Archive — Politics
The Facebook current
The Senate hearing into Facebook has come to be seen as a bit of a sideshow, partly because the questioning was so inadequate. But this article outlines why it was a bigger deal than it might seem at first glance.
[T]here was a significant amount of agreement amongst the Senators… that something needed to be done about Facebook. Forget the specifics, for a paragraph, because this is a notable development: while these hearings usually devolve into partisan cliches with the same talking points — Democrats want regulations, and Republicans don’t — yesterday Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed unease with Facebook’s handling of private data; obviously Democrats tried to tie the issue to the last election, but that made the Republicans’ shared concern all-the-more striking.
How can we incentivise the digital world to make safer services?
How regulation came to be in railways, engineering and cars — and what this tells us about how digital services may be regulated.
Trigger points for regulation have varied depending on the field, the period of history and the country. However, the thing all these triggers have in common is a change in attitudes. People need to demand change to incentivize companies to make their products and services safer.
Centrism isn’t dead – we just need a new word
I find it strange that so much attention is being put on centrism at the moment. I definitely do not identify with either the left or the right. But I have rarely used the word centrist to describe myself. Partly because I find it quite meaningless, and perhaps also because it assumes I am seeking a middle ground (which is sometimes true, but not always).
In an increasingly polarised political landscape, the idea of centrism is actually beginning to appeal to me more — even as it is becoming exceptionally unfashionably in certain quarters.
This article makes the argument for the need of “a rational approach to politics”, not a centrism that is simply “stuck in the middle”.
I simply want a term that adequately describes the need to shout “leave me out of this insane squabbling” or “I want no part of this imbecilic narrative”. What we are perhaps crying out for is a new term for politics that isn’t defined by the end points but by the process; defined not by the beliefs but the rational steps the lead us to those beliefs.
A year after United’s public-relations disaster
What happened after United violently removed a passenger against his will from an overbooked flight? What do you think…?
Flyers may have said in that survey that they’d avoid United, but they really kept choosing whichever airline offered the best price and itinerary. And often that was United. In the month that followed the Dao incident, United flew more passengers than a year earlier, posted its biggest gains in months in passenger-miles flown, and had its fewest cancellations in its history (and fewer than any of its main competitors). A month after the incident, United’s share price hit an all-time high.
‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation
A reminder of just how recently it seemed plausible that Mark Zuckerberg could be a future US President. That seems highly unlikely now.
This is one of those moments where we’re really fascinated because this huge PR machine has sort of cracked and we can see through, and what we can see is someone way over his head
But could Remain win a second referendum?
Some home truths for remainers from Jonathan Calder.
In the Remain camp we constantly remind ourselves how good we are and how evil and ridiculous Leavers are. (Leavers do the precise opposite of course.)
If insulting Leavers were the key to victory we would have won the first referendum. But we didn’t and there is no reason to believe that calling people “gammons” will help us more than calling them “fruitcakes” did.
Strengthening the foundations under the Overton Window without moving it
Should you refuse to argue with someone who is very wrong, in case it accidentally lends their argument some legitimacy? Katja Grace argues that this could be damaging.
In short: we don’t want to give the new generation the best sincere arguments against V [a terrible view], because that would be admitting that a reasonable person might believe V. Which seems to get in the way of the claim that V is very, very bad. Which is not only a true claim, but an important thing to claim, because it discourages people from believing V.
But we actually know that a reasonable person might believe V, if they don’t have access to society’s best collective thoughts on it. Because we have a whole history of this happening almost all of the time.
Thought-provoking, especially in the context of my recent posts about not feeding the trolls.
Facebook quietly hid webpages bragging of ability to influence elections
Facebook have described the idea that they influence election results as “crazy”. It’s funny that they used to actually brag about their ability to help people win elections.
Their entire business model depends on them allowing advertisers to get results. It is absurd for them to claim they can help get results for advertisers, but not if they are political advertisers.
Note — 2018-03-12
There are certain things you’re not allowed to say these days. Well it is time to put an end to all this political correctness. People have been frightened to speak openly. We should call a spade a spade.
70% of over 65s voted for Brexit.
Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.
He is only saying what we’re all thinking.
How liberals amped up a Parkland shooting conspiracy theory
Conspiracy theorists purported that young anti-gun activists are crisis actors. It turns out that those outraged about the theory did more to promote it that the theorists themselves.
Frank Luntz… tweeted in protest of the Gateway Pundit story, becoming one of four non-right-wing amplifiers of the story with verified accounts… The other three are the New York Times’ Nick Confessore, MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. Each of them quote-tweeted the Gateway Pundit story to denounce it, but in doing so gave it more amplification.
This is what I meant when I said don’t feed the trolls.
There is a class of professional conversationalists who have realised how this works and have taken advantage. These people express outrageous and offensive opinions specifically because it is a super-efficient way for them to get the publicity they need.
A dangerous man became US president because he understood this, and millions of his opponents didn’t.
The next time someone says controversial, ask yourself why, rise above it, deny them the publicity and move on.
Note — 2018-03-06
YouGov have released an interesting study on where people draw the boundary between youth, middle age and old age.
As a grumpy millennial, I couldn’t help but notice that a certain generation’s attitude on where old age begins appears to be selective.
