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Reading: Feature bloat: Psychology boffins find people tend to add elements to solve a problem rather than take things away

From Feature bloat: Psychology boffins find people tend to add elements to solve a problem rather than take things away

This is why subscription software is a Bad Idea: The tendency is to add improvements rather than refactor improvements. Applies in composition, too: Students tended to try to solve problems by adding text rather than cutting.

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Reading: Don’t Buy the Conservative Rebellion Against Corporations

From Don’t Buy the Conservative Rebellion Against Corporations

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic calls out the Right’s argument on socially-conscientious corporate moves.

Woke is a nebulous term stolen from Black American English, repurposed by conservatives as an epithet to express opposition to forms of egalitarianism they find ridiculous or distasteful—in this case, the idea that constituents of the rival party should have an unfettered right to vote. Wedded to the term capital, it functions as an expression of the hollowness of conservative populism, which is opposed not to the concentration of corporate power so much as to the use of that power for purposes of which conservatives disapprove. Their aim is not to diminish corporate power, but to use it to their advantage. They seek to ensure that large firms use their influence to maintain the dominance of conservative cultural mores and Republican political power.

Serwer uses McConnell’s language back on him: hijack from the left is woke. Hijack from the right OK.

“Parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared from the Senate floor. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.” As the Associated Press notes, McConnell is “among the most outspoken champions of the role of big money in elections, promoting the free-flow of undisclosed dollars to campaigns as a form of Constitution-protected free speech.” Apparently, corporations are allowed to behave as parallel governments only when they are vehicles for right-wing billionaires to hijack the country from outside the constitutional order.

The woke problem on the right is that corporations who have garnered tax breaks were bought – and ought to stay bought.

Republicans have no interest in curtailing corporate power in this fashion—not when they believe that power could be used to reimpose a diminished cultural hegemony. These so-called populist Republicans do not wish to throw the one ring into Mount Doom; they simply want to wield it on their own behalf.

But it comes down to this:

Republicans have no ideas of their own to speak of, beyond issuing colorful threats to employ state coercion against firms that fail to do their bidding.

My Precious.

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Reading: GOP group tells online donors: Give every month or ‘we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR’ – CNNPolitics

From GOP group tells online donors: Give every month or ‘we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR’ – CNNPolitics

Rhetoric on the sign up pages.

This move works by classifying those who hesitate as failures and traitors. It’s pretty much extortion – a protection racket: Ya got a nice office here, don’t ya.

The campaign arm of House Republicans is using an aggressive tactic to push online donors toward committing to monthly contributions, telling them that opting out of having the same amount automatically charged to their credit card or withdrawn from their bank each month is an act of disloyalty toward former President Donald Trump.

Cozy. Quiet. It’d be a shame if something were to … happen. Right?

But Republicans — including Trump’s 2020 campaign — have gone to new lengths to tap into Trump’s popularity and strong-arm supporters into regular, automatic contributions.

Under that was a box committing donors to another April 7 donation, telling them that their “Trump Patriot Status” was “MISSING!”

“As a TOP grassroots supporter, we were surprised to see you ABANDONED him. This is your LAST CHANCE to update your status to ACTIVE!” the pre-checked box said.

Nice of you to give. The Boss, he’ll be happy. See ya next month. Be lucky.

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Reading: The Sudden Conservative Outrage Over Vaccine Passports – The Atlantic

From The Sudden Conservative Outrage Over Vaccine Passports – The Atlantic

An insight from Dave Frum on the right playing games with politics. the new conservative rhetoric as theatre.

But the point is not to win the fight, or even really to fight the fight. The point is to announce the fight, and to keep raging about it, even if you do not in fact fight it very hard. DeSantis surely does not agree with those Republicans who dismiss COVID-19 as a hoax, the COVID-19 vaccines as a menace, and vaccine certificates as the mark of the anti-Christ. He has repeatedly said that he will take the vaccine when it’s his turn. But he must reckon with a party in which anti-vaccination has joined pro-gun as an indispensable cultural marker—and as a potential veto bloc for anyone aspiring to a future Republican presidential nomination.

To appease those cultural blocs, Republican politicians must be willing to sacrifice everything, including what used to be the party’s foundational principles. To protect the gun, or to avoid contradicting the delusions of anti-vaccine paranoiacs, property rights must give way, freedom to operate a business must yield. The QAnon-curious Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed the new mentality when she took to Facebook to denounce vaccine passports as “corporate communism.” It sounded crazy. But if you understand that she interprets communism to mean “any interference in the right of people like me to do whatever we want, regardless of the rights of others”—then, yeah, the property rights of corporations will indeed look to her like a force of communism.

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Reading: Conservative Cancel Culture at Boise State

From Conservative Cancel Culture at Boise State

A morality tale

The Boise State debacle should be a lesson to college administrators everywhere. Colleges must be careful not to instantly believe any smear about so-called “woke” folks that gets tossed around. Colleges must investigate first, and only jump to punishment when there is strong evidence and penalty is justified. Colleges must improve their procedures and policies to protect due process. Colleges must have true shared governance and utilize faculty committees to investigate any allegations of misconduct in teaching. Colleges must resist political interference with clear principles rather than sacrificing scapegoats to powerful legislators. Colleges must have transparency and open debate rather than imposing gag orders on everyone. And when someone screws up royally, as Boise State administrators did so badly in this case, colleges must have systems of accountability where questions are fully answered and misconduct has consequences.

