PSA

Internet safety notes modeled after advice to some friends, most of whom are aware of my IT paranoia.  You may find it useful, or not. 

Presently, I’m using Firefox because Apple updated Safari, permanently breaking 3 of 4 add-ons I considered very important to safe browsing.  I checked out some other browsers (Brave, Opera…) because I didn’t really want to go back to Firefox after they trashed their CEO several years ago for a campaign contribution.  I went back to Firefox anyway because it offered add-ons that met my needs.  My configuration is described below:

First, I use the built in Firefox blocking (trackers, 3rd party cookies, cryptominers and fingerprinters) and set “delete all cookies and site data upon closing Firefox” to “yes.”  Also, delete all history upon exit.  I set the location, camera, microphone and notifications permissions to my satisfaction.  Call it “Hell, no!”. 

I block pop-up windows, I get warned if a website tries to install an add-on, deceptive content is blocked (I have to accept Firefox’ opinion on this or override it).  I run the certificate checking options.

Add-ons:

Second, I use DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.  This has a very simple interface for tracker blocking.  It should be redundant, as should several items listed below.  I think of it as just another layer.  I never use Google for search, except through an option (!g) provided by DuckDuckGo.

Third, NoScript.  To watch YouTube, for example, I have to temporarily allow YT to run scripts.  You can do that permanently if you get annoyed.  I erase them immediately after watching a video with the sixth item, below.

Fourth, I have a Firefox add-on called Multi-Account Containers.  It lets you set categories named whatever strikes your fancy, and assign to those categories any URL(s) you wish.  This creates separate containers for websites by category. Cookies downloaded by one Container are not visible to other Containers.  You will immediately see the advantage of isolating the cookies. Facebook could not see any of my Twitter visits for example, even if I used either of them.

Fifth, I use Privacy Badger from EFF.  Another simple interface blocker.  Presents sliders in red, yellow, green about the tracking attempts.  Again, should be redundant.

Sixth, there is a Clear Browsing Data add-on which I use immediately after visiting any site I’m forced to use.  I will know what URLs were the offenders by having had to permit them in one or more of the above add-ons.  It deletes:
Cookies
Browsing history
Cached images and files
Autofill form data
Download history
Service Workers
Plugin data
Saved passwords
IndexedDB data
Local storage data

Seventh, Canvasblocker.  Which blocks pixel image based trackers.  SB redundant to the builtin Firefox option on fingerprinting.

Also, in front of that, and applying to all traffic (email, for example) are Freedome VPN and F-Secure X-Fence.  The VPN makes my IP appear to come from Miami, New York, or elsewhere depending on my mood.  I switch randomly.  It also encrypts all the traffic so my ISP has no idea what I’ve done and can’t commercialize any of my interactions.  Freedome also provides a list of “harmful” websites and you have to override warnings to see them.  Interestingly, I’ve reported half-a-dozen false positives to Freedome and they’ve removed the blocks.  I’m pretty sure the complaints which caused them to red-flag those sites came from SJWs.  Nothing remotely harmful to the sane was on any of them.

X-Fence monitors every attempt to write anything on my machine.  (Turn it off for any software update.)  It lets me decide to allow or deny; once, until quit, until restart, or forever.  Of course, you have to let your browser write cookies, or it won’t work, but then the add-ons above come into play.  I’m able to block incessant ‘updates’ from Adobe and other apps.  These are not cookies, but executables, and they are still trackers.

At first, this whole thing can be a big pain.  Especially X-Fence.  You have to decide which of many arcane processes you will allow, though the “learning mode” eases that pain considerably.  This is true to some extent with NoScript, too.  After a week, this drops off dramatically and you will have learned a lot.

Should you not wish to go to this trouble, I’d recommend Privacy Badger, Firefox Privacy, DuckDuckGo Privacy and Multi-Account Containers.

I can’t comment on the level of interaction required for just that subset, but I’m sure it will break some sites and require your intervention (you can just turn off the first 3 and I anticipate no problem from the cookie isolator) if something doesn’t work.  I have customized my banking, for example – it is interesting when they change their scripts and cookies – it lets me look at what they’ve done and it would surely cause a spoofed website to fail.

