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Links and Notes for November 27th, 2020


<n>Below are links to articles, highlighted passages<fn>, and occasional annotations<fn> for this week, <a href="{app}/view_article.php?id=4085">enriching the raw data</a> from <a href="">Instapaper Likes</a> and <a href="">Twitter</a>. They are intentionally succinct, else they'd be <i>articles</i> and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.</n> <ft><b>Emphases</b> are added, unless otherwise noted.</ft> <ft>Annotations are only lightly edited.</ft> <h>Finance & Economy</h> <a href="" source="CEPR" author="Dean Baker">The Krugman Boom: Don’t Bank on It</a> <bq>In many ways this is great news. People will save hundreds of hours a year on commuting. We will also see large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating unnecessary travel. (This will be recorded as a drop in GDP, which is yet another case where GDP is not a good measure of well-being. In effect, <b>we are eliminating work-related expenses that provide little welfare to anyone.</b> I discuss this issue more <a href="">here</a>.)</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="The Paris Review" author="Dubravka Ugresic">Long Live Work!</a> <bq>[...] <b>research from 2007 shows that fewer than half of the Germans living in what used to be East Germany were pleased with the current market economy, and nearly half of them desired a return to socialism.</b> As a return to the previous order is now unimaginable, the lethargic East German grumblers have been given a consolation prize, a little nostalgic souvenir, a MasterCard and on it the face of Karl Marx, designed and issued by a bank in the city known today as Chemnitz, though earlier it was called Karl-Marx-Stadt.</bq> <bq><b>Our modern fairy tale about the seventeen-hour workday has been cooked up as consolation for the losers.</b> Who are the majority, of course.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="SubStack" author="Matt Taibbi">Pandemic Villains: Allianz Global Investors</a> <bq>The plaintiffs in these suits all essentially allege the same thing: that the Allianz fund managers, rather than deal with the reality of working for free for any length of time, concocted a lunatic Hail Mary pass not to rescue their clients’ investments, but their own fees. <b>If the crazy options-based strategy worked, great. If not, the fund would likely either liquidate itself, or the clients themselves would pull their investments. A win-win, unless you happened to be the one with your life’s savings invested.</b></bq> <bq>The Allianz bets were a bit more creative in their craziness than AIGFP’s, but the basic dynamic was the same: a handful of finance pros taking indefensibly reckless positions with other peoples’ money in pursuit of personal compensation.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="CounterPunch" author="Jack Rasmus">The Fed Man Song</a> <bq quote-style="single">[...] <b>the Fed so far this year has pumped this more than $7 trillion into investors, bankers, and big corporations, who then conveniently diverted most of that ‘free money’ into financial markets, driving up stock price values to current record levels.</b> The Fed’s $7 trillion breaks down thus: <ul> $3.2T of QE bond buying from the Fed so far this year (including $120B more each month for Nov.-Dec.) $1.5T more the Fed pumped into Repo markets for banks and shadow banks this past year $2T in corporations’ issuing new corporate bonds at super low interest rates since February, made possible by the Fed reducing interest rates to near zero $300B in corporations borrowing down their credit lines at banks due to Fed enabled super low rates."</ul></bq> <bq><b>The US alone has reduced investor-business taxes by $15 Trillion since 2001</b>, including Trump’s 2018 tax cuts costing more than $4T. Then there’s another $650B in taxes that were cut just this past March in the Cares Act as well. QE and low rates have been the norm since at least 2009.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="SubStack" author="Ranjan Roy">DoorDash and Societal Arbitrage</a> <bq>I was more curious <b>how a company last valued at $16 billion</b>, and rumored to be looking for a $25 billion valuation at IPO, with $1.9 billion of revenue in 9 months, <b>would be allowed to be called 'emerging' and get to avoid regulatory disclosures.</b></bq> <bq>The goal of exempting companies from Section 404 costs was to spur smaller IPOs. Of course, a number of big tech companies now take the exemption. Peloton, Palantir, even Twitter back in the day - they all claimed the status. There's something perfectly Softbankian about it becoming standard practice for <b>companies worth billions of dollars to claim an exemption brought about to help allay costs for small businesses.