Categories
Technology Thoughts

China silences its bloggers

I’ve written a couple of times on freedom of speech on the Internet and how its going to be taken away.

Here

And here

The threats of regulating and licensing speech are real and we’ve heard the increasing drumbeat of it in the last year. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more de-platforming people for what they say, entire sites like Parler getting de-facto removed from the web by Amazon, Apple, and Google, and the blackballing of a sitting President of the United States (yes Trump was still President when he got blackballed) from all of social media, we have moved dangerously close to increasing the cost of speech on the Internet. I suspect we will follow China’s lead as we did with COVID-19 lockdowns and it will have a chilling effect across the Internet that will only benefit existing media, social media, and Internet giants.

Beginning next week, the Cyberspace Administration of China will require bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish on a wide range of subjects. Some fear that only state media and official propaganda accounts will get permission. While permits have been needed since at least 2017 to write about topics such as political and military affairs, enforcement has not been widespread. The new rules expand that requirement to health, economics, education and judicial matters.

Associated Press

The culmination of COVID-19 and the controversy of government lockdowns and rushed vaccines caused social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to either flag posts as misinformation or outright remove content from their platforms. It wasn’t done by government but by these organizations privately. Is it legal? Sure. Is it right? Absolutely not.

But how is this going to get applied to the rest of us? The push for “net neutrality” will mean a government takeover of the Internet with regulation. The push has been on for years. I suspect the FCC at some point will step in and nothing will be safe. They will eventually require everyone to have a license to publish content that is publicly accessible from the Internet. That means websites, blogs, social media, and even podcasts.

Podcasts, the last bastion of free expression. It’s the hardest to moderate (because there are no moderators for independent podcasts) and the hardest to regulate and will come under increased scrutiny. We already have media organizations like ProPublica and The Verge posting stories about this. So-called journalists are advocating for less free speech because they believe that some speech is right and other speech is wrong. What they don’t get, and I blame our piss poor education system, is that one day it will be applied to them.

While social media companies have become more willing over the past few months to censor accounts that engage in hate speech, podcasts are still largely unmoderated. Part of that has to do with the industry’s structure: The main podcast portals merely index the shows, like Google indexes websites. Despite canceling Bannon’s YouTube channel, Google Podcasts still indexes “War Room.” (Apple accounts for more than half of the number of podcast streams, with Spotify a distant second.)

ProPublica

A disparate network of companies makes up the podcasting world, including apps, hosting services, sales teams, and networks. Moderation will need to happen across these companies to be effective, and in this current moment, that effort doesn’t work the way it does at tech monoliths like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, which can remove someone with a push of a button. Put simply, podcasting isn’t ready for full-scale, widespread moderation — if that’s even what the industry wants.

The Verge

Broadcast, print, cable, big tech, and big social media will align forces to raise the barrier to entry for independent content producers (“creators” if you like). I believe they will put pressure on the government to introduce regulations over the Internet in order to prevent Joe Schmo from publishing his thoughts and gaining an audience. Their motives won’t be to prevent “misinformation” or “fake news” it will be to protect their advertising revenue and prevent competition from being able to gain a foothold.

Right now absolutely anyone can start a website, blog, or podcast with virtually no extra money than they already spend every month. You can get your own domain name, host your site, and launch your podcast for less than $20/month using services such as Dreamhost (where this blog is hosted) and using a laptop or a phone. That’s literally all you need to start. If you want to do it for nothing you can use free services like WordPress to host your site and use a public computer at a library.

Once the heavy hand of government comes down all that goes out the window. I used to be in broadcasting. The book of regulations is huge. The cost of licensing, maintaining your license, and complying with regulations is huge. Bring that model to the Internet and independent voices will be relegated to dark corners of the Internet or be found on local street corners or town centers handing out pamphlets.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by harshahars from Pixabay
Categories
Technology Thoughts

Clubhouse, the social network you didn’t know you didn’t need

Wave goodbye to Clubhouse

Clubhouse is the new hot commodity in the “tech” world. It’s basically an audio online chat room but with controls. From what I’m reading in tech press and hearing on podcasts Clubhouse is trying to be the next “platform” for speech. Not free speech mind you but for speech. This is just another platform to gain users for advertisers to scrape data.

There is no unique tech to Clubhouse. Yes, it’s audio only but this is something you can already do with Zoom or other group online meeting platforms. Just turn off the cameras. In Zoom, the person creating the meeting can control everything about the meeting. You can even open the meeting up to the public. What is stopping anyone from using Zoom as a broadcasting platform where advertisers can sponsor an event? Nothing. In fact it’s already happening with online webinars and conferences set up using Zoom or other online platforms.

