The Men Who Can Kick You Off The Internet

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A lot of rightward commentators are suddenly really concerned about the power of big corporations. Specifically Google and the like. Tucker Carlson wants them treated like a utility.

After Charlottesville, racist rightwing site the Daily Stormer found itself ejected from Zoho, GoDaddy, Google, DigitalOcean, and later (humorously) Russia.

This could end up presenting a problem for some of them, as now they’ve demonstrated a degree of editorial control:

Yet in a time when hate-spewing “alt-right” groups are using the web to organize violent demonstrations, previously obscure tech companies have come under mounting pressure to police those pipes. In May, Vocativ’s Sara Morrison blasted the hosting company Squarespace as “the web platform of choice for the alt-right,” noting that it appeared to be ignoring its own policies against bigotry. That same month, ProPublica took aim at Cloudflare for the services it provides to the Daily Stormer in an article headlined, “How One Major Internet Company Helps Serve Up Hate on the Web.” The piece exposed a particularly troubling practice in which Cloudflare passed on to the Daily Stormer the names and email addresses of anyone who complained to Cloudflare about the site’s neo-Nazi content. Several of them were subsequently harassed and threatened. Cloudflare later told ProPublica it would amend that policy.

But Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, had until now staunchly maintained his right to work with even the most incendiary clients, including the Daily Stormer. “A website is speech. It is not a bomb,” he wrote in a 2013 blog post defending his company’s relationship with a Chechen site accused of fomenting terrorism.

Basically: If you kicked off the Daily Stormer, why don’t you blackball VDare? And if you blackball VDare, why don’t you blackball everyone on SPLC’s list? And it reaches a point that if you aren’t blackballing, that means you must at least implicitly approve of their message! (I saw this logic just two days ago, when people who were okay with Nazis being fired were told that if they weren’t okay with Google Memo guy that must mean they actually agreed with him.)

The EFF comes down against the tech giants:

Domain registrars are one of many types of companies in the chain of online content distribution—the Internet intermediaries positioned between the writer or poster of speech and the reader of that speech. Other intermediaries include the ISP that delivers a website’s content to end users, the certificate authority (such as EFF’s Let’s Encrypt) that issues an SSL certificate to the website, the content delivery network that optimizes the availability and performance of the website, the web hosting company that provides server space for the website, and even communications platforms—such as email providers and social media companies —that have the best social media reporting tools allow the website’s URLs to be easily shared. EFF has a handy chart of some of those key links between speakers and their audience here.

The domain name system is a key part of the Internet’s technical underpinnings, which are enabled by an often-fragile consensus among many systems and operators. Using that system to edit speech, based on potentially conflicting opinions about what can be spoken on the Internet, risks shattering that consensus. Domain suspension is a blunt instrument: suspending the domain name of a website or Internet service makes everything hosted there difficult or impossible to access. The risk of blocking speech that wasn’t targeted is very high.

Domain name companies also have little claim to be publishers, or speakers in their own right, with respect to the contents of websites. Like the suppliers of ink or electrical power to a pamphleteer, the companies that sponsor domain name registrations have no direct connection to Internet content. Domain name registrars have even less connection to speech than a conduit provider such as an ISP, as the contents of a website or service never touch the registrar’s systems. Registrars’ interests as speakers under the First Amendment are minimal.

The EFF makes a decently strong argument for some of the most top-level stuff. Domain registrars and the like. It gets dicier when it comes to hosts. Functionaries like Cloudflare have an even less strong case. But is any of this even a question? These organizations have every right to do what want, right? The EFF is a bunch of hippies! Carlson is being a partisan hack for suggesting otherwise because free market! Every instinct I have is to agree with that. They get to do whatever they want, for whatever reason they want. Freedom! But you know who’s having second thoughts? Matthew Prince, Cloudflare’s CEO:

Team:

Earlier today Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services again.

This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.

Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.

Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. I’ll be posting something on our blog later today. Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.

[Cloudflare employee’s name redacted] asked after I told him what we were going to do: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question. It’s important that what we did today not set a precedent. The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral. But we need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled. We couldn’t have that conversation while the Daily Stormer site was using us. Now, hopefully, we can.

I’ll be publishing a blog post with all our thoughts on this issue in a few hours. Until then, I’d ask that you not talk about this externally.

—-

Matthew Prince
Co-founder & CEO

It’s a new world…


Editor-in-Chief
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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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268 thoughts on “The Men Who Can Kick You Off The Internet

  1. Yeah, we need to be neutral and not set a precedent, so we’re not going to be neutral and we ARE going to set a precedent, and now that that’s done, we can have a conversation about going forward and how we want to run the company.

    W
    T
    F?

    More importantly though, since I’m not a tech dude, what options are open to “content that’s disapproved of by “the right people”?” The “dark web”? Setting up some weird off shore site?

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      • Dude,
        I’m ALREADY on the NSA list from like 6 years ago for receiving email from a person in Iran. I’ve been interviewed by DIA twice, and a “FBI counter terrorist researcher”, aka spy, who has a whole nother identity when she travels outside the country, chatted me up when I got my visa to travel to China.

        Sadly, no hot chineese women attempted to “play me” on my trip. :(

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    • Damon,
      Depends on whether the sysadmin’s mother gets murdered or not.
      If so, you’re looking at finding someplace the t**** can’t find you.
      Right now, that’s called the Phillipines.

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    • More generally, goatse’s the model. Offshore, and that’s about it.
      (by the way, people did analyze that guy’s pic and track him down to compliment him).