</b></bq> <bq>It’s all within the rules. The regulatory rules. The labor rules. The antitrust rules. The consumer protection rules. Full credit to Tony Xu and their team - they have out-executed every competitor. They are winning this weird and twisted game of heavily-funded food delivery apps.</bq> <bq>Building a business model that relies on a permanent underclass under the doublespeak of "entrepreneurship" and "freedom", and then spending tens of millions to make sure that you will never have to provide health insurance to your workers will always continue on if it's allowed.</bq> <bq>While we were laughing about $8 in pizza arbitrage profits, Doordash built a $25 billion business powered by a combination of regulatory and labor arbitrage. While Doordash’s messy financial controls ended with us swapping a few pizzas, <b>our broken regulatory system has fundamentally reshaped the economy in a way that allows Doordash to extract billions in revenue during a time of national crisis.</b></bq> <bq>If your business model wouldn’t make sense hiring W2 employees and paying payroll tax and health insurance, just call it a new way of gig work, and avoid all those costs. If consumers are not receptive to your service at a breakeven price point, find billions of dollars in Softbank money to subsidize the service to build a new consumer habit. <b>If you don’t want to deal with the compliance costs that companies far smaller than you take on to go public, call yourself an ‘emerging growth company’.</b></bq> <bq>And that’s the question we all need to be asking ourselves, what do we want a post-pandemic world to look like. Should it just be an extension of where we are today?</bq> <bq>The death of local restaurants will simply be collateral damage as Doordash moves on to its vision of creating a “local logistics” platform, partnering with more national chains like CVS. <b>More industries move to a 'gig economy' model, turning the nature of work into some Black Mirror-ian gamified fight for scraps, exacerbating every element of income inequality.</b></bq> <bq>A hidden loophole, meant for small businesses, co-opted by multibillion-dollar tech companies to avoid accountability, just because they can.</bq> <h>Science</h> <a href="" source="CEPR" author="Dean Baker">Moderna Vaccine Follows Pfizer with Very Strong Results on Effectiveness: What This Means</a> <bq>Having drugs sold as generics in the free market would mean that paying for drugs would no longer be a major hurdle for most people. We would not see people cutting drugs in half or skipping doses because they couldn’t afford refills and wanted to stretch their supply further. We also would not see doctors prescribing inferior drugs because they wanted to save their patients money, or the insurer would not pay for a more expensive drug. <b>Doctors could prescribe the drug they considered best for a particular patient.</b></bq> <bq>The government coughed up a bit less than $1 billion and it looks like less than nine months later, we will have a highly effective vaccine. <b>That certainly would seem to indicate that the government can productively spend money to support the development of vaccines and presumably drugs as well.</b></bq> <bq>As I noted before, we had seen much collaboration in the early days of the pandemic, but that largely disappeared as companies raced to develop their own treatments and vaccines. <b>I was under the impression that several of the vaccines developed by Chinese companies, including two old-fashioned dead virus vaccines, were ahead of the U.S. vaccines in the testing process.</b> It is difficult to know whether this is the case, since we don’t have published results from the tests of these companies.</bq> <bq>We would not expect people in the United States to take a vaccine based on the UAE’s emergency use authorization or vague claims coming from China’s researchers. However, if we had gone a collaborative route, which would have required some agreement with China and other countries, our researchers would have full access, both to China’s results and the vaccines themselves.</bq> <bq>This means that our researchers could have performed their own tests to determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines developed by Chinese companies. If the UAE emergency use authorization in mid-September was based on solid evidence, it is possible that out researchers could have built on these results and obtained sufficient evidence to allow for the vaccine to be used here at a considerably earlier date than we now expect for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.