“sooner or later, they’re going to come for people you do like”

What would actually be worthwhile– what would actually work to advance our country politically– would be for people to actually come out and say what they mean. If you don’t think people accused of rape should have due process rights, you should say so. If you are OK with a society in which only the idle rich have the right to free expression, where people have absolutely no expectation of being able to hold controversial views without risking their employment or their property, say so. But all the hinting and signalling and cultural cues just leave us with no coherent understanding of what rights we actually have left.

via Fredrik deBoer.

Have we replaced policy debate with peer pressure social signifiers?

Worth reading the whole thing.

“Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine” (Updated)

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.

via USA Today

Don’t even know what to say.

This is horrible.

The leaflet begins “Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality” and states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and “register.”

It says the reason is because the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta, a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement that fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk,” a name adopted by the militant leadership.

The leaflet then described which documents Jews should provide: “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

Consequences for non-compliance will result in citizenship being revoked “and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property,” it said. A registration fee of $50 would be required, it said.

UPDATE: Apparently this was some sort of sick hoax.

Still pretty horrible, IMO.

Defending Integrity Over Partisan Advantage

This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason. If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.

via Dissents Of The Day « The Dish.

Kudos to those who are willing to criticize their own side who have behaved badly – in this case, referring to the Mozilla CEO issue.

Some things are more important than partisan politics. The ability to vote, donate, and campaign for your beliefs in a free and fair political process should be treated as sacred – because without that right, there are no other rights, save what our Dear Leaders choose to grant us at any given moment in time.

Those who think it’s okay to punish someone for their private political behavior (kept appropriately outside of the office) might want to rethink the tool they are using to squash their enemy. Unintended consequences are certain to follow (and of course the precedent that has been set might very well come back to bite you).

“I am the victim of h8 (that is, you having an opinion that makes me h8 you)”

Brendan Eich is gone. The creator of JavaScript and co-founder of mozilla.org has quit as Mozilla’s CEO, forced out by the uproar over a donation he made six years ago to a ballot measure against gay marriage.

via Slate

…or for traditional marriage, since – despite the deliberately misleading rhetoric of the pro-ssm camp – something important in traditional marriage will be destroyed if marriage is redefined.

The distinction is important. Whether or not you believe, personally, that the redefinition of marriage is good or bad, the reality is that there’s only one reason for refusing to acknowledge that marriage is being redefined, and that is to make it sound like the only motive someone could have for voting “against gay marriage” is animus.

Which turns the entire argument into an ad hominem – as the side that openly and unapologetically hates its rivals accuses the other side of being motivated by hate and thus having no argument.

But I digress:

But that wasn’t enough. A revolt among Mozilla staffers, compounded by pressure from software developers, outrage on Twitter and a boycott movement spearheaded by OkCupid, has driven Eich out. Baker, having accepted Eich’s resignation, offers this apology: “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.”

 

It may seem unrelated, but a professor on campus was recently arrested for taking the sign from a pro-life protester and destroying it. The professor said – apparently sincerely – that she had a “right” to be free of their viewpoint:

I asked Miller-Young if she could have behaved differently in this instance. There was a long pause. “I’ve said that I think I did the right thing. But I acknowledge that I probably should not have taken their poster.” Miller-Young also said that she wished that the anti-abortion group had taken down the images when they demanded them to.

Miller-Young also suggested that the group had violated her rights. I asked Miller-Young what right the group had violated. Miller-Young responded, “My personal right to go to work and not be in harm.”

Miller-Young elaborated that one of the reasons she had felt so alarmed by this imagery is because she is about to have the test for Down Syndrome. Miller-Young said. “I work here, why do they get to intervene in that?”

via Washington Post

We appear to have reached a point where identity politics teaches its adherents that they literally have the right to be free of any dissent – free of the presence of dissenters, and free of any unwanted signs of dissent.

The next question will be, is there an upper limit on what may be done to those who dissent “inappropriately”?

But of course, we should not confuse the rejection of Eich’s viewpoint (as a position so extreme it renders an individual unacceptable for prominent employment) as an act of intolerance. As Mozilla tweeted:

@nycconservative We believe in openness & that no one should be persecuted for the beliefs they hold, no matter what they are.— Mozilla (@mozilla) April 3, 2014

via The Federalist

Welcome to diversity. This is what tolerance looks like.

realistic_coexist1

“What Was the Point of Obamacare?”

Last week, the Washington Post delivered a bombshell report: “Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month.” Instead, the overwhelming majority of those who are enrolling in insurance plans on the ObamaCare exchanges already had insurance.

The lie of the year for 2013 was President Obama’s promise that, “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” The lie of the year for 2014 is going to be the claim that ObamaCare would insure the uninsured.

