Thursday, January 14, 2021

Telecom carrier or publisher? Decide for each message, depending on how big an audience that message reaches.

You can yell fire in the virtual theater, but due to information overload, hardly anyone would know. Hardly anyone; except for the algorithms. The algorithms could flag it.

I heard a very good suggestion from a professor who was interviewed on NPR. About how to treat messages on social media platforms. What's the responsibility of the company that owns the platform, like Facebook?

According to this professor, messages that reach large audiences need to be treated like the platforms are publishers. They need the same accountability, fact checking and editing standards that apply to traditional mainstream media.

On the other hand, messages that don't reach huge audiences should only be subjected to a lower standard of editing responsibility; such as if the platform were considered a telecom carrier.

I think, algorithms can easily tell how many people are reached by a message.

Examples of messages that reach larger audiences would be memes that go viral. Other examples would be messages from the rich and famous, such as the President of the United States. Another example could be messages that are pushed forward by money, such as claims made in political, or other advertising.

I thought her idea was good, but I should look up the reference. Just something I heard on the radio, but didn't have a note pad with me.

Deregulating recreational marijuana created a new industry

Some conservatives complain about too much government regulation that interferes with business. Okay, here in Washington State, we recently legalized recreational marijuana and created a brand new multimillion dollar industry.

Looks like South Dakota, a conservative state, got the message last election. They voted that way. A good idea, though I am someone who doesn't use pot that much.

There could be too much coddling of people's grievances in our society

I sometimes think, in our society, there is too much coddling of grievances. Grievances both on the right and on the left. No one has a magic wand to come up with a perfect solution to all the problems and even all the cases where society isn't totally fair. If we continue down the road of hatred to one another, we all loose.

Suggestion for simplifying vaccination process

As for the rollout of the vaccine, following the priority list might be creating complexity. There may need to be some simplification of criteria.

In determining if someone has health conditions, besides just age, that might put them at risk, how about using the concept of a doctor's prescription?

If priority has to be determined on the honor system, that could be a problem.

If the vaccination clinic has to figure out who qualifies, that's extra paperwork slowing the process. Maybe it should just be based on a doctor's prescription. Simple piece of paper. Let the doctors decide if they wish to write that prescription for each patient.

Just another thought In my brainstorming mind. Maybe they are already thinking of this.

I sent this suggestion to my state legislators.

Another thought I had is this.

It will be a while till my cohort of people is eligible. No need to call up and bother healthcare people or even accidentally crash websites as part of a fad looking for information. When they are ready for my cohort, it will be all over radio, TV, and the newspapers.

Dogma remains rigid while science changes

I say that there needs to be open mindedness in religion. Not following only one dictatorial interpretation. Some folks would say, "what about science itself?" "Isn't science dictatorial?"

Scientific understanding is always changing. It isn't cast in stone. That's what I would say. Our understanding of what we think is the truth is subject to revision. In science, they often say, based on the best evidence we are aware of to date.

It's also true that not all scientists agree on things. Debate and civil discussion is par for the course.
Experimenting with my camera by the living room lamp when I was in 7th grade. Back in the days of film cameras.

I sometimes say if the people who invented the incandescent lightbulb were like religious fundamentalists, they might have decided that a bamboo filament was God's intended solution for all time. We could still be using bamboo filaments that burnout in a short period of time. Luckily, inventors, such as Thomas Edison, changed course many times. For many decades, lightbulbs settled on tungsten for the filament.

Now we are moving on again as most of the lightbulbs, in my place are LED. The filament solution is history.

If Republican party were to split, it could take pressure off the Democrats so they could split also.

I'd like to see the Republican Party split. Have the Trump, "populous" folks create their own party while the old style Republicans form another party.

Then the problem of moderates being "primaried" would vanish. The Republican power base would be weakened (it's probably already weakened) so the Democrats could relax a bit.

Being more relaxed, maybe the Democrats could solve their own internal strife, between moderate and far left, by splitting into two parties as well. We would then have 4 parties.

In the past, I haven't been an advocate of third party presidential runs; like from Green Party Jill Stein (2016), or Ralph Nader (2000), but if the "winner take all" power blocks of the current two party system are not there anymore, a multi party system becomes more viable.

