/Tag: politics

Unchallenging action.

I said to [Bill Clinton], “Mr. President, this seems as clear a case to me as any could be of a place where government is a legitimate actor. I’m not sure why you need to work with the soft drink companies to make smaller cans. You have products that have no redeeming nutritional value for children. […] You have children who cannot vote and cannot easily organize to thwart the power of these products, which have addictive qualities. This seems as clear a case for using political action and collective action.”

He said, “No, that doesn’t really work because you gotta make sure the companies have a business model. If you don’t help them continue making money after you fix this, it’s not gonna work.” I just thought that was such an astonishing moment. A man who had actually run the most powerful machinery of state in human history saying, “No, we can’t use that machinery of state to protect children from harmful products. We have to make sure the companies have a business model on the other side.” Part of what I’m trying to interrogate in the book is: When did many of us start to believe that social change must be congenial to those profiting from the status quo?

Anand Giridharadas on the status quo.

2018-09-06T08:44:51+00:0019th February, 2019|Tags: culture, economics, politics|

Critical processing.

Up until recently, the average politician, the average citizen, didn’t have to be an information analyst, didn’t have to have critical information processing skills, because the information system for the most part did that on the front end. The consumer very rarely received raw information about the world outside of their own immediate sphere of observation.

Almost everything you knew about the greater world was filtered through information processing systems by experts.

That is no longer true in any fashion.

And yet, we operate as if it still is.

Jim Wright on information warfare.

2018-09-06T08:25:56+00:0017th February, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|


I work in a corrupted industry, variously known as the “infosec” community or “cybersecurity” industry. It’s a great example of how truth is corrupted into “Truth”.

At a recent government policy meeting, I pointed out how vendors often downplay the risk of bugs (vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers). When vendors are notified of these bugs and release a patch to fix them, they often give a risk rating. These ratings are often too low, in order to protect the corporate reputation. The representative from Oracle claimed that they didn’t do that, and that indeed, they’ll often overestimate the risk. Other vendors chimed in, also claiming they rated the risk higher than it really was.

In a neutral world, deliberately overestimating the risk would be the same falsehood as deliberately underestimating it. But we live in a non-neutral world, where only one side is a lie, the middle is truth, and the other side is “Truth”. Lying in the name of the “Truth” is somehow acceptable.

Robert Graham on “Truth”.

While I don’t think Graham is wrong on his larger point (that of truth versus “Truth”), it does bear pointing out that literally the Number 1 problem in INFOSEC risk assessment is that the vast majority of it is qualitative, not quantitative. That is, it’s based on gut feelings and instincts and who can make the most persuasive argument, not actually any unchanging empirical fact, and that this something large portions of the more operationally minded members of the community find almost impossible to deal with…

2018-09-05T09:06:48+00:0012th February, 2019|Tags: culture, infosec, politics|

… do you?

Sometimes it seems to me a better way to organize the political spectrum than along a continuum of right and left would be the ideology of disconnection versus the ideology of connection. In the short term we are working to protect the rights of immigrants and to prevent families from being torn apart at the border—and to address the relationship between our greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate, between our economic systems and poverty, between what we do and what happens beyond us, because the ideology of isolation is in part a denial of cause and effect relations, and a demand to be unburdened even from scientific fact and the historical and linguistic structures governing truth. In the long term our work must be to connect and to bring a vision of connection as better than disconnection, for oneself and for the world

Rebecca Solnit really cares.

2018-08-27T15:55:16+00:002nd February, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Whose interest.

If you are told that capitalism is the sole ordering force a society needs, then there’s no need for a public interest. Capitalism only wants our self-interest — and it tells us that any expression of a joint or shared interest is “inefficient”, “unproductive”, friction in the gears of the profit-making machine. All the kinds of public interest, institutions, goods — whether they’re unions, cooperatives, laws, regulations, norms, shared values, public healthcare and education and finance systems — are things that get in the way of churning out more profit. Capitalism has long tried to teach Americans the myth that […] self-interest is the only force a society needs — everyone just a kind of atom of insatiable appetite — but that is what’s in capitalism’s self-interest. The myth is not true, as a cursory glance at more successful societies than America readily shows.

umair haque on self-interest.

2018-09-05T13:25:48+00:0027th January, 2019|Tags: politics|

Red hats (white hoods).

I’m saying that everyone who proudly wears the red hat identifies with an ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Everyone who proudly wears those hats gives a tacit endorsement for the hatred and the violence we’ve seen these past few years.

When the Unite the Right chanted “Jews will not replace us,” the Red Hats were there.

When young children were being torn from their families at the border and forced to represent themselves in immigration court, the Red Hats were there.

When Muslims were banned from coming to live in this country, the Red Hats were there.

When there was a white lives matter rally, the Red Hats were there.

When black protestors were assaulted at a Trump rally, the Red Hats were there.

When the Proud Boys teamed up with Neo Nazis, the Red Hats were there.

When a terrorist mailed pipe bombs to prominent political leaders and activists, many of whom were Jewish, the Red Hats were there.

And when a boys school sent a group of students to protest against a women’s right to bodily autonomy, the Red Hats were there.

This isn’t like wearing the hat of a sports team you love. These hats symbolize hate. They signal to others an embrace of policies of discrimination, oppression and exclusion.

Alyssa Milano on identification.

2019-01-25T08:16:45+00:0025th January, 2019|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

The New Socialists.

The real answer is much simpler […] the thing that’s proved the most effective recruiting sergeant for socialism is capitalism itself. In fact, nearly 60 per cent [of university-educated Millennials] agreed with the statement “capitalism has failed”. But when a majority of young people say they think “socialism would be a good idea”, what they are actually talking about is the mixed economic system under which many of today’s ageing Thatcher–Reagan fanboys grew up. That is, a planned, concerted approach to the distribution of capital, rather than the debt-laden, short-term contract present in which our Hunger Games-style system has landed us.

Guy Rundle on why kids these days fuckin’ love socialism.

2019-01-16T07:51:26+00:0015th January, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

“Normal Republicans”.

The problem with democracy is that its existence relies on everyone within it agreeing that it should continue.

For the record, democracies rarely end violently. Mostly they end with polities voting in nativist fascists who use the powers of the institutions they’re elected to to dismantle the very electorate itself. Usually while the opposition hand-wrings about let’s-just-be-civil-now. So just… yanno. About that…

2019-01-12T14:36:30+00:0012th January, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|