Oh, and I run Sophos malware scanning in real time.  

All the above are free excepting the VPN.

The Punish Oppressive Ancestry Act

My Testimony on Reparations
-Coleman Hughes

Well, if we’re gonna do this, I like the idea that Democrats and descendants of Democrats disproportionately pay more for it. I mean who attempted secession, filled the ranks of the KKK, kicked blacks out of US civil service jobs, passed Jim Crow laws, blocked schoolhouse doors, and set the dogs on black protesters?

Call it the Woodrow Wilson, ‘Bull’ Conner, Robert Byrd, George Wallace Apology Tour, and make all the Dem Presidential candidates refer to it in every campaign speech.

And… And, let’s add some money for the descendants of Union soldiers killed in the Civil War.

John Frémont is weeping

Democratic Socialists need not point to Sweden for an example. Open Borders advocates need not look as far as Germany. Both policies are being tried right here in the United States. And failing.

Here’s a textbook lesson in squandering huge economic, geographic, and entrepreneurial advantages:
America’s First Third-World State.
-Victor Davis Hanson

Sad.

Update 3:44PM. Marrying the neo-feudalist pretensions of the Silicon Valley Tech Titans to the authoritarian bent of California politicians, Joel Kotkin at Quillette has a compelling analysis.

Complementary to Hanson, but maybe even more devastating to California.
What Do the Oligarchs Have in Mind for Us?

Implementing 1984

A moderately long look at some who are stubbornly NeverTrump.

The unending hyperbole, hypocritical ‘civility’ overreach, and fawning compromise with the Woke Progressives is beyond tiresome. It’s beyond ‘Trump tiresome.’

I’ve accused Trump of ruining the definition of conservative, but French, Kristol, et. al. are worse.

What they’re conserving is their supposed virtue. In which they find common cause with the SJW cadre. So, they’re helping the Progs redefine ‘virtue’ and ‘civility.’ Along with ‘equality,’ ‘safe,’ ‘free speech,’ ‘violence,’ ‘racism,’ ‘sexism,’ ‘merit,’ ‘rape,’ ‘capitalism,’ ‘science,’ and ‘gender.’ IOW, the comitted NeverTrumpers are choosing to ignore the undermining of our culture in favor of genteel acceptance of ‘freedom is slavery.’

JICYMI

‘Ideological Enforcement:’ Twitter Blocks Heritage Foundation Director Over Trans Sports Tweet

Expert Psychologist Blocked on Twitter for Expressing Clinical Opinion on Transgenderism

Twitter is a virus of the mind

I have a GAB account, @Hershblogger, but I don’t use it a lot. Just don’t remember to, and AFAIK there’s no API to connect it to new posts.

Little did I know…

…when I wrote Victimhood competence hierarchies that the College Board would so quickly compound the difficulty of picking the most oppressed group by applying “adversity scoring” modifiers to Scholastic Aptitude Test results.

The College Board’s adversity score will give students a boost for coming from a high-crime, high-poverty school and neighborhood, according to the Wall Street Journal. Being raised by a single parent will also be a plus factor. Such a scheme penalizes the bourgeois values that make for individual and community success.

In my defense, the Board’s attempt isn’t nearly as comprehensive as my proposal, though it suffers the same difficulties even for the subset of the victim/oppressor ratio it purports to capture by shifting racial preferences to a large set of highly correlated demographic, economic, and other cherry-picked factors that retain the ‘advantage’ of disadvantaging East Asians:

Adversity Index

College Board’s new tool seeks to provide environmental context behind students’ test scores by measuring adversity in their neighborhoods, families and schools.

Neighborhood environment
Crime rate
Poverty rate
Housing values
Vacancy rate

Family environment
Median income
Single parent
Adversity score
Education level
ESL

High school environment
Undermatching
Curricular rigor
Free lunch rate
AP opportunity
Source: College Board.

