Four Things and they’re All Important

Several things today starting with Governor Kristi Noem on reopening schools.

Doing governance as it should be done.


Rachel Bovard at The Federalist has some thoughts about Big Tech and Monopolies.

Conservatives have alleged for years that these companies exhibit a bias against conservative points of view despite the fact that entities like Facebook and Google constitute a “global town square” and see themselves as key facilitators of free expression. This allegation has only grown louder as conservative members of Congress were shadow-banned. […]

In a January field hearing, the antitrust subcommittee heard testimony from small tech businesses who recounted in detail how Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon were “wielding their massive footprints as weapons, allegedly copying smaller competitors’s features or tweaking their algorithms in ways that put new companies at a costly disadvantage.” Or, in the words of Patrick Spence, head of the speaker company Sonos, the platforms “leverage dominance in one market to conquer or destroy adjacent markets, especially markets that may one day pose a threat to their dominance.”

Amazon, in particular, is dealing with discrepancies between what they told Congress — that they do not use third-party sales data to set prices for Amazon-branded products — and what their employees told the Wall Street Journal. Amazon is also facing allegations that they met with startups about investing, only to swipe other companies’ ideas for their own product lines.

Google has faced allegations that it self-preferences its search results, demoting non-Google results even when the information contained therein was more relevant to an individual’s search. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has altered its search algorithm on behalf of big businesses like eBay while modifying search results for terms like “abortion” and “immigration.”

None of this would matter so much if these companies didn’t wield such unprecedented amounts of power. But when Google constitutes 92 percent of worldwide internet searches, the opaque, unaccountable ways the company decides to filter information has tremendous consequences for business, human behavior, and independent thought.

Conservatives are rightly skeptical of government interference in the marketplace. But violations of existing antitrust law in the form of anticompetitive behavior isn’t regulation, it’s law enforcement. As the supposed champions of small entrepreneurs, conservatives should want to ensure that the field of commerce and innovation is fair and equally accessible.

Many on the political right have said for years that people unhappy with social media platforms should just “build their own.” So shouldn’t those same people want to make sure they still can?

The Threat to Individual Privacy

As an industry that makes money from the commoditization of hyper-individualized data, Big Tech knows more about us than any industry in human history. Indeed, Big Tech’s business model is based on knowing where we go (physically and virtually), what we say in our emails and text messages, what we buy, and even what our voices sound like.

This presents huge policy ramifications around what is “ours” and what is “theirs.” Do human beings have a property right to their data trail? Should there be limits on the type of data companies collect, what Big Tech can do with our data, or who they can share it with?

Consider that under a provision of HIPAA, hospital chains have shared the names, dates of birth, and medical histories of up to 50 million Americans with Google without the knowledge or consent of the patients or doctors. Google won’t say what they’re doing with the data, or the data they’ve recently acquired on 28 million users of Fitbit. In this bizarre legal landscape, Google has a right to your medical record, but you don’t.

These companies are also serial violators of individual privacy, despite presenting themselves as the opposite. Google reads our emails. Facebook reads our texts. Google still tracks the location of users who turn off geolocation services.

There quite a lot more and you should read and understand what she is saying.

Here is my take: I’m basically libertarian on economic policy, which most of you know BUT and its a big but: When the founder’s set up our government they endowed it with checks and balances against any branch becoming all-powerful. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 28:

Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized!

This has worked reasonably well over the years, but as business grew so large it became a power center in its own right, as we see now in Big Tech, where Google, for instance, will not cooperate with the US Department of Defense but is readily willing to work with the Chinese military. There are plenty of other examples. So, it seems that the government must be the check on unchecked business, because no other entity is large enough to do so, especially including other businesses. Here too it is as Madison said in Federalist 51

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.


Via CNN:

Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has died from coronavirus, according to an obituary sent from his verified Twitter account and Newsmax, where he was launching a television show.

May he rest in peace having fought the good fight.


And finally, Sgt Joe Friday has some words for Antifa and Black Live matters that ring as true today as they did when written in 1968.

 

 

Ok, Kids …

Put the books away. Reach over and turn off the news. Comfy? Why not go get something to drink, maybe a snack – and then come and sit with me.

I once lived in Pennsylvania for several years. I never heard of this place when I lived there or I certainly would have scheduled a trip. I stumbled across information about this place, many years ago now, and I take a look every now and then just to keep up with any additions.

It was Halloween season when I happened on this place on YouTube. The video had some catchy, typically Halloween-ish title and so I viewed it. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Trigger warning – no, not the snowflake kind, the stomach kind. Some of these things bring out our natural gag reflex at the same time completely capturing our imagination and wonder. What a brilliant concept this place was and I’m so glad it has withstood the passage of time and that it is even more popular today.

Oh; in case you’re wanting more – and want to laugh, too – look up this place and choose any video that mentions Mike Rowe in the title. He’s a natural, low-key comedian and he cracks me up; add that to the displays here and it’s a match made in heaven.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I introduce you to the Mutter Museum.

Are You Ready?

No. Not this guy.

I have been following a lovely young man on YouTube; his channel is Jamel a.k.a. Jamal. He does reaction videos to music he’s not heard before. Since a preponderance of music he has never heard comes from my generation (our teenage/young adult years), it’s great fun to not only enjoy a song I haven’t heard in a hundred years but to watch a young person react to hearing them for the first time. I recommend you check him out.

Because I enjoyed his music reactions so much, I stumbled on another young man who does music reaction videos with his wife. They are not as good as Jamel’s so I don’t pay much attention to those but this morning I found his videos reacting to ghost stories found on the various media – YT (mostly), Tik Toc, etc. Now those are priceless!

Here’s my racist remark for the day. I think most black folks are just naturally funny. They have an outlook and experiences that parallel mine but they have a completely different take and always seem to find that funny side. I enjoy that.

