When you can't live without bananas

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

History According To Bob - Ancient Mediterranean + Rome

Some miscellaneous bits:

Demetrius in Greece:

"Stilpo remarked that the Antigonid campaign of liberation had indeed left the city a city of freemen because the Antigonid soldiers had stolen all of the slaves. Now let's look a little bit about looting cities. In the Ancient World when an enemy, or an enemy city was sacked, it was not so much the gold, silver and works of art that were taken, although a lot is still collected, but the slaves were the main loot. This would be universal because you could then sell them ultimately for cash that could be divided up amongst the troops. It's easier to carry coin than a 10 pound gold statue"

Ptolemaic Egypt:

"The Macedonians hurt the pride of the Egyptians by refusing to recruit the royal army from the Egyptian warrior class. Instead they used Macedonian troops, even doing what Seleucus and others did is setting up colonies of troops so that they could continue to produce that. It's not that the Egyptians weren't good soldiers - at the great battles of Artemisium and at Salamis in 480 BC it had been Egyptian marines who fought the best amongst the Greek hoplites. The decision by the Macedonians not to use them in the army was political. Though they still served as sailors in the Ptolemaic fleets the Macedonians were afraid that an Egyptian army of trained men might revolt and tear down the infrastructure of both royal and private Hellenistic exploitation"

Reign Ptolemy IV:

"Numbering Ptolemies is a modern invention. The Greeks distinguished them by epithet or nicknames, rather than by numbers."

Reign Cleopatra V Tryphaena and Berenice IV:

"[On Berenice IV of Egypt] As a lone woman ruling Egypt, she was expected to marry and have a man as co-regent. When she didn't, her consuls forced her to marry Prince Seleucus the Seventh Kybiosaktes and remained as sole ruler."

Sulla Provinces and His Death:

"Caesar, after he does his first tour as consul. He is so disliked by members of the Senate that instead of giving him a regular province, they made one up and put him in charge of the roads and alleys and by ways of Rome... There's an old discussion that whenever you change the government of a country, that new government is never safe until everybody who can remember the past government have died off."

Spartacus Slave Revolt:

[On Crassus] "His famous quote that I like is no one is truly rich, unless one is able to support an army on his income"

Rise of Pompey Part 2:

"They shut Mithridates up in his palace, with all hope for escape or mercy gone. He murdered his wives and daughters and then committed suicide by the sword after failing repeatedly to poison himself. Remember, Mithridates is the king of poisons and had created a Mithridatium of 22 substances that he took daily to make him immune to poison. And obviously it worked too well. Mithridates' son Pharnaces the Second turned over his father's body to Pompey who honored him by having him buried in the tombs of the other Pontic kings. If there's one thing that Pompey's really good at, he knows how to do the carrot and the stick, he knows how to honor people when the people around him really appreciate that."

Octavian Responds to Cleopatra and Antony:

"He began to attack Octavian personally. Cassius of Parma alleged that not only was Octavian of low origin, the ultimate snob attack, but claimed that Octavian was named heir to Caesar only after submitting to Caesar’s homosexual desires. Whoa, now we're really going below the belt here to go after him. They also kind of chided Octavian on his lesser military record. He hadn't really done very well at Philippi and all of his great victories at sea had been done by Agrippa"

Death Cleopatra:

"Did Octavian really want Cleopatra to appear in his triumph? And the answer is, quite frankly, no. And the reason is simple. 16 years ago, 16 years before this event, Cleopatra's half sister, Arsinoë was displayed in one of Julius Caesar's triumphs, and the crowd felt such sympathy for that they had to deal with her differently, rather than just kill her, and Octavian had made this,  you know, he really whipped up this propaganda machine depicting, you know, Cleopatra, as the Egyptian whore, as the witch would bewitches Roman men, and pretty much the devil incarnate. And she had been to Rome once before and was very popular and very, very happily received, of course, she threw lots of money. If Cleopatra was in chains, and paraded in a triumph, all sorts of things could happen. First of all, the crowd could become sympathetic to Cleopatra as they had Arsinoë. And it could also be interpreted by putting her in that type of situation as an insult to the memory of Julius Caesar… executing a woman would kind of hurt Octavian’s reputation, but if he let her go, good heavens, she could stir up trouble in the east, again, in any number of places. For that matter, she can make it even worse by simply going and sitting on a little island and writing your memoirs of what's going on, which could make him look bad, and everybody else and cause all kinds of problems. So to some extent, the best thing that could happen as far as Octavian was concerned was that she would just die. But of course, it had to be in a manner that would, you know, leave Octavian above suspicion that he wasn't responsible. So playing up the part about the triumphs certainly made it look like the last thing you want to do is to have her die but that's for later consumption"

Octavian takes control:

"Octavian visited Alexander's tomb. He had the thing, the coffin opened. That was glass. Had the sword of Alexander removed so he could use it, and somehow or other, managed to accidentally break off part of Alexander's nose... He wouldn't visit Egyptian temples. He said he revered gods, not animals. Actually he revered gods, not bulls"

Can academia be saved from the mob?

Can academia be saved from the mob?

"Scientists in the field of sex research, for example, are terrified to pursue questions pertaining to sex differences, gender, and sexual orientation, for fear that any politically unpopular findings will end their career.

When news broke regarding The Journal of Controversial Ideas, which is launching in early 2019 and will allow scholars to publish their work pseudonymously in it, my academic colleagues, among them many liberal researchers, gave a collective sigh of relief: since they will able to publish their work pseudonymously in it...

Timsit voices fears that such a journal would house “a bias toward publishing particularly controversial ideas in the interest of freedom of thought”. This has echoes of the Left’s argument that the Right invented the term “political correctness” in order to defuse attacks on their “no longer acceptable” and “bigoted” views, rather than because liberals were stifling free speech. But academics need to be able to think and speak freely when conducting their research; unfiltered speech is grounded in good faith – not the desire to seek out controversy for the sake of it.

Which brings us to the question of why those on the Left aren’t celebrating the arrival of the launch. Freedom of speech isn’t solely of concern to the Right; academic freedom has, after all, allowed those on the Left to call into question issues such as climate change denial and creationism. They remain silent now, though, because they know they are winning the culture war.

Good scholarship, however, should stand regardless of an academic’s identity and political position, and McMahan points out that “[it] should make no difference who the author is”. We must have faith in the process of academic debate. If ideas without merit are submitted, then academics should be counted upon to call them out — that’s how the model is supposed to work, not by silencing these perspectives and preventing them from being heard.

It is interesting that Timsit also tries to play down the troubles on campus at the moment... <>Anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time on a university campus will know only too well the extent to which free speech is under threat. The problem of censorship is not, however, limited to “conservative thoughts”— anyone voicing an opinion that is even remotely to the Right of far-Left orthodoxy becomes suspect, including centrists and those who are otherwise Left-leaning.

If you have any doubt as to how toxic the environment has become, you need only look at how frequently university campuses have been subjected to protests and mobbing behaviour in the last few years as a result of challenging Leftist dogma: University of Missouri, Yale University, UC Berkeley, Evergreen State College, Lewis & Clark College, Sarah Lawrence College. The list goes on. These instances are so numerous, they are on the verge of becoming the norm.

I recently interviewed Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College and self-identified Leftist and feminist, who in the spring of 2017, was viciously mobbed online after publishing an academic paper on transracialism — the idea that some individuals choose to identify as a particular race that is different from their racial background. She had asked whether there were parallels between being transgender and being transracial...

Instead of engaging with Tuvel’s points, however, other academic scholars took to social media to attack her, calling her “transphobic” and “racist,” and threatening her academic career...