I do wonder about the inclusion of “Adversity score” in the calculation of Adversity score. If it’s the same thing both cases it’s a formula Excel would refuse to calculate as a ‘circular reference.’ Using the result of your calculation as input to your calculation is… well, interesting. It does give the College Board a chance to to iterate the calculation until a specific numeric condition is met.

“Adversity scoring” is a good example of a problem I pointed out in my victims’ hierarchy post: Just as a prejudicial firmament gets well established – race based preferences for college admissions, for example – someone comes along and adds more grievance factors you neglected to consider. That’s a feature to the SocJus folks, not a bug. It lets them make up rules to fit the currently fashionable oppression narrative.

I think Heather Mac Donald’s phrase “Grievance Proxies” is catchier than my “Victim competence hierarchies,” though it does not capture the amusing proliferation of victim-group supremacy competitions.

A bridge too close

Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.
-John Locke

And nobody has to accept his claim his rights supercede their rights.

Trans ‘rights’ advocates are pushing past a once distant bridge.  They have the same rights as the rest of us.  Not among those rights is immunity to charges of indecent exposure because of their self-perception.

“[W]hat threat could possibly unite radical feminists and Christian women conservatives?

This: Feminists, Conservatives Join Forces to Oppose ‘Equality Act’

We should tolerate everyone’s perceived personhood. So long as it’s merely psychological, and not infringing.

We can be civil, nothing more is required, without having to agree with their opinion. Or being forced to use their pronouns, share bathrooms with them, or date them.

We should not let a tiny, arguably delusional, minority define personhood as “whatever I think I am at the moment.”

We should not legislate such transitory, whimsical definitions.

Choices

Gender feminist theory predicts we’d see nearly equal employment of males and females in all occupations if we could erase the ‘patriarchy.’

In STEM and managerial positions there would be more women; in health care and K-12 teaching there would be more men (a side effect of no real interest). That this is not the case is indisputable evidence of pervasive discrimination based on sex.  (Except, of course, for dangerous, physical jobs like lumberjack, oil rigger, lineman…)

The intersectionalists leading those feminists (i.e., almost all of them) are quite certain this misogyny results from the evils of capitalism, insufficient government dictation of female-friendly employment rules, and paucity of financial incentives favoring females. In short, any difference in male vs. female outcome results from deep systemic suppression of female choice.  Don’t doubt this.  James Damore did, and look what happened to him.

The root cause is white male privilege – of which capitalism and too little government coercion are but symptoms. I’m sure I’ve left out much else of the intersectionalist potpourri, but life is short.

Drawing lines from every situation ever encountered by humans to meet at a grand conspiracy theory nexus (so long as such drawing elevates your identity group’s oppression quotient) can be lots of fun, I guess. It keeps you occupied, and gives you all the perks of victimhood. Still, blaming everyone else, over all of history, for everything that isn’t perfect in your present society seems like more work than any supposed insight might be worth.

This is the theory upon which the current feminist societal prescription rests. Let’s examine some outcomes where it has been tested.  Emphasis mine.

Countries with Higher Levels of Gender Equality Show Larger National Sex Differences in Mathematics Anxiety and Relatively Lower Parental Mathematics Valuation for Girls
-Plos One, 2016

“We propose that while economic considerations may play a more prominent role in STEM-related interest for individuals living in less developed countries, intrinsic subject-specific interest will play a more important role in educational and occupational attitudes and choices for individuals living in countries with higher levels of economic well-being. When the relative role of interests become more important than the financial drivers, and when men and women have more freedom to pursue their intrinsic interests, the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed [74–77]. Altogether, these patterns might explain why girls benefit less than boys in terms of reduced mathematics anxiety. For example, in more developed countries in which people engage more in activities that intrinsically interest them, girls might not engage in STEM activities as much as boys, giving them less opportunity to reduce their negative feelings about mathematics…”

In sum, wealthy societies provide more opportunity for choice. This should not be surprising. But, put another way: Free market capitalism is most likely to indulge individual “intrinsic interests.” It is a superior economic system in terms of choice – regardless of sex. And, “the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed,” suggests men and women pick activities and occupations most appealing to them. Differences in outcome would not, then, appear to be the result of a conspiracy to oppress women.

