Category Archive 'Google'
02 Sep 2017

We’re All “Serfs on Google’s Farm”

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Josh Marshall, at leftist Talking Points Memo,

[W]e at TPM – and some version of this is the case for the vast majority of publishers – are connected to Google at almost every turn. … Running TPM absent Google’s various services is almost unthinkable. Like I literally would need to give it a lot of thought how we’d do without all of them. Some of them are critical and I wouldn’t know where to start for replacing them. In many cases, alternatives don’t exist because no business can get a footing with a product Google lets people use for free.

But here’s where the rubber really meets the road. The publishers use DoubleClick. The big advertisers use DoubleClick. The big global advertising holding companies use Doubleclick. Everybody at every point in the industry is wired into DoubleClick. Here’s how they all play together. The adserving (Doubleclick) is like the road. (Adexchange) is the biggest car on the road. But only AdExchange gets full visibility into what’s available. (There’s lot of details here and argument about just what Google does and doesn’t know. But trust me on this. They keep the key information to themselves. This isn’t a suspicion. It’s the model.) So Google owns the road and gets first look at what’s on the road. So not only does Google own the road and makes the rules for the road, it has special privileges on the road. One of the ways it has special privileges is that it has all the data it gets from search, Google Analytics and Gmail. It also gets to make the first bid on every bit of inventory. Of course that’s critical. First dibs with more information than anyone else has access to. (Some exceptions to this. But that’s the big picture.) It’s good to be the king. It’s good to be a Google.

There’s more I’ll get to in a moment but the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is so vastly important to the entirety of the web, digital publishing and the entire ad industry that it is almost impossible to overstate. Again. They own the road. They make the rules for the road. They get special privileges on the road with every new iteration of rules.

In recent years, the big new things are various kinds of private deals and private markets you can set up to do business in different ways with advertisers. That uses Google architecture and they take a percentage. How much of a percentage does Google take on what I was referring to above – the so-called open auction? No one knows.

Now Google can say – and they are absolutely right – that every month they send checks for thousands and millions of dollars to countless publishers that make their journalism possible. And in general Google tends to be a relatively benign overlord. But as someone who a) knows the industry inside and out – down to the most nuts and bolts mechanics – b) someone who understands at least the rudiments of anti-trust law and monopoly economics and c) can write for a sizable audience, I can tell you this.: Google’s monopoly control is almost comically great. It’s a monopoly at every conceivable turn and consistently uses that market power to deepen its hold and increase its profits. Just the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practices.

There’s one way that Google is better than Facebook. When Facebook is getting a bigger and bigger share of the advertising pie, that money is almost all going to Facebook. There are some small exceptions but that’s basically the case. When Google is making insane amounts of money on advertising, it’s not really the same since a huge amount of that advertising is running on websites which are getting a cut. Still, the big story is that Google and Facebook now have a dominant position in the entirety of the advertising ecosystem and are using their monopoly power to take more and more of the money for themselves.

We’re basically too small for Google to care about. So I wouldn’t say we’ve had any bad experiences with Google in the sense of Google trying to injure us or use its power against us. What we’ve experienced is a little different. Google is so big and so powerful that even when it’s trying to do something good, it can be dangerous and frightening.

Here’s an example.

With the events of recent months and years, Google is apparently now trying to weed out publishers that are using its money streams and architecture to publish hate speech. Certainly you’d probably be unhappy to hear that Stormfront was funded by ads run through Google. I’m not saying that’s happening. I’m just giving you a sense of what they are apparently trying to combat. Over the last several months we’ve gotten a few notifications from Google telling us that certain pages of ours were penalized for ‘violations’ of their ban for hate speech. When we looked at the pages they were talking about they were articles about white supremacist incidents. Most were tied to Dylann Roof’s mass murder in Charleston.

Now in practice all this meant was that two or three old stories about Dylann Roof could no longer run ads purchased through Google. I’d say it’s unlikely that loss to TPM amounted to even a cent a month. Totally meaningless. But here’s the catch. The way these warnings work and the way these particular warnings were worded, you get penalized enough times and then you’re blacklisted.