Tuvel told me what she endured has had lasting effects on her field, with academics steering clear of projects pertaining to gender and race. I saw a lot of this sort of thing during my time as an academic researcher — that in devising new research projects, some colleagues would intentionally avoid topics that could be interpreted as even potentially controversial. One such subject, for instance, is gender dysphoric children. Unless a researcher is supportive of the early transitioning approach, they have no hope of surviving in academia. In my case, writing about this issue led to my own decision to leave upon finishing my PhD...

Higher learning is being killed by student activists, who claim they are doing what is best for society while dictating what professors are allowed to say in their classrooms...

In its most drastic form, students will default to physical violence, as we saw during the 2017 protest at Middlebury College that left a professor concussed and in a neck brace as she attempted to shield Charles Murray from his attackers.

Of all people, academics should be protected from this behaviour, because we have no other way of vetting the truth. Instead, mobbing is not only encouraged, but celebrated. Even if an academic survives a bout with the mob, rarely is an apology issued. Many are instead hounded out of the academy, their professional reputations so tarnished that they have no alternative but exile...

An academic’s purpose isn’t to promote ideas that are crowd-pleasing and sanctifying. It is to interrogate our beliefs in order to come away with a better understanding of the world. When academic institutions are unable to facilitate honest discussions in search of this truth – the very thing they were built to stand for – the academy has lost its way.  Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, but this isn’t a reason to pretend that it doesn’t exist, or to punish those who wish to explicate it."

Links - 12th November 2020

On Facebook and YouTube, musicians are getting blocked or muted - The Washington Post - "his audience started to disappear, one by one, all the way down to none.“What the hell is going on?” Spence recalls shouting to his son across the living room as the viewer count conspicuously dropped. Just minutes into the airing of the concert, Facebook issued Spence a notification that his video — an original performance of an hour-long piece composed by Mozart in 1786 — somehow contained one minute and 18 seconds of someone else’s work, in this case, “audio owned by Naxos of America.” Spence, and presumably Mozart, would beg to differ.“They’re blocking my use of my own content,” Spence said later in a phone interview, “which feels dystopian.”... These oft-overzealous algorithms are particularly fine-tuned for the job of sniffing out the sonic idiosyncrasies of pop music, having been trained on massive troves of “reference” audio files submitted by record companies and performing rights societies. But classical musicians are discovering en masse that the perceptivity of automated copyright systems falls critically short when it comes to classical music, which presents unique challenges both in terms of content and context. After all, classical music exists as a vast, endlessly revisited and repeated repertoire of public-domain works distinguishable only through nuanced variations in performance. Put simply, bots aren’t great listeners. After the removal of his clips, Spence’s only recourse was to file a dispute with Facebook by filling out a single-field form. This was followed by six hours of fruitless chats with various Facebook representatives. It took nearly four days to clear the spurious claim, and in the interim, Facebook suspended Camerata’s access to live-streaming.Clearing copyright claims has since become part of Spence’s new routine, casting emails into an opaque dispute system he describes as “the DMV on steroids.” And the hits keep coming: YouTube blocked a recent live stream of a recorded Camerata performance of Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, Op. 43, after it attracted a swarm of five automated copyright claims from different record companies. It’s gotten to the point where Camerata videos are prefaced by a warning screen, explaining their anticipated disappearance in advance.“I have no protection for my own produced material,” Spence says. “If you want to put a copyright claim against me, I’m happy to take the time to write back to you and say, ‘This is an erroneous claim and here’s why.’ But when you’re immediately blocking videos or streams, that’s negatively impacting our very mission in a time where this now has become mission critical.”... Michael Sheppard, a Baltimore-based pianist, composer and teacher, was recently giving a Facebook Live performance of a Beethoven sonata (No. 3, Op. 2, in C) when Facebook blocked the stream, citing the detection of “2:28 of music owned by Naxos of America” — specifically a passage recorded by the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, whom Sheppard is not.The takedown led Sheppard into what he describes as “a byzantine web of ridiculousness” starting with Facebook’s dispute form: “Beethoven died in 1827,” he responded. “This music is very much in the public domain. Please unblock it.”... musician and blogger Sebastian Tomczak received multiple copyright claims against a 10-hour stretch of white noise he uploaded to YouTube three years prior... It might be tempting to glance at the copyright claims and simply blame the names listed at the bottom — the seemingly aggressive record companies issuing them all. But many of those companies are as helpless against the system as the targets of their claims.Take Naxos, the classical mother ship that represents about 2.5 million tracks and, according to senior manager of video and new media Duncan Hammons, considers copyright protection “among our chief duties per our relationship with our distributed label clients.”... “Though the technology works most of the time in terms of correctly identifying instances of our clients’ content on-platform, it still generates a not-insignificant amount of mismatches that require human review to differentiate,” Hammons says. “The chances of conflicts with this amount of content are considerable. For these reasons there is always a volume of potentially erroneous auto-generated claims that unless contested, I may never be made explicitly aware.”... the faith that platforms and record companies invest in these technologies may be as flawed as the systems themselves.“We built these systems around the presumption that everybody is either: A, a pirate, or B, should be a copyright expert”"