There is more evidence for this conclusion:

The Gender Scandal: Part One (Scandinavia) and Part Two (Canada)
-Jordan Peterson, 2018

“Given that differences in temperament and interest help determine occupational choice, and that difference in occupational choice drives variability in such things as income, it follows that political doctrines that promote equality of opportunity also drive inequality of outcome.”

When barriers to choice are lowered more choices will be made according to individual preference. Outcomes will then vary according to “temperament and interest.” This is also what the feminists claim. What they don’t like is that the result confounds their prediction. More choice does not appear to make females more nearly identical to males.

In fact, the opposite happens:

Sex differences in personality are larger in gender equal countries: Replicating and extending a surprising finding
-International Journal of Psychology, 2018

Sex differences in personality have been shown to be larger in more gender equal countries. We advance this research by using an extensive personality measure, the IPIP‐NEO‐120, with large country samples (N > 1000), from 22 countries. Furthermore, to capture the multidimensionality of personality we measure sex differences with a multivariate effect size (Mahalanobis distance D). Results indicate that past research, using univariate measures of effect size, have underestimated the size of between‐country sex differences in personality. Confirming past research, there was a strong correlation (r = .69) between a country’s sex differences in personality and their Gender Equality Index. Additional analyses showed that women typically score higher than men on all five trait factors (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), and that these relative differences are larger in more gender equal countries. We speculate that as gender equality increases both men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender roles.”

This next is related (though men and women compete in separate chess tournaments, and for reasons similar to the idea that it is unfair for male and female athletes to compete head to head):

Which countries are best for creating and encouraging women chess players?
-Marginal Revolution, 2019

“To oversimplify only a wee bit, it is the countries with less gender equality which have more female chess players, relative to male chess players. Here is some description:

Denmark is the worst country in our list of participation, with only one female player to roughly 50 males, while the rest of Scandinavia as well as most of western Europe also languish at the bottom.

On the other hand, some of the best countries show evidence of the effect of female role models, and would be no surprise to players familiar with women’s chess history. Georgia (ranked 5th) and China (ranked 4th) both featured multiple women’s World Champions. There are also some high rates from a few unexpected sources: Vietnam (1st), the United Arab Emirates (2nd), Indonesia (8th), and even Kenya (12th) really buck the trend. Interestingly, a lot of the best countries for female chess players are in Asia. Besides Vietnam, there are five other countries in the best ten, and if I am a little more lenient with the chess population cut-offs, Mongolia and Tajikistan would also be in there.

Here is one cited hypothesis:

Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?

I consider that to be possible, but unconfirmed. In any case, the lesson is that gender imbalance in a particular field can be correlated with greater equality of opportunity overall.”

Let’s look at the number of women in senior business positions in the most gender equal countries:

Nordic Welfare States Worsen the Gender Gap
-National Review, 2018

“Saadia Zahidi, senior director and head of gender parity and human capital at the World Economic Forum, has stated that “while patterns vary across the Nordic countries, on the whole, these economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates…”

So how are women faring in the modern Nordic welfare states? They’re doing quite well in many ways. Nordic societies have a large share of women active in the workplace, perhaps the most gender-equal attitudes in the world, and a tradition of women’s empowerment in the political sphere.

One might expect this to translate into many women reaching the top of the business world. But this clearly is not the case. In a new policy study for the Cato Institute, I show that the share of women among managers, as recorded by the International Labour Organization, is 43 percent in the United States, compared with 36 percent in Sweden and 28 percent in Denmark.

Comparing the Nordic countries with each other, a pattern emerges: Those with more extensive welfare-state policies have fewer women on top. Iceland, which has a moderately sized welfare state, has the most women managers. Second is Sweden, which has opened up welfare services such as education, health care, and elder care for private-sector competition. Denmark, which has the highest taxes and the biggest welfare state in the modern world, has the lowest share of women in managerial positions.”

