Hurtful language hurts politicians

United States Senator Bill Hagerty on Tuesday joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and nine other colleagues to introduce the Public Servant Protection Act, which protects public officials and employees and their families from having their home addresses displayed publicly online. Text of the bill may be found here. …

United States Senator Bill Hagerty on Tuesday joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and nine other colleagues to introduce the Public Servant Protection Act, which protects public officials and employees and their families from having their home addresses displayed publicly online. Text of the bill may be found here.

(Via Chattanoogan.com)

That’s not how free speech works.

Should public servants and their families be protected by law enforcement? Yes. We all should, and those serving in office should get protection specific to their role as the vitriol is particularly incendiary and the service they provide is important.

Should government officials be sheltered from voters who disagree with them, those who say things they don’t like, in a peaceful manner? No. If the voices are dangerous? Yes.

Should journalists and news outlets couch political grandstanding as “protection” from “threats”? No.

Should public employee addresses be public record? That’s not clear cut. I think elected officials should have their addresses on record since their residence is part of the requirement to hold office. If public service employees, like fire and police, are required to live in their community, then that should be public record as well.

Of course, this is largely moot. Most everyone volunteers their location on social media. It would not take much work to figure out where a public servant lives based on posts by themselves, their significant others, or their offspring.

Lawn care specialists, house cleaning professionals, au pairs, and the like could also post location information.

Maybe neighbors post their own information and it becomes easy to triangulate a voted-on public servant’s house?

Editing Is Important

I don’t know who runs the show at Channel 3 in Chattanooga, but they should look at the headline editing:

Food City has a ribbon-cutting for its “Lime Green Wedding Cake” sculpture made out of steel Celebrate Mother’s Day at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park with a picnic in the park on Sunday.

Homeland Security Investigations expands in Chattanooga with new facility & more agents

Sources:

As of 05 May 2022

Very Bad Ideas: InHome Edition

Walmart to expand InHome Delivery to Chattanooga households:

InHome is designed to give time back to customers by delivering fresh groceries, everyday essentials and more directly into their homes, including placing items straight into their kitchen or garage refrigerator.

This. Is. A. Very. Bad. Idea.

Unless you have a very specific use case, such as dealing with some chronic health issue that makes grocery shopping potentially dangerous and no home care options exist, do not sign up for this. There is no level of convenience “for busy families” that warrants allowing strangers access into your house. Even if you have video surveillance, letting these people – maybe W*mart employees or maybe contractors – cross your threshold is a significant risk.

Also, why is Channel 3 doing Walmart PR?

Disappointing Journalism: WDEF

WDEF needs to address their local political coverage, at least in this instance. It’s disingenuous to show one candidate (Coty Wamp) fiddle with their microphone (1:10-18 in the clip) as b-roll to a voice over of the candidate’s platform and then tout the other candidate’s (Neal Pinkston) years in office and experience (1:57 in the clip) with the candidate holding their microphone.

WDEF also failed to mention Pinkston’s nepotism charges as well as Wamp’s misidentification of a criminal subject. I’ll consider that a wash.

Full disclosure: I do not contribute or in any way support either candidate even though I am a registered Republican. When I see shoddy or poor journalism (or media pretending to be journalism) I will call it out.

Libertarianism in light of misinformation

The fundamental precept of libertarianism is best summed up with the phrase:

All things being equal, …

Of course, few if any things are truly equal.

Libertarianism – as I understood it – is predicated on other secondary assumptions, assuming government doesn’t tell them to do these things:

  • People have enlightened self-interest
  • People are responsible for their actions and expect others to be
  • People are predictably selfish
  • People are rational actors
  • There’s someone else who will fill in the gap: churches, charities, non-profits, and the like where enlightened self-interest, predictable selfishness, and acting rationally fail
  • Open information is best and will help people be enlightened self-interest rational actors

That idea, that open information is best, feels right. It should be right, all things being equal.

Things are not equal. Just like the idea that there are markets in everything, there is gaming of everything. Come up with rules and someone will not only find ways around them but will frame their activity as right and true.

Many people are disturbed that Duck Duck Go will down-rank Russian disinformation on their search engine. They are declaring that DDG is dead to them.

I have no problem with this. I will keep an eye on down-ranking, but in this case I think it’s the right thing to do.

