotes” blog where I talk about my obligations under my own trust.
I did want to hit one point hard tonight: the value of decluttering before downsizing. The house had a lot of unnecessary “stuff’ (kitchen related) that my parents had used. I have also accumulated a lot of books and CD’s over the years, partly before my life played out largely before you could put your collections in the Cloud in digital format. I also had a lot of personal papers on various matters (like substitute teaching, and various matters concerning the original publication of my books). Finally I had a lot of excess clothing.
What struck me was the amount of manual labor required to pack (by the moving company) and to haul away the junk (by junk removal companies, which I had really started before, especially with excess furniture). All of this was on top of some furniture donations through the realtor to hurricane victims.
I remember on some volunteer assignments how much effort goes into sorting used clothing for distribution to clients in various community assistance and service events. It takes a lot of time to deal with an unneeded item, either to give it away to someone who would really need it, or to dispose of it safely. It does add perspective on volunteerism, which may be more of a matter of hours and time than I used to think.
(Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2017, at 7L30 PM EST)
Electronic Frontier Foundation has reported that the Senate Commerce Committee has approved a version of SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, S. 1693. Elliot Harmon’s article calls it “still an awful bill”. Harmon goes into the feasibility of using automated filters to detect trafficking-related material, which very large companies like Google and Facebook might be half-way OK with. We saw this debate on the COPA trial, about filtering, more than a decade ago (I attended one day of that trial in Philadelphia in October 2006). No doubt, automated filtering would cause a lot of false positives and implicit self-censoring.
Apparently the bill contains or uses a “manager’s amendment” (text) floated by John Thune (R-SD) which tries to deal with the degree of knowledge that a platform may have about its users. The theory seems to be that it is easy to recognize the intentions of customers of Backpage but not of a shared hosting service. Sophia Cope criticizes the amendment here.
Elliot Harmon also writes that the Internet Association (which represents large companies like Google) has given some lukewarm support to modified versions of SESTA, which would not affect large companies as much as small startups that want user-generated content It’s important to note that SESTA (and a related House bill) could make it harder for victims of trafficking to discuss what happened to them online, an unintended consequence, perhaps. Some observers have said that the law regarding sex trafficking should be patterned after child pornography (where the law seems to work without too much interference of users) and that the law is already “there” now.
But “Law.com” has published a historical summary by Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams that traces the history of Section 230 all the way back to a possibly libelous item in an AOL message board regarding Oklahoma City (the Zeran case). Then others wanted to punish Craigslist and other sites for allowing users to post ads that were discriminatory in a Civil Rights sense. The law need to recognize the difference between a publisher and a distributor (and a simple utility, like a telecom company, which can migrate us toward the network neutrality debate). Facebook and Twitter are arguably a lot more involved with what their users do than are shared hosting sites like BlueHost and Verio, an observation that seems to get overlooked. It’s interesting that some observers think this puts Wikipedia at particular risk.
I don’t have much an issue with my blogs, because the volume of comments I get is small (thanks to the diversion by Facebook) these days compared to 8 years ago. When I accept a guest post, I should add that Section 230 would not protect me, since I really have become the “publisher” so if a guest post is controversial, I tend to fact-check some of the content (especially accusations of crimes) myself online.
I’d also say that a recent story by Mitch Stoltz about Sci-Hub, relating to the Open Access debate which, for example. Jack Andraka has stimulated in some of his Ted Talks, gets to be relevant (in the sense that DMCA Safe Harbor is the analogy to Section 230 in the copyright law world). A federal court in Virginia ruled against Sci-Hub (Alexandra Elbakyan) recently after a complaint by a particular science journal, the American Chemical Society But it also put intermediaries (ranging from hosting companies to search engines) at unpredictable risk if they support “open access” sites like this. The case also runs some risk of conflating copyright issues with trademark, but that’s a bit peripheral to discussing 230 itself.
Again, I think we have a major break in our society over the value of personalized free speech (outside of the control of organizational hierarchy and aggregate partisan or identity politics). It’s particularly discouraging when you look at reports of surveys at campuses where students seem to believe that safe places are more important than open debate, and that some things should not be discussed openly (especially involving “oppressed” minorities) because debating them implies that the issues are not settled and that societal protections could be taken away again by future political changes (Trump doesn’t help). We’ve noted here a lot of the other issues besides defamation, privacy and copyright; they include bullying, stalking, hate speech, terror recruiting, fake news, and even manipulation of elections (am issue we already had an earlier run-in about in the mid 2000s over campaign finance reform, well before Russia and Trump and even Facebook). So it’s understandable that many people, maybe used to tribal values and culture, could view user-generated content as a gratuitous luxury for some (the more privileged like me) that diverts attention from remedying inequality and protecting minorities. Many people think everyone should operate only by participating in organized social structures run top-down, but that throws us back, at least slouching toward authoritarianism (Trump is the obvious example). That is how societies like Russia, China, and say Singapore see things (let alone the world of radical Islam, or the hyper-communism of North Korea).
The permissive climate for user-generated content that has evolved, almost by default, since the late 1990s, seems to presume individuals can speak and act on their own, without too much concern about their group affiliations. That idea from Ayn Rand doesn’t seem to represent how real people express themselves in social media, so a lot of us (like me) seem to be preaching to our own choirs, and not “caring” personally about people out of our own “cognitive” circles. We have our own kind of tribalism.
A recent incident at the Orlando airport underscores the nervousness these days of the security implications of personal electronics.
Apparently a camera containing a lithium battery exploded, causing tremendous confusion and disruption as explain in this Orlando television station report.
This was not a laptop, tablet or smartphone. But there have been issues in the past with specific items, including some Samsung smart phones and some hoverboards. In some devices it seems even a battery not plugged in has caught fire.
Laptops have not have many incidents; however some time this year high school students watched a 2006 laptop blow up in their California home.
Contrast this with the controversy last spring with the temporary bans of in-cabin electronics from airports in various countries, on the theory that terrorists could devise plastic explosives that could be hidden from security, as this story by Jack Stewart in Wired had explained.
According to the LA Times, the TSA implemented a new rule requiring screening of all laptops and similar electronics. It’s not clear if this applies to Known Travelers, who presumably are trustworthy users of consumer electronics in the normal and lawful manner. A July 2017 memo from the TSA suggests that TSAPrev travelers are exempt (also see this).
But as I noted in May, the TSA (and similar security in all other countries) has to face a basic policy reality. There are some incidents of very low probability that are impossible to prevent with absolute certainty. It’s almost a quantum thing. Laptops on flights were not controversial until this year. I’ve flown with them for twenty years. But more modern lithium batteries have at least a theoretical risk due to the fact that lithium is fairly reactive. Remember the high school chemistry experiment of putting sodium into water? (There has been at least one injury in the past few years from that demonstration.)
As I wrote in May, we need to solve the problem of the best approach to electronics and travel. Could non-lithium batteries be used again and improved? Could a safer ground rental system be developed, if some day it was no longer practical for people to take their own electronics? (You don’t have to take your data if it’s in the Cloud, hopefully.) There would seem room in the blogosphere for advice on how to travel with gear and make sure it works when you get there — along the lines of “Blogtyrant’s” ideas on how to help readers with content (to the point that readers actually welcome emails).
We need to keep an eye on this problem.
(Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at 12 Noon EST)
Update: Nov 15
Here is TSA’s own blog post on passenger options if an item is not allowed on a plane or in checked luggage.
Here is the FAA’s current policy on batteries in equipment brought into planes, pdf. Here is an explanation of watt-hours for a battery. The FAA sheet would imply passengers should know the watt-hours of their batteries that aren’t always published but are printed on the batteries themselves (since 2011). They should normally be less than 100.
(Video on battery access)
A quick visit to a near Best Buy and discussion with a tech verified that Apple typically makes battery info details available to consumers as an app, but most PC-style laptops based on Windows or other ops do not. A policy solution to the safety problem discussed here could include making the info available to the user on a firmware app. Many modern laptops (like the ASUS) require considerable effort and practice (and Philips screwdrivers) to open properly to see and exchange the batteries.
Update: Nov. 16
It still seems that checkpoint-friendly bags (USA Today story) for laptops are recommended, and they must not have extra compartments or buckles. Yet, relatively few of them at a local Best Buy store were compliant. Retailers don’t seem to have a lot of knowledge about this.
Airports seem to be encouraging electronics, with modern docking stations in secure areas, and restaurants (in secure areas also) with order menus on iPads.
Update: Nov 17
I found myself going through security after returning a rent car at Fort Lauderdale without the opportunity to check a bag (I later learned that was on a higher floor). So the regular luggage went through the TSA-Prev line and a shaving cream container was confiscated even though it would have been acceptable in checked luggage (which I checked at the gate).