</bq> <bq>In a trial, the ability to determine effectiveness depends largely on the number of infections in the control group. <b>Because the pandemic has spread so widely in the last couple of months, the companies saw a larger number of infections in their control group, which allowed them to have large and statistically significant differences with the treatment group</b>, sooner than they otherwise would have been the case.</bq> <bq>If U.S. policy had been more effective in controlling the pandemic, it would have taken longer to determine the vaccines’ effectiveness. <b>China has been testing its vaccines in Brazil, Pakistan, and other developing countries because it has been so successful in controlling the pandemic within its borders.</b></bq> <hr> <a href="" source="The Atlantic" author="Ed Yong">‘No One Is Listening to Us’</a> <bq>In the months since March, many Americans have habituated to the horrors of the pandemic. They process the election’s ramifications. They plan for the holidays. But <b>health-care workers do not have the luxury of looking away: They’re facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two.</b> In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago.</bq> <bq>Some health-care workers told me that <b>COVID-19 patients are the sickest people they’ve ever cared for</b>: They require twice as much attention as a typical intensive-care-unit patient, for three times the normal length of stay.</bq> <bq>In the imminent future, patients will start to die because there simply aren’t enough people to care for them. Doctors and nurses will burn out. <b>The most precious resource</b> the U.S. health-care system has in the struggle against COVID-19 isn’t some miracle drug. It’s <b>the expertise of its health-care workers</b>—and they are exhausted.</bq> <bq><b>Intensive-care units are called that for a reason.</b> A typical patient with a severe case of COVID-19 will have a tube connecting their airways to a ventilator, which must be monitored by a respiratory therapist. If their kidneys shut down, they might be on 24-hour dialysis. Every day, they’ll need to be flipped onto their stomach, and then onto their back again—a process that requires six or seven people.</bq> <bq>They’ll have several tubes going into their heart and blood vessels, administering <b>eight to 12 drugs—sedatives, pain medications, blood thinners, antibiotics, and more.</b> All of these must be carefully adjusted, sometimes minute to minute, by an ICU nurse.</bq> <bq>As hard as the work fatigue is, the “societal fatigue” is harder, said Hatton, the Utah pulmonary specialist. <b>He is tired of walking out of an ICU where COVID-19 has killed another patient, and walking into a grocery store where he hears people saying it doesn’t exist.</b></bq> <bq>Biden will inherit a health-care system that is battered at best and broken at worst, a polarized electorate, and many local leaders who are doubling down on bad policies.</bq> <bq>Preliminary results suggest that at least one effective vaccine is on the way. The choices made in the coming weeks will influence how many Americans die before they have a chance to receive it, and how many health-care workers are broken in the process.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="Reason" author="Ronald Bailey">Masks Not Very Effective at Protecting Wearers, Says New Danish Study</a> <bq>New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that <b>masks don't appear to protect the people wearing them, but are still likely to prevent sick people who wear them from spreading their illness.</b></bq> <bq>The Danish researchers apparently experienced difficulty in finding a journal to publish their results. Their study had reportedly been rejected by The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although I have no insight on the motivations of the editors of those journals, <b>it is never OK to suppress research findings on the grounds that they might be twisted and abused by unscrupulous ideologues.</b></bq> <bq>The accompanying Annals of Internal Medicine editorial pushed back against the suggestion that, given the politicization of mask-wearing as a public health measure, the journal was being "irresponsible" by publishing results that "could easily be misused by those opposed to mask recommendations." The editorial properly countered that it would be more irresponsible "to not publish the results of carefully designed research because the findings were not as favorable or definitive as some may have hoped. <b>We need to gather many pieces of evidence to solve the puzzle of how to control the [COVID-19] pandemic."</b></bq> <bq>The editorial concludes that the Danish study's "findings reinforce <b>the importance of social distancing and hygiene measures</b> and suggest that <b>masks likely need to be worn by most if not all people to reduce community infection rates</b>, which in turn will protect individuals."