Noping out

 

In the fallout of the tragic loss of life in Charlottesville when White Nationalists and Antifa clashed violently, I have needed to take stock of my outlook.

I always call for a more reasoned look upon things, and to challenge views so that nuance can be found. However, in this instance there is no nuance. Violence is now becoming the norm, and I want no part in it. This blog is barren in terms of visitation, but I still feel compelled to exit the public discussion on politics.

My own irrelevance notwithstanding, my notion of calling for reasoned debate is now so far gone that it cannot be recovered. Horseshoe Theory is now in full effect, in that the extremes of both wings are nigh on indistinguishable from each other, and the media is fully complicit in fanning the flames of conflict.

This blog is nothing. Even with a decent message, decent messages are mere dust specks on a roadway with juggernaut trucks rolling over, blaring their horns and carrying loads of bullshit.

For now, I am done shouting into the wind. The children are now in charge and it’s going to take a while before their kiddie blocks burn to the ground. And there will be tears. Believe me, there will be tears. Don’t believe me? The Neo-Nazi’s are loving these clashes and they are loving the current state of politics. It’s fuelling their rebirth.

I’m not linking to proof. I’m not going to link to any white supremacy stuff here. But if you feel compelled to look for it, you will see their glee at the current state of politics.

Edit: Youtuber Sargon of Akkad breaks it down at the below video about “Weimar America”.

And when the hands are being wrung about how things went so wrong, I will curse their pleas, and silently remember my desire for discourse before spitting on the ground.

I’m done.

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Avoid the Google Exodus

In the wake of the Google Memo, and the Youtube Adpocalypse, I am seeing people start to fear their eventual cancellation from the video platform.

The worry is that voices that are critical of certain aspects of today’s society; that of Islam, Feminism, Social Justice and other pet issues of the Left, will be herded to the side, and eventually killed off. This had led some of them to wonder what strategy they might have to ensure their content is still viable on the platform.

There has been some suggestion to boycott Google in the vain hope that hitting them in the hip pocket would somehow sway them. However, I think this is a fool’s errand. Google has reached such a zenith that it is now so tightly woven into your internet experience, that you simply cannot avoid its reach. Google is the internet for mainstream users, along with Facebook. Google cares nothing for the money now. It has control of information, and is a greater asset for people seeking power.

For controversial voices to leave Youtube would be to give Google what they want. They would like nothing more than to have their “problematic” pocket of the behemoth fuck off elsewhere to leave behind those “approved” voices to spread their opinions unchallenged.

To these prominent “skeptics”, such as Teal Deer, Sargon of Akkad, et al, I would suggest continuing to use Youtube as a prominent (if secondary) platform just to ensure that a balance in views are maintained. Also, keep track of your subscriber numbers along with the view counts for the videos. Implore the community to keep you up to date if the audience has been surreptitiously unsubscribed, and use this information to shine light upon any nefarious wrongdoing.

By all means, plug the other platforms you’re using as well, but don’t abandon Youtube while it is in such a prominent position. I want to see dialogue between differing views happen, and an eventual opening up of civility for debate. This won’t happen if the video and content creators are divided between platforms, with Youtube being the mainstream, and the others (eg Minds.com, vid.me etc) becoming “That Right Wing Place”.

God, even as someone moderate, I think that “Right Wing” being used as a pejorative is a sign of how bad things have gotten. And I’m not Right Wing.

Although many would call my pleas for civility to be Right Wing anyway.

God I hate where we are.

Arbiters of “debate-worthy”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply discount all kinds of dissent with a simple hand wave and a scoff? Wouldn’t it be grand if any upstart could be mocked and ridiculed until submission?

Whelp, welcome to today.

Following from the recent mess that was the Google Memo (and I am sure that given two weeks, no one will even recall what this was about), I have seen a number of responses that say something along the lines of:

Not all opinions are created equal.

What a lovely, haughty sentiment. We can’t have the commoners thinking that they have any critical thinking skills, can we? We shouldn’t even engage with their arguments because to do so would be to legitimise their concerns – which are unequal.

I cannot fathom a more arrogant approach to any topic, let alone one concerning politics. It’s an attitude that not only smacks of arrogance, but also treats the population at large as incapable of thought. The notion that people broadly cannot discern honest debate from trolls and ignorance does not give people (or at least the people who matter) enough credit.

When I see someone say something ignorant, I can easily discount them. However to have someone else tell me to discount someone is another barrel of shit. If someone says something that is clearly wrong and have no backing evidence for their views – or they speak in roundabouts and broad sweeps – then I will know the weight of their argument.

For instance, someone says, “Men are physically stronger than women, therefore they are better at x”. I discount this argument because it offers nothing. No rational link. No definite conclusion. The argument lacks nuance and does not account for outliers, broad spectrums of people, and also personal drive. The statements proves nothing and I reject it. I don’t need someone to tell me to reject it.

However, present a more nuanced argument with more considered statements that account for variables, and supplies links to research, then I would review their argument differently. I may disagree with the argument, but I will consider it. If someone has offered enough effort and time to submit something, then I should do a courtesy to review it.

