Rallying the Tropes

The Left Aims to Pressure Big Tech to Silence Conservatives

That headline misses the real point. Oh, that’s part of it, but the real agenda is even more corrupt. Scarborough is advancing AOC’s call for regulating thought. Maim Scream Media™ just wants to write the regulations.

Normally a vicious attack by some noxious leftwing blowhards on a leftwing corporatist institution warms my heart, but this is actually an attempt by an increasingly irrelevant group of mendacious talking heads to weaponize the First Amendment against a rival which is eating their lunch.

And note that a Duck-Duck-Go search for – AOC’s call for regulating media – and the same search on Google search using the ‘!g’ parameter via Duck-Duck-Go, returns no reporting on AOC’s demand from CBS, NBC, NPR, ABC, NYT, WaPo, etc. etc..

Fox News, Reason Magazine, Forbes, and foreign papers, yes. But not the fifth columnists hiding behind a narrow definition of the word “press” in the First Amendment.

Seeing like a State

From our friends at the International Monetary Fund comes this innovation.

“Credit scoring using so-called hard information (income, employment time, assets and debts) is nothing new. Typically, the more data is available, the more accurate is the assessment. But this method has two problems. First, hard information tends to be “procyclical”: it boosts credit expansion in good times but exacerbates contraction during downturns.

The second and most complex problem is that certain kinds of people, like new entrepreneurs, innovators and many informal workers might not have enough hard data available…

Fintech resolves the dilemma by tapping various nonfinancial data: the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet, the history of online searches and purchases. Recent research documents that, once powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, these alternative data sources are often superior than [sic] traditional credit assessment methods, and can advance financial inclusion, by, for example, enabling more credit to informal workers and households and firms in rural areas.”

“[C]an advance financial inclusion…” By definition, then, it can advance credit exclusion.

Websites, Twitter accounts, YouTube videos, hosting platforms, and credit card processing are all already being cancelled, shadowbanned, disappeared and denied for political reasons. Now they propose to use your computer model, search history, and the sites you visit to determine your credit score.

If you visit the Southern Poverty Law Center too often, or QAnon more frequently than you “should” according to some algorithm; if you search for “All Lives Matter” or “Green Nude Eel;” if you use a Chromebook or an obscure brand tablet – then your credit score may suffer. That could turn out to be the least of your problems.

I can’t count the number of times people have told me they aren’t worried about such corporate espionage when I point out what Facebook really is, or tell them why to use Duck-Duck-Go instead of Google search. “I’m not doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide.” The problem, I explain, is that they aren’t the ones who decide that.

“The old cliché is often mocked though basically true: there’s no reason to worry about surveillance if you have nothing to hide. That mindset creates the incentive to be as compliant and inconspicuous as possible: those who think that way decide it’s in their best interests to provide authorities with as little reason as possible to care about them. That’s accomplished by never stepping out of line. Those willing to live their lives that way will be indifferent to the loss of privacy because they feel that they lose nothing from it. Above all else, that’s what a Surveillance State does: it breeds fear of doing anything out of the ordinary by creating a class of meek citizens who know they are being constantly watched.”

~ Glenn Greenwald

Can’t say that

Yesterday, I wrote about Rutger’s efforts to eliminate grammar from English language studies, providing a couple of examples of how that might go askew:

“[Writing] “Protest, shootings, and arson,” rather than “Protest shootings and arson,” might pass in an Applied Critical Theory class where there is only one possible meaning…”

“A Masters (A word on the way out, and I don’t think we can use “He da man,” either.) in English is now a purely political credential.”

There is a long and growing list of words which are being assigned purely political application. One must be cautious in finding alternatives.

Here’s someone who wasn’t:
Why I decided to take the word ‘chief’ out of my CEO title to respect Indigenous people

Catherine Roome, the former CEO in question, is now is president and lead executive officer of Technical Safety BC.

I fear she didn’t take enough time to think this change through, even as a team formerly known as the Redskins provided an example of careful consideration by relabelling themselves as the Washington Football Team while working their way through the critical race linguistic minefield.

Ms. Roome’s new title of Lead Executive Officer has a couple of problems. First, the very concept of leadership presumes merit-based anti-egalitarianism. Second, and most damning, LEO is also a widely used acronym for Law Enforcement Officer.

Since we are allowed only one political meaning per term, I’d say law enforcement officer wins on seniority.

Now. On to “executive.”

One who can make significant decisions on their own authority. A position that coordinates and governs the action of others; supervisor

And “officer.”

One who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization, especially in military, police or government organizations. A respectful term of address for an officer, especially a police officer.

These words would seem of limited use in our new woke world, and subject to banning at any moment.

One might think congratulations are due future holders of Rutgers English degrees for having improved job prospects as English Sanitation Clerks, except they will never have heard the words they’re trying to sanitize.

Movie review

BUMPED. Update at the end.

