Public policy and privacy

Public policy issues such as privacy, technology industry economic development, education to support technology workers, and so on. Privacy in particular, whether or not strictly tied to public policy.

December 13, 2019

Election 2020 – party vs. party, all hands on deck

I am one of Donald Trump’s top non-fans. I’ve considered him a despicable crook (and bad businessman) since at least 1990. More drastically, as the child of Nazi refugees, I hate nativist wannabe dictators. Never, in my opinion, has there been a more important electoral task than getting rid of Donald Trump. Indeed, nothing else in US history has even come close. The survival of our free country is at stake.

Even so, I view the upcoming 2020 election as Democrats-vs.-Republicans at its core, rather than Trump-specific. Reasons for that viewpoint start:  Read more

December 13, 2019

The other side is crazy, and wants to steal your freedoms

I click on a lot of Republican Facebook ads, browse the occasional conservative political forum, and read what Republicans say in the news. A huge amount of the Republican messaging I see boils down to one or both of:

But you know what? Democrats use those same themes, and should use them even more. Read more

December 11, 2019

Republicans are extremists, and should be labeled as such

Republican and other US conservative political messaging is relentlessly negative.

And the Trump era has taken this to a new level of screeching. The “fake news” press are “enemies of the people”. Patriotic bureaucrats are a “deep state” “swamp”. Impeachment is a freedom-destroying “coup”. Anybody who opposes Trump should be locked up for treason. Above all, Democrats are nuts and want to take your freedoms away.

Democrats can use negative messaging too. But they face obstacles, including: Read more

December 10, 2019

Republicans vs. democracy

For traditionally patriotic Americans, rule of law is sacrosanct. But leading Republicans don’t agree.

And so the November, 2020 United States election will be desperately important. Republicans are sabotaging our democracy, and have done it much damage. So they must be temporarily removed from power, long enough for the system to be substantially repaired. This is essential at the national level, president and Congress alike. It is vital in individual states as well.

The importance of such repair is impossible to overstate; democratic government, once lost, can take a very long time to restore. Read more

October 26, 2018

Everything is at stake on November 6. Here’s how you can still help.

Summary: The November 6 election is hugely important to the future of freedom in the United States. The main remaining way to help is to donate to Democrats in very close races. My most specific advice is:

Further ideas are below.

Read more

February 16, 2018

The wars on democracy and truth

The “War on Truth” is a new and somewhat useful cliché. But like any short phrase, it isn’t perfectly accurate. In particular:

*There also are a number of semantic and epistemological issues around the concept of “truth”, but let’s put those aside for now

For starters, let’s note:  Read more

February 22, 2017

Historical comparisons for Donald Trump

Donald Trump, to put it mildly, is unusual. No analogy or comparison or him is close to being perfectly accurate. Despite, or indeed because, of that, he’s wound up being compared to quite a few other figures, from history, fiction or current events. Perhaps a quick survey would be helpful as background to other discussions.

Three of the most popular Trump comparisons are:

I’ll discuss the first two below. The third will have to wait until future posts.

Further Trump analogies that I think are worth brief mentions include:

Donald Trump compared to Andrew Jackson

Let’s return to Trump’s own favorite analogy. President Andrew Jackson is probably most famous for: Read more

July 19, 2010

My view of intellectual property

The purpose of legal intellectual property protections, simply put, is to help make it a good decision to create something. The specific phrasing in the United States Constitution is

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

but that’s just a longer way of saying the same thing.

Why does “securing … exclusive Right[s]” to the creators of things that are patented, copyrighted, or trademarked help make it a good decision for them to create stuff? Because it averts competition from copiers, thus making the creator a monopolist in what s/he has created, allowing her to at least somewhat value-price her creation.

I.e., the core point of intellectual property rights is to prevent copying-based competition. By way of contrast, any other kind of intellectual property “right” should be viewed with great suspicion.

Examples of my views include:

February 25, 2010

People are very confused about privacy

According to CNet, Anthony Stancl ran an interesting scheme:

Stancle had been accused of creating a Facebook profile belonging to a nonexistent teenage girl and then, between approximately the spring of 2007 and November of 2008, using it to convince more than 30 of his male classmates to send in nude photos or videos of themselves.

Stancl then reportedly threatened to post the photos or videos on the Internet if they didn’t engage in some sort of sexual activity with him. At least seven of them have said they were coerced into sex acts, which Stancl documented with a cell phone camera.

Stancl’s victims were teenage boys focused on sex — not exactly the world’s clearest thinkers. Even so, I find it remarkable that multiple people would:

  1. Send nude photographs of themselves to a stranger.
  2. Be so concerned about those photographs getting published online that they would submit to sexual blackmail.
  3. Allow the results of their sexual blackmail to be photographed.

Literally — WTF??

April 20, 2009

I’m holding forth on public policy again

I was interviewed by Federal News Radio again, and will edit in a link to an audio file if/when they give me one.  (Here it is.) The subject was the completion of the Aneesh Chopra/Vivek Kundra team for United States CTO and CIO, something I find alarming due to their lack of focus on the tough project management/data integration and privacy issues at the heart of government IT.

Overall, the interview went a lot better than my last one with the same station.

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