Back when black and white folks were friends and co-workers (only 10 yrs. ago!!!), a couple of the black guys from the loading dock would join us office workers at the smoking table for lunch or cigarette breaks and we’d jabber on about any old thing. One time, we got to talking about horror movies and those guys had us just laughing like crazy, telling us about the difference between white folks and black folks and scary stuff. They would say, “Know why so many white folks die in those movies? ‘Cause they always have to ‘go look’. We don’t ‘go look’. We say F that and we’re gone!” They were hilarious.

It was with those fond memories in mind that I decided to watch one of his ghost reaction videos and now I’m hooked. He watches his language pretty well and instead of the f-bomb, he says, “oh HELL no!” Gets me to laughing til I’m almost silly (watch it now!)

Without further ado, let me introduce you to The Matthews Fam.

Video Monday, Independence Day

One unimportant problem with the 4th of July is that while we want to make a serious point about why the US is, there is so much partying going on, and we want to share that too. So it always overruns the holiday itself. And so Video Monday makes a comeback.

My navy friends tell me that when a commander boards a ship he is announced by his command, say like “USS Enterprise, arriving”

So this would be “The United States of America, arriving” and dramatically too.

The big news was the President’s speech (and we’ll get there) but South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem gave a barnburner of her own in introducing the President.

Sorry, it’s a Twitter embed, it’s already hard to find. Suppose some people are scared of her? And us?

That quote about the man in the arena is from President Theodore Roosevelt, who knew something about the man in the arena.

Then the Presiden spoke, some are calling his “A time for turning” speech. I disagree, I think he, like a famous Englishwoman, is not for turning.

Of course, there were fireworks, or as John Adams would have it, Illuminations

And then Saturday, on the south lawn of the White house

It starts just before 7 minutes into the video. And if you don’t happen to know that first tune, it’s from the civil war, there are two versions, a Confederate one, and a Union one. This is the Union one.

The Union Irish Brigade was one of the premier battle forces in the Army of the Potomac, but there were many others, for instance, there was the Iron Brigade of the West pretty much destroyed at Gettysburg, who marched into that fracas with the fires and drums playing this

Causing one Southron soldier to comment, “Tain’t no militia, boys, it those Black Hat Boys, ” from the Kossuth hats that were the mark of the Brigade.

That’s the sort of war it took to make all men equal, at least under law. We’re still working towards that “more perfect Union”.

So rally round the Flag, indeed.

 

The Voice of an Angel

Three years ago on Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday and the release of her last album, I wrote this>

Yesterday we regretted the loss of Chuck Berry, whom so many of us loved and enjoyed. Today is a happier occasion for today is the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, OStJ, CH, honorary citizen of Nashville Tennessee, holder of the British War medal, and the Burma Star. She is known worldwide as the British Forces Sweetheart. Quite a career for a girl from Wales.

And besides, all here know of my weakness for British, especially Welsh, redheads, so any excuse to feature one is welcome.

Her first recording was Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, recorded on Crown Records in 1936.

 

Her greatest fame came during the Second World War when she became the Force’s Sweetheart with songs such as these

No doubt some purist will miss the point, saying that so many of those pictures were of American soldiers, and indeed they were. And yet, while Dame Vera was the British Forces Sweetheart, our musical tastes became so entwined together that we still haven’t sorted them out.

Many of you know that my normal music here is a couple of British stations that mostly broadcast music from the forties, and indeed that is my favorite popular music. So yes, I hear a good bit of Vera Lynn and other British singers and bands, but I hear an awful lot of the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Major Miller, and other Americans, too. Strikes me that we finally got to know each other and we found rather liked each other. It’s still true.

Yes, sometimes we despair of each other, but we’ve been there before, and we muddled through. I think and pray we shall again.

To me, this always brings back the British North African campaign culminating at El Alamein, with the Tommies and Germans romancing the same B-girls in Tobruk in their turn. I think it originally a German song, but hey, when haven’t Brits and Yanks stolen a good tune.

And this

This

For me, this song has to be accompanied by the sound of the Rolls Royce powered Spitfire, for it is the sound of those few that saved us all. Truly a

This is interesting

This is the only footage I’ve found of her during the war

 

Eventually, it was over

But she kept right on singing, this was the very first #1 on the American charts, in 1952, by a British artist.

Welcoming the troops home from the Falklands.

And still, she pressed on, Decca released a new album,  Vera Lynn 100, just three years ago. Here is the trailer

 

So, how do we end this glorious retrospective? There is only one possible way, in my mind.

And there will truly always be:

Even if sometimes we fear it will only be in our hearts. But I doubt that –

But maybe we best learn to teach our history better.

The band of The Coldstream Guards remember.

The b side of her smash hit Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart on both sides of the pond rather says it all, I think.

Till we all meet again, rest in peace, Dame Vera.

 

 

No real boundaries

I was moved Sunday to see folks back at church. It’s been a long haul for everyone but believers had an additional challenge of having to worship alone – although we often speak of the heavenly host being with us when we pray, it sure felt like alone. But God has a will and way for everybody and so our priests and pastors became techies so that we could come together for prayer and worship; FaceBook Messenger, Zoom, Skype, Face Time. We learned we could pray corporately while being isolated and it helped many people get through to the time of reopening. I am reminded of the old adage that we don’t know what we’ve got til it’s gone. It was never really gone, it has no real boundaries, but we felt cut adrift and that’s not a good feeling.

Here is a touching little video our friends of the Roman Church might enjoy. 

For sweet simplicity, there’s this

And this

But there is also this

I found this one to be fascinating!

Whoever seeks Him, no matter who they are, He can be found. Because there are no real boundaries.

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