</bq> <h>Public Policy & Politics</h> <a href="" source="SubStack" author="Matt Taibbi">Meet the Censored: Ford Fischer</a> <bq>The Tulsa incident laid bare the obvious new skewing of the media’s financial landscape. Ford made some money covering the arrest of the woman in the “I Can’t Breathe” shirt, including by licensing to ABC, but YouTube demonetized the video on his channel, on the grounds that it depicted “severe real injury” or other types of prohibited violence. <b>However, almost exactly similar footage of the same scene shot by MSNBC is monetized on YouTube (Fischer even saw it used to air a Trump ad).</b> Similarly, footage he took of Confederate general Albert Pike’s statue being toppled was also demonetized, but when more “reputable” news organizations put up their own almost exactly similar videos, ads ran freely (an ad for “” ran on the Telegraph’s version, for instance).</bq> <bq>My source of profit, and one of the primary purposes of my work, is licensing to documentaries and news programs. I think it is almost immeasurable to know how much YouTube and Facebook's shadowy classification system has cost me in potential filmmakers and news outlets that didn't find my footage, because other outlets with similar content - such as AP, Reuters, and CSPAN - came up ahead of mine algorithmically.</bq> The centralization of the platform leads to monopoly sources leads to fewer viewpoints. <hr> <a href="" source="SubStack" author="Glenn Greenwald">The New Ruling Coalition: Opposition to Afghanistan Withdrawal Shows Its Key Factions</a> <bq>[...] is removing Trump from power a vital step in returning the U.S. to its previous status as a benevolent and law-abiding republic, or is isolating him as the principal cause of the nation’s woes a cynical propaganda tactic for whitewashing the sins of those who are actually responsible so that they can rebuild their reputations and again assume power? <b>Were Trump’s policies some radical, unprecedented aberration from U.S. political tradition or, stylistic quirks aside, a standard continuation of it?</b></bq> <bq>And thus did this union of pro-war Democrats, Cheney-led neocons, the intelligence community and their chosen mainstream media outlets succeed in providing the perfectly crafted tool at the most opportune moment to justify blocking an end to America’s longest war. That is precisely the same coalition that drowned U.S. politics for more than three years in the sustained, monomaniacal disinformation campaign about Putin’s takeover of the [...]</bq> <bq>I continue to regard the decision of Twitter and Facebook to block and suppress the ability to disseminate The New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop as one of the most shocking and alarming events of the last four years: political censorship cheered by most of the pro-Biden press.</bq> <bq>Numerous media outlets — NBC News, CNN, The New York Times — now employ stables of reporters whose primary function seems to be to act as hall monitor tattletales over the internet, flagging whatever person or group think they deserves to be censored from social media and then petulantly whining that Facebook and Twitter are failing in their sacred duties to regulate discourse.</bq> <bq><b>That our media “gatekeepers” have been the most prolific and destructive disseminators of misinformation — from the Iraq War to the 2008 financial crisis to unhinged Trump/Russia conspiracies — does not matter.</b> They believe they have a divine, inherent, and superior ability to determine truth from falsity and that society must be structured to ensure the power to regulate information remains firmly in their hands.</bq> <bq>The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news "objectively" and on the basis of professional news values.</bq> <bq>If you’re living in that self-glorifying fairy tale that places you on the front lines of fighting against a new and unprecedented fascist takeover of the U.S. — one that is perpetrated not by the CIA and FBI but which those agencies are steadfastly seeking to defeat in order to keep America safe for democracy — then it makes sense that you would swoon with delight and gratitude for this work.</bq> <bq><b>The departure of Trump is not going to rid us of this The-Fascists-Are-Coming movie. It’s been far too profitable a series for far too many institutions to let it go.</b> Even with Trump gone, they are going to use every FBI tactic to exaggerate the threat of these domestic movements to keep you in such a state of fear that you acquiesce to whatever powers they claim they need to defeat these forces of domestic right-wing darkness — just as they did in the Cold War with domestic Communism and after the Oklahoma City bombing when the Clinton Administration demanded backdoor internet access in the name of stopping right-wing militias and again after 9/11 when people like Newt Gingrich wanted to curb free speech in the name of stopping the threat of Islamic radicalism inside the U.S. <b>This playbook is as old and obvious as it is pernicious.