Back to the infamous Google Memo, the author offers a lengthy explanation, makes no rash and blunt conclusions, attempts to attach some research and even offers alternative solutions to the current trajectory, and I see people in certain circles state (and I paraphrase), “The argument does not warrant acknowledgement. It is an unequal opinion. To engage with it would be to legitimise it. So we should mock and bury it.”

This is not how to win people to your side. If something is argued simply, then it can be dismissed simply. It would take no effort and no energy.

If you definitely have truth on your side, then you should fear no debate.

Alternative Facts: The Google Memo

Remember when Counsel to President Trump Kellyanne Conway was ridiculed in the public space for saying the phrase “Alternative Facts”. Oh how we laughed at how she could take something that (then) White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said falsely about the Trump Inauguration, and try to Nineteen Eighty Four it into reality.

Remember that? Good times.

It is preposterous for someone in such a senior position in Government to do such a thing right? I mean, she used the phrase quite flippantly, and the Trump Inauguration was clearly lower in personal attendance than the Obama one.

Except, Spicer was possibly referring to global ratings and not just people attending the show live. So, even though the Inauguration had demonstrably fewer attendees (which was widely reported) the notion that potentially more people watched the Inauguration on a livestream does not sound so outrageous to me.

Hence, “Alternative Facts”.

But that was then, and this is now. The most recent kerfuffle I see relates to a reportedly sexist screed written by a (now former) Google employee. This memo has done the rounds of various news outlets, with the claims that the author preposterously believes that “Women are biologically inferior for programming” or something to that extent.

The problem is that the memo makes no such claim. Gizmodo has reproduced the document here. The link of “Alternative Facts” here is that one thing was reported, when the different interpretation of the facts leads a very different debate.

I am not going to weigh in on the debate, but rather point out something which has been mentioned on this blog a number of times. Firstly, that of having civil debate. Secondly, having someone lose their livelihood for sharing their thoughts.

I have seen it argued that the actions around this memo are not censorship, because firstly it wasn’t done by the Government, but also because it has been widely reported on, and therefore is not being censored at all. One problem with that, though.

The Google employee has been fired. Because he dared to say Alternative Facts, or rather the media reported Alternative Facts. The fact that he was merely calling for a discussion on the matter, and even offered his own solutions would suggest that he was trying to approach things honestly and in good faith. For this heinous crime, he now needs to seek work.

Sure, you could argue that this particular instance isn’t censorship. You cannot deny the very clear and resounding message:

“Say things we don’t like, and you forfeit your livelihood.”

Or even, “Say things that could be misreported, and you forfeit your livelihood.”

Do people not see the danger in pushing the threat that if you don’t conform to the group think, you might lose everything? Again, I say that this might seem fine when the group think is in your favour and aligns with your own views, but there might become a time when that isn’t the case.

Besides, sending the threat of loss of job doesn’t stop people from having their thoughts. If anything, suppressing them only makes them stronger and more resentful.

Hollywood: the Useful Idiots

I remember when George W Bush was the President of the United States. Oh lordy how the globe laughed. Wasn’t he such a buffoon? I am pretty sure David Letterman owes much of his career to good ol’ Dubya, and Will Ferrell may not have received as much attention if not for his impression of Bush the Second.

That sure was a fun eight years. While in the midst of an actual war in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, Hollywood, the music industry et al went all out in the mockery of George W Bush. There were some protests over the wars he started, sure, but the role of Hollywood and the celebrities within the cluster were to mock him.

Now we have Trump as the President. Sure, a Republican in the White House was always going to be mocked, but to my eyes, it feels like Hollywood cannot do anything without having to point out what a colossal evil-doer Trump is – and he hasn’t started any wars yet.

I’m seeing anti-Trump sentiment popping up in entertainment news, and on the Ellen DeGeneres show – places of light entertainment where politics probably have very little place outside the election cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel that Trump is worthy of mock and scorn, but I have an unshakeable feeling that there is an exaggerated and concerted effort to denigrate Trump that isn’t what I’d consider “organic”. It’s almost like there’s a genuine attempt to ensure that the people don’t do again what they did in November 2016.

Trump was an outsider. He wasn’t meant to get anywhere near the Presidency. He was meant to just disappear after the primaries. Except he didn’t.

I have a hypothesis that both sides of the political divide in US politics are simply two sides of a rotten coin. Every four years they allow the commoners to have a say in who leads the country, but despite whoever they elect, the agenda is the same. Sure the parties might differ slightly, but I cannot shake the feeling that the elections are simply a bit of theatre to make the people believe they have power.

Watch the below video for an opinion that closely aligns with my own.

Hollywood seems to be on board in following the lead of the theatrical production, and are railing against Trump in the most visible way possible. Now, I don’t suggest that Hollywood is part of the sinister cabal that ultimately controls the President by threatening to “JFK” the person – much like I wrote about Katy Perry, I think Hollywood stars genuinely believe in their cause.