      Cryptocat and other forms of encrypted communication is the alternative, generally favored for rebels, revolutionaries, and truly vile criminals (erm. the serious pedophiles who like 4 year olds)

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  2. Good post, Will. Having taken the time last evening to read Google Guy’s post that got him fired I find this more disturbing than I otherwise would be inclined to. Now I get that some of these types of complaints boil down to ‘its unfair that I can’t use racial slurs or make lewd remarks to my female colleagues’ but what James Damore wrote wasn’t anywhere close to that. The fact that its being treated and reported on as though it was shows just how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.a

    The First Amendment is all well and good but at the end of the day corporate compliance departments and internet mobs are quite capable of doing damage to the norms of open debate. This is especially so as what is deemed offensive becomes broader and broader and ideologue bureaucrats in the government put their fingers on the scales with arbitrary guidance and audit/enforcement threats. Even though they lack the force of law its enough to create a sort of ruthless culture of CYA. I know all about it since part of my job as an in house lawyer is to help build it.

    I won’t miss the Daily Stormer anymore than I’ll miss some of the racist trash thats been pulled from Amazon. However at some point we need to ask where all of this is going. I’m not sure its some place good.

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    • ” I’m not sure its some place good.”

      No…no it’s not. That’s why I was pushing back on V before I realized she worked at Google and couldn’t comment. Having employees brag about sabotaging other employee careers for their opinions, blacklisting them and refusing to work with them, etc. is a line too far. What you do in your personal time is one thing–if you don’t want to socialize with the guy fine, but taking actions that negative effect the company that pays you? Hell, that’s a firing event in my book.

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      • That’s where the governmemt’s role comes into play in this. No one wants to deal with EEOC complaints and investigations by federal and state enforcement entities. To tie it back to the OP, you get some person who feels that the content being hosted is offensive and they’ve got the ability to cause a headache of paperwork and outside counsel fees even for pretty meritless complaints. The incentive is to stamp out anything that could possibly rub anyone the wrong way and its only getting worse with the broadening and ever more subjectice array of speech deemed offensive.

        Its possible that one day the Mathew Princes if the world won’t need to arbitrarily shut down content. They’ll do it because their lawyers advised them to.

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    • We covered Google Guy here. I don’t think he helped himself with his timing and/or his ability/willingness to play right-wing/libertarian martyr. I don’t think he was a legal liability for Google yet but the manifesto as it was could turn him into a future one based on California discrimination law.

      The timing issue was this was the year of tech companies treating women badly stories and Google made a tactical decision that they did not want to be the next example like Uber.

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      • I apparently missed the conversation and so I won’t rehash it. All I’d respond with is that if we are at the point where questioning the efficacy of a law and the way private entities are interpreting it is enough to get you fired due to concerns about violating said laws then the libertarians aren’t as full of shit as some people would have us believe.

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        • Dude.

          He wrote a memo about women’s genetic ability and advocated that Google end its diversity programs. He was at will. Not firing him would have cost Google a lot more money than firing him did. I bet it took the appropriate folks about 10 seconds to make that call.

          If you don’t like that, maybe we need employee unions.

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          • I understand why google did it and I think my post makes clear that I understand why they did it.

            I also have no objection to unionization in the private sector and I’m not sure why you would assume that I do.

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            • I must be misreading your post if you agree with mine.

              I’m not sure where the slippery-slope libertarian argument fits. At will employment is already the bottom of the slope, so any remaining fight is about extra-legal norms.

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              • My reference to ‘the libertarians’ was a joking response to Saul, it was not an endorsement of any particular argument.

                You may be misreading me but that doesn’t mean we necessarily agree. Google (and other corporations) do what they do because of the enforcement environment. There’s more to this than social norms. Legislatures don’t have to make laws prohibiting certain speech if administrative agencies are interpreting simple non-discrimination laws in extremely broad ways then threatening enforcement based on those interpretations. Companies predictably go in full throttle to cover their asses and avoid any type of controversy no matter how stupid.

                So yes, the state isnt prosecuting for wrongthink but its setting incentives for third parties to sanction people for it.
                My view is that rights don’t matter very much if exercising them risks your livelihood (another spot where I tend to disagree with libertarians) which is where we are going and the government very much has a hand in it.

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    • I am irritated that the James Damore thing is now tied to the white supremacist thing.

      There are interesting things to talk about when we’re talking about James Damore.

      When we’re talking about James Damore and the white supremacists, there is nothing interesting to say.

      I am willing to discuss (and even defend!) some of the things that James Damore said.

      But as soon as it became James Damore and the white supremacists? There’s nothing you can say in defense of James Damore and the white supremacists.

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      • Like I said earlier, that’s why it’s such a damn shame he put the evopsych stuff in his essay. Because it gives people an easy out. “We don’t have to talk about anything he says here, because evopsych, he’s obviously wrong. I don’t have to answer your questions about the issues because if you agree with him, then obviously you also agree with evopsych, and you’re obviously wrong.”

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        • “We don’t have to talk about anything he says here, because evopsych, he’s obviously wrong. I don’t have to answer your questions about the issues because if you agree with him, then obviously you also agree with evopsych, and you’re obviously wrong.”

          Multiple psych department chairs say he was quoting science’s current understanding of evopsych correctly.

          We may be looking at someone being fired for daring to point out the world is round when everyone knows it’s flat.

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            • But, again, that’s having a conversation about evopsych. That’s not having a conversation about the things Damore wanted to have a conversation about.

              That’s a really good point… but I don’t think he was expecting to have a conversation about evopsych, much less have large groups lie about what he said and misrepresent his argument because they refused to believe science itself.

              From his point of view, you can’t have a conversation about diversity policy without understanding the background facts, so he presented state-of-the-art-as-currently-understood-evopsych.

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              • Part of the problem you guys are having with the push back against Damore is you seem unwilling to see the weaknesses of the data he presents. Evo psych is far from the highest reputation branch of psychology. It’s highly criticized and far from beyond reproach. And there is plenty of data showing the cultural effects causes/effects of sexism. You are really presenting this as Damore presented all the facts and truth and there is nothing else to see.

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                • You are really presenting this as Damore presented all the facts and truth and there is nothing else to see.

