The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment

I would like Mitchell (and Don or anyon else) to discuss the following Wired article: It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech. I think it touches on some of the issues that Mitchell and I have been discussing, while bringing up insights that we may not have specifically and explicitly addressed. Here are some passages that stood out for me: Continue reading “The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment”

What Does Information Security Mean in a Democracy?

My understanding is that authoritarian regimes take information security very seriously. To these regimes, information security involves controlling information that can be a threat to the regime–e.g., information that reveals corruption or violation of human rights. But democratic countries should also care about information security, too–albeit using a different definition. In democratic societies, I think information security should involve protecting public discourse from malicious information warfare, while ensuring that accurate information plays a central role in the discourse. Who will be doing the “protecting?” In my view, the independent press will play a key role in this, and possibility academics and think-tanks. Here are some quick thoughts about this: Continue reading “What Does Information Security Mean in a Democracy?”

Favorite Film Directors Right Now

This idea popped into my head a couple of months ago when I wondered who my favorite directors are right now. I’ve played around with the idea a lot since then, and decided on these evaluation criteria:

  1. A living director’s three most recent full-length, fictional films.
  2. If I’ve only seen two of the three, I’m allowed to go to the fourth-most recent, but no deeper than that.
  3. The major factor is the average of my Criticker ratings for the three films.
  4. Carrying less weight but still a factor: my personal preferences for a director’s other decisions.

Still a work in progress, those criteria, but it’s what I’m working with for now.
Continue reading “Favorite Film Directors Right Now”

How Important Is Protecting Our Elections From Russian Interference?

I’m going to kick this thread off with a quote from a Fox News interview with Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday warned the United States is ill-prepared to prevent Russian interference in the upcoming midterms, as it was in the 2016 general election.

“I don’t know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt as well,” Tillerson said in an exclusive interview with Fox News in Bogota, Colombia. “The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps we can take but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it.”

What the heck. We’re not prepared, but Tillerson almost seems to be implying it doesn’t matter because it wouldn’t make a difference. Ugh. Anyway, election security is one of my biggest concerns this year. By “election security,” I don’t only mean preventing vote tallies actually being changed, but I also mean manipulation voters through information warfare, which can mean things like stealing emails from a politicians and releasing selected sections or altering the email to cause political damage. Interference can mean using foreign money or even blackmail, not only to politicians, but key figures in the society (e.g., journalists, business people, etc.) getting them to influence an election. This is a huge deal.

This is really big deal. Do you guys agree with me on this?

How Local Businesses Can Compete Against Wal-Mart’s Red Pickle

You might be thinking about why a local company would feel the need to compete against Wal-Mart’s red pickle. You’ve come to the right place to learn the answer. You see, it relates to one of their key principles to not only their current success, but their future success as well. To find out how the red pickle is important to their current and future success, I recommend first listening to the Planet Money podcast below.

If you don’t want to listen to this, I’m going to describe the key points below, but I think both Mitchell and Don would find the podcast interesting. Continue reading “How Local Businesses Can Compete Against Wal-Mart’s Red Pickle”

Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo

(Note: This is post is more of a work in progress. My rationale is that if I don’t post this soon, I never will, and I do want to test the idea out–an idea I mentioned briefly in this post. Think of it as a beta-test; or maybe watching me build a house in front of everyone, while hopefully getting some help from those watching. Also, not that I have to tell you this, but please take what I say with a grain of salt. There could be errors, here. Indeed, if you guys notice them let me know, particularly any factual errors or other significant inaccuracies.)

This scorecard will focus on Rep. Devin Nunes’s memo. Score will be kept about the claims made by the memo, as well as counter-claims. I’ll also keep score on the people making the claims. Here are brief summaries of the two main claims:

The Nunes Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Nunes has found that DOJ/FBI have improperly got FISA warrant to set up surveillance on Carter Page.
    The claim is that Christopher Steele’s dossier was the primary reason for this. The claim is that FBI/DOJ(?) didn’t give background information about Steele dossier, namely that Steele hired by Fusion GPS, who was hired by DNC to do opposition research on Trump. (Fusion GPS actually initiated the research from a conservative group during GOP primary.)
    The contention is that the memo will reveal serious misconduct and perhaps show politicization of the Russia investigation.
    Nunes did make changes to the memo, after it was voted on to be made public, but Nunes claims the changes were minor (grammatical type of changes.
  • The Schiff Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Schiff believes the memo is baseless and also dangerous–in that it can expose classified information and possibly sources and methods of gathering that information;
    Schiff says the memo is undermining the trust between Congress and the intelligence community;
    Democrats have also written a memo to debunk the Nunes memo, but as far as I know the HPSCI hasn’t allowed its release.
    FBI and DOJ have said the oppose the release of the memo.
    Rep. Schiff claims that Nunes changed the memo after it was voted on to be released. In other words, the memo sent to the WH is different from the one the committee voted on releasing.
  • Continue reading “Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo”