Alt-Right Martyrdom for the Cause

The misogynistic gender ‘realist’ of recent fame, James Damore, has responded to the backlash. He wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal: Why I Was Fired by Google. I’m willing to listen to contrarian views, even when ill-informed, if only to hear the other side. After spending much time in human biodiversity and race realist blogosphere, I’m already familiar with the standard arguments that get rolled out. That said, I actually think he makes at least one good point, albeit unintentionally. Such issues are complicated and in ways that few would like to acknowledge, specifically in terms of the historical context.

Damore complains that his free speech is being trampled upon. A problem with corporations, specifically big biz, is that they aren’t democratic institutions. By design, they don’t uphold democratic values and processes. This is an old argument from the political left and now this critical rhetoric is being co-opted by the alt-right. For example, most of the prejudice and oppression during the Cold War came from corporations, not government — such private sector blackballing and other tactics led to social ostracism, effective silencing, destroyed careers, and even suicide; while redbaiting and witchhunts were used to attack civil rights activists and labor organizers.

Yet the alt-right wants us to now believe that white men, especially the privileged professionals and the aspiring technocracy in the comfortable class, are the real victims. They suddenly feel betrayed by the powerful business interests they assumed were on their side. Well, business comes down to profit and recent research shows that diversity is good for business. The capitalist class for the most part aren’t going to put ideology before profit, at least not any ideology other than capitalist realism.

Capitalism is as much a political system as an economic system. Corporate charters are political constructs and so corporations are political entities, but their politics have rarely been anything close to democracy (although anarchosyncialists have aspired to a different business model, not that they have had much influence in the US and global economic system). Capitalism and democracy have historically been two separate things, occasionally overlapping but more often not. China and Russia presently have capitalism, as did Nazi Germany along with numerous fascist countries.

In any country, capitalism by itself has never stopped the silencing, persecution, imprisonment, and assassination of political dissidents. Many authoritarian governments were promoted and supported by US business interests and the US government (e.g., the American plutocracy’s ties to the Nazi regime, which is how the Bush family made its original wealth). Is the political right now suggesting that capitalism needs to be made to conform to democracy, rather than sacrificing democracy to business interests? Or are they just complaining that American capitalism isn’t authoritarian enough in privileging the appropriate identity politics and not fascist enough in maintaining gender and racial hierarchy?

In American society, corporations have no legal requirement nor social expectation to be democratic, much less respect the free speech of employees. That has been true for a long time. It’s true that many of the American revolutionaries and founders did expect that corporations should serve the public good, but that was a much earlier and more idealistic time. The capitalist economy and corporatist government have long left behind that original intent of the country’s founding. The US has essentially returned to the British imperial collusion between big gov and big biz that the American revolutionaries fought against.

If we want to return to the revolutionary ideal of corporations serving public good or at least not undermining personal freedom, we might need a new revolution. This is an old conflict that has been fought over by generations of Americans. It is why originally libertarianism was aligned with the workers movement and not with the capitalist ownership class. No worker, not even a professional in the tech industry, should assume their interests are aligned with corporate interests nor that their rights will be protected by corporate management. That class conflict is as old as capitalism itself.

It must be remembered that incipient capitalism in the Anglo-American world preceded modern democracy by centuries. The hope that some of the more revolutionary founders had was that capitalism could be made to conform to or at least be kept in check by a democratic system, a government by the people rather than a government by monarchs, aristocrats, and plutocrats. But they had plenty of experience with crony capitalism and oppressive corporatism so as to give them good reason to fear corporations, which is why they sought to severely constrain them in being legally obligated to serve the public good or else have their government-sanctioned corporate charters annulled and eliminated. They were careful to not conflate a for-profit business with a public-serving corporate charter, based on an important lesson we have forgotten.

If actual freedom for all citizens is our shared intention as a society, then we have a long way to go. That would require a complete overhaul of our present political and economic system. The tech bros and pseudo-libertarians complaining about Google probably don’t understand the implications of their own claims (e.g., James Damore quoting Noam Chomsky). That is what makes these times both dangerous and promising. Before any revolution or other societal transformation, most people don’t understand the implications of much of anything, until it is too late. There is a coming storm and no one knows what it portends.

For certain, the fracturing of our society goes far beyond the challenge of feminists in demanding fair treatment and a tech industry giant upholding those demands. Yet another men’s rights manifesto is not going to bring back old school patriarchal capitalism where flagrant misogyny is acceptable and where gender bias will rule over the social order. Like it or not, the ideal of equality is becoming normalized, just as a minority majority is forming and the Confederate statues are coming down. It’s a new world we are entering, even as the old forms of power still hold much sway. So what is the alt-right hoping to accomplish, other than concern trolling and general fuckery?