</b></bq> <bq>If you’re a fan of corporate media outlets, if you are eager for Silicon Valley giants to more aggressively and unilaterally censor who can and cannot be heard online, if you believe that true power and authoritarianism rests not with the national security state and the political parties funded by oligarchical centers but in random fringe bands of your fellow citizens, then you are many things. A warrior against fascism and authoritarianism is most definitely not among them.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="" author="Patrick Buchanan">Beijing Sends Biden a Warning</a> <bq>While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lately sought to round up like-minded nations to stand up to China – Japan, Australia, India – there appears to be a reluctance, rooted in uncertainty as to whether Communist China or democratic America represents the future of Asia.</bq> Got it: Communist China vs. Democratic America. Simple as that. <hr> <a href="" source="CounterPunch" author="Patrick Cockburn">Robert Fisk had True Independence of Mind, Which is Why He Angered Governments and Parts of the Media</a> <bq>Robert, who died on 30 October, spent almost half a century reporting war and civil wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. <b>He understood that people who are trying to kill each other will not hesitate to lie about each other, and about anybody</b>, notably about journalists, whose information – particularly if it is true – they deem not to be in their interests.</bq> <bq>[...] there are some obituaries, negative in tone, which I nevertheless found interesting because they openly express a vision of what good journalism should be that is wholly contrary to what Robert practiced. At the heart of this was relentless and meticulous eyewitness reporting of events, a refusal to see complex conflicts in terms of black and white, while not surrendering to moral indifference and keeping a sense of outrage when confronted with real evil. Above all, perhaps, <b>he showed an unbending refusal to back down when what he said was being denied, denounced or ignored by politicians and the media.</b></bq> <bq>Derring-do in times of war usually gets good notices from the press and from public opinion, but moral endurance is a much rarer commodity, when the plaudits are replaced by abuse, often from <b>people who see a world divided between devils and angels and denounce anybody reporting less than angelic behaviour on the part of the latter for being secret sympathisers with the devil.</b></bq> <bq>Real journalism is a simple business, but exceptionally difficult to do well. Its purpose is to <b>find out significant news as fast as possible, disregard all efforts by governments, armies and media to suppress it, and pass that information on to the public so they can better judge what is happening in the world around them.</b> This is what Robert did and did it better than anybody else.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="CounterPunch" author="Nick Pemberton">Karl Marx Is The Only Dead Person Who Stopped Trump</a> <bq>Like Donald Trump, Joe Biden will be forgotten. Just as Trump is a means to stop Marxism, Biden is a means to stop Trumpism. They will be used and discarded, and rightfully so. Both men have egos disproportionate to their worth.</bq> <bq>but I do think if someone says systematic racism or whatever is bad but doesn’t support the movement against it then they simply don’t want change. Or at least this person is not willing to undergo the painful loss or the unsettling risk of real change. In any real rebellion things are lost and things could get worse. To oppose a rebellion is to support the status quo.</bq> How does he not see the irony that he just argued himself into supporting Biden? By his own argument: what counts is what people say they want; details don't matter. <bq>Now the criticism that comes at this movement must not be as reactionary as “looting is bad”. Generations of the rich looting from the poor and now the poor loot a little. Who cares. Seriously. If anything it makes our society more equal and therefore more safe. <b>From a moral perspective a poor person should always be allowed to steal from someone richer than them.</b></bq> You're losing me here, Nick. This is straight from the school of: two wrongs make a right. <bq>[...] Nobody makes money ethically or without blood on their hands.