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News You Can Use

Getting off of big tech e-mail. I set up my club as a G-suite customer when Google was a good bit less evil than it is now. While I’ve integrated a lot of our processes in with it, but I wasn’t so foolish as to strongly couple things. Switching wouldn’t be a breeze, but I could do it.

But I do have to admit that Google is very good at doing e-mail. The primary issue with e-mail is spam filtering. Without effective spam filtering, e-mail these days is useless.

I could use Office365 for most everything else. Hell, I could use Outlook 365 with exchange. If you had told me Microsoft would be the less evil tech behemoth 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are.

I can easily integrate with anything that does Active Directory. Distribution lists are done in AD with PowerShell, then synced to Google. I can easily just sync to something else. So I may look into that. I’d love to be off Google. Hell, I’d like to be on our own systems, really.

Even though my career is now all about the cloud, I don’t actually believe in it. We’re losing a lot of robustness going to cloud-based systems, and in truth if your company is dependent on AWS, your investors don’t own your company: Jeff Bezos does.

I now would like to try a containerized company infrastructure that runs exclusively on an array of Raspberry Pis. Bandwidth is becoming ubiquitous. While I can appreciate Amazon’s Multi-AZ features, which is quite expensive to do with your own data center, I feel like as bandwidth becomes more commoditized, competition might get easier.

It Was Radical for Its Time. Probably Still Radical Even in Ours

Increasingly, Americans are rejecting America. Including this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Instead, we’re moving quickly to another foundational ideal, by another author:

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others

Or to put it another way, the idea was that if we helped the China get rich, its single-party state would adopt our liberal values. But that’s not what’s happening. We’re adopting their illiberal values.

Is Social Media Creating Mass Delusions?

I’d like to think I’m pretty grounded, but the pandemic has honestly opened my eyes to a number of realities that have made me deeply uncomfortable. It’s been eye opening. The first is that a lot of people I’ve had considerable respect for struggle with reality as times get more difficult. This probably goes double when the pandemic has limited in-person interactions. I’ve been fairly present at my club during all this, at some risk to myself, but even life there has been seriously hampered by the inability to meet and gather in person. Work life, which is a lot of people’s only interaction, is also suffering. I’ve noticed that extroverts are suffering considerably more than introverts. Someone at my club commented at the beginning of all this, when I asked him how he was doing: “Great! I’ve waiting all my life for social distancing.” I might not be quite that stoic, but I’m faring better than most, from what I can tell. But with many people around me going stark raving mad, I can’t be completely sure. I’m probably not the best judge of myself.

This article struck me, because it touches on mass delusion. Bitter and I were discussing over dinner whether we’ve gotten a brief taste of what the world would be like if all anyone had was social media. Every other national institution we’ve relied on for years are in a holding pattern. Still there, but not moving forward.

… I’ve been saying for years in this space that the Woke Left is awakening demons that it cannot control. If you are on the Left, and you can’t see this, then you are as deluded as the QAnon crackpots who live in their own reality.

This fits what I see. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for rational voices to be heard, as our nobility enable absolute madness, on both sides of the aisle, exploiting the madness in order to remain in power by stretching the post-WWII order to its breaking point. Division pays, if you want power, and disarmament is hard when no one is talking to each other. It’s easier to whip up hate among the crazies than to try to find a new center.

Coverage of NRA’s Bankruptcy

John Richardson has excellent coverage, starting here with the opinion of an expert in bankruptcy law. Head over to John’s site and keep scrolling.

I’m starting to wonder if the only goal of Brewer’s law firm is just to keep adding more and more complexity to NRA’s lawsuits so as to extract more and more fees. Because I haven’t been able to see the sense in this strategy. I am not an expert, by any means, in bankruptcy law. In fact, I know next to nothing about it. But given we now have an opinion from someone who does, I’m now really wondering what Brewer’s strategy is here. Maybe it’s a Hail Mary. Who knows. But either way, I think things are a lot worse than we’ve been lead to believe.

I’m actually wondering if we might see a split in the NRA… NRA North and NRA South? With NRA North being the pieces of the original NRA that have been picked up by others, and NRA South being Wayne and Bill, Inc?

I am fairly certain Tish James isn’t just going to let NRA transfer everything to Texas without a flight, and it’s hard for me to see how this is going to improve NRA’s position, let alone give them trump card over James.

These are definitely the crazy years.

Sameness and Flatness

I came across this article on Friday that spoke of flatness being an overriding value of Silicon Valley.

Because this cohort insists on sameness and purity, they have turned the once-independent parts of the American cultural complex into a mutually validating pipeline for conformists with approved viewpoints—who then credential, promote and marry each other. 