Stelter takes the practical position (as have I) that many social media users and bloggers have become quasi-establishment journalists, supplementing the major media, and helping with “keeping them honest”, as Anderson Cooper often says. So amateurs need to take fact-checking seriously.
This freedom may well be undermined by a number of concerns explored here recently. These include erosion of downstream liability protections for service providers (the Backpage-Section 230 problem), increasing legal exposure to “amateur” journalists for certain kinds of hyperlinks and embeds, the fake news scandals of the past year (really, the observation that “average joe” social media users tend to follow tribal crowds rather than read critically), and particularly the ease with which teens and young adults seem to be recruited into violence, which includes but is by no means limited to radical Islam and gang activity. As I’ve noted here before, these kinds of concerns can make amateur journalism seem “gratuitous” (e.g unnecessary and capable of being shut down) although Trump seems much more concerned about the establishment (Fourth Estate) press than the newbies (Fifth Estate).
But you have to take seriously he demands made on social media platform and search engines to “pre-censor” user ouput.
Speakers on the Internet benefit in different ways from search engines, social media sites (some like Facebook create more opportunity for permanent “publication” than do others, like Snapchat), and shared or dedicated third-party hosting for conventional or blog sites; these providers also usually provide domain name registration. Users also benefit from security services like Cloudflare and SiteLock. Generally, social media sites are taking more “responsibility” for certain kinds of damaging speech (hate speech, bullying, or terror recruiting) than are neutral site hosts. However, after the Daily Stormer matter (post Charlottesville), a few hosts participated in kicking off at least one neo-Nazi site from domain registration.
The “Mediator” Jim Rutenberg wrote a piece “Terrorism Is Faster than Twitter” Nov. 5 in which he traces how NYC bicycle lane terrorist Sayfullo Saipov followed terror recipes exactly, and tries to explain where he found them. There are supporting details in a Nov. 2 story by Rukmin Callimachi There is reference to the magazine Rumiyah (related to Dabiq). A web operation called “Site Intel Group” tries to trace how this material is distributed on the web. Much of it moves to the Dark Web or P2P. Generally, it appears that material from these groups disappears quickly from better known social media and from conventionally hosted sites and moves around on offshore providers a lot. There are articles on the Internet Archive (“WayBack”) which require specific logon (rather uncommon for less controversial material). In general, it does not appear that the sort of material that the Boston Marathon or other domestic “lone wolf” or small cell terrorists tried to use came from the more conventionally accessed and indexed parts of the Web. Most of it seems pretty underground (after initial recruitment) with various encrypted apps. We’re left to ponder what is making some of these young men (and sometimes women) tick, and have to face that modern civilization, with its individualized hypercompetitiveness, seems to offer them only failure and shame.
(Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 6:45 PM EST)
Okay, one of the moral imperatives I get bombarded with is to join a cause larger than myself.
And, I can’t claim to be part of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation (but neither can many young adults in the not so wild West today).
In fact, as an “unbalanced personality” in the world of the Paul Rosenfels Community (or the Ninth Street Center of the 1970s through 1991) it’s very important to me to follow goals that I choose and develop myself.
That’s one reason why I don’t sign up to brand myself with “other people’s causes” or to enter contests, say selling pies for Food and Friends (instead I buy more than one and use the extras for potlucks).
And I could say I wish I had accomplished more in my life in individual sport – chess, which deteriorated for me somewhat once I became a self-published author and blogger. (I do admire Magnus Carlsen, but so does Donald Trump, from what I hear.) In chess, only your own mistakes can beat you. Giving away the opposition in an endgame isn’t the same thing as hanging a slider as a MLB pitcher.
As we become adults we hopefully make progress in choosing our own connections, but we often find that once we do, we need to respect to “social hierarchy” of our new allegiances, however benevolent their intentions at the outset. That’s often hard for me to accept.
But “groups” serve a purpose. They give individuals support and backup, so they don’t remain accidents waiting to happen. (Marriage does that, of course, which is one reason, as Jonathan Rauch argued in the 1990s, gay marriage became important to LGBTQ people.) And they give us purposes larger than ourselves. But, these purposes come at the partial cost of loss of some independence in fine tuning our own beliefs or over-analyzing the logical inconsistences in positions taken by groups to benefit their members. An expectation that singleton individuals with some privilege (like me) will report to some sort of structured community engagement might be viewed as a major “eusocial” tool against inequality.