So, managerial employment is inversely proportional to gender equity and statism. This is a correlation, not a cause.  But it is not a single example, and requires an explanation.  It does prove that the policy structure demanded by feminists is not producing the results they expect and desire.

Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality
-Science, 2018

“What contributes to gender-associated differences in preferences such as the willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust? Falk and Hermle studied 80,000 individuals in 76 countries who participated in a Global Preference Survey and compared the data with country-level variables such as gross domestic product and indices of gender inequality. They observed that the more that women have equal opportunities, the more they differ from men in their preferences…”

[H]igher levels of economic development and gender equality favor the manifestation of gender differences in preferences across countries. Our results highlight the critical role of availability of material and social resources, as well as gender-equal access to these resources, in facilitating the independent formation and expression of gender-specific preferences.”

More simply, free market capitalism enables a luxury good – a focus on gender equality of opportunity – and when gender equality is maximized the differences in chosen employment increase.

I’m not sure if the intersectional feminists would argue that the reason fewer women choose to play chess, to pursue a career in STEM, or to aspire to managerial positions when its made easier for them to do so, is that they are subjugated by culture from the womb. It seems like one of the few arguments that would explain why their theory has been not just ineffective, but counterproductive.

With that claim, though, they would be hinting that many women in advanced countries are too dumb to see ‘the way’ when it’s shown to them.

Human personality is complex, more so because not every decision is rational, and there may be other explanations than individual interest/temperament/choice. Still, feminism is left to explain why less support, less equity, less freedom for women… results in more parity (as defined by equal outcomes) for women.

Encouraging women to be more like men has backfired if the goal is equal outcomes.

Maybe the definition of “gender gap” isn’t what we’ve been told it is. The science tends to show it’s a choice gap.  That’s very hard to ‘correct.’  You’d need government to enforce it.

So, if we want numerical equality of, say employment outcome, what we’re left with is making men more like women. This is the impetus for the toxic masculinity campaign.

Skills gap 2

Quillette is a gem.

I find this, A Victory for Female Athletes Everywhere, a compelling, thoughtful (fairly long) article from a person highly qualified to comment (emphasis mine):

“As an academic, I appreciate the value of intellectual inquiry that challenges our socially constructed defaults. As someone born into a mixed-race family steeped in the civil rights movement—my father was black and my mother was white—I was nurtured to recognize the harm that social constructions about race and sex can do to subordinated individuals, groups and societies. As the wife of a black man and the mother of two black sons, my radar for both explicit and implied racism is finely tuned. As a woman, a feminist and a lawyer, I have an abiding commitment to anti-discrimination norms, and to race and sex discrimination laws in particular. As a humanist, I believe that each one of us has the right to self-identify.”

She doesn’t even mention her pioneering, elite athletic background. She is highly likely to vote Progressive (‘socially constructed’, ‘implied racism’, ‘subordinated individuals’), so the usual SJW ad hominem counter arguments are blunted – and she deals with them, IAC.

I am struck by the implications for the core political debate about what the word “equality” implies. There’s a faction insisting it means equality of opportunity and a faction insisting it means equality of outcome. Gender feminists have been in the latter group, claiming different outcomes ipso facto prove discrimination based on sex. However, there is some tension (you might say cognitive dissonance) for that subset of those gender feminists (the so-called Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) who want to preserve a traditional definition of the word “female” in the face of trans-sexual attack. And attack is the right word… If anyone can decide, moment to moment, that they are female without reference to biology – what’s the point of “Women’s Studies.”

It turns out, in the case of female athletics (a proxy for the ‘real world’), that you can’t even approach equality of outcome without equality of opportunity. No XX has the opportunity if XY is allowed to directly compete, so the outcome is no females on the podium for one definition of “female.”

It’s delicious watching them hoist by their own petard. If they stumble upon a bit of introspection, maybe they’ll apply the lesson to their prattle about the “wage gap.”

James Damore is laughing.