                  Yes. This isn’t my field, but…

                  On the one hand we have department chairs in the relevant field saying he’s right;

                  On the other we’ve got grotesque misrepresentations of what he said, clear lack of understanding on how math works, and apparently no effort to link things to science at all or even any effort to disagree with the science.

                  Those are not cases which deserve equal weight.

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                  • We also had long threads about things like effect sizes and significance neither of which Damore seems to understand. And also that there if far more research about sex differences and what they mean then he presented. Heck i even put up a link to an article by one of the guys quotes as supporting Damore’s stuff that said it is all a lot more complicated than that.

                    I’m not into replicating all those conversations. But simply presenting Damore as laying down the complete facts that cover the topic is wrong. His analysis left a ton to be desired and even when he was accurate that doesn’t mean the results were significant in the real world.

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                    • We also had long threads about things like effect sizes and significance…

                      I saw no math based arguments which were impressive (especially none that were addressed at me), all of them were off topic, addressed points he didn’t bring up and wasn’t supporting, or clearly didn’t understand the issues.

                      Heck i even put up a link to an article by one of the guys quotes as supporting Damore’s stuff that said it is all a lot more complicated than that.

                      You went out and found one of the leading experts in the field who said something about it being complex, and someone else pointed out it was the same guy who said black letter that Damore was interpreting the science correctly. So one of the world’s leading experts says, yes, it’s complex, and yes, Damore is doing it right.

                      …even when he was accurate that doesn’t mean the results were significant in the real world.

                      Perhaps. What we should be doing (if we were interested in actually chasing this which we’re not) is checking to see if this idea models the real world better than the “toxic nerd” idea in explaining the serious gender ratio gap.

                      However, the claims put forward have NOT been “although this is good science it’s not significant in the real world”. The claims put forward ARE “because he’s mentioned this, as an idea, even though it’s scientifically a thing, he’s a nazi and has created a hostile presence in the workplace so he should be fired”.

                      Supposedly although the sexs are so different we need diversity, they’re not so different that there are any measurable effects! Anyone questioning that is guilty of blasphemy and will be treated accordingly.

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                      • Ok. I’ve explained all this to you. Understanding effect sizes and what significance means are basics of social science research. The entire topic is far more complex and less well understood then you claim but you don’t seem to want to hear that.

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                        • Ok. I’ve explained all this to you. Understanding effect sizes and what significance means are basics of social science research. The entire topic is far more complex and less well understood then you claim but you don’t seem to want to hear that.

                          Ignore that I don’t think you’re using math correctly (it’s not my field, I don’t trust my judgement all that much). Ignore that the bulk of the support for the “he’s wrong” line of thought seems to come from English majors in the press who clearly don’t understand the original claims and/or don’t understand the difference between saying “a group’s average/std is different” and “no woman can”.

                          If what you’re saying is true, then it should be trivial to find Department Chairs echoing your claims. At the moment, the further up the science food chain we go, the more they say you’re wrong and that engineer is right.

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                            • “Here’s a start”

                              I asked for some science (or facts, or math) showing that he’s actually wrong on the science, this link is to a fact-free math-free emotional rant detailing why she’s entitled to her emotions. Being a professor of statistics doesn’t make you an expert in evopsych, and it certainly doesn’t excuse you for not using statistics to make your argument.

                              Her first two points are “Fatigue” and “Women’s resistance to the “divide and conquer” strategy” (whatever that means).

                              Her third point at least pretends to be interested in facts…

                              …we could look to the percentage of women majoring in computer science at highly selective colleges and universities… Harvey Mudd College, another elite program… is currently at about 50 percent women in their computer science department.

                              OK, first of all, Stanford and Mudd are NOT the only “highly selective colleges and universities”, so she’s heavily Cherry Picking. Second of all, the next question is “how do they do that”? Harvey Mudd’s CS graduating class was 44 students, so that’s 22(ish) women. SAT stats are 75th percentile is an 800 in math, average is 765, 25th percentile is 730. SAT stats aren’t broken down by gender.

                              Mudd admits 2.5 times as many women as men as a percentage of acceptance. I.e. x% of men who apply get it, 2.5(x%) of women who apply get in. 2.5(x%) means this “highly selective” college makes their numbers by being a lot less selective for women than for men. (I had another source claim the admission gap was only 13% vs 23%, but that was for the school as a whole).

                              So what we’ve learned from this example is Harvey Mudd isn’t immune to math. The really nasty question is whether the women who come out of Mudd are collectively equal to the men.

                              And after that she makes clear the only acceptable answer for the gap is discrimination, and she doesn’t source anything for why she thinks that for all the talk of “studies”. So she’s assuming what she should be trying to prove.

                              Grade-wise I’d call this an “E”. If this is what is supposed to serve as “proof” then there are serious problems.

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                              • this “highly selective” college makes their numbers by being a lot less selective for women than for men.

                                Hmm.. there’s a tacit assumption embedded in this conclusion. You’d need more information about the applicant pool to actually justify it.

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                                • There’s 2 assumptions at play, one about the quality of students admitted, and one regarding the quality of graduates produced.

                                  Question for the hive mind (& perhaps this is a discussion worthy of it’s own post):

                                  It’s not novel that a quality candidate will produce a quality graduate. Those two things are highly correlated. But is it necessarily true that a low quality candidate can not be a high quality graduate?

                                  My instinct is that if those two conditions are strongly correlated, it’s less a statement regarding the nature of students, and more a statement regarding the quality of education the institution provides.

                                  My examplar is the military, which is pretty good at polishing up some damn ugly stones into admirable pieces. There are, of course, caveats to that, but we could say, for the sake of argument, that Harvey Mudd had committed itself to the production of quality female CS grads and takes pains to bring everyone up to that standard.

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                                  • It would be interesting to do a literature review (or rather, to find one — no doubt there are plenty to choose from). Obviously it can happen that a high-rated candidate can fail and that a low-rated candidate can succeed wildly, but you really need to look at averages.