</bq> Now you've lost me completely. I understand making provocative statements---I'm usually quite a fan---but I can't see how you could defend that statement in any realistic way. <hr> <a href="" source="Arc Digital" author="Ben Burgis ">Racial Essentialism and the 2020 Election</a> <bq>Socialists often argue that the movement against police violence would be more effective if it were primarily framed as a matter of urgent self-interest for poor people of all races.</bq> <bq>Everyone has the same material needs, even if they didn’t all come to be deprived of those needs by the same historical path. As one of my favorite socialist scholars puts it, we don’t build solidarity “by going around the room to stress how profoundly we actually differ from one another.”</bq> <bq>There are black workers and black bosses, black landlords and black tenants, black DNC hacks and black protestors getting teargassed on the orders of black mayors. There are Jesse Lee Petersons and there are Cornel Wests. <b>Disappearing all of that into some flattened picture of Black People All Having Unified Black Thoughts is more than a little racist.</b></bq> <hr> <a href="" source="" author="Ted Rall">Why Democrats Lost and Will Keep Losing Elections</a> <bq>Every day sees some op-ed Ivy-educated columnist opining that voting for Trump means you’re a Klansman [...]</bq> <bq>Now the Democrats are at it again, setting the stage for yet another surprise loss. Because, yes, they just lost again. When you expect a “blue wave,” when you’re running against a president who lost hundreds of thousands of citizens and tens of millions of jobs the year of the election, when you expected to pick up tons of seats in the House and take back the Senate, and none of that happens and you just barely win the presidency in a squeaker, you basically got your ass kicked. Humility is in order. But it’s not on the menu.</bq> <bq>We all have to live together in one country until there’s a second Civil War. We don’t have to think the same or look the same. But in order to function as a society we do have to understand one another. <b>Liberals do not get Republicans or understand where they’re coming from. They don’t even care.</b> Until that attitude changes, Democrats will keep losing elections they ought to have won and will find it impossible to achieve tolerance from half the populace, much less consensus.</bq> <bq>But my rage paled next to those of men and women who lost six-figure salaries and wound up working as Walmart greeters—all because Democrats like Clinton were funded by contributions from corporations that wanted to sell to American consumers without hiring American workers in order to fatten their profits.</bq> <bq>The New York-based press ignored the rot and the misery in the country’s heartland. Only two politicians on the national scene acknowledged it: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. <b>After the Democrats kneecapped Sanders, that left Trump as the only candidate who understood that the part of America that let working people send their kids to college had been pretty great but no longer was.</b> He didn’t offer a credible reindustrialization policy.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="Simple Justice" author="Scott H. Greenfield">Opportunity Cost of Certitude</a> <bq>Bret Stephens calls it a “factory of certitudes,” which is certainly correct, but inadequate. There is nothing, per se, wrong with certitude if it’s correct. But <b>it’s not just that we’re facing a group of pious, smug, vicious children who view the world in absolutes, but that they’re simplistic and narcissistic</b>, a toxic combination.</bq> <bq>If you lie to yourself about the cause of problems, you lie to yourself about their solutions. <b>If your car gets stolen and you left the keys in the ignition, you might not be responsible for a thief’s actions, but you’re still a fool.</b></bq> <bq><b>The woke have figured out a way around all this troublesome complexity. They reduce problems to simplistic absurdities</b> and, when someone has the audacity to point this out, they swarm together to defend their orthodoxy and bandage the offense to their souls of disapproval.</bq> <bq>The apparent inability of many on the left to entertain the thought that decent human beings might have voted for Trump for sensible reasons — to take one example, the unemployment rate reached record lows before the pandemic hit — amounts to an epic failure to see their fellow Americans with understanding, much less with empathy. <b>It repels the 73 million Trump voters who cannot see anything of themselves in media caricatures of them as fragile, bigoted, greedy and somewhat stupid white people.