ObamaCare has failed to attract those who lack health insurance, seemingly because they have decided that the premiums are too high for the bare-bones coverage the exchanges offer. In other words, the Affordable Care Act has failed to offer affordable care. Instead, most of ObamaCare’s sign-ups are merely migrating over from an existing health-insurance plan—in many cases involuntarily, after their plans were canceled for failing to comply with new ObamaCare regulations.

via The Federalist

The “point” of Obamacare seems to have been to get Americans’ health care under government control, so that the NSA and their buddies would have more data and the government could force nuns to pay for birth control – out of sheer malice.

Am I oversimplifying? Sorry – feeling cynical lately, as people quite seriously argue whether Christians ought to be formally scapegoated for the sins of the world (all in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity”, of course) or even allowed to exist at all.

Did we ever come up with a good reason why a law disliked by voters of both parties – and now proved wildly ineffective – “cannot” be repealed?

“Golden Rice Opponents Should Be Held Accountable for Health Problems Linked to Vitamain A Deficiency”

Except for the regulatory approval process, Golden Rice was ready to start saving millions of lives and preventing tens of millions of cases of blindness in people around the world who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.

It’s still not in use anywhere, however, because of the opposition to GM technology.
via Scientific American

Sure – we can arrest people for interfering with scientists’ right to save the world, because scientists are so expert that they know what they’re doing and can absolutely guarantee that everything will work as promised…so that means if they’re wrong, they can be held liable for manslaughter if anyone dies, right?

Right?

Whaddya mean “that’s not how science works”?

Baby born to a mother who had taken thalidomide while pregnant. Image via wikipedia.

Baby born to a mother who had taken thalidomide while pregnant. Image via Wikipedia.

Authority means accountability. If scientists want the one, they should be ready to accept the other.

And that doesn’t even touch the issue of whether they are taking too much license with the environment we all share. I hate saying that, because I am not at all a fan of environmentalists, and I hate sounding like them. To me the question is not environment vs. science, but rather the correct way to handle risk. The history of science is full of projects that crashed first and only learned to fly after examining what went wrong the first three or seven or fifty times. Scientists don’t own the environment. We all do. That is why the correct way to win debates over whether or not there is such a thing as “genetic pollution” or whether cross-pollination issues are potentially of concern is by persuading the voters – not by punishing thoughtcrimes, as this writer advocates, by making people criminally liable for invented crimes just because those people and their hard-to-rebut arguments happen to be politically inconvenient.

…or just because the scientific community doesn’t know how to effectively rebut a valid point?

…or just because the scientific community doesn’t want to even try, because they think people should just obey?

Maybe if scientists want to go back to the good old days – when people still trusted them – they could start with an apologize for their own past lack of accountability (which is why people stopped trusting them, after all). Blind obedience hasn’t worked out very well for too many of us.

Milgram Experiment advertisement. Image via Wikipedia.

Milgram Experiment advertisement. Volunteers were treated unethically. Image via Wikipedia.

The history of science is littered with experiments that were supposed to be safe but wemt wrong. A disturbing number of these science-gone-wrong stories have occurred in the third world. Scientists have a long and ugly history of using developing-world populations as their personal guinea pigs. For example, most people have heard of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment – but how many people know that after it was exposed and shut down, the scientists moved it overseas?

The Commission confirms that despite knowledge that it was unethical, US government medical scientists PURPOSELY infected  “at least 1,300 who were exposed to the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid” to study the effects of penicillin. At least 83 subjects died.”

Reading this article, it seems that wanting to experiment on third world populations is what this is all about. Poverty isn’t caused by lack of resources. It’s caused by corruption and other political problems. We already have more than enough food to feed the world. So don’t fall for the guy using Third World poverty-stricken people as meat shields: this is not about solving the problems of the poor. It’s about the question of whether scientists promising awesome things have the right to bypass that part of the political process where they have to prove their awesome products are safe and worthwhile – to our satisfaction, not their own.

In other words, it’s about self-governance (as opposed to top-down experts telling us what to want, think, feel, need, desire, use, and not use).

And the people who want the right to override our political processes – because they are quote-unquote ‘experts’ – have a history of being ethically stunted people who view the developing world as their own personal sandbox for exploitative experimentation.

But medical ethicists say that even if today’s research is not as egregious as the Guatemala experiment, American companies are still testing drugs on poor, sometimes unknowing populations in the developing world.

Many, like Markel, note that experimenting with AIDS drugs in Africa and other pharmaceutical trials in Third World countries, “goes on every day.”

