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Month: August 2017

Dump Google

Dump Google

Google apparently dropped all the accounts of a statistics professor, with no warning. His activities and his blog were apolitical, but that didn’t seem to matter to Google. He lost his blog archives, his email address, and years of archived emails. Google tried something similar with psychology professor Jordan Peterson until public outcry forced Google to back down.

Google has taken too much power over modern life, to the point where it has near-absolute power over many people’s digital lives. And as Lord Acton pointed out, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The thing is, Google only has the power that we give it. We could destroy Google in a week, if we wanted to. If we all stopped using it, it would lose all of its adverting revenue and fall apart.

Don’t use Google. For that matter, it’s best to avoid any free internet service financed through advertising. With all of those services, YOU are the product being sold to advertisers. So, avoid services supported by advertising. Use services you pay for so that you’re the customer and not the product. Or use fremium businesses that don’t accept advertisers, but instead provide a free service that you can upgrade with more features by payng. At least to them, you have value as a potential customer.

I pay for my blog’s hosting. I pay for my own email. I am their customer, not their  product.

And for when you can’t avoid using Google, always use an adblocker to starve it of revenue. My favorite is Ublock Origin, available for Chrome, Firefox, and Palemoon.

UPDATE: After the story spread on the internet, Google restored access. Most of us wouldn’t be so lucky.

Starship Troopers on economics

Starship Troopers on economics

I’ve been reading Robert Heinein’s 1959 military science fiction masterpiece,  Starship Troopers. I found interesting this discussion about value (during a flashback to a high school):

​“‘Value’has no meaning other than in relation to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human—‘market value’is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible….

“This very personal relationship, ‘value,’has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him . . . and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.’Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
“Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” He had been still looking at me and added, “If you boys and girls had to sweat for your toys the way a newly born baby has to struggle to live you would be happier . . . and much richer. As it is, with some of you, I pity the poverty of your wealth”

We’re right—we have an old poem on our side!

We’re right—we have an old poem on our side!

I got an A- in Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. It was an intensive yearlong class taught by Charles Fried, a distinguished constitutional law expert and former Solicitor General of the United States. So, I speak with a fair degree of confidence when I say that poems inscribed on statues have no legal or precedential value in the American legal system.

That one side in a major national debate continually runs to a poetry quotation as one of their major arguments to back up their policy preferences is, frankly, ridiculous. Relying on poetry quotations is a good sign that you have a weak argument.