Now, certainly you’re figuring we could contact someone at Google and explain that we’re not publishing hate speech and racist violence. We’re reporting on it. Not really. We tried that. We got back a message from our rep not really understanding the distinction and cheerily telling us to try to operate within the no hate speech rules. And how many warnings until we’re blacklisted? Who knows?

If we were cut off, would that be Adexchange (the ads) or DoubleClick for Publishers (the road) or both? Who knows?

If the first stopped we’d lose a big chunk of money that wouldn’t put us out of business but would likely force us to retrench. If we were kicked off the road more than half of our total revenue would disappear instantly and would stay disappeared until we found a new road – i.e., a new ad serving service or technology. At a minimum that would be a devastating blow that would require us to find a totally different ad serving system, make major technical changes to the site to accommodate the new system and likely not be able to make as much from ads ever again. That’s not including some unknown period of time – certainly weeks at least – in which we went with literally no ad revenue.

Needless to say, the impact of this would be cataclysmic and could easily drive us out of business.

Now it’s never happened. And this whole scenario stems from what is at least a well-intentioned effort not to subsidize hate speech and racist groups. Again, it hasn’t happened. So in some sense the cataclysmic scenario I’m describing is as much a product of my paranoia as something Google could or might do. But when an outside player has that much power, often acts arbitrarily (even when well-intentioned) and is almost impossible to communicate with, a significant amount of paranoia is healthy and inevitable.

I give this example only to illustrate the way that Google is so powerful and so all-encompassing that it can actually do great damage unintentionally.

RTWT

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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NYM is obviously a lot smaller than TPM, and unlike TPM, tries to operate without outside funding. This is undoubtedly severely limiting. I pay for expenses out of pocket, and can’t afford subscriptions to costly research services. I have no interns or assistants. I don’t make anything more than pocket change, and therefore blogging is just a small avocation and minor duty for me. A more serious blog, making a real income, would contain a lot more original writing and research.

Sometime back, I used to make something like $150-200 a couple of times a year from Google Adsense. One day Google’s Ads disappeared. It took me six months or so to notice (sigh!). And when I looked into what had happened, this was roughly four years ago, I found I had been given an ultimatum from Google. I had to remove a posting and beg to be forgiven, and then I might have my ads restored.

I sent the Google Adsense team a foreign language literary reference, “Ich heisse Götz von Berlichingen,” inviting them to kiss my ass. I have since done without Google Adsense.

Here’s the posting describing all that.

Josh Marshall is right, I think, to be concerned with the power wielded these days by a handful of corporations which have arrived at positions of control over speech and communications incidentally in the course of the more conventional corporate drive for profit and market control.

Companies like Google are demonstrably not above applying Planetary-sized corporate muscle to enforce standards not only of speech, but of opinion, reflecting the mere prejudices and whims of corporate chieftains applied robotically by lesser imps deep in the depths of their own bureaucracy.

Libertarians like myself would normally be found arguing that Google isn’t really a monopoly, you can use Duck Duck Go or Bing instead, and contending that corporations have a right to make their own terms. Today, however, we have corporations possessed, ephemerally perhaps, of dominant position gate-keeping kinds of power, appointing themselves as universal censors of speech and political opinion they do not like. They are literally able to silence people they look upon unfavorably, and they are therefore, in reality, exercising governmental powers without anybody ever having voted and elected them.

The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 applied an older Common Law doctrine of Public Accommodations being required to serve everyone. There is no reason that the same doctrine shouldn’t be applied to the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Go Daddy.

17 Aug 2017

Scary

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The Washington Post reports that many of the key companies providing social networking, financial transfer, and even web-site registration have now decided to take it upon themselves to decide just who is, and who is not, worthy of Internet services and access.

Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.

The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for alt-right organizations to reach mass audiences.

But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. …

The censorship of hate speech by companies passes constitutional muster, according to First Amendment experts. But they said there is a downside of thrusting corporations into that role.

Silicon Valley firms may be ill-prepared to manage such a large societal responsibility, they added. The companies have limited experience handling these issues. They must answer to shareholders and demonstrate growth in users or profits — weighing in on free speech matters risks alienating large groups of customers across the political spectrum.

