13 February 2020

Oversmoked Internet Link Sausage Platter

The smoke coming out of my ears seems to work well for preservation. How's the flavor?

  • Here's a useful — if somewhat longwinded and somewhat credulous — guide to invoking the new CCPA protections for your online privacy, even if you're not a California resident. I find the broader, better-updated list at GitHub more useful, but YMMV and Mr Fowler's piece is a good starting point. There is, however, one particularly egregious (and self-defeating) error in Fowler's article, that appears to arise from either a misunderstanding or failure to understand consequences. At one point, he grouses:

    Some companies will try to shift work onto you. Airbnb and PayPal, among others, make you email them requests, rather than using web forms.

    This is, umm, wrong and self-defeating… presuming, of course, that it's "more" work to send an e-mail using one's own, presumably self-customized, e-mail client rather than someone else's pathetic web form (with the almost-inevitable Captcha). Let's neglect, for a moment, the sheer amount of additional privacy-impairing information collected by modern web forms, let alone their security implications. The key problem is that a web form does not provide any realistic proof of what was sent, when, or to whom. Even taking a screen shot the moment before sending won't do… especially since most web forms have limited-space form windows that don't entirely display (for example, just try reporting a copyright infringement to FacePlant and seeing how much of the URL actually displays…). It's sort of like relying on an airbag as the only safety precaution in a car, assuming that it'll fully protect you… without a seatbelt… while you're hanging out the window half-drunk flipping off another driver in a road-rage incident. Insist on e-mail.

  • Meanwhile, on the fake diversity/white supremacy front:

  • And, for you mathematically-challenged advocates of the "long tail" theory of making a living in the arts, consider just how many streaming plays of a musical performance it takes to exceed one month at minimum wage. The initial, and obvious, mathematical problem with the long-tail theory is that it neglects the other tail… and that's before considering quantizing effects, fixed costs, or anything else. It's just dumb. Perhaps not as dumb as listening to economists who don't acknowledge that "efficiency" is normative and not value-neutral, but pretty dumb nonetheless.
  • Which leads into the latest newspaper bankruptcy. The stories so far have utterly failed to point out the principle thing that is going to happen: Pension liability will be wiped out. That sounds great for the company, and perhaps for the other investors; not so great, however, for retirees and especially for current employees. It is, perhaps, inevitable given the external rate-of-return pressures on newspapers that fail to consider the Ricardian (and non-Ricardian) rents related to the First Amendment. It is also class warfare, because what to the upper classes looks like "asset protection for workers" is actually "deferred compensation." Further, it is in effect nothing more and nothing less than union-busting under cover of Title 11.
  • It is perhaps just as well that military preparedness for a constitutional crisis is, at best, C–4. Dammit, the US military isn't supposed to be an actor in a constitutional crisis. That's the entire point of civilian control of the military — something that was pretty new-fangled in the eighteenth century. So new-fangled, in fact, that every European power thought it would make the US collapse within a decade; conversely, the US is the only Western entity with more than negligible military power both then and now that has not undergone a radical change in government since and adopted civilian control of the military.

    This is a point that Mr Harbaugh seems to have missed in large part, but then he's a squid and a pilot (he might have been too busy shooting his watch off to pay attention). After Iran-Contra, I'm bloody well entitled to be skeptical of the Department of the Navy on this sort of thing… because Harbaugh's complaint that "not once did I receive meaningful instruction on the document to which I had pledged my life" is incorrect for at least the US Air Force Academy, US Air Force ROTC, and US Army ROTC. I have personal knowledge of required-course syllabi and mandatory readings for those commissioning sources. Lt Col Vindman demonstrated that he has internalized that training. So maybe Harbaugh is just showing that the Navy really is the goat here. (Said with genuine concern, a smidgen of contempt, and a lot of traditional interservice rivalry — which is all too appropriate given that the Navy's unofficial guiding principle is "two hundred years of tradition unsullied by any hint of progress.")