</b></bq> <hr> <a href="" source="MintPress" author="Alan Macleod">Cuba Could be on the Brink of a Revolutionary COVID Vaccine, But US Sanctions Are Slowing It Down</a> <bq>Yaffe notes in her new documentary, “Cuba and COVID-19: Public Health, Science and Solidarity” is that the island can no longer purchase ventilators or parts for existing machines because the Swiss company it dealt with was purchased by an American one and fearing potential reprisals, it halted any contact with Havana.</bq> <bq>The first country to announce a potential vaccine was Russia, however, the government sharing the news in September, with researchers claiming “Sputnik V” was 90% effective and that Russia could produce 500 million doses annually. The Russian and American offerings appear to be based upon the same scientific logic and have produced broadly similar results. However, the Russian vaccine has been near-universally panned in the Western press, while the American ones heralded as a historic achievement.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="" author="Eleanor Goldfield">Free Speech Is More Complicated Than You Think</a> <bq>Equity demands that we consider the context of a situation in order to approach it with a just solution. As an example, this idea has been very key in addressing ableism and how to ensure people with diverse disabilities have what they need to not only survive but to thrive. And maybe that’s why our current system can’t (or won’t) get it right. <b>Not only is the wellbeing of the people of no concern to the system</b>, but the idea that what’s best might require nuance flies in the face of the streamlined and binary paradigm to which the system adheres.</bq> <hr> <a href="" source="SubStack" author="Glenn Greenwald">The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book</a> <bq>I know several ACLU lawyers as devoted as ever to free speech principles, including, I believe, Romero. But there have been all sorts of signs from the ACLU — from cheering a French law that criminalizes catcalling to defending the reduction of due process protections for college students accused of sexual assault — that strongly suggest the emergence of liberal political activism at the expense of traditional civil liberties. In sum, <b>the ACLU is being pulled and weighted down by the same censorious trends currently plaguing academia, the corporate world and — most dangerously — news organizations.</b></bq> <bq>[...] the question of whether young teens are being misdiagnosed with gender dysphoria, and at what age they are capable of making choices to permanently alter their bodies and identities, is of course a question society is exploring and should be able to explore in good faith without being demonized as bigots. <b>Every significant social reform requires persuasion, which in turn requires debate and discussion to induce people to change how they think rather than badger and threaten and coerce them into doing so.</b></bq> <bq>Most of this censorious mentality stems from the warped proposition that ideas with which ones disagrees are not just misguided but “dangerous” and even “fatal.” We so often hear now that views disliked by some people put them “in danger” and “literally kill.”</bq> <bq>[...] is the claim rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in two landmark rulings: its unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a KKK leader who had used a speech to threaten violence against political officials, and the 1982 ruling in Claiborne v NAACP, also unanimous, in which <b>the Court held that the First Amendment bars imposing liability on someone for the criminal acts allegedly "inspired" by their speech</b> (that ruling protected NAACP officials from attempts by the State of Mississippi to hold them liable for the violent acts their fiery speeches in favor of boycotts allegedly incited).</bq> <h>Programming</h> <a href="" source="GitHub" author="mjp41">Verona: Systems programming</a> <bq>By eliminating concurrent mutation, we cannot implement concurrency as a library. There are two alternatives here, expose "unsafe" to enable unsafe libraries for concurrency (e.g. Rust), or provide a concurrency model as part of the language (e.g. Pony). The former means the language can rely on fewer invariants as it does not understand how the code inside the unsafe blocks is providing concurrency. The latter means you need an amazing concurrency story as you can only have one.</bq> <h>Technology</h> <a href="" source="Ars Technica" author="Timothy B. Lee">Nvidia developed a radically different way to compress video calls</a> <bq>The paper describes a conditional GAN that takes as input a video of one person's face talking and a few photos of a second person's face. The generator creates a video of the second person making the same motions as the person in the original video.</bq> A benevolent deep fake, in other words.