These platforms are also so massive — Facebook, for example, counts a third of the world’s population in its monthly user base; GoDaddy hosts and registers 71 million websites — it may actually be impossible for them to enforce their policies consistently.

Still, tech companies are forging ahead. On Wednesday, Facebook said it canceled the page of white nationalist Christopher Cantwell, who was connected to the Charlottesville rally. The company has shut down eight other pages in recent days, citing violations of the company’s hate speech policies. Twitter has suspended several extremist accounts, including @Millennial_Matt, a Nazi-obsessed social media personality.

On Monday, GoDaddy delisted the Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi site, after its founder celebrated the death of a woman killed in Charlottesville. The Daily Stormer then transferred its registration to Google, which also cut off the site. The site has since retreated to the “dark Web,” making it inaccessible to most Internet users.

PayPal late Tuesday said it would bar nearly three dozen users from accepting donations on its online payment platform following revelations that the company played a key role in raising money for the white supremacist rally.

In a lengthy blog post, PayPal outlined its long-standing policy of not allowing its services to be used to accept payments or donations to organizations that advocate racist views.

You won’t however find any mention of ANTIFA, the CPUSA, or any group on the Left receiving this kind of attention.

RTWT

12 Aug 2017

Steve Jobs vs. Sundar Pichai

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12 Aug 2017

T Shirt

HT: Karen L. Myers.

11 Aug 2017

The Inevitable Comment

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

09 Aug 2017

Latest From Mountain View

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Babylon Bee:

At a special press conference held at the technology giant’s sprawling campus Tuesday, Google engineers revealed exciting new technology that autocorrects any errant thoughts its users are having, replacing them with positions approved by the company.

Utilizing advanced retinal scan and proprietary telepathic scanning technology, the new automatic thought correction algorithm is now live for users of Google’s search engine, Android operating system, Chrome OS, and the hundreds of other apps and services the company provides.

“Let’s say you start thinking there may be some kind of inherent biological difference between men and women,” Google employee Ryan Vo said in a live demo of the new tech. “Immediately, the thought suggestion program in any nearby Google device, app, or service will scrub the idea of inherent gender differences and replace them with the sure knowledge that there are at least three hundred different genders in existence, and always has been.”

“Google will begin rebuilding your mind, piece by piece,” he added to the cheers and applause of the tech bloggers and industry professionals gathered.

According to the spokesperson, Google is also utilizing crack teams of ex-military personnel to round up anyone who resists the new technology, taking them to a new portion of Google’s campus known as the “Department of Love” for questioning, reconditioning, and re-introduction into civilized society.

RTWT

08 Aug 2017

Google SJWs Have Wrongthink Blacklists

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Two Minutes of Hate

Breitbart:

Numerous individuals alleged to be members of Google’s management team have been caught bragging about forming blacklists to impact the careers of colleagues with different political beliefs.

In a series of screenshots from 2015 onwards provided to Breitbart News by a verified Google employee, individuals described as left-wing Google management employees can be seen discussing the ways they punish their colleagues both inside and out of the company. …

“One of the great things about Google’s internal communication mechanisms (G+, mailing lists, etc), is that, as a manager, I can easily go find out if I really want to work with you,” wrote another individual described on social media as a Google manager, Collin Winter. “I keep a written blacklist of people whom I will never allow on or near my team, based on how they view and treat their coworkers. That blacklist got a little longer today.”

In the comments, one Google employee can be seen asking, “Are such blacklists allowed at Google?” before another added, “I would talk to legal before assembling a list of people who are possibly creating a hostile workplace.”

“And now I know that if I ever sue Google for harassment I should demand to see all manager’s shit-lists to see if this was something management already knew and thus let happen (my tormentor could be on there and not dealt with). It would probably increase the settlement aware considerably,” he continued. “I would encourage anyone else getting mistreated at Google to do the same.”

This week, a Google employee’s ten-page document went viral, after he called for more ideological diversity at the company. …

The employee’s manifesto quickly prompted extreme responses from left-wing users, including one SJW, Emily Gorcenski, who claimed she would “beat the sh*t out of him.”

Gorcenski frequently retweets and expresses support for It’s Going Down, an extremist far-left Antifa organization, who have previously doxed and harassed college students, and encouraged violence against Trump supporters.