In practice, individuals share some of the moral responsibility and consequences, sometimes very personally, of the actions of the groups to which they belong, whether by complete free will or not.
Yet, individuals seem to find some relief in the prospect of a little “distributed consciousness”. We know this happens in other animals (even dolphins), although the modern idea of IIT or “integrated information theory” may make this hard to see.
Before (like on June 6), I’ve noted that, in the larger space-time sense of modern physics and string theory, after passing of an individual’s life, the information set produced by that life still exists indefinitely. Is that the basis for a “soul”? But if there is some sort of distributed consciousness at the group level (even family lineage), does it have access to this information set?
Music may provide a clue to “cosmic consciousness”, more so than visual art (even images of danganonpa dolls) because it requires the brain to span time. Music seems to provide an alternative outlet for the “emotional body” when it engages the brain in its own logical progressions, from Back to Beethoven to the romantics and moderns. The controversy over how to end Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony (which of two competing concepts did Bruckner intend for his coda for all his composition?) seems to engage the heart as well as mind. What, then, to make of the group experience in music like, say, hip-hop on the disco floor, or songs of praise in church, particularly singing the same verse in unison over and over again to get some sort of religious experience. There are other ways to caste the experience of sound and music, like hemi-sync at the Monroe Institute, which I have not really experienced yet.
There’s one other ancillary point here: the Paradox of Involuntary Competition. That is, once you join a group, you compete with others in the group for status, even if your purpose was “functionably” communal (Nov. 6) That could lead the powers-that-be in a group to want to keep it small and exclusive (like those “closed talk groups” at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s, an interview for which led to a major personal confrontation in October 1974, so shortly soon after I had moved into the Village). But it’s just as often that the leadership wants the group to be so valuable that everyone else must try to get in and play – the whole “no spectators” problem like in the movie “Rebirth”). That ultimately can compare to the model particularly for left-wing authoritarianism. There’s a curious analogy to the problems I had in the dorms at William and Mary that fall of 1961. I would have thought at other boys – most of all my roommate – would be relieved that I wouldn’t provide any romantic competition for girl friends . That general expectation may have been diluted by the fact that at the time the male student body was about twice the female. But the real point was that the less secure boys (about their own “maleness” which does not always equate to masculinity, even in the eyes of Milo Yiannopoulos) wanted me to provide the reassurance that there really is someone (female, of the opposite sex) for everyone, that everyone can have a family linage and live forever however vicariously.
(Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 9:30 PM EDT)
On Monday, November 6, 2017 the Cato Institute in Washington DC held a three-part, three hour forum (9AM -noon), “How Do You Solve a Problem Like North Korea?”
I did not have time yesterday to get to it, so I watched the live feed. It’s pretty effective, although the volume is low and sometimes the sound is out of sync with the lips. Here is the basic link for all of the video. The link gives the syllabus and identifies all the speakers.
But what was said is critical.
In the first session “Pyongyang’s Capabilities and US Policy”, the last speaker Joe Cirincione from the Ploughshares Fund was quite blunt. He said that the U.S. probably does not have the capability to stop all incoming missiles over the U.S. once North Korea masters the ability to send them with thermonuclear weapons. There was some mention of the probabilities of war (some as high as 50%), literally like at the beginning of “Gone with the Wind“. Earlier Joshua Pollack (“The Nonproliferation Review”) said that North Korea had only to master “old technology” well known from the Soviets and from China. Suzanne DiMaggio, of New America, spoke also (her NYTimes piece, “How Trump Should Talk to North Korea“, followed).
The last session, “New Approaches to Solving the North Korea Problem”, saw Michael Austin (Hoover Foundation) in particular raising questions as to whether being South Korea’s protector indefinitely could remain a sustainable best interest of the United States. Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute seemed to echo a similar concern. While some speakers today agree with the theory that Kim Jong Un’s insistence on having nuclear weapons is simply his strategy for surviving (given what happened to Saddam Hussein and Gadaffi) there was also some skeptoicism, that, once he has the ability to hit the U.S., Un might start demanding that the U.S. halt all exercises near South Korea or even withdraw completely, or lift sanctions. That sounds like the “domino theory” that led to the escalation in Vietnam during the Johnson Administration, where I wound up getting drafted myself in early 1968 (setting up, ironically, my own subsequent involvement in repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” decades later). Bandow, particularly, talked about how the Soviet Union and particularly Communist China (as during the Maoist Cultural Revolution of the 1960s) were seen as an existential “political” threat to the American way of life that North Korea cannot be, as repulsive as the regime may be now. But the speakers also noted the apparently docility and gullibility of the people, who will sacrifice and “eat grass” for their fat little leader (“fat little Rocket Man”, to quote Donald Trump with a little seasoning from Milo Yiannopoulos, although not during Trump’s current Asia trip).