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Google vs China, Capitalism vs Communism

Google is threatening to leave the Chinese market.  

Hackers attacked Google and one of the targets was the email accounts of chinese human rights activists.  Google has said they will no longer cooperate with Chinese censorship, but many have wondered why they ever agreed to do so in the first place.  They’ve lost all credibility in their supposed company policy of “do no evil”, but they’re apparently hoping to save their tarnished image.

In reality, Google cares little about human rights and censorship.  Google cares about profits and they’ve had losing profits in China because of all of the restrictions.  China may be the single largest market, but the costs of doing business there are very high.  Anyways, Google wasn’t directly concerned about the hacking of email accounts.  Google, instead, was concerned about the fact that hackers (probably working for China) were trying to steal information from Google including code.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-approach-to-china.html

http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/12/google%E2%80%99s-china-stance-more-about-business-than-thwarting-evil/

http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/12/google-china-attacks/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/13/AR2010011300359.html?wpisrc=nl_tech

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/12/AR2010011202903.html?wpisrc=nl_tech

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/13/AR2010011301168.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/technology/companies/14baidu.html?ref=business

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/world/asia/14beijing.html?hp

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/business/global/14western.html?hp

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/opinion/13friedman.html?em

Google…Now Serving Cowardliness (PIC)

I came across something on Digg:

Google…Now Serving Cowardliness (PIC)

A person made screenshots of Google suggestions.  They entered “christianity is”, “judaism is”, “buddhism is”, “hinduism is”, and “islam is”.  Google offered suggestions of popular search items for all of these except for the one pertaining to islam.  Supposedly, Google claims it is just a bug… but it’s a rather convenient bug.  Don’t want to anger the Muslims.

To be fair, I did some investigation with my own searches. 

With the first one, I entered “(religious founder) is” and Google did offer suggestion results for each of them (including Muhammad) except for when I entered “moses is”.  That is interesting because I’d think that many people would do websearches about Moses, the man who many consider the founder of all monotheism.

With the second one, I entered “christians are”, “jews are”, “buddhists are”, “hindus are”, and “muslims are”.  This time Google treated them all equally by giving not search suggestions at all.  I was curious whether it had to do with religion or fear of hate speech.  So, I entered “blacks are” and “whites are”.  These also showed no suggestions.  For the next step, I tried a few terms that are secular and not normally related to hate speech (or at least not politically incorrect hate speech): “scientists are”, “doctors are”, “lawyers are”, and “politicians are”.  All of these last search items brought up various suggestions.  I decided now to try something more broad: “americans are”, “canadians are”, “mexicans are”, and “iraqis are”.  No search suggestions.  Yet another: “cows are”.  Yep, suggestions.

What this proves is that Google is afraid of political incorrectness.  In our society, it’s fair game to make negative statements about professions and other general categories, but it isn’t acceptable to make negative statements about religious groups, racial groups, and cultural groups.

Let me try one last category.  I entered “atheism is” and Google offered search suggestions.  I then entered “atheists are” and Google offered no search suggestions. 

This last investigation clarifies a trend in all of these examples.  In our society, it is acceptable to make negative statements about most ideologies (excluding Islam of course) which is similar to how we think about professions.  However, any category that is less general and with which someone might more personally identify is off limits.  The interesting result of this is that using “is” as a search item will lead to more search suggestions than using “are”, or rather this is the case when doing a search about anything that potentially might be considered offensive.

Overall, what this proves is that Google edits what kind of phrases (and in some cases which particular phrases) are allowed to have search suggestions shown to the user.  This much is obvious as anyone can try this experiment out for themselves.  A more difficult experiment is how the search results themselves might have similar censorship or other biases.  I’ve noticed that search results don’t always reliably show you what is on the web.  Google has complex rules that website owners have to follow, and if they aren’t followed the website gets pushed out of top results.

My Brain On Google

Here is a blog post from Matt Cardin in which he responds to an article from The Atlantic (Is Google Making Us Stupid? by  Nicholas Carr).  I agree that the internet alters cognitive functioning, but I don’t see this as problematic.  I’m old enough to have grown up reading books.  I didn’t even become all that involved with computers until my late 20s.  I now spend much time on the internet and it has changed how I think, but it hasn’t made me think any less deeply.  In fact, it has caused my thinking process to be even more complex.