The Rise Of Jordan Peterson

I bought this because of my interest in Jordan Peterson and because it received some good reviews as a dispassionate presentation of how a University of Toronto psychology professor suddenly became a world famous, polarizing “public intellectual.”

I was disappointed. I found it superficial and unenlightening. There are a lot of interleaved, ten second soundbites: Pro/con, “He is the ultimate father figure.”/“So, you’re anti-justice. Are you a Batman villain?” There’s a “what” to this documentary, but we are left to wonder why anyone holds such opinions.

This film doesn’t help in understanding the virality of a intellectual cultural phenom whose dozens of 2.5 hour University lectures attract ~5 million views each on YouTube. Or why an assistant professor of sociology will grade any paper mentioning Peterson with an “F;” seeming to confirm one of Peterson’s criticisms of the modern University.

Strictly as a documentary, it very nearly does manage to take no position. As an examination of Peterson’s ‘rise’ it is short on context or background.

Peterson’s objections to Bill C-16 gave him a viral blip when he publicly objected to compelled use of whimsical, invented pronouns: His corpus of prior work made him a phenomenon.

In fact, it’s the hundreds of hours of video he already had published that protected him from the SJW mob (and, until the Bill C-16 blip, was the motivation for the filmmakers to create this movie). There is no sign in this history of the patriarchal, sexist, transphobic, authoritarian, fascist thinking with which he is charged. A point which is not made evident in the film, despite a few truncated clips of his earlier work.

There’s much, much, much more explanation of Peterson’s rise in the video record preceding his tussle with the Canadian nanny-state. Peterson’s rise was propelled by the fact that he is a charismatic speaker and a powerful teacher.

The filmmakers’ attempt at even-handedness may be sincere, but the overall impression is more that Peterson promoted a free speech controversy as a way to enrich himself, not that he was risking his career. For an American audience, without a sense that freedom of speech in Canada is clinging to a cliff by one hand, the film is simply puzzling.

Supposed allies are shown expressing trepidation about Peterson’s outspokenness. This objection is to be expected from most Canadians, whose government has an uneasy relationship with freedom of speech and who are congenitally uncomfortable with controversy. See Mark Steyn, Lindsay Shepherd, etc..

And there are unanswered, factually incorrect slurs. A former supporter turned critic finds evidence of authoritarian impulses in Peterson’s collection of Soviet-era art (prominent in the movie). The reasons for this art are precisely the opposite of what is implied. If Peterson was asked for a response, it’s on the cutting room floor. Here is that response from an interview of Peterson:

[Tyler] COWEN: Let me start with a very lateral question. Why do you collect old Communist memorabilia and propaganda?

PETERSON: Well, part of it is dark comedy. Really, I spent quite a bit of time on eBay for a number of years. And I had read this article by a psychologist named James Pennebaker. He said that the past turned into history at 15 years. That’s when you start to see people commemorate events in the past. At that point, it was 2004, and I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. It’s 15 years since the Soviet Union collapsed. Maybe I can go online and see what historical memorabilia is left over.”

So I went on eBay, looking up Soviet artifacts, and I thought that was so comical because there isn’t anything more capitalistic than eBay, right? Seriously, that was completely unrestrained capitalism. And then all this Soviet-era stuff was for sale. I thought it was absolutely comical that I could buy paintings of Karl Marx discounted on the world’s most intense capitalist platform…

Some of it is intensely propagandistic, and I’m interested in that because I’m interested in propaganda… So it was interesting to surround myself with these works that were battlegrounds between art and propaganda.

Here’s a vastly better look at Jordan Peterson from the Claremont Review of Books: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon and it takes less time to read than it takes to watch the movie.

I was quite disappointed, and it caused me to wonder if those cancel culturists pressing theaters to scrub scheduled showings (that link also has a positive review, for contrast) had any idea what was in it. They couldn’t have watched it. Maybe that was just a marketing ploy by the producers.

2 stars anyway, because I learned more about his parents and his family via of the access Peterson granted.

**************

Update: March 10th, 2020
I’ve watched a Q&A with the filmmakers arranged by Columbia University (the filmmakers have established a presence on thinkspot, Peterson’s Patreon replacement), wherein they explained how they approached the filming. And where they answered some of my objections. I was impressed with their commitment to truth. I withdraw my suspicion of ‘marketing ploy.’

I can be persuaded by speech to change my speech.

So. I re-read the favorable review at Quillette. I watched the film again. I’m changing my rating.

If your expectations are informed by some knowledge of Peterson: That the pronoun controversy only triggered ‘The Rise,’ and that that ‘Rise’ would have been a two-day wonder, and only in Canada, and flaming out in a dog-pile of SJW hatred except for the preexisting, deep background of his lectures – then the movie is well worth watching for the peek into his life and family.

I’ll give it 4 stars on that basis.

Jordan Peterson was always the guy who would calmly expose Cathy Newman. We just would never have known it but for Bill C-16.