Will Ripley had reported on North Korean people on CNN recently (the notorious “no chest hair” line) and now reports on CNN on Trump’s trip. Trump wants to put the DPRK on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and indeed there is concern that Iran or terror groups in Muslim world will get nuclear technology underground from North Korea.
No one on the panel or in the audience mentioned the possible EMP threats from North Korean missiles. I did tweet a question about it but it was not read.
Wikipedia link on North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.
Here is a link with the text of Trump’s speech in South Korea later Tuesday (Wed AM there).
UBS (n September) created a link for its investors with discussion of North Korea, with a link to a 37-minute podcast to a retired admiral. The audio says that US atmospheric defenses are much more advanced than deep space systems, which have slowed down on the theory that the Soviets could have overwhelmed anything Reagan had wanted to do with his “Star Wars”. There is also a whimsical note that people watch the Pentagon parking lot and Metro for increased activity. There really hasn’t been much lately. I make mental note on Uber or cab rides home from the bars late weekends.
Guest Post by David Essel” “Sexual Harassment Abuse: When Will It End?”
How come people in positions of power, both men and women, haven’t become more actively engaged to stomp out sexual harassment and sexual abuse before now?
Number one best-selling author, counselor, life coach and radio host David Essel has been helping women in particular heal from sexual harassment and sexual abuse for the past 28 years, and yet even he has not seen the attention given to it right now.
“It seems like we finally have reached a tipping point. The point in life and society where individuals are saying enough is enough. I applaud Everywoman, every man, who has decided to take a stance against sexual harassment and sexual abuse.
But is it enough? When the president of United States, and leading power figures in the world of movies and television shows, as well as political talk show hosts are finally called out… Will this be what it takes in order to heal and move forward in life, to create a society where women feel safer?
In family counseling, just like in the world of business, we say everything is top down. And by that we mean that whenever there are problems in society especially when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual abuse, it starts from the top and trickles down. What does that mean? Well let’s look at the presidency. Donald Trump bragged about his escapades with women before becoming president. That’s as high in society as we can get.
And the family is no different. The core family. Which is where my work has been for the past 28 years. Whenever I work with someone who has sexual challenges, either they are overly engaged in sexual activities, or they completely have shut down sexually, we always look back to the patriarch or the matriarch of the family for clues as to why their child, a son or daughter, is facing sexual dysfunction.
I’ve worked with countless of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have suffered their whole life from sexual dysfunction, only to find out that it started with their father. Or their brother. Or their cousin, a male cousin who took advantage of them during something as innocent and simple seemingly as hide and go seek.
And when they finally open up to me in our sessions, which can often take 2 to 3 months of counseling sessions before they feel safe enough to open up about their childhood tragedies to a male, there’s a trail of distraction they left behind them. And the number one person destroyed? Themselves.
I worked with one young lady who was sexually abused by her father from the age of 11 until 21. That’s right age 21. She felt incredible shame, guilt, in saying no to her fathers advances even when she was in college. He had convinced her that she was dirty. She accepted it. And after 12 months of working together she finally rose up and shared her horrific story with her mother, Who dismissed it. Seriously once again damaging her daughters self-esteem.
But she didn’t give up. As we worked together she became stronger and stronger and stronger until she finally approached both her mother and father together and blew the door wide open.
Her strength was enormous. She shattered the family secret. And in doing so, protected generations down the road from having to go through the same abuse from another family member. She decided not to visit her parents in their house any longer, but rather stayed in hotels when she went home. The message was given. And on his deathbed, her father apologize profusely with tears running down his face as his life ended.
She is a born-again woman. Filled with strength and fortitude, and has use this to help others in life as well. She has encouraged me to share her story, over and over again, with some of my clients that are as young as 12 years of age who have been sexually molested. Her story, has given them strength as well.