I could see how some people might have a different experience.  I suspect my brain is particularly suited for internet in two ways.  I naturally think in non-linear connections.  Also, I remember facts in terms of connections… meaning my rote memory absolutely sucks.  The internet helps my mind to operate optimally.  However, for someone with a more linear focused mind (or someone who is easily distracted and for some silly reason wishes to be more productive), the internet might be the bane of their existence.

For me, the internet hasn’t fundamentally altered my behavior in reading books (other than allowing me to discover new books I’d never have known about otherwise).  But I do sometimes find myself oddly trying to use an imaginary cursor to click on printed text (it doesn’t work).  Fortunately, I  have an electronic dictionary that helps me at such times (interestingly, my looking up words has increased immensely since buying this electronic dictionary).  Anyhow, I spend as much time reading text in printed form as I do reading text on a screen.  Maybe I’m lucky.  I have a job that allows me the time to read books (while disallowing me to get on the internet).  And I have a friend who likes to sit around reading books when we hang out.

To me, books and the internet are complementary.  I just love information and language, and it doesn’t matter to me about the format.  I can skim information very quickly across multiple websites and I can sit for hours reading a massive book.  Both are useful and enjoyable.

Anyways, it is rather ironic that people discuss on the internet such issues as the problems of the internet.  There is Carr’s article that hyperlinked to several other articles, blogs, and a research paper.  Matt Cardin (along with probably hundreds or thousands of others) hyperlinked to the article through blogs, articles, discussion boards, and emails.  And Cardin also hyperlinked to another article thus creating a conceptual link that his readers could follow (which has greater impact than a footnote in a printed text).  Other bloggers (such as my self and Quentin S. Crisp) then link to the writings of  those who linked to the article.  So, a world-wide discussion grows into a complex web of ideas and related discussions.  Without the internet (including the wonders of Google), such far-reaching discussions of cultural import simply wouldn’t happen.  In the past, people were mostly just passive receivers of information.  But now such information has become interactive.  I’d guess this increases the intelligence of the average reader.

I consider Carr’s article to be nonsense with a catchy title.  For God’s sake, there is even a Wikipedia article about it (which by the way is longer and more edifying than the article itself and which I found through a Google search).  Here is a quote that supports the conclusion I came to in the previous paragraph:

Carr’s essay was widely discussed in the media both critically and in passing. While English technology writer Bill Thompson observed that Carr’s argument had “succeeded in provoking a wide-ranging debate”,[3] Damon Darlin of The New York Times quipped that even though “[everyone] has been talking about [the] article in The Atlantic magazine”, only “[s]ome subset of that group has actually read the 4,175-word article, by Nicholas Carr.”[28] The controversial online responses to Carr’s essay were, according to Chicago Tribune critic Steve Johnson, partly the outcome of the essay’s title “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, a question that the article proper doesn’t actually pose and that he believed was “perfect fodder for a ‘don’t-be-ridiculous’ blog post”; Johnson challenged his readers to carefully consider their online responses in the interest of raising the quality of debate.[4]

Many critics discussed the merits of Carr’s essay at great length in forums set up formally for this purpose at online hubs such as the Britannica Blog and publisher John Brockman’s online scientific magazine Edge, where the roster of names quickly took on the semblance of a Who’s Who of the day’s Internet critics.[29][30][31][32] Calling it “the great digital literacy debate”, British-American entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen judged the victor to be the American reader, who was blessed with a wide range of compelling writing from “all of America’s most articulate Internet luminaries”.[32]

I’ve criticized Google some recently because of biases in it’s search results, but overall I’ve been satisfied with it as a tool for gathering information… although I no longer use it as my sole search engine.  I’m of the opinion that search engines in general are just awesome.  I sometimes even end up perusing online books I already own (such as with Google books) because I can search the books quickly and find exactly what I’m looking for.  I would say that if you’re feeling a bit stupid don’t blame Google.

Search Engines: biases and problems

I had a recent post disappear from listing on Word Press and shortly after it disappeared almost entirely from search engine results as well.  The post only managed to remain as a shadow in Google results in the form of indirect links and some cached pages of when Word Press had listed it, but it disappeared without a trace in Yahoo results.  The last time I checked it never even showed up at all in other search engines.  This got me wondering how search engines work.  Both Google and Yahoo had originally shown and cached the direct link to the post, and so their web crawlers had already discovered it.  However, when it disappeared from Word Press listing the search engines followed suit.  Were the web crawlers no longer able to see my post even though Google and Yahoo previously had the direct link to it?

