You Are Still Crying Wolf | Slate Star Codex

there are not enough organized white supremacists to make up “a lot” of anyone’s support

Let me say this for the millionth time. I’m not saying Trump doesn’t have some racist attitudes and policies. I am saying that talk of “entire campaign built around white supremacy” and “the white power candidate” is deliberate and dangerous exaggeration.

I don’t think people appreciate how weird this guy is. His weird way of speaking. His catchphrases like “haters and losers!” or “Sad!”. His tendency to avoid perfectly reasonable questions in favor of meandering tangents about Mar-a-Lago. The ability to bait him into saying basically anything just by telling him people who don’t like him think he shouldn’t.

If you insist that Trump would have to be racist to say or do whatever awful thing he just said or did, you are giving him too much credit. Trump is just randomly and bizarrely terrible. Sometimes his random and bizarre terribleness is about white people, and then we laugh it off. Sometimes it’s about minorities, and then we interpret it as racism.

Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

Stop turning everything into identity politics.

Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes. In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again. When a guy who says outright that he won’t respect elections unless he wins them does, somehow, win an election, the headlines are how he once said he didn’t like globalists which means he must be anti-Semitic.

Source: You Are Still Crying Wolf | Slate Star Codex

How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand? – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation

If whistleblowers don’t dare reveal crimes and lies, we lose the last shred of effective control over our government and institutions. That’s why surveillance that enables the state to find out who has talked with a reporter is too much surveillance—too much for democracy to endure.

To have privacy, you must not throw it away: the first one who has to protect your privacy is you.

If we don’t want a total surveillance society, we must consider surveillance a kind of social pollution, and limit the surveillance impact of each new digital system just as we limit the environmental impact of physical construction.

Most data collection comes from people’s own digital activities. Usually the data is collected first by companies. But when it comes to the threat to privacy and democracy, it makes no difference whether surveillance is done directly by the state or farmed out to a business, because the data that the companies collect is systematically available to the state.

For the state to find criminals, it needs to be able to investigate specific crimes, or specific suspected planned crimes, under a court order. With the Internet, the power to tap phone conversations would naturally extend to the power to tap Internet connections. This power is easy to abuse for political reasons, but it is also necessary. Fortunately, this won’t make it possible to find whistleblowers after the fact, if (as I recommend) we prevent digital systems from accumulating massive dossiers before the fact.

Digital technology has brought about a tremendous increase in the level of surveillance of our movements, actions, and communications. … Unless we believe that our free countries previously suffered from a grave surveillance deficit, and ought to be surveilled more than the Soviet Union and East Germany were, we must reverse this increase.

Source: How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand? – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation

Joel Mokyr: Progress Isn’t Natural – The Atlantic

Humans invented it—and not that long ago.

Why might people in the past have been hesitant to embrace the idea of progress? The main argument against it was that it implies a disrespect of previous generations. As the historian Carl Becker noted in a classic work written in the early 1930s, “a Philosopher could not grasp the modern idea of progress … until he was willing to abandon ancestor worship, until he analyzed away his inferiority complex toward the past, and realized that his own generation was superior to any yet known.”

Progress, as was realized early on, inevitably entails risks and costs. But the alternative, then as now, is always worse.

Source: Joel Mokyr: Progress Isn’t Natural – The Atlantic