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Spam, still

April 27, 2017

When search engines first were derailed by web pages that were advertisements designed to attract unrelated search results, it wasn’t clear to me that a major technology company could be created by providing technical solutions to spam. In retrospect, spam was then and remains now one of the larger technology evils of our time. Phone spam has become a major nuisance again. There is some gratification in seeing the government fine the spammers. Long prison sentences would be better. But that won’t stop the spammers in the wings (link from last year).

And now, the alt-right uses troll storms to target Jews.

It seems to me that Google and Apple are missing the boat here. There’s more work to do, fighting spam. Google, especially, since that was its start.

Yes, free speech

April 26, 2017

The ACLU, which has done more to protect freedom of speech, thought, and religion than any other political group in America, explains why Ann Coulter shouldn’t be shut down, joining Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the liberal position on that. The Constitution protects vile and hateful speech, the KKK and Ann Coulter included. Tactics reminiscent of fascism are not the way to fight politics reminiscent of fascism.

For the birders…

April 25, 2017

This field guide to dumb birds speaks some truth about birds and birders. It shows what happens when you take small children to the field. We had a golden-crowned kinglet putting on a show for us in our tepehuaje yesterday. I have many photos like the author’s.

Birth control and abortion

April 24, 2017

Pratima Gupta writes on being an obstretician and abortion provider while she is pregnant.

Nothing marks the change between traditional societies and the developed world so much as education and liberty of women. Three cheers for the Gates Foundation, helping to provide birth control education and services where it is most needed.

Absence of credibility

April 20, 2017

The armada Trump claimed to be sending to Korea in fact was headed to the Indian Ocean. It would be wrong to say that Trump lost credibility, given his known attachment to alt-reality. I cannot think of a past commander who succeeded by this:

Those two Trumpian tactics – a callous disregard for the truth and a determination to stay mum about future military plans – can easily combine into a misunderstanding that causes a trigger-happy regime to pull it.

Many liberals today are cheering O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News. I don’t see why. He grew rich over decades peddling lies and propaganda there. Trump’s rise would not have been possible without O’Reilly and Alex Jones and others who created the alt-reality their viewers inhabit. His departure represents no change in direction by that network. It signifies no slackening in demand for that product. He leaves at the peak of his career. There is no win here.

Don’t fence me in

April 19, 2017

Both Texans generally and those living on the border oppose Trump’s border wall. Perhaps, when they voted for Il Donald, they hated Obamacare even more?

The real and the crazy

April 18, 2017

In WW II, the German language BBC broadcasts became popular in Germany by providing the unvarnished truth. In the current US, outlets like Brietbart and Infowars are infamous for the conspiracy theories they circulate. Alex Jones ex-wife is quite reasonable to argue that Infowars provides prima facie evidence that her husband is delusional, paranoid, and unfit to be a custodial parent. His defense is that he practices performance art, presumably distinguishing between reality and the nonsense he feeds the rubes. Alas for us all, we are living under the regime that Alex Jones helped create.