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Reading: Far-right news sources on Facebook more engaging | by Cybersecurity for Democracy | Cybersecurity for Democracy | Mar, 2021 | Medium

From Far-right news sources on Facebook more engaging | by Cybersecurity for Democracy | Cybersecurity for Democracy | Mar, 2021 | Medium

We found that politically extreme sources tend to generate more interactions from users. In particular, content from sources rated as far-right by independent news rating services consistently received the highest engagement per follower of any partisan group. Additionally, frequent purveyors of far-right misinformation had on average 65% more engagement per follower than other far-right pages. We found:

  • Sources of news and information rated as far-right generate the highest average number of interactions per follower with their posts, followed by sources from the far-left, and then news sources closer to the center of the political spectrum.

  • Looking at the far-right, misinformation sources far outperform non-misinformation sources. Far-right sources designated as spreaders of misinformation had an average of 426 interactions per thousand followers per week, while non-misinformation sources had an average of 259 weekly interactions per thousand followers.

  • Engagement with posts from far-right and far-left news sources peaked around Election Day and again on January 6, the day of the certification of the electoral count and the U.S. Capitol riot. For posts from all other political leanings of news sources, the increase in engagement was much less intense.

  • Center and left partisan categories incur a misinformation penalty, while right-leaning sources do not. Center sources of misinformation, for example, performed about 70% worse than their non-misinformation counterparts. (Note: center sources of misinformation tend to be sites presenting as health news that have no obvious ideological orientation.)

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Reading: Local Energy Deregulation Makes Climate Disasters Worse

From Local Energy Deregulation Makes Climate Disasters Worse

Making the case for regulation after Texas demonstrates that capitalism doesn’t do the right thing.

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Reading: US Capitol rioters ‘came prepared for war’, Senate hears in testimony

From US Capitol rioters ‘came prepared for war’, Senate hears in testimony

History’s second draft of Jan 6 from the Guardian.

The riot arose from a gathering to “save America” and “stop the steal”, inspired by Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and widely advertised on social media. Trump headlined the rally, delivering an incendiary speech which he had billed weeks earlier with a tweet saying: “Big protest in DC on 6 January. Be there, will be wild!”

The riot that ensued left five dead. A woman trying to break into the House was shot dead by police. A Capitol officer, Brian Sicknick, died after being struck with a fire extinguisher.

Meanwhile, a new AG is up for confirmation:

Garland’s emphasis on white supremacy, and his clear labelling of it as domestic terrorism, marks a departure from the leadership of Trump and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, who tended to minimize the danger or, in the case of the former president, actively refuse to condemn far-right and racist groups.

Heartening to see that Garland will address attempts to undermine commonsense with some distinction. The question is a trap, as Hawley wanted to present the riot as a “peaceful demonstration.”

Garland’s hearing saw him quizzed on his definition of domestic terror by one of the Republican senators accused of egging the seditionists on. Joshua Hawley of Missouri was photographed with a clenched fist in a display of solidarity with the “stop the steal” crowd outside the Capitol, shortly before violence erupted.

Hawley asked Garland if he thought violence against federal property during racial-justice protests was a form of domestic terrorism. Without mentioning Hawley’s actions on 6 January, Garland replied that to disrupt democratic processes, as in the Capitol insurrection, did fit the definition. “Attacking a courthouse at night” did not.

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Reading: Epic Games behind anti-Apple App Store legislation in North Dakota

From Epic Games behind anti-Apple App Store legislation in North Dakota

It takes a lot of nerve to outsource your legislative job.

A North Dakota bill that could upend Apple’s control of the iPhone app ecosystem was first given to a lawmaker in draft form by an Epic Games lobbyist, according to a new report.

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Reading: Opinion | Trump’s rot has reached the GOP’s roots – The Washington Post

From Opinion | Trump’s rot has reached the GOP’s roots – The Washington Post

Gerson in The Post gets at an underlying reason for conservative collapse under trump: no policy, no ideology, just fear:

There is a natural process by which political parties renew themselves. Newt Gingrich’s combative, uncompromising Republican revolution in the mid-1990s was a foil for the compassionate conservatism that defined the party in the 2000 presidential election. The rise of tea-party, anti-government populism set the stage for a contrasting reform conservatism, which sought to modernize government in pursuit of populist goals.

This dialectic, however, really operates only in the realm of policy. If Trumpism were merely a set of proposals, there could be an antithesis. But the movement fully revealed by the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol is united by a belief that the White, Christian America of its imagination is on the verge of destruction, and that it must be preserved by any means necessary. This is less a political philosophy than a warped religious belief. There can be no compromise in a culture war. There can be no splitting of differences at Armageddon.

Depressing. No way out?

The greatest need in our politics is a conservatism that opposes authoritarianism. The greatest question: Can such a movement emerge within the framework of the Republican Party?

As it stands, I am skeptical.

Doldrums, or Sargasso Sea?