Dec 04, 2017

There are two basic possibilities wrt Trump and Russia.

  1. There was explicit collision between Russia and the campaign to get Trump elected and fuck over America.
  2. There was no explicit collusion, only a shared desire to fuck over America.

The second is actually much worse. The first represents garden variety corruption which is well understood and dealt with in the courts. Let's hope anyway.

The second possibility means that Trump - and by extension the entire GOP which enables him - admires Putin as the God King of a corrupt billionaire econo-political class. In this universe Putin represents the pinnacle of their aspirations and Russia represents a model political and economic structure to which America should aspire.

Dec 03, 2017

I find it difficult to see this GOP tax bill pass and not become incredibly pessimistic about this country's future. Deeply unpopular Congress aims to pass deeply unpopular bill for deeply unpopular president to sign says it all.

We have an extremist minority party serving a voting constituency of all of about 10 people. Whether we are descending into authoritarianism, kleptocracy, oligarchy, or whatever… clearly the situation we find ourselves in is one of taxation without representation.

One wonders if the voters who put these assholes in power - ignore Trump for the moment - are getting what they want.

And still, this tax bill on the face of it does not make a lot of sense politically. At most 30% of Americans like it. Yet some senators have been remarkably honest about whom it is intended to serve.

The only rational explanation which makes sense to me is this one.

It's an interesting - and terrible - situation. The pessimistic case is that they are true believers of supply side economics as the one true religion of the GOP. And perhaps that's true for some members of the party.

The optimistic case is that the GOP is fucked, knows it, and will not win another legitimate election for 20 years. The tax “reform” bill is a last gasp F-U to America in an attempt to preserve their own wealth and their donor's wealth for generations.

Aug 11, 2017
Aug 07, 2017

I've been thinking about civil disobedience in the modern era.

We have a party which maintains power through a huge variety of fuckery and they're not about to give up on the obsolete or corrupt institutions like the Electoral College which keep them in power. They will do everything they can to hold on to power through dirty tricks like gerrymandering and voter disenfrachisement.

They lie through their teeth constantly through social media platforms which provide a massive, free platform to spread the message.

At the same time, their leadership spits out anti-science nonsense of all kinds: climate change denial, maths denial, science denial within the EPA, vaccine denial, forensic science denial, etc etc.

One could reasonably say that you do not get to deny science in one realm yet benefit from it in another.

If you do not believe in the reality of climate change, should you really get to benefit from the science which designed and built the iPhone? If you think that vaccines cause autism, should you really have access to mass communication platforms like twitter, which are built on decades of scientific and technological innovation? If you think encryption (math) is something which can be regulated and restricted, do you really have a right for your email to deliver over SSL?

So, what might a scientist or engineer do as an act of civil disobience towards a party of science deniers? Here's a couple of ideas.

  • On a user registration page, ask the question “is climate change a hoax?” and deny access to any positive respondent.
  • Disable SSL when serving any content (login forms, private communications, or other) to Amber Rudd and any supporters of encryption legislation.
  • Introduce subtle and annoying bugs to @GOP leadership using your product built on social media APIs.
  • Use sentiment analysis to discover anti-science nonsense and tag it with a very visible bullshit 💩 label.

The fact is that we (technology providers) are enabling these assholes yet are under no obligation to do so. And to be clear, I'm not arguing against free speech. But if you're anti-science, the intellectually honest thing to do would be to live with the Amish.

Apr 14, 2017
Mar 31, 2017
Mar 17, 2017
Feb 17, 2017

Trump is the Medicine we Need

Revisiting last week, I remain convinced that we're better off with Trump than without him. A bumbling fool is easier to deal with than a malicious plutocrat.

The bumbling fool makes his malicious intentions clear. He tells you obvious little lies all the time (“biggest Electoral College victory since Reagan”) which makes it very clear that he has no intention of ever telling you the truth. The career politician knows to avoid getting caught in a small lie in order to make the big lies more palatable.

Let's face it, the Republican party agenda today is built on a foundation of big lies

  • climate change is not real and the EPA is bad for you
  • taking away your health care is in your own best interest
  • crony capitalism will help you get rich
  • terrorists represent a greater threat than mentally ill US citizens

Someone like Pence, or Ryan, knows how to avoid getting caught in the stupid little lies, which tend to blow up in the media and get people angry. If you avoid the little lies you are more likely to get away with the big lies, which are complicated and tend not make for good rallies. Whoever went to a march to protest cooking the books on a budget forecast.

If you remove Trump, you remove the little lies and replace it with professional bullshit. And the liberal outrage dies down, and it becomes far less clear whether or not something is “fake news” or not.

I'll take four years of Trump and his bumbling lies, blocked at nearly every step by protest, over four years of Pence or Ryan, who will quietly fuck over the environment and unravel decades of regulation in the interest of crony capitalism.

Feb 10, 2017

Imagine three possible worlds:

  1. Trump loses the election (well, the Electoral College one) and launches a cable network to spout alternative facts and propaganda 24/7.
  2. Trump is impeached and Pence takes the reigns.
  3. Trump miraculously holds on to the presidency for four years, frustrated at every step by the courts and a majority of the country.

As ridiculous as it sounds (3) is perhaps the best outcome of all. It's forced the country to understand the GOP for what it is - an extremist minority religious group with four basic goals: environmental destruction; tax cuts, deregulation and other welfare for the wealthy; and a populace so afraid of terrorism that we welcome a police state.

If Pence takes over, the GOP returns to Republican-ism as usual, hiding the agenda behind far more mainstream bullshit than Trump appears capable of doing. Trump's “drain the swamp” turns out to mean taking Republican politics to it's nadir, which is a helpful exercise for the rest of us to understand the real objectives.

Feb 03, 2017