Also, I’d noticed in the past that the search engines seem to treat the various blogging sites differently.  For a while, I had several blogs going on several hosting sites because I was testing them out.  I was posting the exact same things to each of them, but I often noticed that the My Opera blog often showed up higher in search results than my other blogs.  Now, I use only Word Press because I like its functionality the best.  This recent event, however, made me wonder how often my posts might not show up at all in search results. 

To test it out, I did a search of a blog title that was posted when I was using all of the blogging sites.  In Yahoo search results, only the My Opera post was given a direct link and the other posts such as from Word Press only were given indirect links through the blogs home link, through tag listings, or through other websites’ hyperlinking.  Google gave very different results which gave direct links to the postings on all of the blogging sites, but put Word Press as the top result.  Did Google put Word Press on top because it’s the only blog of mine that is active right now?  If so, why did Yahoo give preference to My Opera which I haven’t used in recent months?  Also, why didn’t Google show direct links to my recent disappeared post on Word Press? 

I did another comparison search between Google and Yahoo using a different early post of mine.  This time Google showed the direct links to my posts on all of the blogging sites except it left out the direct link to the Word Press post.  Yahoo, for some reason, didn’t show a direct link to my post on any of the blogging sites, but did show several indirect links.  As a further experiment, I did a search of the Word Press web address for that post and it doesn’t show up at all in either Google or Yahoo.

Another question that comes to mind is the matter of the biases of search engines.  Do search engines filter their results to fit my past searches?  I’d be fine if they do this as long as they tell me they’re doing this.  And to what degree does advertising and vested interests influence results?  Furthermore, what about the government?  Covert government sites get erased from Google Earth for example.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t simply erase those sites but even replace them with natural looking terrain so that no one would realize something was missing.  It is without a doubt that the government censors some information on the internet.  The question is what kind of information and how often? 

But not everything is nefarious or intentional.  Quite possibly, my disappeared posting was just a glitch.  So, how typical are such technical failures?  If a search engine doesn’t show something as existing, how does someone know it exists?  Even if someone knows it exists and even know an exact title or phrase, how do they seek it out if search engines aren’t helpful?  Do traces remain of disappeared, removed, and lost information?  How can someone recognize a trace of something once having existed or still existing unseen?  How often can those traces lead someone to finding the information?

The first example that made me aware of problems with search engines had to do with the fairly popular writer Acharya S.  She comes up a lot on the internet.  She was partly involved with the heavily watched Zeitgeist film which created the biggest buzz on the internet than any other web realeased film before.  She runs a website that has tons of useful info about her field of expertise.  There really is no other website that is even close to being comparable if you’re interested in researching the subject of astrotheology.  However, when in the past I did a direct “in quote” Google search for the name of her website, I didn’t find it in the top results.  The direct link to her website only showed up several pages beyond the first page of results.  The first several pages were filled with her detractors and other websites linking her website.  If I do a Google search for an exact title, why doesn’t it give me the most exact result right at the top?  Why does it give pages of indirect links before showing the direct link itself?

Are there search engines that give you more control instead of feeding you the info it thinks you want?  Is there a search engine that is upfront and transparent about its biases?

WordPress Censorship?

I think I may have stumbled across a case of censorship on WordPress.  I didn’t want to believe it, but there seems to be no other explanation and so I document it here (hoping there won’t be further censorship if such is the case).  The question is who would be able to censor blogs in this manner.  I assume it would have to be programmed into the software which means there is some combination of words or tags that causes a blog post to not show up.  But why?  What purpose would such censorship serve?

It all started when I posted the following blog:

Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression

Posted on July 10, 2009 by Benjamin Steele

I noticed something which led me to investigate further and I made these comments in that blog:

I was looking at my blog statistics and I noticed that no one had viewed this post yet. Usually, when a post has this many tags it gets viewed right away.

So, I checked out some of the tags. There are more recent posts by other bloggers who have posted under the same tags and there blogs already show up in the tag listing. I didn’t check every tag out, but so far this post has yet to show up in any of the tag listings that I’ve looked at. This is highly unusual as a post typically shows up in the tag listings as soon as it’s posted.

It makes me wonder if blog posts that have certain sets of tags get held off the tag listings until they’ve been inspected by someone. Anyways, it’s highly suspicious considering the subject of this post. It could just be a glitch in the system, but if so it’s the first I’ve noticed it.

I made another interesting observation. I looked at the page for the tag “CIA”. It didn’t show my blog even though it showed other blogs with posts more recent than mine, but that wasn’t the interesting part. It only listed posts from the last day. Most major tags have endless pages of posts. It simply isn’t possible that nobody on WordPress has tagged a blog post with the term “CIA” before today.