“It’s not good enough, in my opinion, to protect only people who live in the developed world — but all human beings,” he said.

via ABC

Scientists have relied on bullying to artificially manipulate outcomes – in the case of GMO foods, they have forced people to falsely equate GMO foods with lower-risk foods. Yes, lower risk. There is a risk in GMO foods, and the scientists want us to behave as if there isn’t. That’s the heart of the matter right there – that is what they want, but they are not willing to do what they have to do to earn the outcome; they want to manipulate the outcome dishonestly. They want to deny the existence of real issues that could or do exist. They want to skip the part where they have to persuade us, and their preferred method for doing this is to replace self-governance with top-down bullying – using the three-step “impending doom” song-and-dance beloved of “progressives” everywhere:

  1. Make optimistic promises about how great the results of the proposed policy will be, then treat those promises as if they’re fact. (How could you be against ending world hunger?)
  2. Make dire predictions of impending doom if the policy is not implemented, and act as if criticizing (or even evaluating) the policy equals wanting that horrible doom to fall. (You don’t just want to end world hunger, but you want everyone to starve and die!)
  3. Ignore or, if necessary, deny the consequences if these grossly exaggerated and highly improbable predictions are incorrect.

There is always risk in science – that is why we don’t hold scientists accountable for the deaths their mistakes cause, even though science has caused a steady stream of death and mutilation. We know that science is frequently wrong. The flip side of this is acknowledging that scientists don’t really know, and aren’t honestly in a position to guarantee safety or certainty. Some of the worst atrocities in the history of science come from scientists losing their objectivity – forgetting that they don’t really know. Getting carried away.

It is accurate and correct to perceive GMO products as risky – potentially very risky – to both health and the environment. It isn’t “anti-science” to point out that risk warrants caution. We don’t actually know they’re safe. Note that the people insisting that we should accept they are safe are people who want all the profits while we are stuck with all the risk. (Normally risk and reward go together, but of course it’s always nicer if you can keep the reward and give some other poor slob the risk.)

The honest way to handle it would be to admit that consumers have good reason to prefer non-manipulated foods – and to price GMO foods less, accordingly. But they don’t want to do that. They want to make it so that you can’t tell if a food is GMO or not. They want to replace non-GMO foods with GMO foods.They want to own the food supply.

And, no, the fact that they’re willing to forego profits doesn’t mean anything – not when you’re talking about a product with the power to foster dependency and create market dominance. Remember when Nestle gave away baby formula? WHOOPS!

If their real goal were to prevent vitamin A deficiency, it wouldn’t be hard to dispense vitamin A to all at-risk populations without forcing farmers into accepting crops that may be wonderful or may cause serious problems.

“Your Phone Number Is Going To Get A Reputation Score”

Now Telesign wants to leverage the data — and billions of phone numbers — it sees deals with daily to provide a new service: a PhoneID Score, a reputation-based score for every number in the world that looks at the metadata Telesign has on those numbers to weed out the burner phones from the high-quality ones. Yes, there’s yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will effect the kinds of services you’re offered.

via  Forbes.

Because privacy is apparently only for Silicon Valley CEOs….and that’s the way Americans want it?

I asked the company to score me and a few of my colleagues to get a sense of how this will work. The range is 0 to 1000, with 0 being a gold iPhone and 1000 being a burner phone that’s only used to order drugs and kill people. Luckily, none of us got that latter score. My office landline scored a 100. Two of us got 10s for our mobiles, and two others got a 200. I also got to see where all of the numbers had been registered and who provided their service.

These are all high quality scores, says Jillings, who explained that anything below 200 will tell a company to roll out the red carpet for you. He didn’t seem to think the differences in the scores mattered and could not explain what might account for the 10 – 200 range, though one of those 200-scored accounts is less than a year old. Between 400 and 600 would lead to a fuller review, and anything over 600 would be flagged as a potentially fraudulent or abusive account, and likely blocked from signing up for that service.

So now your social equivalent-of-credit-score will be tied to your phone number, and people can decide whether to do business with you based on whether you’re worth it.

Nice.

How unfortunate that our nation is populated by people who will be too busy worrying about whether their score is good enough to actually be concerned with the basic quality-of-life issues they’ll be handing over.

Because today’s public school education does not cover what feudalism is, or how it starts.

“Golden rice inventor Ingo Potrykus: Greenpeace and others wicked for opposition”

Andy Coghlan: Why did you develop golden rice?

Ingo Potrykus: I got involved because I\’m concerned about food security. I realized it\’s not just about calories, but also about the quality of food. I started working on it in the early 1990s with Peter Beyer. We started on the problem of iron deficiency, but that work didn\’t pan out, so we switched to tackling vitamin A deficiency.

via Slate

So in addition to experimenting on our ecosystem, now they want to use vulnerable populations as experimental subjects*.

I’m not opposed to genetically modified food – but why wouldn’t they expected to keep the stuff secure until it’s been proved safe & effective?

____________________________________

*For those who aren’t familiar: it’s usually considered unethical to experiment on people without their informed consent.

Or, in the case of a shared resource like “the environment”, a consensus.

Using dehumanizing tactics (“wicked”) on critics is IMO indicative that something is wrong – that for some reason they feel they must use bullying and intimidation, rather than persuasion, suggests that they don’t feel entirely confident about having truth on their side.