Bernie Sanders was smarter than Ralph Nader as he didn't run as a third party candidate taking votes away from the Democrats. When he lost the Democratic primary, in 2016, he supported Hillary Clinton and in 2020, he supported Joe Biden.

Especially for Congress, we could use more parties that are viable.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Things that might be better than Universal Basic Income, but similar ideas

A Universal Basic Income could endanger vital public services in favor of a meager income. Money for just the UBI would likely not be enough to cover safety net needs such as housing and healthcare. Support for those things could be taken away to make way for the UBI in a limited government budget.

With so many of the jobs paying less and less, as time goes on, compared to other sources of income, such as real estate, investments and retirement, the concept of a UBI is appealing. Problem is, it may not be the best way to provide for people's needs.

Housing assistance, universal healthcare, affordable college and good transportation might be better ways to supplement low wages than just writing everyone a check.

Seems like wages, from work, are declining as a percent of the total economy; influences of things like automation, globalization and wealth discrepancy.

One ought to be able to hold a job that is still needed in society, daycare work; for instance and live adequately. Maybe even raise a family; if so desired.

UBI would be one path to this, but probably not the best path. A strong social safety net might work better, in my opinion.

Instead of the UBI, maybe have guaranteed jobs programs. There should be enough work for everyone that needs a job. There are still plenty of things that need to be done. Environmental cleanup, infrastructure, tutoring, teaching English as a second language, daycare, helping the elderly; whatever.

The private market doesn't always prioritize these needs on its own so government can guarantee a job.

In some cases, the job can be done for a private company; like a sub contractor; rather than government bureaucracy, but funding might still have to come from the government if the private marketplace doesn't provide that.

Health insurance could be provided, if we continue to have health insurance provided by jobs; rather than just from citizenship.

For folks that have partial disabilities; including mental problems, the jobs could compassionately work with the person to try and ease them along. The idea of a sheltered workshop.

People with severe disabilities could still live on just public assistance without a job.

For some people, their "disability" is mostly just that they don't have a good enough resume to compete in the competitive job market; especially when the job market is tight. Folks should be guaranteed a job, rather than falling farther and farther out of the system. Folks out of work end up with deteriorating resumes, as time goes on, due to lack of current experience. Often they have deteriorating attitudes and health as well.

A jobs program is a good idea, especially if the private market is not able to hire all the people that need to work or provide the services and infrastructure that society needs.

My thoughts related to this article. The danger of good intentions.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Unintended consequences. Seattle's anti police Chop Zone helped Republicans while Wednesday's right wing rebellion at the US Capitol helped Democrats.

Some people, on the right on talk shows and so forth, have kept asking why folks weren't that upset about the violence last summer in Portland, Oregon.

People were upset about that. I would even speculate that those situations, like the Chop Zone in Seattle, could have led to the vote adding more Republicans to the US House of Representatives in the same 2020 election that Joe Biden won.

By far, from what I understand, most of the protesters were peaceful, but there was the violence.

Wednesday's right wing violence at the US Capitol will have the opposite effect. Republicans now more boldly denouncing Trump. Many Senators, who were questioning the election results, dropping plans to continue pushing that objection.

A lot of public officials, including some Trump administration staff, seriously discussing use of the 25th amendment to remove the president from power due to inability to govern, mental illness being discussed.

Looks like Trump's been really going off the rails in recent days and this could have contributed to Democratic Senators winning in the Georgia runoff elections. The margins were slim so something like this could have tipped the scale.

Personally, I'm happy that the Democrats will now be able to remove McConnell as Senate majority leader, but I, admittedly, do lean toward the Democrats.

McConnell's recent speech on the Senate floor, after the capitol was able to resume proceedings on Wednesday, was pretty good, however.

Wednesday was a very bazar day.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Facebook's larger type for shorter comments highlights sound byte versus more nuanced thought.

Some thoughts of mine on the responsibility of social media platforms; like Facebook.

I notice that short postings on Facebook appear in larger type. After more words are added, the type size shrinks. If I were the boss, so to speak, at Facebook. I would remove that feature. I would make the type size the same for short comments; like one liners, as for longer comments.

This would reduce the focus on sound bytes.

Personally, I tend to post medium sized comments on Facebook. I like fairly nuanced thought more than quick slogans. At the same time, I'm not much of a book reader. A 300 page book isn't that accessible to the reader. Even I don't seem to have the time, or maybe the attention span for books. Books are valuable, but I'll admit I have not read many.