Alon Altman, who according to social media posts is a senior software engineer at Google and who describes himself as an “intersectional feminist” and uses “they/them/their” pronouns, was also seen in leaked screenshots urging Google management to fire employees who agreed with the anti-political correctness manifesto that was revealed this week.

In leaked screenshots, Altman added that should the employee behind the manifesto not be fired by the end of the month, he would hand in his resignation notice.

In another post, alleged Site Reliability Manager Paul Cowan warned to employees that “freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.”

Cowan continued to reference a post from Google dissidents, who were discussing the blacklists being created by an “SJW cabal” at the company, before defending the concept of punishing anti-SJW employees.

“To be clear: this is, in my opinion, perfectly acceptable,” he declared. “Quoting this as if it were some egregious abuse of power, or of your rights, is laughable… My life, happiness, and mental health, are worth too much to me to burn my precious happy-fu working with people I find contemptible, unpleasant, or even in some cases merely irritating.”

After being warned that keeping blacklists could result in him being reported to Human Resources, Cowan then bragged on Twitter that they were “threats I ignored, naturally, and which ironically grew the list substantially.”

In older posts, Kim Burchett, a now ex-Google employee and Antifa supporter, also discussed blacklists in a post on Internal Plus.

“I am considering creating a public-inside-google document of ‘people who make diversity difficult’,” claimed Burchett. “I am thinking of something like google doc that accepts comments, and which calls out those googlers who repeatedly made public statements that are unsupportive of diversity, with links to those statements so that readers can decide for themselves.”

RTWT

08 Aug 2017

We Knew This Was Coming

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James Damore (Facebook photo)

Well, surprise, surprise! Bloomberg reports that Google has fired the software engineer who wrote the memo criticizing that company’s diversity policies that recently went viral.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

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Business Insider predicts that Mr. Damore will find no legal remedy.

The problem is that US labor law is well-settled in this area: In the vast majority of US states, employees have almost no rights to free speech at work. …

The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting your speech. It doesn’t restrict your employer from controlling your speech when you are at work. As the government is not involved in this case, Damore is already on shaky ground if he files a lawsuit arguing a free speech case.

More importantly, Damore’s speech has not been restricted. He can continue to express his opinion. Indeed, his opinion has already been published far more widely than he can have hoped. His speech is on steroids right now! His legal problem is that he does not have a constitutional right to a job at Google. If he is an “at-will” employee — i.e. an ordinary employee not governed by a special contract, like a film star might have — then Google has every right to demand that he leave.

You can read a lengthy legal paper on this issue by Prof. Eugene Volokh, of the UCLA Law School, here. It can be summed up in one paragraph:

    “Of course, employee speech can always be restricted by private employers, who are not bound by the First Amendment. This cannot, however, authorize greater restrictions by the government. A householder is entitled to kick out dinner guests who say certain things. A commercial landlord can refuse to rent to tenants who put up certain posters. A newspaper publisher can refuse to publish articles with which he disagrees. A private university may restrict what its faculty say in class, or even what its students say on campus. Speech on private property can generally be controlled by the private property owner.

As Google Site Reliability Manager Paul Cowan warned internally at Google — his posts were screengrabbed by Breitbart — “freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.”

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But he does have at least two job offers, Heavy reports:

Damore also has a couple job offers to consider. One offer came from Gab, a company founded in 2016 that says it is “an ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.” It has become popular among those in the alt right, including some who have been banned from Twitter.

And Wikileaks’ Julian Assange tweeted Tuesday, “Censorship is for losers. @WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore.

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This is a real pain in the ass. I use Chrome all the time, and now I have to switch to Safari or Opera. I guess I’ll also soon find out if Duck Duck Go is any good as a search engine.

06 Aug 2017

Samizdat Critique of Google Diversity Policies Went Viral

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Gizmodo published the 10-page critique of Google’s Diversity policies written by a white male software engineer that recently went viral within the company.

His conclusions were:

De-moralize diversity.

As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

Stop alienating conservatives.

Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.

In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.

Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.

Confront Google’s biases.

I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.

I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.

There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.

These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.

I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.

We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity

Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.

De-emphasize empathy.