Antifa Activist Goes Viral Bragging About Lawsuit Against Landlord for Demanding Rent — Turns Out It’s His Grandma - "A militant antifa activist went viral recently for filing a complaint against his landlord for tracking his coronavirus stimulus check and demanding rent — but he conveniently left out that the landlord is his grandmother.Austin Goodrich, 22, received an outpouring of sympathy for his situation after filing the lawsuit in Oregon on April 22. The complaint said that the actions of his landlord left him “feeling overwhelmingly violated and vulnerable.” Goodrich was demanding that his grandmother waive all rent due until the end of his lease on June 30, waive all due and past-due amounts, return his security deposit and give him an excellent rental reference. Since she did not respond to his absurd requests, he filed a lawsuit... Goodrich tweeted that his landlord had text him hours after he received his stimulus money asking whether he planned to use it to pay rent.However, the defendant is not only his grandmother and landlord — she is also his tax preparer... Goodrich previously made waves when he helped shut down a College Republicans event at Portland State in 2019... Goodrich locked his Twitter account after it was revealed that his landlord is his grandmother."
Communists rage a lot against landlords. It seems they just want to live rent-free

Andy Ngô on Twitter - ".@CasResistance, a Portland antifa & regional separatist group, instructed its members to steal from stores on #MayDay."
Looks like communists want everything for free

JustJanis on Twitter - "So my friend’s vet has a comfort-dog assistant that helps sick patients know that everything will be alright and this is really all you need to see today ️"

'Tulsa for Tesla': US oil city uses 75-foot-tall statue of Elon Musk to persuade CEO to build new electric car factory - "Tulsa, the second-largest city in Oklahoma, has a rich history in the oil business. But its city leaders made a new and creative pitch to woo Tesla into building its next electric car factory there. City officials started transforming the town's landmark Golden Driller statue Wednesday, to resemble Tesla CEO Elon Musk, complete with company logos added to the 75-foot-tall structure. The company has reportedly picked Tulsa and Austin, Texas, as finalists for its new factory that is expected to employ more than 10,000 people... Tulsa touts its low tax rates and cost of living as reasons for Tesla to build its next U.S. assembly plant in town. But some neighbors even said they want Musk to go even a step further -- and relocate his company out of the Bay Area entirely... Musk made national headlines last week for threatening to relocate his company out of Alameda County, after county officials ordered him to stop production at the Fremont plant, which had reopened early in sharp defiance of the previous county health order. It even prompted President Trump to weigh in."