Inside Facebook’s hellish two years — and Mark Zuckerberg’s struggle to fix it all
A very lengthy, but entertaining and informative, read about how everything went wrong for Facebook in the past two years, and why it is a mess of their own making.
While Facebook grappled internally with what it was becoming—a company that dominated media but didn’t want to be a media company—Donald Trump’s presidential campaign staff faced no such confusion. To them Facebook’s use was obvious. Twitter was a tool for communicating directly with supporters and yelling at the media. Facebook was the way to run the most effective direct-marketing political operation in history.
Does Pointless tell us something about why we voted for Brexit?
Jonathan Calder has a very interesting theory about what TV quiz shows tell us about the way people vote.
Britain grows increasingly hostile to EU citizens
A German perspective on what’s going on in Britain right now.
Whenever Agnieszka Pasieczna opens the curtains of her children’s bedroom, she finds herself facing four electronic eyes staring at her. The cameras, each around the size of a fist, are mounted on a gray wall around eight meters away, like silent witnesses for the prosecution. “I see you, I see everything,” her English neighbor once shouted over at her. Since then Agnieszka has kept her curtains closed even during the day.
Woman’s English too good for UK entry
Woman reports rape to police — and is arrested on immigration charges
The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.
Officers took her to the Havens sexual assault centre, which provides care for women who have been sexually assaulted.
But while there, she was suddenly arrested and taken into custody at an east London police station. She was then interrogated over her immigration status.
This country needs to end its obsession with immigration. There comes a point when you need to treat people as humans. I think treating a rape victim as a criminal is way beyond that point.
Why is British public so ignorant on Brexit?
Nick Clegg meets Richard Thaler: ‘All it would take to stop Brexit is a couple of dozen brave Tories’
The Guardian set Nick Clegg up for a Skype interview with Richard Thaler, who has recently been awarded the Nobel economics prize.
Thaler was a big influence on the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and it is clear from this interview that Thaler and Clegg admire each other somewhat.
At times the interview may come across to some as typical smug metropolitan centrist dadism, with the pair shaking their heads at how stupid everyone else is being. But when you read Nick Clegg’s anecdote about speaking to a voter in Chesterfield, you understand why he feels that way.
I remember speaking to a guy leaning on the fence outside his house and saying: “Any chance you’ll vote for the Liberal Democrats?” And he said: “No way.” And I said: “Why not?” And he said: “Because of all these asylum seekers.” And I knew for a fact that not a single asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield. So I said to him: “Oh, have you seen these asylum seekers in the supermarket or the GP’s surgery?” And he said something to me that has remained with me ever since. He said: “No, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know they’re everywhere.”
Grim images of the last days at an English public housing estate
A photographic story of the final days of Lion Farm Estate, which faced demolition in the 1991 following the Margaret Thatcher government’s right to buy legislation.
Johnstown never believed Trump would help. They still love him anyway
In a depressed former steel town, the president’s promises don’t matter as much as they once did.
The pendulum swings against privatisation
Does privatisation work? The evidence is mixed, according to Tim Harford.
Here’s Leave.EU’s foul-mouthed denial of using Twitter bots to influence the Brexit vote
Asked Leave.EU if they used bots during the Brexit vote. Got an…interesting…email back. So we published it in full.
Universities deplore ‘McCarthyism’ as MP demands list of tutors lecturing on Brexit
Tory whip writes to every vice-chancellor to ask for syllabus and any online material.
The six tribes of Brexit revealed
Time to remove the Lib Dem invisibility cloak
On all these people trying to set up moderate, pro-EU political parties.
Like it or not, if you want a pro-EU, pro-business, pro-tech UK political party, there is already one that has over 100,000 members, 12 MPs, thousands of councillors, and an internal democracy that compares favourably to every single one of its competitors.
A pro-Brexit Dutchman reflects on what he’s learnt by living in Britain for the last six years
A pro-Brexit Dutchman reflects on what he’s learnt by living in Britain for the last six years.
Brexit has made the UK the sick man of Europe once more
Having previously been the fastest growing G7 country, Britain is now the slowest. Real earnings are again in decline owing to the inflationary spike caused by the pound’s depreciation (the UK has the lowest growth and the highest inflation – stagflation – of any major EU economy).
Note — 2017-10-11
When did ‘centrist’ come to be used to describe pretty much anyone who’s not a bit of a dick?
The Tories are destroying themselves in pursuit of hard Brexit
The fever of Conservative Europhobia runs so hot, it has already burnt through a series of supposedly sacred Tory principles. Tories still boast that they are the Conservative and Unionist party, but when they are told that Brexit imperils the union – by jeopardising both Northern Ireland’s peace and its place in the United Kingdom – they shrug. Tories like to say they cherish the supremacy of parliament; indeed the reassertion of Westminster sovereignty was one of the driving purposes of Brexit. Yet now they whip their MPs to pass an EU withdrawal bill that will strip the Commons of its powers, allowing ministers to channel Henry VIII as they rewrite the law of the land unhindered and unscrutinised. They insist that free trade remains a cardinal principle of modern Conservatism as they rush to leave what is, broadly defined, the largest, freest free-trade area in human history.
I wish the SNP every success in their attempt to work with Conservatives to block the UK government’s snoopers’ charter. But their actions as the Scottish government show that the SNP's commitment to civil liberties only lasts while it can be used as a stick to beat “Westminster”. Read full articleComment