                                    Freddie dB had a post recently that pointed out that the most significant indicators of college success were based on a student’s socio-economic status and history — but this was more in the context of answering parents’ questions about how to prepare their kids for academic success, rather than about the admissions process.

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                                    • It’s an interesting question: do women have a harder time with CS or find it less interesting because of neurodevelopment, or because the field and the pedagogy was developed by men & for men?

                                      Or a combination of both?

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                                  • It’s not novel that a quality candidate will produce a quality graduate. Those two things are highly correlated. But is it necessarily true that a low quality candidate can not be a high quality graduate?

                                    My instinct is that if those two conditions are strongly correlated, it’s less a statement regarding the nature of students, and more a statement regarding the quality of education the institution provides.

                                    I’ve thought for a long time that the “signal” created by elite institutions has a lot more to do with the student body coming in than the education, especially at a BA level. Most Bachelor classes are taught by TAs or poorly paid lecturers.

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                                • Dark Matter: this “highly selective” college makes their numbers by being a lot less selective for women than for men.

                                  kenB: Hmm.. there’s a tacit assumption embedded in this conclusion. You’d need more information about the applicant pool to actually justify it.

                                  Admitting one group at a rate two and a half times percentage-wise the other is STRONGLY suggestive to the point of proof. As in, we run into nasty logical contradictions if it’s not true.

                                  Assume there is no hit to female qualifications because of their acceptance rates.

                                  Now let’s look at the men. A quarter of the men have 800 SAT scores in math. High School Men are encouraged to try to get into the Computer Engineering department. The College knows darn well that they’re going to bounce roughly 90% but they don’t care, they want the best. So if you have mere 700 SAT math score, you’ll probably not make it but you’re encouraged to try.

                                  And that can NOT be true for women. For every 5 males who applied only 2 women did. All three of the “missing” women who didn’t apply were statistically equiv to the substandard men. Somehow the substandard females, as opposed to substandard males, with only a 700 math SAT are prevented from applying at all. The place is… what… so hostile that it simply doesn’t want women applying unless they’re totally confident that they can make it in?

                                  In addition they MUST be totally welcoming to computer females to encourage them to apply, because it’s so hard to get female computer majors.

                                  I don’t see any solution which can fix one of those issues without breaking the other. They’ve managed to increase their potential student pool while also decreasing their student pool.

                                  And there’s really nothing on the table to suggest that their applicant pool is really different than other similar colleges. The way to bet is the applicant pool isn’t different, Mudd is deliberately using different standards, and something like four fifths of the female student body couldn’t get in if they were held to the same standards as the men. Which means the median male has a math SAT of 800(ish), while the median female is about 730(ish).

                                  So the question then becomes how innate and significant are the differences between an 800 and a 730. This isn’t my field, I don’t know… but if we’re going to speculate without knowledge, if that 800 represents genius then I suspect there’s a lot of difference, and if it just represents extra classes (read: money) spent in test prep then it probably doesn’t.

                                  If I’ve make a logical flaw somewhere up there I welcome feedback. I’m human, I make mistakes… but that’s the math I’m looking at and math isn’t supposed to care about emotional outrage.

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                                  • I don’t see any logical flaws, just a number of assumptions of varying confidence. Your hypothesis is very plausible, but we don’t have the specific numbers we need to validate it.

                                    Also, going back to Oscar’s question — how confident are we (and how confident are these colleges) in the metrics we’re using for ranking candidates? How different is a 730 Math SAT student vs. an 800 Math SAT student for engineering? My recollection is that SAT scores aren’t strongly predictive of college success past the first year, but the studies I remember weren’t specifically for STEM. Are there comparative graduation rates available? Do women graduate at the same rate and with comparable GPAs as men in engineering?

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                                    • how confident are we (and how confident are these colleges) in the metrics we’re using for ranking candidates?

                                      Not my field. My expectation is different metrics have different margins of error, confidence levels, and so forth.

                                      In a way it doesn’t matter because whatever yardstick you want to use, the underlying problem isn’t imprecise measurements, the problem is pool sizes and political desires for reality which aren’t reflective of the actual reality.

                                      Are there comparative graduation rates available? Do women graduate at the same rate and with comparable GPAs as men in engineering?

                                      Oh, both genders at Mudd have a 90+ percent grad rate. Mudd is supposed to be so selective there’s no (intellect) reason to fail someone. There might not even be a reason to ever give less than an “A”.

                                      So if the students are failing a class it should be dumbed down enough so they pass. That makes a ton of sense if your typical student is the Best, and a median SAT score of 800 goes a long way to showing they live that reality.

                                      However, AFAICT Mudd’s commitment to Diversity is total, and not just happy talk. They’ve done things like make sure all (7 of 8 and counting) of the department chairs are female in the name of “removing all obstacles” and that’s supposed to be the tip of the iceberg. My expectation is if one of the professors insists on grading some or all of his female students lower than the males, that prof will be viewed as sexist or “an obstacle”.

                                      And yes, those two philosophies seem to have basic conflicts… hmm… actually I should have a word with my Mudd relative and let him know what his college is doing.

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                                      • I think you’ve moved from something that’s quite likely true (the average HM female engineering admit has lower scores/rank than the average male engineering admit, due to “affirmative action”) to something more debatable and more problematic (HM is changing its academic standards so that more women will pass).

                                        Having gone to a school with rampant grade inflation (though 30 years ago, so who knows how it is these days), the issue was not that everyone got an A, but that once you got past the big intro classes, the grading scale usually went from A to B. So, seeing average GPAs by gender would likely be a good bit of information.

                                        Well, it would be unless your most serious charge is true, that they’re artificially equalizing grades across the genders — but at that point we’re left with no reliable measuring stick whatsoever. I don’t see how you could really prove that, but I do think that if it were happening, a few HM professors (former, if not current) would be speaking out about it. I’m not sure where to look for that though…

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                              • Again (and I think for the fourth time in this thread), I’ll observe that you entirely ignore the two biggest problems with the memo, unlike that article.