How about my interviews with Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison, who was sexually abused by her judo coach from the ages of 12 to 16. In my interviews with her she said it was one of the hardest things to do at that young of an age, was to point her coach out for what he had done. But she is at peace, and has become an incredible role model for young women in athletics everywhere.
Recently, I started working with a woman in her 40s, that openly shared her extreme sexual dysfunction that was manifested through promiscuity her entire adult life. When we looked at the core issue, her brother had sexually molested her for four years as a little girl, and had threatened her with harm if she said anything to anyone.
After our work together that lasted almost 12 months, she healed, and for the first time in her life became involved with someone who is healthy. A man who could listen to her past story, without judging her, accepting her as she is today… A powerful, confident, healed woman. Her shame and guilt gone, her desire to be free and do the work necessary has allowed her to become a role model in her community as well.
There are thousands of women who have come forward, and walked into the light of healing. It takes incredible strength. I hope that through all of the media attention that is now being given to the most prominent of names, that individuals from all walks of life will seek help, assurance, and assistance in healing any type of sexual harassment and or abuse that they have experienced .
Number one. Ask for help. Whether you go to a woman’s shelter, a spiritual center or church, or to professional counselors, the time is now. Please don’t wait any longer.
Number two. Read about women like the clients I’ve mentioned above, who have broken through incredible amounts of shame and guilt to become free. As women read more about others who have healed, it will give them incentive to walk down the same path of healing as well.
I don’t believe that we can totally eradicate the dysfunction of sexual harassment and abuse from our society, but I do believe maybe for the first time in my 28 years as a professional, that we are on the brink of something big.
A tipping point. Let us all hold hands, men included, to expose the dysfunction in our country in order to heal it for good.”
David Essel, M. S., Counselor, author, life coach, is a number one best-selling author, counselor, master life coach, and international speaker whose mission is to positively affect 1 million people or more every day, regardless of their current circumstances. David’s work is also highly endorsed by the late Wayne Dyer, chicken soup for the soul’s Mark Victor Hansen, as well as many other celebrities and radio and television networks from around the United States of America. Celebrity Jenny McCarthy says, “David Essel is the new leader of the positive thinking movement”
The news is filled with recent stories, as well as age old stories, about sexual harassment in the workplace. At home. College campuses. What will it take for it to end?
Sometimes accusers have been sued for “defamation,” as in this story on Huffington by Dominque Mosbergen, about Brett Ratner suing Melanie Kohler. In some cases, women (or even male victims) may not have the resources to defend themselves against “frivolous” litigation.
The whole matter of Kevin Spacey and “House of Cards” brings up the subject of possible make victims and gay harassment, which was generally thought to be relatively infrequent. Elahe Izadi has a new story in the Washington Post.
David Brooks has a relevant column today, “Lovers, prospectors, and predators“. One could add that a lot of men, maybe most, become too lost with themselves to remain lovers when there is no more prospecting.
Here’s an arresting opinion in the Sunday New York Times, Review, Nov. 4, p. 4, “Are Christians Supposed to Be Communists?”, by David Bentley Hart, a Notre Dame fellow (Richard Harmon’s fighting Irish) and author of “The New Testament: A Translation”.
Pastor David Ensign at the Clarendon Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA has in the past talked about the hyper-socialism of early Christianity. It was not a political mass movement in the sense of more modern history, as this was not possible then. It was more a refuge, a passage from one trying circumstance to the next world. It was like living on a spaceship. One wonders if this comports with the idea of a science fiction writer describing an advanced civilization without the presence of currency or money (a strictly human invention as far as we know, most of all block chains and bitcoin, which might indeed be “universal”). At the end, Hart admits that modern civilization is impossible without the idea of property, at least personal property.
Hart discusses the idea “koinon”, or common, and one’s life in koinonia, literally expected to become a koinonikoi, a member of a hive. Accumulated wealth is viewed as having been stolen from the labor of others, the ultimate surrender to the ideology of some sort of Marxism, and maybe the whole ide of the “New Man”, as recently explored by the Cato Institute Oct. 16 in the forum, “Terror, Propaganda, and the Birth of the ‘New Man’; Experiences from Cuba, North Korea and the Soviet Union.”
I’ve seen a little of this by visiting a couple of intentional communities, especially “Twin Oaks” in central Virginia in early April 2012 (report).