If the introduction sounds like quackery to you, I think it is, but this is one of the better written examples I’ve read about the complaints of the deplorables. Wretchard the Cat has more today.

Today, as Rana Dasgupta argues in Harper’s, the Western middle class including those with gender studies and critical theory degrees — especially them — are the new unemployables, made redundant by cheap Chinese and robotic labor. The only way to make the destitute Woke feel good about themselves is to let them look down on the Deplorables.

One reason I’m reducing my presence on Facebook is that it promotes a weak thinking and discourages real discussion. The correct cultural understanding of social media is that it is a dinner table: meaning politics is not something to be discussed. It’s always kind of been boorish behavior in ideological mixed company to assume everyone else wants to hear the (usually) dumb shit going through your head. But there it all is on Twitter and Facebook. I quit Twitter years ago and did not miss it. Twitter is a toxic witches brew, and the sooner we purge it from the earth the better off humanity will be. I felt it was turning me into an awful, shallow person.

I am soon to largely quit Facebook (except for pages I manage, including this one). The only thing that’s kept me on there is that it’s a great way to keep in touch with family and distant old friends. But not really. My experience on Facebook is that people on the left will spew their politics to you on a regular basis, as if no one should disagree, then berate you if you dare to argue. I’ve even had family do this!

No one wants to think about anything. Everything is simple, black and white, one-dimensional sameness. People on the right have been quiet for a while if they were thoughtful. It’s largely the clueless boomers on the right that keep sharing shitty memes all day and spewing vapid political nonsense. The primary difference between the left and right on Facebook is on the left, it’s the educated who are spewing vapid political nonsense.

If we’re to come to a new political consensus, it will take serious discussion and honestly. But Facebook is no place to have that conversation. But neither will moving to platforms like Gab and Parler going to help either.

NRA Files for Chapter 11

And it’s moving the corporate entity to Texas. Any bets on how much of Wayne’s mistakes get buried in that bankruptcy? Any bets on whether there’s new bylaws that will, de jure, end NRA as a member controlled organization? (I recognize that, de facto, membership control has been tenuous for some time). Will NRA move to Texas? We know Wayne has wanted to.

Leticia James will actually have a say in the dissolution of a New York non-profit. So I’m sure she has a next move, and I doubt this is over.

Finally, I will say this: my club has a provision requiring members to belong to the NRA. I am no fan of Bill and Wayne’s NRA, but I haven’t been willing to move on that issue, because if there was a power struggle, I wanted to be able to throw our weight behind the not-Wayne faction. It’s also a massive PITA to get bylaw changes done.

But if the door closes on members having the ultimate say, if it becomes just another group run by grifters who’s sole purpose is perpetuating the graft, if there’s no hope for a different NRA beyond Wayne and whoever he chooses to be his successor, that changes the calculus. Right the ship. My patience is not infinite.

Warning signs

I saw this tweet in passing earlier in the week and thought nothing of it at the time, other than “What a bad idea.”

But a friend of mine pointed out that this didn’t “look right” for what it purports to be: a call to action from “right wing elements”

Things that I noticed, more or less off the top of my head:

  • The color palette is Red/Yellow/Black. It should be White/Blue/Red. A white or blue background, blue or white text, and red highlights/background elements
  • The stars are wrong – they should be regular, filled, and either white or silver (as on the US Flag), not freehand yellow and distorted. Plus they are point-down, not point up.
  • The Statue of Liberty is an unlikely choice. Either a “generic government building with columns” or an image of the “WE THE PEOPLE” from the Constitution would be more likely, and either photorealistic or line art, not posterized. Or as in one of the VCDL examples, a “minuteman” or other recognizeably Revolutionary War Patriot
  • The text layout is wrong – both in being slanted, in color (see palette issues) and in kerning/justification (see the VCDL examples below)
  • There’s no exhortation to follow state and local laws concerning the carriage of firearms or other weapons

This design language screams Soviet/COMINTERN to me, from color palette to layout to image elements.

But the biggest missing item?

Attribution!

There’s no organization logos on this. No social media calls to action, no promotion at all. None of the most likely candidates for organizing this would ever pass up the opportunity to self-promote, and neither would the unlikely candidates.

I hesitate to label anything a “false-flag” operation, but this is certainly a “no flag” operation. And that is what rings the most false to me.

For comparison, see these posters from VCDL

https://vcdl.org/postercontest/

Needless to say, even if this event was actually being formented by people nominally on my side, I’d say it was a Bad Idea to go. But all of the above make me think it is a really Bad Idea.