First, down-ranking means that the search results for the disinformation will still be there but maybe not at the top. So sources of bad information will have a hard time to manipulate algorithms to get their bad data at the top.

Second, there’s the idea that all users – in this case, all people – are the above-mentioned rational actors and can tell disinformation from fact. They can’t. See the amount of recent disinformation around Barack Obama’s birth certificate AND HE’S BEEN OUT OF OFFICE FOR FIVE+ YEARS. DDG is not preventing misinformation from being available but is not giving it equal weight to credible data.

Third, DDG’s announcement seems to assume the imperfect knowledge of most if not all users. That’s not wrong: We’re all variously imperfectly knowledgeable about Russia’s war with Ukraine, Brexit, the cartels in Mexico, the elections in South Korea, and a bunch of other stuff. I read the news for 1-2 hours per morning and I would not consider myself “well versed” on any of it.

Forth, DDG uses results from Microsoft’s Bing. One could do the same search in Bing and get the misinformation.

My takeaway is that DDG is being a responsible netizen, preventing misinformation from proliferating as on-par with verifiable information from credible sources. Those who think DDG is violating libertarian ideals and will not use it as their search engine – farewell and best wishes.

Newsletters

Newsletters are the new podcasts – everyone seems to have one.

The difference is the cost – the podcasts to which I subscribe are free and ask you to contribute; most of the newsletters I read are behind a paywall some or most of the time. As mentioned elsewhere, I do not subscribe to Spotify or whatever corporate matryoshka doll Earwolf is now under.

To what non-tech non-sec newsletters do I subscribe, what do they cover, and why do I subscribe? I subscribe to many, but these are some of the standouts:

  • Money Stuff by Matt Levine via Bloomberg. :finance:business:
  • The Honest Broker by Ted Gioia via Substack. :music:culture:
  • NextDraft by Dave Pell :news:
  • The Overspill by Charles Arthur :news:
  • The Poynter Report by Tom Jones via Poynter :journalism:news:
  • What’s in my … via Revue :edc:tools: “Each week, one interesting person shares four favorite things in their bag or in their desk or fridge or closet or wherever they keep things.”
  • Weekly Musings by Scott Nesbitt :misc: “a published-every-seven-days (or so) letter from the keyboard of writer Scott Nesbitt. Each Wednesday, this letter shares my thoughts about something that’s caught my interest. Those thoughts will inform, infuriate, amuse, and I hope enlighten you. Even if just a little bit.”
  • Culture Study by Anne Helen Petersen via Substack :culture: “Think more about the culture that surrounds you”
  • Axios Nashville & a bunch of other Axios newsletters
  • Austin Kleon via Substack :art:culture: “Weekly art, writing, and creative inspiration from the author of Steal Like an Artist and other bestsellers”

This list will continue to evolve as I narrow, whittle, and refine. I get various newsletters from the periodicals to which I subscribe. To be clear, the only newsletters I “pay” for are part of a periodical subscription. That may change.

News filtering, or the lack thereof

I’m not an Olympics fan. I’m more than happy to talk your ear off about why. I also don’t care about the Oscars/Academy Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Grammys, what celebrities are up to, &c, a.k.a. entertainment. I will learn all I need to know through proximity to people who care about such things.

The news sources I follow frustrate me in that their apps won’t let me block such categories or topics. Apple News will.

Or, it pretends like I can. The interface isn’t always clear what it will block: is it the topic? A person mentioned in the article? The source itself? There is a block source option, but I reserve that for news outlets that aren’t worth my time or attention.

I blocked all that I could find in the topics related to the Olympics. Yet, now that they are in full swing, there is a whole section just down from the top stories that tell me the latest Olympics news and the medal counts.

I want the Olympics to get off of my lawn!

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website • Missouri Independent

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website • Missouri Independent:

Chris Vickery, a California-based data security expert, told The Independent that it appears the department of education  was “publishing data that it shouldn’t have been publishing.

“That’s not a crime for the journalists discovering it,” he said. “Putting Social Security numbers within HTML, even if it’s ‘non-display rendering’ HTML, is a stupid thing for the Missouri website to do and is a type of boneheaded mistake that has been around since day one of the Internet. No exploit, hacking or vulnerability is involved here.” [emphasis mine]

Strong, accurate analysis by Chris.

I suggest Missouri voters elect someone smarter than Gov. Mike Parson.

Brian Krebs has more.