Newer social networks, while dealing with the threat of having their features copied, must also figure out their business models in an industry where most digital-ad spending goes to Facebook and Alphabet Inc. Snapchat parent Snap Inc. remains unprofitable despite notching its highest quarterly growth in nearly five years in its latest quarter.

Clubhouse is exploring options for performers to receive tips, and offering paid events and memberships that would give users access to extra content, the founders said during a recent conversation on the app.

Wall Street Journal

So why is Clubhouse getting all this free press? Exclusivity. It’s invite only right now. It has that elitist vibe because celebrities and “luminaries” are the highlighted users. If you’re lucky enough to get into their “clubhouse” then you’ve made it. You’re in. You’re part of the elites!

Clubhouse could be successful in building paid features because of its air of exclusivity—an invitation is required to join, but easy to procure—and the high-profile names coming to converse on the platform, including Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, actor Lindsay Lohan and Brad Parscale, one-time campaign manager for former President Donald Trump.

Wall Street Journal

If you’re at all independent minded why would you want to join another social “platform” only to get de-platformed once you start to express views and opinions that are outside the club.

Starting a podcast is better than doing anything on Clubhouse. There is a near zero barrier to entry for podcasting. It’s virtually infinitely scalable because you can start using your own storage and if it gets popular you can transfer to a dedicated podcast service. You can have live interaction by streaming your podcast and having a chatroom or live call in like radio. Joining a service like Clubhouse only serves to enrich those providing that platform. If you have a good product or are already famous why put another middle man in between you and your ad dollars?

Categories
Technology Thoughts

YouTube censors U.S. Senate Hearing

Has Google gone too far yet? YouTube has taken down video from a U.S. Senate hearing that occurred on December 8, 2020 because it contained information about Ivermectin. How can any online platform remove any information that is a part of the official public record? This behavior should be illegal. Who are they to be the gatekeeper of information?

Here is the video that is still available at C-Span. I’ve also downloaded it and embedded it below.

Ivermectin is a drug that has been getting some traction for its use as a treatment for people with COVID-19 both as a cure and a preventive measure. I’ve blogged about it before here.

I learned about the YouTube takedown of the testimony in the Wall Street Journal today.

Before being removed from YouTube and other websites, Dr. Kory’s opening statement had been viewed by more than eight million people. Unfortunately, government health agencies don’t share that interest in early treatment. A year into the pandemic, NIH treatment guidelines for Covid patients are to go home, isolate yourself and do nothing other than monitor your illness.

Fortunately, some doctors have the courage to ignore these compassionless guidelines and are using their expertise to develop protocols utilizing a variety of cheap, available and safe FDA-approved drugs to treat patients early and avoid hospitalization. Instead of being rewarded, they are being censored, ostracized, vilified in the press, even fired. This closed-minded approach represents a dark chapter in the history of medicine and journalism.

The censors at YouTube have decided for all of us that the American public shouldn’t be able to hear what senators heard. Apparently they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives. They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed, and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies. Government-sanctioned censorship of ideas and speech should frighten us all.

Wall Street Journal

Should it be legal for YouTube to remove Senate testimony? I don’t think so.

Categories
Technology Thoughts

Ron DeSantis, another presidential contender

Maybe I should have moved to Florida instead.

Categories
Technology Thoughts

Mega Testing Diagnostic Platforms

https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/1356374923078369281

Watch your red blood cells citizen good ole Uncle Bill is out to perform mega tests on them and rapidly roll out untested mRNA vaccines and monoclonal antibodies on the world.

To start, there has never been a successfully developed and deployed coronavirus vaccine to humans. The vaccines developed for SARS-CoV-2 are novel vaccines. Nobody truly knows if these vaccines are effective or why.

Why these vaccines seem so effective while previous attempts against other pathogens haven’t appeared as promising remains an open question. One simple reason, according to Liu, might be the sheer volume of resources that were poured into developing them. Liu also hypothesizes that one explanation for the high levels of efficacy is that the vaccines might be triggering a nonspecific inflammatory response to the mRNA that could be heightening its specific immune response, given that the modified nucleoside technique reduced inflammation but hasn’t eliminated it completely. On the flip side, she adds, this may also explain the intense reactions such as aches and fevers reported in some recipients of the mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. (Others have suggested that the lipid nanoparticle is responsible for these severe, but transient, side effects reported in some trial participants.)

Ultimately, it’s too early to say why these vaccines so far appear to work so well. “These do remain interim results. They do remain unpublished. And we still need to see the extensive safety databases associated with these products,” Jackson says. There are also issues to sort out, such as concerns about needing to store the vaccines in freezers—especially in the case of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be kept at –70 °C.

The Scientist

mRNA vaccines have never been approved for humans before. The same approach used in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine also failed when Moderna used the technique for another illness.