                                1. It lumps race in with gender, despite making zero attempt to support the pairing.
                                2. It advocates that Google stop programs designed to increase diversity, based on arguments about some kind of average gender aptitude.

                                At minimum, you must be able to understand her argument that whatever traits average people do or do not have, that’s of little value to a company with the goal of acquiring the best individuals (and the compensation package to attract them). I get why you focus on the least offensive part of the memo, and refuse to acknowledge that the rest exists. It makes it easier to suggest he shouldn’t be fired. But if I posted a facebook article that said my boss (1) should be kinder to his assistant and (2) is a serial killer with bodies buried in his back yard, I would get fired and any defense on the validity of part (1) wouldn’t be particularly interesting for those thinking about whether my firing was fair.

                                If you want to defend the whole actual memo, from Google’s perspective, let’s see what that looks like. If not, I hope you at least understand the point of the article I linked that you’re not focusing on the biggest problems.

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                                • 1. It lumps race in with gender, despite making zero attempt to support the pairing.

                                  I ignored the Stats’ lady on this subject because she was race baiting and I ignored the engineer’s comments because they aren’t being treated as “blasphemy”.

                                  I get why you focus on the least offensive part of the memo, and refuse to acknowledge that the rest exists. It makes it easier to suggest he shouldn’t be fired.

                                  Actually I don’t view any of the memo as offensive and I’ve focused on the weakest part of the counter arguments, which is clearly he’s a sexist monster for even suggesting that which science insists is correct.

                                  Data based arguments can be “wrong” but taking offense at data is absurd.

                                  2. It advocates that Google stop programs designed to increase diversity, based on arguments about some kind of average gender aptitude.

                                  So what? Later you compared this to “being a serial killer” as to just how offensive it is, but I don’t see why it should be.

                                  College level race Diversity programs have resulted in Blacks effectively being given a full standard deviation to their qualifications (bit of a handwave there, I’m not current on the research and it could be more or less). College level gender Diversity programs at Mudd, which is Cherry Picked as the “success” case in your chosen expert’s example, probably results in 800 SAT math for men being made “equal” to significantly less than that for women.

                                  That is the path Google is on. It leads to hiring sub-standard employees which is devastating in the Software Engineering field as far as productivity (witness Steve Jobs quote).

                                  …at minimum, you must be able to understand her argument that whatever traits average people do or do not have, that’s of little value to a company with the goal of acquiring the best individuals (and the compensation package to attract them).

                                  I understand it. I even agree that evaluating average traits has no use when it comes to acquiring the best individuals.

                                  But that Engineer would also fully agree with that statement.

                                  His point is these Diversity programs lead away from hiring the best. That there is tremendous pressure put on the HR department to hire diversity, and when the Best isn’t the Minority (which statistically is true most of the time), a choice needs to be made.

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                                  • she was race baiting

                                    Wait, who was race baiting?

                                    I’ve focused on the weakest part of the counter arguments

                                    So you don’t care whether the firing was right, just whether any of your opponents overstep their defense of it? This just got much less interesting.

                                    Later you compared this to “being a serial killer” as to just how offensive it is

                                    False. I know you’re smarter than that.

                                    probably results in 800 SAT math for men being made “equal” to significantly less than that for women.

                                    Says who? There are lots of people who do really well on the SAT (and, of course, it’s a dumb metric in the first place).

                                    It leads to hiring sub-standard employees

                                    That’s certainly Google’s reputation in the marketplace…

                                    that Engineer would also fully agree with that statement

                                    I thought the big defense was that he wasn’t talking about anyone specifically. End of the day, there are plenty of elite female talents, the trick is finding them. And if Google can do that, it’s getting a differentiated recruiting advantage. Which is good, even if you don’t think diversity is important in its own right (which, pretty clearly, describes both you and him).

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                                    • Wait, who was race baiting?

                                      Let’s quote your Statistician: Would defenders of the memo still be comfortable if the author had casually summarized race and IQ studies to argue that purported biological differences — not discrimination or unequal access to education — explained Google’s shortage of African-American programmers?

                                      So she’s openly putting words into his mouth. Any conversation of race in this context now needs to cover reduced IQ via biological differences, even though that’s her claim rather than his.

                                      So you don’t care whether the firing was right, just whether any of your opponents overstep their defense of it?

                                      He’s an at will employee, Google needs to function in the real world (in California), Google firing him was “right” in that context… although since he’s been fired for basically a thought crime and blasphemy, I think there’s an argument the CEO should be resigning. This was poorly handled.

                                      Dark Matter: Later you compared this to “being a serial killer” as to just how offensive it is
                                      Nevermoor: False. I know you’re smarter than that.

                                      Let’s quote.
                                      Nevermoor: I get why you focus on the least offensive part of the memo, and refuse to acknowledge that the rest exists. It makes it easier to suggest he shouldn’t be fired. But if I posted a facebook article that said my boss (1) should be kinder to his assistant and (2) is a serial killer with bodies buried in his back yard, I would get fired and any defense on the validity of part (1) wouldn’t be particularly interesting for those thinking about whether my firing was fair.

                                      …even if you don’t think diversity is important in its own right (which, pretty clearly, describes both you and him).

                                      Diversity of opinion is important, ditto skill and experience. Gender and race are poor approximations for those. A room full of different skin colors and genders which has groupthink because everyone believes the same thing is a team with a serious problem.

                                      I thought the big defense was that he wasn’t talking about anyone specifically. End of the day, there are plenty of elite female talents, the trick is finding them. And if Google can do that, it’s getting a differentiated recruiting advantage. Which is good,

                                      Math is fun, so let’s run some thought experiments. There are 100 Software Engineers in the universe, their talent is evenly distributed (so #9 is the 9th percentile) and evenly distributed among gender. They have a 85/15 gender split. I need 30 Software Engineers.