But they are simply Useful Idiots. They are simply influential (ie popular) people who will follow and promote the cause of those truly in power, unthinkingly parroting the party line, either willingly through their own sense of righteousness, or because they fear that their career will end if they don’t say the right words, or espouse the right ideology.

I am wary of using the term “they”. The word “they” is often employed by some conspiracy theorists when they refer to “the Establishment” or “the Illuminati” or “the Elites”. I think it’s good to keep in mind that if you use the term “They” then you should be able to name one person. To some, this might be George Soros, or The Rothschilds. Either way, I am going to simply use “They” because this is only a hypothesis I have.

Trump wasn’t meant to be in power, and I think the election cycle has already started to ensure that Trump doesn’t win again in 2020. “They” are using their Useful Idiots to convince the new generation of voters coming up to not vote for Trump, and/or convince those who did vote Trump that they made a mistake.

When every Hollywood star and likeable personality tells you that you made a bad choice, it’s hard to not think that you’re on the outer. It’s hard to not think you’re a part of the right side. It’s the tactic of isolating people and showing them the right way.

To this, I assure you that you should vote for whomever you want. Don’t be dictated to by anyone – even me – as to who wins your vote. Don’t let the Useful Idiots make you feel bad. They don’t care about you. They care about their cause.

You do you. Forget the Idiots.

The 2020 race and Facebook

According to “buzz on the internet”, which for me these days says “what the media wants people to think others are talking about”, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is planning to run for President in 2020.

My post from yesterday seems rather timely, then.

This is one of those Elephant In The Room moments. Does nobody see the problem here? Nobody?

In the wake of Clinton’s shock loss, there were myriad news stories trying to find out what went wrong, or more importantly who they could blame. Immediately Facebook was in the firing line for permitting the spread of “fake news”, with Clinton herself using those very words about stories about her on social media.

Zuckerberg was then in the unenviable position of having to refute his network’s influence while simultaneously peddling his network’s efficacy to potential investors. To say that he was between a rock and a hard place is an understatement. When the eyes of the most powerful people in the world are implying your being complicit in their downfall must be unnerving to say the least.

Very recently, Clinton has named Facebook specifically in promulgating fake news which led to her poll defeat.

But back to that Elephant.

If Facebook is as effective any many had posited, do they not see the problem with Zuckerberg running for President? Do they not see how the person who has the finger on the buttons that can approve and deny people access to information which could sway their decision? Facebook is the number 3 site on the internet, behind Youtube and Google’s homepage. To a lot of people, Facebook is the Internet. They never go beyond that page.

The idea that a Presidential candidate can control that flow of information just flat-out concerns me. Equally concerning is the lack of other peoples’ concern about this. Are we just going to let someone whose company is (according to former employees) manipulating and suppressing viewpoints that didn’t befit their organisation or their political buddies.

I’ve linked to Gizmodo above, and now I need a shower – although I don’t think there’s enough soap in the world that could cleanse me of the ick.

My previous post talked about how sites which are the most popular should consider their positions one of responsibility rather than partisanship, which is why I don’t accept the “It’s their site, they can do what they want” bollocks. We wouldn’t accept it if the tables were flipped, so we shouldn’t accept it now.

If Zuckerberg decided to run for President, he would need to appoint independent auditors to Facebook’s premises to ensure that no tampering of counter viewpoints occurs. Or he could do what many other power brokers on the planet do;

Buy a puppet.

Further to censorship semantics

Below is a 22 minute video from user Mister Metokur, which covers something I mentioned in a previous post relating to censorship and major social platform’s willingness to quietly direct people away from hearing “problematic” content.

I don’t endorse this user and his content, however in this instance I feel he explains my fears about prominent websites controlling what it is that people see, and they’re doing it hamfistedly. It’s not enough for videos and their creators to organically grow and build reputations, but they also need to have the right views.

You can argue that no one is being hidden, and that people just need to search for specific content, however it’s difficult to find challenging views if you are being railroaded into the “correct” viewpoint.

I would take an uncomfortable truth over one that is deemed acceptable by the Google Gods. Besides, if peoples’ beliefs are so true, then they should be able to withstand opposing viewpoints. That is what debate is, and debate is how we reach the truth, or at least find a compromise that benefits most.

To reinforce my point, Google, Facebook, Youtube and Wikipedia are the 4 most popular websites on the planet right now. I am uncomfortable with these organisations trying to herd their users into what they want them to know.

And this is not because I disagree with the views they’re pushing.

It’s because I don’t want information suppressed. It shouldn’t happen to anybody of any stripe. If these big four sites decided tomorrow that their best interests lie in conservatism and that they should start silencing left views, I would be here on this blog, again decrying the filter.

Because corporations are not your friend. They do what serves their agenda. They will turn on you the moment you stop benefiting them. This is why we all should decry and be fearful what Google, Youtube, Facebook and Wikipedia are doing. It might benefit you now, but what if the next great technological marvel that changes the way the globe distributes and consumes information was created and run by a conservative idealogue?

If you endorse or otherwise hand-wave what Google is trying to do, then the rich people are laughing at you.