In order to protect mRNA molecules from the body’s natural defenses, drug developers must wrap them in a protective casing. For Moderna, that meant putting its Crigler-Najjar therapy in nanoparticles made of lipids. And for its chemists, those nanoparticles created a daunting challenge: Dose too little, and you don’t get enough enzyme to affect the disease; dose too much, and the drug is too toxic for patients.

From the start, Moderna’s scientists knew that using mRNA to spur protein production would be a tough task, so they scoured the medical literature for diseases that might be treated with just small amounts of additional protein.

“And that list of diseases is very, very short,” said the former employee who described Bancel as needing a Hail Mary.

Crigler-Najjar was the lowest-hanging fruit.

Yet Moderna could not make its therapy work, former employees and collaborators said. The safe dose was too weak, and repeat injections of a dose strong enough to be effective had troubling effects on the liver in animal studies.

statnews.com

Of course this doesn’t mean technology can’t be improved and the problem solved. I would just feel better about it if it went through animal testing before rolled out into humans. It’s already been reported that people that are old, frail, or have severe allergies maybe should not take the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Bill Gates touts that mRNA vaccines are easier to store. Nothing is further from the truth. It’s been widely reported that the Pfizer vaccine requires temperatures so cold as to require special equipment while the Moderna vaccine supposedly can be held at temperatures of a home freezer. Both require special handling however.

Bill calls for a Global Alert System in order rally the troops to tackle the next pandemic. I worry about guys like him promoting programs that require a functioning one world government. You can’t just roll things like this out. You need the permission of nations all over the world. Many of which don’t have the rights of the citizens protected. The U.S. Constitution, while eroding in power, still protects the rights of the individual from an intrusive government. What will citizens of Africa do when this one world government wants to use them as the world’s guinea pigs?

Categories
Technology Thoughts

Remote work proves the income tax is obsolete and should be abolished

COVID-19 has killed a lot of things. I hope it kills the income tax… at least at the state and local levels.

Let’s say you live in Waterloo, Iowa and work from your home for a company in Manhattan. To what government entity do you owe income tax? New York City and New York State believe you must pay them income tax because the origin of your income comes from their state. But, you never set foot within their borders so how is this legal or just?

However, five states besides Massachusetts (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Arkansas, Nebraska) tax nonresidents working at home. New York requires nonresidents who telecommute for an in-state employer to pay its income tax unless “necessity, as distinguished from convenience, obligate the employee to out-of-state duties.”

If an employee of a New York-based firm chooses to work most days from home in another state, New York still taxes him as if he worked the entire day in Manhattan. In October state tax regulators said there would be no pandemic exception for nonresident telecommuters unless their employer “established a bona fide employer office at [the] telecommuting location.”

So unless Goldman Sachs sets up a satellite office in its bankers’ vacation homes, they will still have to pay New York taxes as long as they work remotely. Welcome to Hotel New York—you can check out but never leave.

Wall Street Journal

You don’t travel their roads, use their public transportation, or use any of their public services so why should you pay their tax? This is why all states, and maybe even the federal government, should abolish the income tax and move exclusively to a consumption tax.

A tax by its very nature reduces the activity of the thing being taxed. It’s why we have “sin taxes”. These taxes are supposed to raise the price of things like cigarettes and alcohol for the supposed purpose of reducing the consumption of those products. The same concept works for the income tax. When you tax income you reduce that activity. People who can will try to change the way they are paid so it doesn’t appear on a W-2 or 1099-MISC. Less income means less tax paid.

Also, think of the complex web of laws that are going to result nationwide as states grapple with what to do. It’s complicated enough to file a personal tax return. Think how much more complex that will be when you have to figure out where every dollar you made came from and pay a remote income tax on those dollars. It’s not only inefficient it’s just plain stupid.

If we move to consumption taxes the way we pay tax is then straight forward. The more you consume the more tax you pay. It’s probably the most fair way to tax a population with varying levels of income. People with higher incomes and more wealth spend way more money than people with less. In addition taxes on necessities like food, clothing, and utilities can be kept very low while taxes on luxury items can be set higher.

This concept also eliminates the penalties for earning more money. If anything it incentivizes people to make more money because they get to keep more of their earnings.

In a world where people lived where they worked income taxes, while to me still unfair, worked. Now they don’t. Let’s get rid of them.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Categories
Technology

In the U.S. cigarettes kill a COVID-19’s worth of people every year.

If I’m mandated to wear an ineffectual mask or two and stay a minimum of 6 feet away from people so I don’t murder them why do we still allow people to commit suicide by smoking?

Public health officials say that while e-cigarette use isn’t risk-free, it poses significantly less risk than cigarette smoking, which is associated with more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Wall Street Journal

If everything we do is about “saving lives” BAN SMOKING TODAY!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Categories
Technology Thoughts

When China likes our choice for President you know it was the wrong choice

Official state media from China praises Trump’s exit from the scene. They are all too happy that there will be no one standing in their way towards world dominance.