                                      If I hire the best, then my worst performer is 70th percentile and of my 30, 5 will be female, 25 male. If I insist that diversity is the important metric then I have to hire every single female, no matter how bad she is, and 10 of them will be worse than every man on the team.

                                      Now let’s change the universe to 10,000 Software Engineers, still evenly distributed, so there are 100 programmers in the top 1%, 15 of them female. These are the true elites, according to Steve Jobs they are 100x as productive as the average.

                                      Recruiting any of the elites is a pretty serious challenge because they’re heavily in demand because they’re elites. So now all we need to do, if we want diversity and won’t lower standards, and we’re Google looking for elites, is convince every single elite female SW type to work here.

                                      If we take our universe to 100,000 Software Engineers then we need to recruit 10% of all elite female SW types (compared to 1.5% of the males).

                                      Somehow Google needs to make itself SIX TIMES more attractive to females than to males. So either they massively increase female pay (although gender pay discrimination is illegal) or they find some other magic wand.

                                      Or they can lower standards for females.

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                                      • And what was your engineer’s justification for being against minority hiring again?

                                        Let’s run another thought experiment: there are 100,000 coders, thus 1,000 who would be the best employees. It’s difficult to tell who they are via interviews, so people tend to pick candidates who tell familiar stories (i.e. “he reminds me of me”). Most interviewers are men, so they tend to feel familiarity with men. Thus, they miss a lot more of the women in that top-1,000 than they hit (even though they don’t mean to). Google, who knows hiring and retaining that group is both critical and near-impossible, decides to make a conscious effort not to miss the female half (or 25%, or whatever) of that top-1,000. Male whining and faux-probability arguments ensue.

                                        (also, disappointed to see you aren’t smarter than your feigning-outrage-via-aggressive-misrepresentation play; thought you were)

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                                        • disappointed to see you aren’t smarter than your feigning-outrage-via-aggressive-misrepresentation play; thought you were

                                          If you make Strawman arguments and/or misrepresent the other side’s argument, then expect to get called out on it.

                                          And what was your engineer’s justification for being against minority hiring again?

                                          Case in point. He wasn’t against “minority hiring” he was against these diversity programs as they’re currently run.

                                          And he didn’t justify his being against race AA… however it’s trivial to think of race based Affirmative Action programs which greatly reduced their standards in order to make their numbers.

                                          As was pointed out in that U of Michigan lawsuit, College admission AA treated a Black 2.0 GPA as a 4.0. They needed to do this because all the colleges did the same thing, and although the applicant pool wasn’t deep enough, the AA proponents insisted there were hoards of highly qualified minorities just waiting to be discovered.

                                          Let’s run another thought experiment: Google, who knows hiring and retaining that group is both critical and near-impossible, decides to make a conscious effort not to miss the female half (or 25%, or whatever) of that top-1,000.

                                          First, you’re claiming none of these elite females will be recognized without diversity programs. Elite SW people have a productivity 100x average, that’s the sort of thing which is hard to dismiss and easy to recognize. Further IMHO engineers are better at detecting that level of competence (or even basic competence) than HR.

                                          Second, the entire point of these diversity programs seems to hire minorities at a rate greater than they exist. Google’s SW female personal ratio is 17%, the ratio in the SW community at large is 15%. So from this we’re supposed to think Google has serious problems in recruitment and they need to ramp up Diversity programs, training, etc?

                                          Third, for all of the talk of Google getting some vaguely defined “advantage” from massive diversity efforts, if the actual result is a reduction in standards, that’s a really bad thing. What’s fueling this effort is SJWs and not a history of Google Engineering’s lack of competence.

                                          Fourth, that the SJWs are strong enough in Google to fire someone for thought crimes does not suggest that quality, and not diversity, will be the priority. Ditto people claiming quality and diversity aren’t at odds. Insisting we don’t need to choose between Good, Cheap, and Quick isn’t going to result in good things.

                                          If there are hoards of elite females who haven’t heard of Google and are just waiting to be recruited then great, go get them. Let HR wave whatever magic wand they’ve got, but make it clear the priority is talent and if the numbers don’t come then they don’t. If that’s unacceptable, then it’s because reality is going to be forced to match ideology. Anyone who points this out will be fired for creating a hostile work environment (i.e. subject to a witch hunt), mere facts won’t be allowed to trump emotion.

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                                          • Since none of this responds to either point of my comment, and instead aggressively misstates and misleads, I’ll just say this:

                                            1. On race, he was advocating not doing race-based diversity hiring AT GOOGLE. Whatever you or anyone thinks about University of Michigan admission practices is irrelevant. At least you are willing to agree that there was absolutely no support in his “science” for not believing that other races can be good (just gender), so at minimum you have to admit that it is bizarrely tacked on to a memo about gender you apparently found compelling.

                                            2. On my thought experiment, the point is to think about the world differently than you do. People (even the engineers you believe are perfect interviewers) don’t always find the best candidate. Bias can play a role in that. Imagine, if that is possible, that the missed candidates are all women because the engineers think men are far better suited to be engineers. Now imagine making a conscious effort to not miss those people. Seems like a smart move.

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                                            • On race, he was advocating not doing race-based diversity hiring AT GOOGLE.

                                              Yes, and? Are you claiming advocating hiring the best and/or advocating not hiring based on skin color is offensive?

                                              At least you are willing to agree that there was absolutely no support in his “science” for not believing that other races can be good (just gender)

                                              I think you don’t understand what he said. Let’s change the entire “averages” discussion away from “SW engineers” to something less controversial like “height”.

                                              Saying “women are on average less tall” is not saying “no woman can be tall”, much less “a specific woman can’t be 6 foot 3 inches”. If I’m hiring people for which I need a minimum height then I should expect men to be over-represented. Pointing out all of this doesn’t make any man taller or any woman shorter, a specific woman can be taller than a specific man.

                                              And (shifting back to SW) he’s not trying to say women (even in general) can’t be as good, just that they (as a whole) seem to be less interested, which also doesn’t prevent any specific woman from getting a Computer Engineering degree. So he’d agree that “woman can be just as good”.