Either WordPress is having some system wide glitches that are making posts not show up or there is systematic censorship.

There must’ve been a glitch at least for the CIA tag page because now it shows more than a page of posts. However, my post is still not showing up on any of the tag pages that I’ve checked. If it is a glitch, why is it not effecting other blogger’s posts?

Right now (9:44 pm, Friday, 7/10/09) I did a Word Press search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which gave this result:

0 results for Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression (0.03 seconds)

Search into posts comments

Your search did not match any blog posts. Whoa.

  • Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
  • Try different keywords.
  • Try more general keywords.

And I did a Google search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which on the first page gave these 3 results that mentioned my blog post in the blurbs:

Marmalade

Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression. Posted on July 10, 2009 by Benjamin Steele that the 1950s was merely a clear example of the entire Cold War era.
benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ –

Alphabet Agencies — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress

Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression. This post started out being about the paranoia that the 1950s was merely a clear example of the entire Cold War era.
en.wordpress.com/tag/alphabet-agencies/ – 16 hours ago –
 
  1. World War Ii — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress (from page 2)

    Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression · Benjamin Steele wrote 8 hours ago : This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the
    en.wordpress.com/tag/world-war-ii/ –

I click on the Google search link to my blog Marmalade and it shows my post.  But I click on the link to “Alphabet Agencies” in the Google search results and it brings me to the WordPress page which says:

Blogs about: Alphabet Agencies

Sorry, we don’t have any posts here with that tag. You may want to try one of the sites below.

And I click on the link to “World War Ii” in the Google search results and it shows a whole list of Word Press posts, but notice despite Google’s search results my post is no where to be seen.

Blogs about: World War Ii

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ISI vs. CIA: When Spies Don’t Play Well With Their Allies1 comment

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Racial Animosity

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Pre-Order: “The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming’s Red Indians”

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Soviet Penal Rifle Battalions

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Update: I looked at the Word Press page for Censorship and this post showed up in the results immediately.  So, this post about the censorship of my other post shows up even while my other post continues to be blocked.  lol

Blogs about: Censorship

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WordPress Censorship1 comment

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Further Update: I copied verbatim my post “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” and re-posted it as “US Government: 1940s-90s”, but I left the original up as well.  The only things I changed were the title and the tags.  The original was still not showing up listed in Word Press tag pages, but the re-posting was.  Out of curiosity, I did a Yahoo search of both titles and a Google search of both post titles simultaneously with “OR” in between.  This search was about a day after re-posting which would allow the search engine web crawlers to find it.  There wasn’t any results from Yahoo and there was only one page of results from Google (see below).  Interestingly, there isn’t a single direct link to the re-posting in the Google results even though there are several indirect links to it.  I haven’t done a thorough investigation, but this seems like something typical of searches I’ve done in the past.  There apparently is a strange relationship between the search engines and Word Press.  I used to have several blogs from several hosted sites.  I’d post the same thing to each of them because I was testing them out in order to see which one I liked best.  I did like Word Press’ functionality the best, but one disconcerting observation was how the posts from the other hosting site would show up in the search engine top results while the Word Press posts didn’t always show up.  Why is it that when doing a specific search that Google gives me indirect links rather than direct links?

  • Blog: notes*: July 2009 

    And I did a Google search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which on the first page gave these 3 results that mentioned my blog post in the
    blogga-blognotes.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html – CachedSimilar
    US Government: 1940s-90s. Posted on July 13, 2009 by Benjamin Steele. This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the
    benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ – Similar

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    Jul 9, 2009 US Government: 1940s-90s · Benjamin Steele wrote 6 hours ago : This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness
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    Jul 11, 2009 Right now (9:44 pm, Friday, 7/10/09) I did a Word Press search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which gave this result: 0 results
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  •  US Government: 1940s-90s. Posted on July 13, 2009 by Benjamin Steele. This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the …
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    The oddest result on the above Google search was Addict-o-matic.  I clicked on it and the site is about creating a personalized page that shows internet buzz.  It apparently was just showing an example page for the results for web links related to “ku”, but I have no idea what “ku” is.   The webpage had several categories including a section for Word Press.  It oddly has both versions of my post and apparently they somehow relate to this “ku” thingy, but also in that same section are some blog posts that don’t seem related to mine at all.  Anyways, this random webpage has direct links to both of my posts and yet none of the major search engines do.  How did the Addict-o-matic find my posts?

    Addict-o-matic — Topic: recent results ku

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