China has been chipping away at the United States for decades. The beginning was during the Clinton Administration, continued through the Bush Administration, and took off like a rocket during the Obama Administration. From the 1990’s to today China has used it’s manufacturing relationship with the United States to push its influence into Africa, South America, and Western European multi-governmental organizations. They’ve also cornered the market on precious metals that are the foundation of all modern computer technology.

China had loads of trouble launching rockets until the Clinton Administration allowed certain key technologies to be sold to the communist nation. President Bush started the process but it was Clinton that pushed it over the goal line.

Blast forward to the 2000’s where high technology manufacturing in China became almost exclusive for American companies. Chinese factories through a slow process of learning and stealing the best of American ideas in computer manufacturing catapulted them in just a decade to a powerhouse of high tech. Through every iPhone and computer we purchased we funded the Chinese Communist Party and every genocide they perpetrated upon their people.

We funded their one child per family policy that killed an unknown number of female babies. We are right now funding their abuse of the Uighurs as the Chinese sterilize their women and send their people into re-education camps for having wrong thoughts.

What President Biden does over the next 6 months to a year will be crucial to the United States remaining dominant in the world. Will he continue President Trump’s hard line toward China or will he soften our approach and allow them to cement their dominance into this next decade?

Categories
Technology

Project Veritas finally nets a fish

KSAT.com

Project Veritas finally took someone down… maybe. She has to be convicted first. Imagine. If she is found guilty she is just one person in Texas. How many more people are like her all over the United States?

This is why our election laws, systems, procedures, and regulations need to be audited, streamlined, and repaired. Without election integrity we don’t have legitimate government.

Rodriguez faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the news release.

She was captured on an undercover camera as part of a video released by Project Veritas last fall.

In it, Rodriguez appears to show an older woman how to change her vote on a mail-in ballot.

In the same video, Rodriguez described various types of small gifts she gets for voters she comes into contact with.

KSAT.com
Categories
Technology Thoughts

Google, Apple, and Amazon violated Parler’s human rights

It’s not that long ago that we were being told the access to the Internet is a human right. Apparently that concept goes right out the window if you have the wrong thoughts. Mind you, it has been mostly those on the left that introduced the concept of Internet access as a human right. Yet when push came to shove they were the first to cast it aside as soon as that right was being exercised by those with which they disagree.

As far as I’m aware a human right is a right you’re born with. It’s a right you have because you exist. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence,

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.

archive.gov

I don’t agree that Internet access is a human right. You’re not born connected to the Internet… yet. Wait until they jack us all in to indoctrinate us from birth. That’s a conspiracy theory for another day! But, let’s list some organizations that have pushed this narrative.

OpenGlobalRights.org

My research shows that internet access should be a human right provided by the government as without it, other human rights—including the right to work and the right to basic education—cannot be adequately realized.

openglobalrights.org

United Nations

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

un.org

The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available, and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s access to the Internet.

wikipedia.org

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Advocates should also galvanize the private sector to pressure the governments they work with to respect the right to the Internet by threatening to pull their investments. Just as activists named and shamed Nike and the Gap into ending child labor in their Vietnamese sweatshops, so they should similarly call out countries that harass, spy on, or disrupt or deny Internet access to its citizens.

carnegieendowment.org

Journal of Applied Philosophy

I argue instead that Internet access is itself a moral human right that requires that everyone has unmonitored and uncensored access to this global medium, which should be publicly provided free of charge for those unable to afford it. Rather than being a mere luxury, Internet access should be considered a universal entitlement because it is necessary for people to be able to lead minimally decent lives. Accepting this claim transforms our conception of the Internet from a technology to that of a basic right.

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Brookings Institution

In a world where internet shutdowns are increasing year to year, it is important that the right steps are taken to improve the relationship between governments and citizens and to uphold all human rights. The UN could advance the cause of universal internet access by using the SDGs as a stepping stone; those whose livelihoods depend on internet access or who fear that their access will be terminated will have the most to gain. The 193 signatory countries have already committed to improving internet quality, sustainability, and accessibility—a first step to internet access truly being treated as a human right.

brookings.edu

Amnesty International

The rights enshrined in the UDHR are to be enjoyed by all people, in all places, and at all times. Technological progress will always change how people enjoy their fundamental rights, and require governments and people to reaffirm the inseparability rights, and the methods of enjoyment of those rights.

amnestyusa.org

So… what is it? Is access to the Internet a human right or not? Apparently it is but only if you think correct thoughts. What the UN and other international groups need to do is issue certifications to people and groups so we know who is entitled to human rights. The rest of us will then know who is and who is not human.