                                              People (even the engineers you believe are perfect interviewers) don’t always find the best candidate. Bias can play a role in that. Imagine, if that is possible, that the missed candidates are all women because the engineers think men are far better suited to be engineers. Now imagine making a conscious effort to not miss those people. Seems like a smart move.

                                              You are assuming multiple points, each of which you really should be trying to prove.

                                              First you’re assuming bias plays a huge role in women not getting jobs at Google. In reality they’re already over represented (at 17%) compared to the general computer engineer population (where they’re more typically 15%). Within the margin of error women are the same percentage at Google as in the relevant community.

                                              2nd you’re assuming that efforts to hire the best people don’t work on women.

                                              3rd you seem to be claiming that without these special efforts which focus on women, Google is somehow hostile to women… which is odd considering they’re the #1 Best place to work according to Fortune.

                                              4th, you’re claiming this “is a smart move”, i.e. that there’s no hit to quality in the people hired from these Diversity programs, even though they’re trying to hire people at rates far higher than they exist in the relevant community. That is very suspect.

                                              And on a side note I don’t think engineers are “perfect interviewers”, what I think is that HR doesn’t know how to tell the difference between “elite” and “not elite”… which is something a trainwreck if you look at how the math works out after that if that assumption is correct.

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                                      • Dark,
                                        Yeah, okay. Do you want to talk about reality now, or never?
                                        Because in reality, women make better software engineers than men.
                                        Yeah, it’s true.
                                        Men make better software architects than women, but that’s a different skillset.

                                        I can walk you through exactly why the butt-basic inbuilts are like this, and I can show you the research supporting it.

                                        But I don’t think you’ll believe me.

                                        MOST jobs are better suited for women than men.

                                        Again, that’s just plain fact.

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                              • Dark,
                                Yeah. NASA scientists come out of Mudd. I happen to know one quite well, she’s a very good friend of mine. Her degree from there is Computer Science.

                                CMU, my alma, pulls from worldwide (we’re also pretty infamous for having WAY more guys than normal colleges do).

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                • Evo psych is far from the highest reputation branch of psychology.

                  *snorts water out his nose*

                  Yeah, and a lot of people, like me, don’t really have that high a regard for psychology as a science to start with. Oh, it’s not their fault, they have absolutely no way to run controlled experiments, but the fact they _can’t_ do real science doesn’t mean we should pretend things they ‘figure out’ _are_ science. Let’s call it 25% real, 75% bullshit science.

                  But evolutionary psych is complete bullshit built on that.

                  The mind doesn’t even work like they think it does, where stuff can get programmed in and left there. We only have maybe a grand total of ten _actual_ programmed behaviors. (Anti-incest triggers for people you grow up with. The taste of decaying food is repellent. Things touching eyeballs is horrifying. Fight-or-flight. And a few other stuff like that.)

                  And that’s it.

                  Evolutionary psych has a long history of making _very stupid_ assertions about how people are ‘programmed’ genetically to act certain ways…that turn out to be just their specific culture. Over and over and over and over again. They don’t even bother _checking_ this shit!

                  It is entirely possible that, indeed, _some_ other innate behaviors of people are due to evolution. But what, right now, is surely true, is that almost all evolutionary psychology is just a long history of people making up ‘Just so’ genetic stories to explain _cultural_ things.

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                  • My problem with evopsych has to do with my near-certainty that there are many (perhaps even a lot more than 10!) pre-programmed behaviors that humans, in general, have because these pre-programmed behaviors were very, very useful for our pre-civilization ancestors (and, indeed, the people who did not have these behaviors ended up not being the ancestors of anybody).

                    But I have no idea how we would be able to tell what these behaviors would be.

                    I’m not even particularly confident that we’d be able to tell the difference between something vestigial and something that we don’t even understand the mechanism for. (When I was a kid, for example, appendices were at the tail end of being vestigial organs. Now we know that they help regulate gut florae and faunae. Like, actively.)

                    It strikes me as something that would be exceptionally useful if we knew how it worked. But we don’t.

                    But, man, if we did? Woo, doggies.

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                    • My problem with evopsych has to do with my near-certainty that there are many (perhaps even a lot more than 10!) pre-programmed behaviors that humans, in general, have because these pre-programmed behaviors were very, very useful for our pre-civilization ancestors (and, indeed, the people who did not have these behaviors ended up not being the ancestors of anybody).

                      Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘behaviors’. Our brain certainly have been shaped in certain ways. We can identify faces from almost no information (Even when there are not really faces there.) Language processing is built-in.

                      There’s even some stuff that is ‘behaviors’…like how to walk on two legs, how to differently move when running, I mean, the list probably goes on and on.

                      But almost all that built-in behavior is _really damn obvious_. We don’t need evolutionary psychologist to tell us about it, we can just gather up some _developmental_ psychologists (A part of psychology that actually _can_ run controlled experiments to some extent.) and say ‘Hey, list us off when people develop certain traits growing up’.

                      Then they will tell us when babies develop object permanence, and, tada, there’s an innate mental behavior humans have: Belief in object permanence.

                      Find stuff that animals _don’t_ have (Object permanence is not that, animals have that) and you’ve got a list of really obvious innate human behaviors.

                      That list isn’t that long.

                      And the stuff not on that list that is an innate human behavior is even shorter.

                      But there are lists. I won’t deny that. And how big they are really depends on how you count them, and I bet there are a lot of weird interlocking one.

                      The problem is that evolutionary psych, about 50% of the time is describing a behavior that is clearly social, and 50% of the time is describing a justification that is social. Because they are very dumb people who cannot be bothered with reading ‘history books’, I guess. So about 75% of what they say (When either side is social) is just blatantly nonsense.

