you are a computerized mask

“In ancient Rome, the word persona had two meanings: a mask, and a full citizen. A person online, however, is de facto not a full citizen….” Computers track your habits and your friends. You must govern automated decisions about your job, loans, your health, shopping… Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data Technological progress should bring greater safety, economic opportunity, and convenience to everyone. Plus the collection of new types of data is essential for documenting persistent inequality and discrimination. At the same time, as new technologies allow companies and government to gain greater insight into our lives, it is vitally important that these technologies be designed and used in ways that respect the values of equal opportunity and equal justice:

  1. Stop High-Tech Profiling. New surveillance tools and data gathering techniques that can assemble detailed information about any person or group create a heightened risk of profiling and discrimination. Clear limitations and robust audit mechanisms are necessary to make sure that if these tools are used it is in a responsible and equitable way.
  2. Ensure Fairness in Automated Decisions. Computerized decision-making in areas such as employment, health, education, and lending must be judged by its impact on real people, must operate fairly for all communities, and in particular must protect the interests of those that are disadvantaged or that have historically been the subject of discrimination. Systems that are blind to the preexisting disparities faced by such communities can easily reach decisions that reinforce existing inequities. Independent review and other remedies may be necessary to assure that a system works fairly.
  3. Preserve Constitutional Principles. Search warrants and other independent oversight of law enforcement are particularly important for communities of color and for religious and ethnic minorities, who often face disproportionate scrutiny. Government databases must not be allowed to undermine core legal protections, including those of privacy and freedom of association.
  4. Enhance Individual Control of Personal Information. Personal information that is known to a corporation — such as the moment-to-moment record of a person’s movements or communications — can easily be used by companies and the government against vulnerable populations, including women, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants, religious minorities, the LGBT community, and young people. Individuals should have meaningful, flexible control over how a corporation gathers data from them, and how it uses and shares that data. Non-public information should not be disclosed to the government without judicial process.
  5. Protect People from Inaccurate Data. Government and corporate databases must allow everyone — including the urban and rural poor, people with disabilities, seniors, and people who lack access to the Internet — to appropriately ensure the accuracy of personal information that is used to make important decisions about them. This requires disclosure of the underlying data, and the right to correct it when inaccurate.

Silicon Valley and Wall Street abuses: black-box-societyFrank Pasquale’s Black Box Society takes a closer look at how your life is swept up and published. “Here’s one paradox I’m trying to resolve: even as economic change seems to accelerate, existing hierarchies of power and wealth seem ever more ossified, stable, secure. “I trace this problem to two, mutually reinforcing trends: the financialization of data, and the data-fication of finance.” Current law fails to regulate data.

sad, mad, or inspired?

Ladies & Gentlemen, what are we allowing History to do to us?
Princeton study reports the majority, that’s you and me lost at sea, have a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

Perspectives on Politics!  We are minuscule! 
Minuscule near-zero statistically non-significant… Lord Almighty, sad to my core.

of thee bits thyself coin

Yes, the precious human being so bombarded, it’s just the times and that’s all, awhile ago it was stooking wheat to nag you, now it’s penetrating broadcasters all over the place, well so what, it’s not so much of a big deal to get a grip, sourpuss isn’t based on much, anybody can be a sourpuss and say anything they want, following along with Universal NaySay, it’s harmful to the precious human being, honest care is required, pull away, don’t eat the garnish… pants-on-foxthere’s true danger and crisis out there sometimes, we can be deeply grateful we live in pretty good regions, but there’s baloney danger out there which is vast sails of caustic opinions flying by, 99% nonsense and mood that’s so unnecessary to ingest, the precious human being, poor thing, we want to select away, walk away, see and think without abrasion, endless carney, points-of-view, phooey, 1000s of products per day built on flame and intrigue… everything our poor human brain is wired to pay attention to, we are wary creatures, and in these modern times broadcasters fill us with high alert, breaking breaking, latest latest, it’s the old Extra Extra Read All About It… frenzy of sales merchandizing all the way to kitchen table rabbles on the NaySay Channel, it’s about views, let’s count ’em on our domain report, phooey, these bits don’t say a word in a broadband of noise, they charge fees for the pipe, the TV pipe, the Phone pipe the Internet pipe, it’s a lot of money these days, per person, out of our pockets, well holy cow, it rains down, rains through the spectrum we own but we rent every month, explosion of our spectrum is fantastic, we’re blind to it, the flickering going by to suit our mood, our point of view, well, there we are again buying ourselves to please ourselves, precious human being, gripped in all that pipe dump, hits of anybody and their business plan, on wonder awe curiosity learning, protect ourselves with civility and proof [too many words, too sleepy to fix]

follow the bullies

“Robert Altemeyer, a psychology professor, outlined a series of dysfunctions linked to his extensive study of Right Wing Authoritarians, including being

more punitive,
more likely to make incorrect inferences,
more hostile towards feminists,
more fearful of a dangerous world;
being hypocrites,
more likely to inflame intergroup conflict,
avoid learning about their personal feelings;
being self-righteous,
less supportive of liberty and
being mean-spirited.

