Category Archive 'Political Censorship'
12 Jun 2015

Mencius Moldbug Booted From Programming Conference

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Moldbug
Curtis Yarvon aka Mencius Moldbug

The true extent of left-wing censorship in American society today can be perceived by the fact that über-nerd Curtis Yarvon had a software presentation cancelled by a programming conference because some attendees objected to the highly eccentric conservative philosophy expressed learnedly, and at astonishing length, on a relatively obscure (and infrequently updated) blog, titled Unqualified Reservations, writing under the pen-name “Mencius Moldbug.”

David Auerbach, at Slate, considers Moldbug’s political philosophy “odious”, but thinks it is not appropriate to boot him out unless he actually says something casually racist.

What does a bizarre project to reinvent software from the ground up have in common with 19th-century reactionary political philosophy? That question has become the unlikely heart of a computing controversy involving this September’s Strange Loop programming conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 2009, Strange Loop is a yearly three-day conference with talks and workshops on new computer science technologies. The conference had accepted an apolitical presentation on a fairly obscure project by a software engineer named Curtis Yarvin, only to reject it last week after it received complaints about political views Yarvin espoused on his blog.

Yarvin’s canceled presentation centered on Urbit, an idiosyncratic software platform he created, and an associated virtual machine called Nock. I’ve read the specifications, and Yarvin’s project is an intriguing attempt to create an entirely new, universal computation framework based around a virtual machine that is truly distributed from the ground up, so that even tiny amounts of computation can be apportioned across multiple machines. It may, as I suspect, be utterly impractical, but it’s undoubtedly different and a worthy experiment. I would attend a talk on it. But I wouldn’t be able to at Strange Loop now, thanks to a strange figure named Mencius Moldbug.

That’s the nom de Web under which Yarvin writes mind-numbing political tracts. Yarvin/Moldbug is a self-proclaimed “neoreactionary,” an unabashed elitist and inegalitarian in the tradition of Thomas Carlyle, one of his heroes. (He fits neatly into the “Natural-Order Conservative” category of a conservative taxonomy.) His worldview: Democracy sucks, the strong should rule the weak, and we could use a good old-fashioned dictator to clean up this mess. That, and he believes that “human biodiversity”—as in the “science” of racial differences, à la The Bell Curve—is real, valid, and very important. Neoreactionary thinking is far more complicated and far more verbose than this—which is in part a deliberate attempt to keep the great unwashed from paying too much attention to such Important Thought. If you’re curious, the tireless Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex has written extensive rebuttals of neoreactionary theory, which go to prove Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” The neoreactionaries make up a small and mostly ignorable corner of the Internet, but because they include a number of techies and wonks, they have drawn attention and criticism from outlets like the Baffler and the Daily Beast, all of which served to raise the neoreactionary profile far higher than it ever would have made it on its own. If you want serious reactionary activity, look to Congress.
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Normally I would have no cause to write about neoreactionary politics—it is eminently inconsequential—except that Yarvin was tossed out of Strange Loop because of his writings. Strange Loop creator and organizer Alex Miller made this public statement regarding his decision to rescind Yarvin’s invitation:

    A large number of current and former speakers and attendees contacted me to say that they found Curtis’s writings objectionable. I have not personally read them. … If Curtis was part of the program, his mere inclusion and/or presence would overshadow the content of his talk and become the focus.

The decision to toss Yarvin is foolish but not because it’s censorship. By making the issue about Yarvin being a “distraction,” Miller has created a perverse incentive. By that logic, anyone could get tossed from the conference if enough people object for any reason at all. Miller admits as much when he says he hasn’t even read Yarvin’s political writing.

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NYM has occasional quoted some of the Moldbug’s good lines.

Here is a good example:

Whatever you make of the left-right axis, you have to admit that there exists some force which has been pulling the Anglo-American political system leftward for at least the last three centuries. Whatever this unfathomable stellar emanation may be, it has gotten us from the Stuarts to Barack Obama. Personally, I would like a refund. But that’s just me. …

intellectuals cluster to the left, generally adopting as a social norm the principle of pas d’ennemis a gauche, pas d’amis a droit, because like everyone else they are drawn to power. The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.

Once the cluster exists, however, it works by any means necessary. The reverence of anarchy is a mindset in which an essentially Machiavellian, tribal model of power flourishes. To the bishops of the Cathedral, anything that strengthens their influence is a good thing, and vice versa. The analysis is completely reflexive, far below the conscious level. Consider this comparison of the coverage between the regime of Pinochet and that of Castro. Despite atrocities that are comparable at most – not to mention a much better record in providing responsible and effective government – Pinochet receives the full-out two-minute hate, whereas the treatment of Castro tends to have, at most, a gentle and wistful disapproval. …

[T]he problem is not just that our present system of government – which might be described succinctly as an atheistic theocracy – is accidentally similar to Puritan Massachusetts. As anatomists put it, these structures are not just analogous. They are homologous. This architecture of government – theocracy secured through democratic means – is a single continuous thread in American history.

28 Jan 2015

Facebook Begins Censoring Images of Mahound

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CharlieHebdoMohammedCover
The kind of Chalie Hebdo image some people won’t publish.

The Washington Post gleefully pounces on the weasels.

Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded #JeSuisCharlie statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey — including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s an illustration, perhaps, of how extremely complicated and nuanced issues of online speech really are. It’s also conclusive proof of what many tech critics said of Zuckerberg’s free-speech declaration at the time: Sweeping promises are all well and good, but Facebook’s record doesn’t entirely back it up.

Just this December, Facebook agreed to censor the page of Russia’s leading Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, at the request of Russian Internet regulators. (It is a sign, the Post’s Michael Birnbaum wrote from Moscow, of “new limits on Facebook’s ability to serve as a platform for political opposition movements.”) Critics have previously accused the site of taking down pages tied to dissidents in Syria and China; the International Campaign for Tibet is currently circulating a petition against alleged Facebook censorship, which has been signed more than 20,000 times.

While Facebook doesn’t technically operate in China, it has made several recent overtures to Chinese politicians and Internet regulators — overtures that signal, if tacitly, an interest in bringing a (highly censored) Facebook to China’s 648 million Internet-users.

Hat tip to Jose Guardia.

03 Feb 2011

“The Kennedys” To Appear on ReelzChannel

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A&E’s cancellation of the high-budget historical drama “The Kennedys,” in response to protests from members of the Kennedy family, was bound to fail to keep the series off the air. It has probably already been shown in Europe, but American audiences will have an opportunity soon to see it, too. ReelzChannel purchased US broadcast rights, and will begin airing the series on April 3rd.


The Kennedys | Movie Trailer | Review

19 Dec 2009

Manufacturing Consensus

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In the Wall Street Journal, Patrick J. Michaels notes that some of the Climategate emails vividly illustrate behind-the-scenes efforts by prominent warmist scientist to wield control of peer-reviewed publications in order to exclude dissent. The same prominent climatologists systematically proceeded to employ their opponents’ non-appearance in the journals they controlled to de-credential their rivals’ scientific authority.

Messrs. Mann and [Tom] Wigley also didn’t like a paper I published in Climate Research in 2002. It said human activity was warming surface temperatures, and that this was consistent with the mathematical form (but not the size) of projections from computer models. Why? The magnitude of the warming in CRU’s own data was not as great as in the models, so therefore the models merely were a bit enthusiastic about the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Mr. Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal,” he wrote in one of the emails. “We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board.”

After Messrs. [Phil] Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned. People who didn’t toe Messrs. Wigley, Mann and Jones’s line began to experience increasing difficulty in publishing their results.

This happened to me and to the University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer, who also hypothesized that global warming is likely to be modest. Others surely stopped trying, tiring of summary rejections of good work by editors scared of the mob. Sallie Baliunas, for example, has disappeared from the scientific scene.

GRL is a very popular refereed journal. Mr. Wigley was concerned that one of the editors was “in the skeptics camp.” He emailed Michael Mann to say that “if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official . . . channels to get him ousted.”

Mr. Mann wrote to Mr. Wigley on Nov. 20, 2005 that “It’s one thing to lose ‘Climate Research.’ We can’t afford to lose GRL.” In this context, “losing” obviously means the publication of anything that they did not approve of on global warming.

Soon the suspect editor, Yale’s James Saiers, was gone. Mr. Mann wrote to the CRU’s Phil Jones that “the GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there.”

It didn’t stop there. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory complained that the Royal Meteorological Society (RMS) was now requiring authors to provide actual copies of the actual data that was used in published papers. He wrote to Phil Jones on March 19, 2009, that “If the RMS is going to require authors to make ALL data available—raw data PLUS results from all intermediate calculations—I will not submit any further papers to RMS journals.”

Messrs. Jones and Santer were Ph.D. students of Mr. Wigley. Mr. Santer is the same fellow who, in an email to Phil Jones on Oct. 9, 2009, wrote that he was “very tempted” to “beat the crap” out of me at a scientific meeting. He was angry that I published “The Dog Ate Global Warming” in National Review, about CRU’s claim that it had lost primary warming data.

