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Reading: More outsourcing troubles | academeblog.org

From More outsourcing troubles | academeblog.org

Eden Moglen quoted in Hank Reichman nails Zoom and the university administrators who have been pushing it in one go:

Here too the existing policies and practices are improvisations, based implicitly on the incorrect belief that there is no preferable technological alternative. Even if video-conferencing were a good way to teach law school, Zoom would be the worst possible technological choice.

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Reading: tax avoidance as an exploit | www.theguardian.com

From tax avoidance as an exploit | www.theguardian.com

> The billionaires don’t just exploit the loopholes. They also make them through pushing for ever-expanding exemptions from the tax burden they would otherwise pay. In Trump’s case, it is true in the most literal sense that he made the rules he benefits from. Trump’s major legislative initiative was a whole new tax cut tilted toward giving wealthy people like himself even more favorable treatment. It’s one thing to pay only your legal minimum but understand that the system is unfair. It’s quite another to be actively trying to make that system more grotesquely unequal.

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Reading: Historians Analyze the Danger of Trump | nymag.com

From Historians Analyze the Danger of Trump | nymag.com

Cold comfort. But history can offer little else.

Zilblatt said he once laughed off comparisons of the U.S. to the Weimar Republic, noting Germany in the early 1930s “had a major economic crisis and the trauma of millions of people dead in World War I.” However, while it’s not exactly the same, Zilblatt said Americans are nevertheless “suffering economically and from the trauma of death and being isolated” amid a recession and a pandemic that has left over 200,000 dead barely a month before Election Day.

Obviously, neither Hitler nor fascism is coming around the corner in the United States. But, the fact that such a comparison can even be considered by a serious political scientist with a straight face shows how far things have degenerated.

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Reading: Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we’re all feeling right now

From Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we’re all feeling right now

Ennui for the 2020s and beyond.

More than a label

Reviving the language of acedia is important to our experience in two ways.

First, it distinguishes the complex of emotions brought on by enforced isolation, constant uncertainty and the barrage of bad news from clinical terms like “depression” or “anxiety”.

Saying, “I’m feeling acedia” could legitimise feelings of listlessness and anxiety as valid emotions in our current context without inducing guilt that others have things worse.

Second, and more importantly, the feelings associated with physical isolation are exacerbated by emotional isolation – that terrible sense that this thing I feel is mine alone. When an experience can be named, it can be communicated and even shared.

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Reading: Trump was cued to his audience last Saturday

From Trump was cued to his audience last Saturday

CNN noticed that Trump was cued to the local audience last Saturday

“You have good genes, you know that, right?” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. “You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”

The President was speaking to a nearly all-White crowd in Bemidji, Minnesota, a city that’s about 80% White in a state that’s even more White.

It’s a small observation but an important one: One we’ve seen before.

The tack of playing racial politics by taking refuge in abstraction has a long history in Republican circles.

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N****r, n****r, n****r.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n****r’ — that hurts you, backfires,” the Republican political operative Lee Atwater said in 1981. “So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now (that) you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is (that) Blacks get hurt worse than Whites.”

Trump and his defenders might say that the President was merely talking about genes. But depending on who was listening, he was talking about much, much more.

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Reading: White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

From White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

Ars details Thursday’s trump conceits in full, but I’m extracting just the health statements with the hope of spreading them far and wide.

But it was Redfield who worked the hardest to promote public health. Holding up his own face mask, he told the committee, “These are the most powerful public health tool we have.” He went on to repeat an earlier statement, that widespread use of masks for six to 12 weeks could bring the pandemic under control. “We have clear scientific evidence that they work,” he testified, saying they’re “more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” His reasoning was that all vaccines fail to elicit an immune response at a measurable rate, whereas all masks provide at least some degree of protection.

Redfield also injected a large dose of reality when the topic shifted to vaccines. The Trump administration has appropriately begun planning for the widespread distribution of a vaccine as soon as one passes safety and efficacy trials. But the fact that current planning calls for distribution to begin just before the November presidential election has raised concerns about whether the timing might be motivated by politics rather than safety. And there’s clearly going to be a substantial gap between initial distribution and widespread availability.

Redfield decided it was time for the public to hear about the size of that gap. He said initial availability would be in the area of November-December but would only go to high-priority populations like health care workers and the elderly. The majority of the American public would probably have to wait for the third quarter of 2021.

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Reading: Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

From Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

John Gruber has become my favorite tech critic – speaking truth to less-than-legitimate power.

This is Facebook’s political/PR strategy on this issue: (1) to ask everyone to ignore the plain truth that Apple’s changes to IDFA tracking are for exactly the reason Apple states: to give users control over their own privacy; and (2) to claim that Apple’s actions aren’t hurting Facebook but instead are hurting “small businesses”. Small businesses are taking advantage of privacy invasive user-tracking ad placement, but if their ads are less effective without privacy invasive user-tracking, then so be it, they’re less effective. The idea that we don’t dare do anything good for privacy that might reduce the efficacy of user-tracking ads because “pity the poor small businesses” is sophistry.

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Reading: Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

From Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

I usually don’t want to be flip about trump’s waste of time, but this one begs for it. The wording of this directive reveals that the training is needed – even to understand the directive.

“All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

“Structural” is not “inherent.” Discuss.

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Reading: AT&T backs Trump plan, demands “neutrality” on Facebook, Amazon, and Google

From AT&T backs Trump plan, demands “neutrality” on Facebook, Amazon, and Google

AT&T is exploiting trump-sown confusion by attempting to re-define “neutrality.”

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Reading: The COVID Reopening Disasters

From The COVID Reopening Disasters

This is not just a matter of rehashing old news. The rise of Covid infections at universities, as narrated in Acade, tells us a lot about what we’ve been doing wrong all summer.