I do follow a lot of NPR type hour or half hour interviews. I read articles in publications ranging from our local Bellingham Herald to Scientific American. I find the Scientific American articles that come up online to be fairly accessible.

Back when I was a kid, my dad got Scientific American and the house had (maybe still has) a huge collection of Scientific American back issues at the foot of the stairs to my bedroom. Back then, it was so full of grey type that I hardly paid any attention to it and just passed it by on the way to my bedroom.

I hear that President Trump has now been banned from posting on Facebook. Maybe that's a good idea. I don't have a strong opinion about that, though I never was a Trump fan. I've often thought that famous people don't really need social media. They have access to the regular "big time" media any time they want. Social media seems more important as an outlet for us little people.

I remember this segment of a talk show, I heard, back in the 1990's I think it was talk show host Jim Hightower. When the World Wide Web was new, someone called up and suggested Hightower get a web page. Hightower answered, "A web what?" The caller tried to explain.

"Anyone can do it." "People can see it worldwide."

Hightower interrupted and started ranting, "why the hell would I need a website." "My voice is heard on a hundred radio stations from cost to coast and even around the world." "I have millions of listeners." "Many of my stations have 50,000 watt transmitters."

He went on and on, like a thundering Wizard of Oz and eventually moved on to the next caller.

How police handled pro Trump mob at capitol versus black lives matter protests. My thoughts from living in Bellingham, WA.

I don't know what to think about police behavior, or lack thereof, in various cities I have no experience with.

Here in Bellingham, there were quite a few pro Black Lives Matter protests, last summer, that were peaceful and the police had a soft presence, if any presence at all. At least from what I gather.

Holly Street was blocked a few times which didn't seem to bother the police and neither did it bother me. I don't drive. Pedestrians were able to wonder around on Holly Street.

I think actions can bring on reactions. Heavy policing and violent protests; like a vicious cycle. Protests on the right versus protests on the left.

I prefer civil and thoughtful discussion that can, hopefully lead to our society's evolution.

There was some vandalism, in Bellingham, aside from the actual protests. Some individuals that broke windows at other times. After one protest was winding down, some people graffitied City Hall.

Seems like most liberal activists distanced themselves from those things. Spoke out critical of those actions on local media. I didn't participate in the BLM marches, in Bellingham, though I have friends who did.

There were folks who thought mass gatherings, during this pandemic, would be a bad idea. Turns out spread of the virus wasn't as bad as first feared with gatherings being outdoors and masks worn, for the most part.

I still wasn't a big fan of those protests thinking, myself, "if we are giving up the fun things, like the gay parade that also help culture evolve, why gather for the more angry, serious stuff?"

Culture also evolves by the way we lead our lives and the things that we consume.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Janet Yellen's 7 million dollar income from speaking fees over the past 2 years. Maybe, instead, put amateurs in charge?

This just seems inevitable, whether it's Biden, Trump or practically any other politician of national stature. Picks for high level staff will come from professional elites. They have histories of things like lucrative speaking contracts.

It's either that, or politicians would need to pick their staff from the ranks of amateurs. Putting amateurs in charge has consequences as well.

Professionals often do know more about what they are doing; at least. The issue of competency.

I realize that competency of leaders; especially corporate executives is often in question.

I'm a sync about corporate executives for sure, but I think amateurs, as a general rule, might do even worse. Put amateurs, or even crackpots, in charge of the Center for Disease Control; for instance.

Yes, it is being revealed that Biden's pick for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has collected more than $7 million in speaking fees over the past two years. This from major corporations and Wall Street banks.

Par for the course.

I'm still in favor of competent leadership. Even Bernie Sanders is now part of the 1%, so I have read.

This just seems inevitable. It's not a deal breaker, but I am a critic of the high compensation that so many professionals and recognized leaders, in our society, get.

I still remember thinking that famous gay rights activist, David Kopay, was getting a lot of money for speaking at a symposium at Western Washington University, back in 1978 just because he was a former football star. The standard speaking fee for speaking at symposiums, on campus back then, was closer to $50 plus travel and hotel expenses.

These days, however, $1,000 might be seen as peanuts.

If you are a professional, be careful of your compensation. It might come back to haunt you as everything, these days, comes into scrutiny.