𝙃𝙖𝙧𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙮 𝘾𝙪𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨 on Twitter - "I was playing Fifa 19 with some random dude online & he was using his headset & prolly forgot to turn it off. So I was leading 3 nil at halftime & I heard him say “if I win, will u sleepover?” And a girl replied yes but u won’t win. I had to let bro win 5-3 for the culture "

Police summon Jolovan Wham for posing in public with smiley face - "When is a photo a protest and a piece of cardboard a threat? Social worker and civil rights advocate Jolovan Wham will find out as he is now under formal police investigation over a photo of him holding a smiley face in public.Wham said Wednesday that he has been ordered to report to Tanglin police, around two months after he took the photo in a show of solidarity with two youths under separate probes for photos they took of themselves demanding climate action... It is illegal to hold public demonstrations without a permit in Singapore, even if it is just a silent protest involving one person. And the only public place Singaporeans have been granted a permit to do so is the Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park... In 2018, artist Seelan Palay was jailed two weeks after refusing to pay a fine after being convicted of an unlawful procession. He had walked from Hong Lim Park to the Parliament House while holding a mirror."
Positivity is illegal in Singapore

Ryan Creamer Wiki & Bio - Comedian - "Ryan Creamer (born September 9, 1992) is a comedian, writer, and performer based in Olney, Maryland. He is known for his verified Pornhub account where he makes wholesome videos... Creamer was scrolling through Pornhub when he noticed a "Work for Us" option at the bottom of the page. When he realized that anyone could get verified, he applied and started posting wholesome videos after he was accepted. His first upload "I Tuck You in After You Have Cum" was posted on Reddit and he started to gain a following. Other videos he has posted include "I, Your Step Brother, Decline Your Advances but Am Flattered Nonetheless," "I Ride in a Taxi and Don't Have Sex With the Driver," "POV FOREHEAD KISS COMPILATION," and "I Hug You and Say I Had a Really Good Time Tonight." Creamer has stated that he had received a number of supportive messages from viewers and has received support from the sex industry"

:-) - "some places use clams to test the toxicity of the water. It’s like that in Warsaw- we get our water from the river, and the main water pump has 8 clams that have triggers attached to their shells. If the water gets too toxic, they close, and the triggers shut off the city water supply automatically.The clams are just better at measuring the water quality than any man-made sensors."

Who's afraid of the feminists? - "A new YouGov poll, commissioned by the charity HOPE Not Hate, finds that 33% of people agree with the statement “Feminism is to blame for making some men feel marginalised and demonised in society”... significant percentages of every age group, including 33% of 18- to 24-year-olds, agrees that feminism makes some men feel marginalised. More men (42%) than women agreed, but a quarter of women did too. The charity themselves described it as “staggering”, and linked it to far-right YouTubers... Sometimes men have more “feminist” attitudes than women: for instance, men are more likely than women to say that it is “always” or “usually” wrong for men to comment on women’s appearance in the street... 83% of Britons support “equality of opportunity for women” – again, more among men (86%) than women (81%)... It took me all of five seconds to find a feminist magazine declaring that men can be allies but they cannot be feminists... [feminist antics are] I think, part of a wider need to signal membership of a group: publicly denouncing someone for heresy is a clear signal that you are pure. I’ve heard some feminists complain that working for gender equality has been partly displaced by this call-out culture, policing public spaces for incorrect language or bad opinions, and that this puts people off feminism as a label. I can entirely believe that that’s the case, although I don’t imagine that it’s unique to feminism"
More and more people are realising how toxic and misandristic feminism is
If men are more feminist than women in their views on women, is this oppression and ignoring 'minority' preferences?