The result of all this is that our refereed literature has been inestimably damaged, and reputations have been trashed. Mr. Wigley repeatedly tells news reporters not to listen to “skeptics” (or even nonskeptics like me), because they didn’t publish enough in the peer-reviewed literature—even as he and his friends sought to make it difficult or impossible to do so.

Ironically, with the release of the Climategate emails, the Climatic Research Unit, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley have dramatically weakened the case for emissions reductions. The EPA claimed to rely solely upon compendia of the refereed literature such as the IPCC reports, in order to make its finding of endangerment from carbon dioxide. Now that we know that literature was biased by the heavy-handed tactics of the East Anglia mob, the EPA has lost the basis for its finding.

04 Mar 2007

Red China Blocks Access to Never Yet Melted Blog

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A web-site formerly named “Great Firewall Of China,” now Comparitech, will test any website address to see if it is accessible to Chinese users.

My result is:

Your URL is Blocked!

21 Jul 2006

Blogs Banned in India

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India this week blocked access to “more than 15 websites,” including both a number of individual blogs, and (evidently on the basis of some technical confusion) to several major blog host sites, including Blogger.com, Blogspot, Typepad, and Geocities. The South African Clickatell.com was included.

The Government of India claimed in July of 2003 the right to ban websites in the interest of

sovereignty or integrity of India,
security of the state
friendly relations with foreign states and public order
preventing incitement to commissioning of any cognisable offences.

Some 17 individual blogs were originally banned. The Indian Government’s list (image here), according to CNN, included:

Two Hindu political sites:

1. HinduUnity.org
12. Hindu Human Rights

The personal blog of one Indian grad student studying in the US:

17. http://rahulyadav.com -personal web-site of an Indian kid earning an MIS at Indiana University. Blocked for having a few links to Indian political sites.

Seven US Conservative Blogs:

2. The Jawa Report
4. Opinipudit
5. Pirate’s Cove
6. “http://commonfolkcommonsense.blogspot.com” – previous url, currently a Japanese language blog. Should have been: Common Folk using Common Sense
7. My Vast Rightwing Conspiracy
8. Princess Kimberly – Url works, but ceased publication in March of 2004
9. http://merrimusings.typepad.com – previous non-working url banned. Should have been: Merri Musings
10. Macker’s World

Yahoo’s image search url:

15. http://imagesearch.yahoo.com – should be: http://images.search.yahoo.com/images

Four badly typo’d or defunct sites:

11. Dalitstan – an art site, whose name refers to Salvador Dali.
13. http://nndh.com – does not exist
14. http://bloodroyaltriped.com – does not exist. There is also no “http://bloodroyaltripod.com.”
16. http://imamali8.com – does not exist. Tried http://imamali5.com and http://imamali6.com without success as well.

A pretty motley collection, demonstrating some serious incompetence at the Indian Attorney General’s office. Obviously, any American blog which has criticized Islamic extremism (including this one) is just as worthy of the Indian Government’s ban as those on its current list.

The Indian Government, under criticism, yesterday retreated to the extent of issuing a clarification, stating that its intention was to ban only specific blogs, and not entire hosting sites. But the American Conservative blogs listed above remain banned today.

Rusty Shackleford’s original report.

15 Apr 2006

Book Suggestion = Sexual Harassment

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Ohio State University at Mansfield librarian Scott Savage suggested several books for a freshman reading program, including David Kupelian’s The Marketing of Evil, which title associates a number of cases of the evolution of the American moral perspective, most notably the way in which homosexuality is viewed, to calculated and astute marketing by the organized left, and some other conservative titles.

A firestorm of argument over book choices erupted (primarily over the Kupelian book, of course), and events culminated in a unanimous faculty vote to file sexual harassment charges against the conservative librarian. Accordingly, three professors duly filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against him, saying that the book suggestions made them feel “unsafe.”

Ace broke the story. Eugene Volokh comments. And Morgan at the excellent group blog YARGB summarizes and adds further details.

03 Jan 2006

Selling the Rope

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There is a quotation unverifiedly attributed to both Lenin and Stalin which boasts: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Microsoft has joined Yahoo in selling rope to the Communist Chinese regime. Rebecca MacKinnon reports that on New Years Eve, MSN Spaces took down the Michael Anti blog written by Zhao Jing. What you get when you attempt to visit his blog now is this. (The Google cache of his blog up until Dec.22nd is here.)

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Microsoft will, of course, have to go a little further to equal Yahoo, which earlier this year assisted the Chinese government in identifying and prosecuting the journalist Shi Tao, and sending him to prison for ten years.

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