Facebook is a Double-edged Sword

It cuts both ways

France Haugen testifying before the Senate. Photo credit: Drew Angewrer/Getty Images

Facebook is a double-edged sword. And like many things in life, it can be a force for good or evil. First the good. It is a means of connecting and staying in touch with other like-minded human beings or family members. It can hook you up with long-lost friends or relatives. It can be fun, entertaining, and a platform for free expression and creativity. I have met people from all over the world and even in my own city that I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. And I really do care about these people.

Now, the bad.

Facebook can be divisive, polarizing, and demoralizing.

There is a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who worked as a product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team during and after the 2020 election testifying before congress right now.

The key problem, Haugen has argued, is that Facebook’s business is built around driving as much engagement as possible from the social network’s billions of users, and data shows that social media users engage more with inflammatory content.

“When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other,” she added. The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.” 

“Extremists subsequently weaponized Facebook to plan the Capitol riot. Facebook posts have repeatedly been cited by federal prosecutors in cases against the Capitol.”

“Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” Frances Haugen told Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes.” She went on to say, “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Mark Zuckerberg operates according to his motto: “Move fast and break things.” Which would seem to presage living in a consequence-free environment. However, in 2019, the FTC fined Facebook a record-breaking five billion dollars for deceiving billions of users and failing to protect their privacy.

So, I have mixed feelings about Facebook. I have been in some pretty ugly Facebook fights that were unpleasant, and I have dropped friends and have been dropped. Neither of my two sisters is friends with me on Facebook because of my political views and edgy comments. That makes me sad. But, on the other hand, I have some remarkable friends that I interact with every day and share ideas with and pictures and well wishes who I wouldn’t give up for the world. I also have an audience, some of whom will actually listen to me and read my rants and raves. For that, I am truly grateful. But Facebook needs to clean up its act and be more of a force for good. I know they can do better!

Cancel Culture

From the Desk of the Editor

Cancel Culture. Is it a thing or is it not a thing? Or is it market forces just working things out? Or is it just the next level of political correctness working itself in? I guess if you are the person who gets cancelled it is a thing. Especially those high-end individuals who get their show canceled or lose their cushy job. But what about the rest of us poor slobs working somewhat lower in the social hierarchy? To us, every day is Cancel Culture. We stand to get fired every day our existence. Say something wrong, do something wrong, boom! You are in line at the unemployment office. I used to have a boss who was fond of saying you are only as good as your last time at bat and one aw shit cancelled out ten atta boys!  One morning at a production meeting after a pretty miserable night’s performance on the factory floor he went around the room and singled out everybody one by one and threatened them with their jobs. When got to me he paused a minute, I had just been transferred and hadn’t been there long enough to fuck anything up. But in the spirit of not leaving anybody out he said to me, “…and I ‘ll send your ass back to Houston!”

Well, I worked there another 12 years and got a couple of promotions, so I didn’t get canceled. But I saw plenty of others get cancelled. And for them it was real.

Now, I am of the opinion that if you are a high-profile entertainer or a TV personality and you said some shit 20 years ago that you regret saying, you probably should not get canceled. There has to be some room for personal growth, redemption, and forgiveness. If you are a high-ranking editor at New York Times and you publish an opinion piece by a US Senator that is unpopular that should not be grounds for dismissal. There is nothing more sacred than free speech. If we lose that then what are we? Mice or men?

When you lose your job that is like corporate capital punishment. You have to be able to make living. If you mess up bad on the job, or do some questionable shit, yes, you should be held accountable. But it should not be permanent exile. Unless that shit’s real bad, in that case, it’s off to Siberia with you! And if you are Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein, then it’s the slammer!

Let’s use a little common sense and not go too far out into the field of political correctness lest we get bogged down in the Cancel Culture.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Posse Comitatus

Trump wants to mobilize active duty U.S. military to attack peaceful protestors. This action would be unconstitutional, unlawful, and unconscionable. It is the action of a dictator and tyrant and a further degradation of our democracy. What Trump really wants is a race war.

What makes this illegal is the Posse Comitatus Act which states: Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. The exception to this law is the Insurrection Act. But to use this there has to be an insurrection, and what is happening is clearly not an insurrection.

The Attorney General for New York, Letitia James, has stated, “We will not allow Donald Trump to dominate New York.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagreed with President Trump’s threatened use of the 1807 Insurrection Act. Speaking to reports at a recent Pentagon briefing Esper said, “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

In my view, any soldier asked to deploy to an American city to fight protestors and enforce the law has a duty to disobey this unlawful order.

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

I’ve decided to do something a little different on my blog. I do travel pieces from time to time, but usually I wait until I get home and edit my photos and then put a story together. This time I thought I’d do something in real time. I am currently on a trip to Ajijic Mexico. I’ve been here a few days and it’s been quite an adventure so far.

I secured lodgings through my Airbnb ap. This is my fourth trip with Airbnb and while every experience has been different they have all been good.

Here’s where I’m staying in Ajijic:

My new lodgings for the next few weeks

The street where I live full of cobbles and bits

And a nice little garden out back

To be continued…

BLOOD AND SOIL

The Myth of Blood and Soil

According to Karl Popper, writing in his The Open Society and its Enemies, The Myth of Blood and Soil was originated by Plato and detailed in The Republic. Plato freely admits that the myth is a lie. It was a propaganda ploy used to bolster his idea of the ideal state which is totalitarian in nature ruled by a philosopher king and a racially pure elite.

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The Myth of Blood and Soil is based on two ideas: 1. In order to strengthen the defense of the mother country men are born of the earth of their country which is their mother.  2. Racialism: “God has put gold into those who are capable of ruling, silver into the auxiliaries, and iron and copper into the peasants and other producer classes.” These metals are racial characteristics. Any admixture of one of these base metals must be excluded from the higher classes. In other words, only those with racial purity may rule. Plato goes on to say that any mixing of the metals will lead to the fall of man. “Iron will mingle with silver and bronze with gold, and from this admixture variation will be born and absurd irregularity; and whenever these are born they will they will beget struggle and hostility; the city (state) must perish when guarded by iron and copper” and lead to the degradation and the fall of man. Remember, Plato admits that the Myth of Blood and Soil is a propaganda lie useful in persuading his rulers to follow his racial policies.

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Fast forward to Germany in the late 19th century where the phrase Blood and Soil was appropriated by the Germans to signify and glorify racialism and nationalism. The German translation reads: “Blut und Boden.” Rural life was idealized and combined with the ideas of racism and anti-Semitism. “Blood and Soil” became a key phrase of Nazi ideology.

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This phrase has been taken up and by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups here in the United States as a rallying cry.  Nazis could be heard chanting the phrase, “Blood and Soil” on the streets of Charlottesville as they marched carrying their torches.

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