Lana Del Rey's Instagram Post Is a Classic White Feminism Trap
Basically feminism now demonises white women almost as much as it demonises men

How a Jeopardy! Champ's Play to Become a Feminist Public Intellectual Crashed - ""I try to remember, as a straight dude, that the discomfort I feel at gay porn sites is how women online are made to feel most of the time"
This post perfectly encapsulates Chu’s online presence: pompous woke posturing mixed with a baffling non-sequitur. Why was he watching gay porn if it makes him uncomfortable? How does that relate to being a woman online? Why did he put this on the internet, with his whole legal name on it and everything? The documentary Who is Arthur Chu?, recently released on various VOD platforms, leans toward a fairly routine character study rather than seek to answer such questions. In interviews, Arthur gives accounts of his childhood, his thorny relationship with his father, the pressures of being the first-born child of immigrants, and his introduction to identity politics. This is interesting material, but it feels like sitting in on a particularly unproductive therapy session. Arthur has little self-awareness, and despite talking at length, he never reaches any real insight. The film is much more successful at finding dark humor in the contrast between the way Arthur sees himself and the way he actually behaves, particularly in his relationship with his wife Eliza. Almost every time she appears on screen, she’s hard at work ironing his shirts, cooking his dinner, or supporting his narcissistic bid for fame as a professional feminist, all while he lies around the house giving her orders. The people closest to him seem to live in a perpetual wince. His mother worries that Eliza will leave him. After a public speaking gig goes badly, his father gently suggests that he should keep his day job. When his younger brother and sister sit together for an interview, they struggle to find anything positive to say about him... The comedy of Arthur Chu is that he thought he could understand what being a woman is like by visiting a gay porn site. The tragedy is that he did not think to simply listen to a woman — for example, his wife"

IT ENDS TONIGHT: Arthur Chu's Wife Dumps Him, Has Marriage Dissolved

Taking on the Social Justice Warriors - "Even if Remain wins out and Trump is defeated in 2020, one thing is pretty certain: we will continue to live in polarised times. In my new book Whiteshift I argue that one of the main forces driving this fracturing is the perfectionist creed of multiculturalism, whose shock troops are the so-called Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)... You know a non-academic has struck a chord when, at the last count, his book has accrued 562 academic citations, far more than anything I’ve managed as a longstanding professor. In 2017’s The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart helps make sense of our post-UKIP, post-Brexit world. He nicely lays his finger on the key divide in modern western societies between ‘Anywheres’, whose identity is tied to their credentials and achievements, and the ‘Somewheres’, whose identity is rooted in place, ethnicity or nationhood.In Britain, about a quarter of the population are Anywheres, many of whom attended residential universities and voted Remain. Somewheres, about half the population, tended to vote Leave. About half the UK population lives within 20 miles of where they were born, and this group exists a world away from the bubble of those who form opinions in the media and academia, or play a leading role in politics and finance. Somewheres have stronger national identities than Anywheres, view change as loss and tend to want less immigration and economic change. Their interests are ill-served by an Anywhere elite, whose mobility and lack of connection to place renders them tone-deaf to the longings of those with a Somewhere worldview. Goodhart suggests the Leave vote in the Brexit referendum was a democratic expression of discontent from the Somewheres, whose cultural and economic interests have been repeatedly ignored by governments since Blair. He urges more Somewhere input into culture and politics – and a new accommodation between Somewheres and Anywheres that better balances the desires of each – in order reduce the pressures driving populism and polarisation"

Why do 'open' liberals live in closed communities? - "in American liberal enclaves like San Francisco. They may deplore Trump’s wall, but their restrictions on development serve as a financial barrier to incomers.In Britain, house prices act as a one-way valve, encouraging people to move northwards in search of a higher quality of life, but impeding those who prioritise higher wages from moving in the opposite direction.This results is what Watling calls a “surplus of ‘trapped’ labour” that keeps wage levels low in the North. This is the trouble with saying ‘not in my backyard’ — it’s not just your backyard that’s affected.Of course, not all nimbys are Remain-voting liberals. Many are dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries. But there’s something especially repellent about people who preach about openness without practicing it where it matters.In particular, a liberal immigration policy means that millions more people will come to work here each decade. So where are they going to live?"