I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain—causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Prioritize intention.

Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.

Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.

Be open about the science of human nature.

Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.

Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.

Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).

RTWT

They ought to hire Curtis Yarvon to write one of these.

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But don’t hold your breath waiting for Google to adopt this (probably now unemployed) software engineer’s proposals. There was an immediate official response from Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown (quoted below in part):

I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.

Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.

Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said. “

03 May 2017

Government & Academics Can **** Up Anything

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Some people thought the worst day for human learning occurred in 47 B.C. when the Library of Alexandria was burned during fighting between the troops of Julius Caesar and those of Ptolemy XIII. Ha!

Atlantic:

You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.

At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.

It was to be the realization of a long-held dream. “The universal library has been talked about for millennia,” Richard Ovenden, the head of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, has said. “It was possible to think in the Renaissance that you might be able to amass the whole of published knowledge in a single room or a single institution.” In the spring of 2011, it seemed we’d amassed it in a terminal small enough to fit on a desk.

“This is a watershed event and can serve as a catalyst for the reinvention of education, research, and intellectual life,” one eager observer wrote at the time.

On March 22 of that year, however, the legal agreement that would have unlocked a century’s worth of books and peppered the country with access terminals to a universal library was rejected under Rule 23(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an “international catastrophe.” When the most significant humanities project of our time was dismantled in court, the scholars, archivists, and librarians who’d had a hand in its undoing breathed a sigh of relief, for they believed, at the time, that they had narrowly averted disaster.

RTWT

17 Mar 2016

St. Paddy’s Day (Google Glass Version)

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30 Apr 2015

Google Cost Searches Worldwide

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Asia-1

Fixr.com:

Panama hats are popular in Ecuador. Prostitution is of interest in Brazil and Uruguay. And in Chile, the price of coke is of prime importance … we’re not sure which kind.

Some quirky search results for Europe include Rolexes in Switzerland, mooring a yacht in Monaco, nose jobs in Albania, and flying a MiG (a Russian fighter aircraft) in Russia.

For Asia there is a wide range of results, reflecting the diversity of cultures within the continent. The biggest financial concern for people searching about Lebanon appears to be the cost of a PS3; for Kuwait it is Lamborghinis, carpets for Armenia, and watermelons for Japan.

Google users are mostly concerned about the necessities of life in Africa. But apparently in the case of Sierra Leone people are more concerned about buying diamonds, and for Mauritania they are more concerned about purchasing slaves.

04 Apr 2014

Even Some Lefties Are Outraged by Mozilla CEO’s Ouster for Thought-Crime

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Mozilla to Brendan Eich: “But don’t do it here!”

New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.

On Thursday, Brendan Eich, who has helped develop some of the web’s most important technologies, resigned under pressure as chief executive of Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox web browser, just two weeks after taking the job. The reason? In 2008, he donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a California measure that banned same-sex marriage.
Brendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24. MozillaBrendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24.

Once Mr. Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. …

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” wrote Mitchell Baker, the executive chairwoman of Mozilla. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

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Rather astonishingly, a couple of prominent commentators on the left came out solidly in defense of liberal (in the classical liberal sense) values.

Andrew Sullivan (who I think is often dead wrong) was courageously right on this one.

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Andrew deserves one of his own Yglesias awards.

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Conor Friedersdorf, Andrew Sullivan’s former employee, now at the Atlantic, was equally forthrightly on the good side this time.

[N]o one had any reason to worry that Eich, a longtime executive at the company, would do anything that would negatively affect gay Mozilla employees. In fact, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, his longtime business partner who now defends the need for his resignation, said this about discovering that he gave money to the Proposition 8 campaign: “That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” It’s almost as if that donation illuminated exactly nothing about how he’d perform his professional duties.

But no matter.

Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman’s bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership’s political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?

It isn’t difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla’s behavior toward Eich.

Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would’ve argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO’s ability to do his job? They’d have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they’re averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.

Most vexing of all is Mozilla’s attempt to present this forced resignation as if it is consistent with an embrace of diversity and openness. Its public statements have been an embarrassment of illogic, as I suspect the authors of those statements well know. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” the company wrote. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

This is a mess.