It sounds like people with RWA are a curse on our society.

“Scholars argue that these are the individuals who support oppressive dictatorships. In fact, dictators need such individuals to help them remove the rights of people seen as deviant. Individuals high in RWA are conceptualized as aggressive individuals submitting to tyrannical leaders as long as those leaders support conventional norms and punish society’s deviants.

Research on those with RWA generally asserts that religious and political conservatives have this vice. In fact, Altermeyer claimed that he searched for ‘left-wing authoritarians’ but was unable to find a single one.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong‘s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt‘s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.

“We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore”, Garrison Keillor, 2004

messed up on the right wing

“Somehow, a president whose platform consists of Mitt Romney’s health care bill, Newt Gingrich’s environmental policies, John McCain’s deficit-financed payroll tax cuts, George W. Bush’s bailouts of failing banks and corporations, and a mixture of the Bush and Clinton tax rates has been recast as the greatest threat to capitalism since Karl Marx sat down for a beer with Friedrich Engels.”

— Ezra Klein, New York Review of Books

roots of our new confederacy

While commenting on Romney’s 47percent beliefs, Rhet said: 

Americans generally believe that anyone who doesn’t “make it” in America is either just not trying or is a born loser.
But somehow when a person fails in Africa, or Guatemala, or Mexico or anywhere else they are totally worthy of sympathy.
This is the nature of our fake meritocracy here in the USA. If you fail you deserve it, if you win you deserve it.
Meanwhile when people like Romney cheat like hell to “win” nobody notices how he and his ilk rig the game against the majority, ensuring they will lose.

Ayn Marx 666 said: 

This is because America is God’s Special Country, and the religion born of Calvin and Rand (or Spencer) identifies the Elect with the winners, and the losers with the Damned—and sympathy is wasted on the damned, they deserve all they get.

how the middle class got shafted

Mike Lofgren

We can devise all the clever schemes imaginable to clean up politics and get money out of campaigns, but it won’t work until the American people collectively give up on certain fond illusions: 

the Horatio Alger myth, American Exceptionalism, and the whole mass of magical thinking that boils down to the belief that God loves America because we’re so virtuous, handsome, and smart, and that we, too, could win the lottery.

Well, we’re not necessarily any of those things.

The truth is that we lucked into adverse possession of a mostly empty continent in a temperate zone with lots of resources, and straddled east and west by two huge moats. We had firearms and resistance to smallpox, and the original owners didn’t. Virtue had very little to do with it.

And now, thanks to globalization, our original advantages matter less. Go to certain areas of the once-industrial Midwest. Some of the places look like Dresden after the bombing. We are in a tough, competitive global environment, and we simply cannot afford to squander our potential by playing the world’s policeman abroad and running a healthcare/service economy at home where half the population empties the bedpans of the other half. And plutocracy is not a stable political basis for a successful nation-state. As Lincoln said, we must disenthrall ourselves.

read this twice

Lawrence Lessig:

A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

These few don’t exercise their power directly. None can simply buy a congressman, or dictate the results they want. But because they are the source of the funds that fuel elections, their influence operates as a filter on which policies are likely to survive. It is as if America ran two elections every cycle, one a money election and one a voting election. To get to the second, you need to win the first. But to win the first, you must keep that tiniest fraction of the one percent happy. Just a couple thousand of them banding together is enough to assure that any reform gets stopped.

Some call this plutocracy. Some call it a corrupted aristocracy.

war is not natural

The drumbeat of fear has begun about potential defense cutbacks.

“America spends more on defense than the next 14 or 19 nations, depending on methodology, and is the world’s largest arms dealer. It is winding down two wars that lasted longer than American involvement in World War II and in both Iraq and Afghanistan the results are disappointing, to put an optimistic spin on it. The money to wage these wars was largely borrowed from Red China, which our defense establishment is now teeing up as the next ‘enemy’.

“The real lesson of these scary reports is that the American economy is far too dependent on military Keynesianism.

“In the past, when wars ended the economy shifted back to a peacetime footing. Sometimes that did cause recessions on the way to more productive growth (a peacetime economy produces more healthy returns than blowing things up). Now we’re being told that’s impossible.

“That sound you hear is Dwight Eisenhower spinning in his grave.”

 

do you memorize freedom?

Start here.
C’mon people.
It’s only one sentence ! 

Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom

Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly,

That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.

Stuck in traffic? 
Asleep in a school?
Lost on an urban sidewalk?  
It’s good to think a little Thomas Jefferson… 

 

monopolize our spectrum

via Wired’s Idea Lab

You’d think that Congress would want to have an empowered regulator able to do something to protect the country from the rational, profit-seeking depredations of our new generation of monopolists. 

Instead, the House Republicans are going in exactly the opposite direction.

Disabling the FCC !

reign of corruption

Thomas Frank: 

But the problem goes far beyond politics.

We have become a society that can’t self-correct, that can’t address its obvious problems, that can’t pull out of its nosedive.

…we have entered an age of folly that—for all our Facebooking and the twittling tweedle-dee-tweets of the twitterati—we can’t wake up from.