New Black Panthers ‘Fight’ Racism by Targeting Chinese Restaurants, Get Disowned by OG Black Panthers - "the NBPP was allegedly protesting the forceful eviction of Africans “from their homes and hospitals” in China"
Damn white supremacy!

Why allowing Big Tech to spy on you doesn't mean you need to allow Government to do the same

There is a common claim that many people allow big tech (e.g. Google) to basically spy on them. Thus, this means that we shouldn't care if governments spy on us.

This ignores many differences between big tech and government spying:

1. Choice
2. Consequences
3. Avoidance
4. Redress

In turn,

1. Choice

People who choose to allow big tech to spy on them *choose* to do so.

I used to know this guy who claimed that his phone had been hacked, so he downgraded his smartphone to a feature phone so it would be impossible to hack his phone.

However, the sorts of privacy-compromising government surveillance that are promoted under a false equivalence with big tech's spying typically cannot be opted out of.

In any event, even if I opt to be spied on by one big tech company, it doesn't mean I consent to be spied upon by all other big tech companies. So I may trust Apple, but not Google, for example.

2. Consequences

What is the potential for abuse if I allow big tech to spy on me?

Typically, big tech will at most know anything I have done online - and any information I have willingly given it.

On the other hand, Government has the potential to combine information directly gathered from spying on me with information from its administrative records.

Having the information that they have, big tech and government then differ in what they can do with this information.

Big tech is constrained by end user licence agreements and can only use the information they have about me to deliver ads, make their products work properly and improve their products. The very worst that they can do is to ban me from using their services (and I can always bypass the ban surreptitiously - see below). If they try to do anything more, I can sue them (see below too).

Governments, on the other hand, can throw the full power of the legal system at me, and initiate criminal proceedings which can result in a fine, jail term or even - in extremis, in jurisdictions which allow for them - corporal and/or capital punishment.

3. Avoidance

While big tech spies on you, you can give it wrong information. There're many people who give big tech fake information or otherwise mess up its algorithms, e.g. filling in wrong information, using VPNs, clearing their cookies, using incognito/private browsing mode etc.

Government spying is typically (and certainly potentially) more sophisticated than what big tech can do. And while technically you can try to avoid government spying, this also ties in with 2 - if you mess with big tech's spying, they can't do very much to you (at most, ban you from their service). But a government can impose criminal sanctions upon you.

4. Redress

This is perhaps the most important point.

If big tech abuses their ability to spy on people, I can sue them in court. For example, Google settled a class action lawsuit in 2018 around privacy problems in Google Plus.

Suing the government is a lot harder. And it may not even be possible.

Even in the US, which is lawsuit heavy, the Federal Tort Claims Act only lays out a few limited exemptions to sovereign immunity - you can only sue the federal government when it performs a "discretionary function or duty".

Meanwhile, in Singapore, you can't sue the government for abusing private data - at most individuals will be punished. Which means that there is potential for institutional abuse.

It is instructive to see what happened to a previous privacy guarantee in Singapore, around ERP 2.0, in under one and a half years:

Nov 3, 2014:
Parliament: New ERP system 'not a threat to privacy'

"Data collected by a satellite-tracked electronic road-pricing (ERP) system Singapore is building will be "aggregated and anonymised", said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in response to questions about how privacy will be safeguarded."

Apr 7, 2016
ERP, traffic data to be used to counter terror threat

"Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) data and public transport cameras will be added to the Home Team's arsenal in the fight against terrorism and serious crime - as the Government toughens its stance on the use of such information in the face of mounting threats."


A friend of mine added: "Predictability. Corporate goals are generally predictable, not so much about politics/govt."