Vox has a detailed commentary by Umair Irfan, pretty standard for mainstream and progressive media companies.
And this brings me to my next big point. The mainstream media has done a pretty good job of presenting the case that we need to take climate change very seriously, particularly if we take our responsibility to future (unconceived as well as unborn) generations as a moral issue (Point 5 of “DADT IV”)
Trump has played the denial game to his base with shocking effect, most of all when he announced June 1 that he was pulling out of the Paris accords on the day I was looking at the recovery from wildfires in Shenandoah.
The more mainstream conservative media (Fox, OANN) have demurred a bit but still covered the bases. Yet, we aren’t to the point that there is a bipartisan political will to face the problem with federal action, but there is obviously a lot incentive in private American hands.
On other issues that I view as “hidden in plain sight”, I could say that the major media have covered issues of fiscal sustainability (social security, population demographics, debt ceiling) with some consistency but again without the result of a political will to face the issue squarely, partly because the demographic component (longer life spans, fewer kids) seems so intractable.
So I come to the starkest issues that give me an incentive to “stay in the game” as a blogger. Notable, it’s hard for me to “join the movement” for an “oppressed group” when I think there are big issues that could blow our entire civilization (and make my whole life’s Akashic record pretty irrelevant and forgettable). And the biggest of these is the stability of the three major US power grids.
Part of the controversy concerns whether there really exist relatively inexpensive fixes (like neutral ground circuits) that (for maybe $10 or so per American, that is, a few billion dollars) make the grid far more resistant to terrorist or enemy attacks (especially E3 level) as well as to big “Carrington” solar storms. I’ve read that utilities in Virginia and Maine in particular have a head start on this issue.
Another part of the controversy really concerns the likelihood that an enemy (most recently in view, North Korea, as well as radical Islam) could credibly carry out an EMP attack (which doesn’t necessarily have to be nuclear) instead of a conventional thermonuclear strike. Again, the mainstream press has demurred on this somewhat.
So part of my own personal mission is to try to encourage the mainstream press, maybe starting with some of the more conservative news companies (Fox, OANN, Sinclair – which has reported on this as reported on this blog already) to give the public an objective assessment on the problem. Yes, I’m ready to get on planes and go interview people.
There are other problems that need this kind of approach. One is filial responsibility laws, part of the whole population demographics problem mentioned above. Another is, of course, the threats to our permissive atmosphere of user generated content on the web – ranging from Section 230 (the Backpage controversy) to fake news and enemy (especially by ISIS) recruitment, as just reported last night on AB 20-20 on a scathing report by Diane Sawyer (“ISIS in America”).
I have a particular take on the whole Russia fake-news and social media trolling thing. I have long been personally concerned that foreign enemies could target individual people (and those connected to these people, like family or business associates), such as what we saw from North Korea at the end of 2014 with the Sony Pictures hack. What I did not see was that enemies would try to goad “oppressed minorities” (BLM) or reactionaries to these minorities (less educated white males connecting back to white supremacist groups) into forming movements and fighting each other internally.
Diane Sawyer’s report (just mentioned) makes the good point that the asymmetry of the Internet (and user-generated content) makes young men who feel “powerless” or “left behind” individually dangerous in a way we haven’t seen before. That is part of the old inequality paradox: you need to accept inequality and ego to have innovation that benefits everyone, but then people need to somehow “pay their dues” or you get instability (the “Epilogue” or Chapter 6 of my DADT III book in 2014).
I write all this today by using other funds (some inherited, but mostly my own) to support my own news commentary activities. At some point, I need to partner up with someone to tackle some of the bigger problems I mentioned here (no, I really want to do better things with my life than scream in demonstrations for mass movements, but even my saying that is provocative). It’s true I am a globalist and somewhat “elitist’ but I call myself conservative (but in the libertarian sense, not Trump-ian). But I wanted to note that billionaire Joe Ricketts just shut down some local news sites he owns because they couldn’t pay their own way. His own WordPress blog post on unionization is interesting.
(Posted: Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 1 PM EDT)
Update: Friday, Nov. 10 (12 noon EST)
I have to note this article in Vox on the effect of “tribal elites” especially on the climate change debate. Sorry, I really do try to investigate the world’s woes (like the power grid exposure) “hands separately”. I could say, “tribalism is for losers”, ha ha. And I’d get executed or beheaded quickly and there would be no funeral.