—————————-

The hell of it is: Google is just as PC totalitarian as Mozilla. This blog was suspended by Google from its advertising program one day, abruptly, and with no prior notice, for having published, years earlier, examples of cartoons criticizing Islamic religious attitudes by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Google’s cryptic communications indicated that I was expected to purge from this blog every potentially controversial item critical of Islam which Google might object to, and then beg them to take me back. I sent Google an email inviting them to kiss my ass.

I’m seriously thinking of going Linux on my next PC.

05 Jul 2013

Banned By Google Adsense

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I live far from urban American decadence, way out in the boondocks. The main drawback of which is crappy Internet delivered via satellite. For some time now, I had been noticing that one of the major advertising blocks in my sidebar was missing, but I just figured that particular item had taken to loading slowly, and I was too busy to sit around waiting for it.

Technical savant that I am, it has taken me a mere six months to take the time to delve deeper into what was going on. I finally yesterday identified what was not coming up, and then logged into Google Adsense to investigate.

What do you know! I had no ads.

And why was that? Maybe there was a message somewhere… I looked and found this message from “The Google AdSense Team:”


Hello,

This message is to alert you that one of your websites is not currently in compliance with our AdSense program policies and as a result, ad serving has been disabled to your website.

Issue ID#: 18671552

Ad serving has been disabled to: neveryetmelted.com

Example page where violation occurred: http://neveryetmelted.com/2012/09/19/france-closes-20-embassies-after-french-satire-magazine-again-publishes-mohammed-cartoons/

Action required: Check all other remaining sites in your account for compliance.

Current account status: Active

Violation explanation

To protect the integrity of our advertising program and due to a lack of appropriate ad inventory, we do not allow monetization of websites that are dedicated to overly sensitive, tragic or hurtful content.

Action required: Check account for compliance

While ad serving has been disabled to the above site, your AdSense account remains active. Please be aware that the URL above is just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites you own. Therefore, we suggest that you take the time to review the rest of your sites to ensure that they’re in compliance with our policies, and to monitor your sites accordingly to reduce the likelihood of future policy emails from us. Additionally, please note that our team reserves the right to disable accounts at any time if we continue to see violations occurring.

Appeals

If you wish to appeal this disabling then you can do so by using the Issue ID listed above to contact us via our Help Center: https://support.google.com/adsense/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=113061.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

————————————————–

So I was banned by Google Adsense, back in last November, which I did not realize since the notice was (narcissistically) sent to my Google email address (which I never actually use).

The reason was my publication of “sensitive, tragic or hurtful content,” identified as a posting from 19 September 2012 reporting that France closed 20 of its embassies after the (vulgar and sophomoric) French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, for the second time, had published crude cartoons mocking Mohammed.

My posting made a point of publishing images of the actual cartoons, which at the time many news organizations refrained from making available to their readers for fear of Muslim retaliation. I thought the cartoons were trivial in content and in poor taste, but I did also think that Islamic threats, violence, and intimidation challenging free speech in Western countries, and the cowardice of the establishment media, were quite serious issues and well worthy of attention.

So, Google Adsense, I find, is, in essence, enforcing Islamic prohibitions against even publishing, in the context of news reporting, cartoons insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

I was invited “to appeal.” Google absolutely refuses to enter into any other kind of communication with as insignificant a former business partner as myself.

When I clicked my way through the “appeal” on-line forms, I found that an appeal really consisted of a form begging Google to re-instate one’s advertising account and swearing that one had removed whatever it was that Google didn’t like.

Well, I have edited my sidebar code. Good-bye, Google Adsense. That space block is now dedicated to Amazon Associates advertising.

As for the Google Adsense team: “Ich heisse Götz von Berlichingen

Personally, I think it is disgraceful that an American company is taking it upon itself to define and punish so-called “hurtful content,” even when the quotation objectionable to the camel-fornicating community was made specifically for news reporting purposes. But Google is, we must recall, located in California, land of left-wing bedwetters, where the eucalyptus trees exude so much self-entitlement, sanctimoniousness, and political correctness that the entire atmosphere is full of the stuff. What can one expect from a bunch of metrosexual millennials who go to work in Bermuda shorts and hoodies?

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