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Cold War according to a Tankie

C: What Kind of Superpower Will China Be? - The Atlantic

“Even in deep antiquity, the Chinese considered themselves better than other peoples because they believed that their civilization was civilization. This formed the basis of a worldview in which the Chinese sat atop the hierarchy. They did not believe in equal relationships, at least in official or ideological terms. Their world order, with its rules and norms, was based on the principle of Chinese superiority, and the acceptance of that superiority by all others. Traditionally, when the Chinese were forced into a subordinate or even an equal position with another power, usually due to military weakness, they resented it and tried to reassert their usual dominance when they were strong enough to turn the tables.

And it is happening again today. Seething at what they consider humiliations inflicted by Western powers—from the Opium War to what the Chinese call “unequal” treaties that sapped their sovereignty—China is on a mission to regain the upper hand. As Xi put it, the country “will never again tolerate being bullied by any nation.” That’s the goal behind much of his current policies, from a significant buildup of military capabilities to state-funded programs aimed at helping China overtake the West in technology. More and more, China’s diplomacy turns threatening when faced with challenges from other countries, whether the U.S., India, or Australia.”

The whole article is quite accurate.

A: The ‘China’s diplomacy turns threatening....’ sentence is ridiculous. So the US(in particular), India(increasingly so) and Australia don’t do this? Remember that time China stationed war ships off the coast of the US and built military bases in Canada and Mexico? Oh that’s right, it never happened. 🙄

C: Chinese warship targeted Philippine Navy vessel in West PH Sea – AFP

A: because the South China Sea is China’s only open side to the circle of military bases that sounds it. Of course China is going to aggressively defend that. The Soviet’s put one base in Cuba and the US almost started WW3, regardless of the troops and guns surrounding the USSR, in particular those in Turkey I believe it was

B: All hail all our past and current wise Communist leaders who have nothing but the well being of humanity in mind!

A: China is attempting to keep a border open. Sure there are other claims, almost exclusively from countries aligned to the US.

sure. The encirclement of USSR wasn’t provocation at all. And the Soviets had no right of response? Exactly the same policy we see towards China now. Pivot Asia is a deliberate containment policy, which by your logic PRC has to just accept.

Me: I guess it was the USSR's right to install puppet governments in Eastern Europe so they could act as buffer states because they were afraid of invasion

A: not like the US has ever done that. What’s your point?

Me: which puppet governments did the US install as puppet governments to be buffer states in case of invasion? Hawaii is part of the US

The point being that Justifying everything the ussr did as due to "provocation" leads you down some strange paths. But being able to only see one side of the conversation means I may be misinterpreting you

A: really? Puppet governments all over the globe. Korea, Indonesia, Chile. In Europe, basically every country thanks to NATO.

The Marshall plan literally made Western Europe a puppet state, all be it not by force. Italy, Greece and France arguably were.
Every country in SE Asia, so many in Latin America and Africa.
Not to mention the US’s support for the fascists in Spain and Portugal. West Germany and Japan were reconstructed out of former fascist regimes.
You don’t have any high ground here. At all.

Me: so by puppet government you mean any government that's not hostile to the US?

B: Sure, West Germany was built on the ruins of a facist regime. So was the GDR. Unlike the GDR, West Germany didn't shoot its citizens in the back when they tried leaving the country because it was trampling on their civil liberties. The Stasi was the true successor to the Gestapo; West Germany had nothing remotely similar. As to the Marshall Plan: Most historians agree that much of the European economic recovery was well under way before the Plan kicked in. It definitely got the US a lot of goodwill and for good reason (so did the Berlin Airlift). Far from Western Europe having to be coerced into an alliance with the US most countries were actively seeking it. Unlike the Soviets who had to kill to keep their satellite states in line (e.g. Czechoslovakia). Overall, you keep peddling a caricature of history that seeks to build an apology of totalitarian mass murderers while falsely claiming that it's all the fault of the "imperialist US".

Me: France was such a US puppet state that when it withdrawed from the NATO Integrated Military Command Structures, the US sent tanks into Paris to replace De Gaulle with a more pliable figurehead

B: Right, I totally forgot. That must have been censored in my German (but US-controlled) school history books.

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