And I’ve seen several gun rights groups say the same thing – that this isn’t coming from Our Side, and to not show up; or if you simply must, don’t show up in violation of local laws concerning carriage of arms.

An Astute Observation

As much as I hate linking into Facebook, this is too good to pass up:

As a part of the ongoing back and forth with Michael Saladino, I posted a comment that seemed to resonate with us both. I thought I’d problem it and see what other folks think of it.”

Let me present a hypothesis. The ‘front-row kids’ have a coherent, articulatable worldview – which is reassuring and which cements their internal cultural alliance. That worldview has policy/action outcomes which – so far (key point) – have worked relatively great for those who can get over the wall and join the front-row crowd.

They are also those _charged with_ developing the consensus worldview (what Habermas calls ‘communicative reason’). The _problem_ is that the worldview developed is one that has cast adrift everyone outside the wall, and is now busily working to make the wall as high as possible.Why? Because the model doesn’t work in the real world.

So they build a huge pool of people who checked the boxes on joining the front row team, but there aren’t enough chairs any more. This gives us three groups:

A. Folks comfortably in the front row (or who are confident that by scrambling they can stay there);

B. Folks trying to get into the front row, and realizing that there aren’t enough chairs and the wall is impossibly high;

C. Folks who aren’t front-row (note that this doesn’t mean poor) who no longer have a coherent worldview that _they can relate to_ to latch onto.

Group C is in the midst of Millenial (as in thousand-year) craziness as the social and mental structures they depended on splinter. So they are ripe for all kinds of crazy shit.

Group B is the group that has historically launched revolutions – we oughta watch what they do very carefully.

Group A is just trying to hang on long enough to cash out and buy the house in Sun Valley. They are increasingly abandoning their duty of care for their fellow citizens.Note that I see this in my European friends as well as my US friends…it’s not Trump that splintered things.”

More “Seen on the Internets”

Any time I have the urge to use Facebook, I’m just going to post it on here. Might be a lot of drive by, but I used to do that a lot:

One unintended consequence of crushing speech on the right is that sane righties lose the ability to talk lunatics out of crazy. Back in the old days, I had many conversations talking sense into conspiracists from Rothschild to contrails. They listened to me because I’m credible in a way CNN is not. Now, instead, I shut up. I fear we’re about to embark on an unfortunate experiment to rediscover why, precisely, free speech has for 300 years been considered a bedrock necessity for a civilized society.

This is absolutely true. I do not see the value in driving people deeper and deeper into the fever swamps.

Also, I see this as fundamentally true:

November’s election revealed that the class realignment of our two parties is solidifying. Democrats have increasingly emerged as the party of upscale suburbs, of Silicon Valley and Hollywood and Wall Street, of the owners of capital and the professionals who service them. The GOP, meanwhile, is trending toward a multiracial working-class party, preferred by those who generally make their living by toil. . . .

The big donors are abandoning the GOP, so they won’t have much choice. I have to level with you all, I never thought Trump was any savior. He made a lot of unforced errors. The big thing Trump saw and exploited was that the coalition had shifted. I think he’s a talented self-promoter, which is how he managed to win the White House with no prior political experience. But I don’t think he was going to build a movement that wasn’t centered around himself.

He attracted the loyalty he did because he positioned himself to be seen as fighting for the deplorables, when no one else would. If change is going to come, it will probably come from someone who understands the DC machine, and knows how to dismantle it.

On Protesting

Seen on the Internets:

I’m not usually big on giving advice on here, but these are unusual times. Please keep in mind I was schooled in Unconventional Warfare (UW) by the best the US Army had to offer, and I personally applied it on behalf of our great Nation. Part of that training and experience involved Information Operations (IO), a detailed and effective method of controlling narratives and inserting key and manipulated information to affect beliefs and situational understanding, resulting in actions supporting “our side” occurring. My advice: stay home and do not get involved in any protests, of any kind, in the coming days, especially not the “called for” armed one on the 17th. I believe many different factions are using IO to try to fuel division and cause ignition of flashpoints that will drive people to accepting an agenda “in the best interests of the country.” Emergency declarations due to “extreme” conditions have been the method of despots since time began. Stay home, spend time with family and friends, exercise your patriotic duty by watching key events on television. Don’t play into the hands of those with destructive agendas. Don’t create or participate in the next “Emergency.” Let those with destructive agendas show up and be exposed on their own.

I’ve never been a very big advocate for protests to begin with, because unless you can turn out in truly remarkable numbers, the lawmakers have been there, done that. If all you can put together is something they see routinely, you’re better off not doing it.

You’re all far better off now (re)engaging with your local communities and figuring out how to route around big tech.

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