                      And because of that, I refuse to pay attention too much of the 25% they’ve come up with too, especially since they’ve come up with it retroactively. Coming up with theories that only having to fit already known facts, and thus cannot be tested, is literally How Science Fails. It’s textbook science failure.

                      I swear, half the evolutionary psych stuff makes me think I’m reading a crappy science fiction novel that invented an alien species called ‘human’ and thus has tried to come up with ‘biological’ reasons for their behavior. A few word swaps and I could be reading how a Vulcan’s Pon-Farr is due to the desert environment they developed in.

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                      • We don’t even know what is or isn’t begging the question here.

                        Find stuff that animals _don’t_ have (Object permanence is not that, animals have that) and you’ve got a list of really obvious innate human behaviors.

                        When I was a kid in Christian school, I had teachers explain to me that humans were completely and totally different from animals.

                        I always find it weird (if not downright atavistic) when I find similar sentiments out in the wild.

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                    • Jay,
                      Oh, no, it’s way way worse than that.
                      For most “evopsych” bullshit, we don’t even know the preconditions for the evolution.

                      Like, take manic-depressive disorder.

                      I can spin the “this is good to get sex” story. It’s a workable story for current reality.

                      But, um, maybe when this was actively becoming part of the genepool, there were critical nutrients that actively suppressed the worst of it. Move people out of Africa (metaphor, assume Africa had Climate Change and is no longer the same).

                      Or, maybe this rolled alongside some other genetic thingy (like anti-malaria blood), and thus survived well enough to propagate, nevermind that people kept killing themselves.

                      And, that’s for something that was probably NEVER selectively bred for.

                      We’ve got decent evidence that homosexuality was preferentially selected for, in Western Civilization. That’s “we kill the peasants who are too alpha”, in case the delicate doesn’t spell it out.

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                  • But what, right now, is surely true, is that almost all evolutionary psychology is just a long history of people making up ‘Just so’ genetic stories to explain _cultural_ things.

                    And is it cultural? World wide, are there cultures have male (pre?)teenagers more interested in relationships than stuff, and females more interested in stuff than relationships?

                    Because if it’s cultural, world wide there should be a few, and if it’s genetic then there won’t be… just like unmarried young men are responsible for the bulk of the murders in every culture.

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                    • And is it cultural? World wide, are there cultures have male (pre?)teenagers more interested in relationships than stuff, and females more interested in stuff than relationships?

                      How it basically turns out is that _most_ cultures where men are in charge, men gain status all sorts of ways, whereas women can only obtain status via relationship to men.

                      This is a) obvious when you think about (If the only way for women to get power is via relationships with men and existing powerful women, then, duh, relationships are the most important possible thing for women!), and b) obviously not any sort of genetic thing, because it blatantly works the other way around in matriarchal societies, where it suddenly turns out women care about all sorts of things like power and money…and men care a lot about their relationships!

                      There have also been cultures, such as ancient Rome, where older men were more interested in sex with teenage boys, and treated women just as something you had to put up with to get children. And women did the same thing. So basically men and women operated entirely separate power structures that happened to link up at marriage, and both of them cared about power and neither about relationships. (Or, rather, they cared about relationships to the extent of which ones they could negotiate power through.)

                      Like I said, a lot of time evolutionary psychology is hilariously and stupidly wrong with their _premises_. Forget whether or not they can prove their conclusions are true (Which they can’t), often they are just surreally cockeyed in in ‘fact of nature they are trying to explain’ just simply not being true.

                      They decide ‘men act one way’ and ‘women act another way’, and never bother to sit down and say ‘Wait, is this _always_ true? Hell, is it even _usually_ true?’ before making up a bunch of gibberish about why such behavior is ‘genetic’.

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                      • First, are you seriously holding up our own culture as a place where women can only get power through relationships?

                        Second, you’re claiming there are lots of cultures out there where these things are indeed opposite. Great, so which countries are you talking about?

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                        • First, are you seriously holding up our own culture as a place where women can only get power through relationships?

                          …huh?

                          No, our society _used_ to do that until fairly recently…and purely coincidentally I’m sure, women in this society _used_ to put a lot more value on relationships. Until fairly recently.

                          In fact, pretty much every instance of women getting rights, and ability to have power outside of just a relationship with a man, that was _immediately_ followed by alterations in sexual mores of women. Women get the right to vote….tada, you get Flappers. Women get even more rights in the 1950-1960, tada, you get the sexual revolution.

                          It’s almost as if, as you take away the ability of men to police the sexuality of women (By taking away men’s ability to withhold power from women who do not follow the rules), it turns out that women like sex just fine! It’s utterly crazy!

                          Society, of course, can take a long time to change…both in how power is granted, and the conditioned behavior of people. We are, right now, still doing both. Women are still expected, to some extent, to gain power more through relationships than men are, and women are still _taught_ how to do that even as it becomes less and less applicable.

                          And evolutionary psychology does this a _lot_. They try to argue society is changing in ‘non-evolutionary’ ways (?!), when it’s clear that how society was behaving before wasn’t some ‘evolved’ situation, society worked that way because that _was_ the optimum way of acting…and it no longer is!

                          Second, you’re claiming there are lots of cultures out there where these things are indeed opposite. Great, so which countries are you talking about?

                          Here is a culture where women do not gain status via relationships with men: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosuo

                          Instead, the matriarch of the family is the head of the household. And men do not marry and bring women to their family, in fact, they don’t marry and go the other way…men are always considered part of their mother’s family. People ‘marry’ by just having an agreement and the men go out at night and visit the woman they are interested in.

                          And, tada, the culture does not care about paternity at all.

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                          • women in this society _used_ to put a lot more value on relationships. Until fairly recently.

                            Meaning the current generations gender ratio in choosing SW fields probably can’t be put onto women in our society being forced to value relationships over things.

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosuo

                            Somehow I doubt we’re going to learn much about gender choices in joining SW fields from them. :)

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                            • Meaning the current generations gender ratio in choosing SW fields probably can’t be put onto women in our society being forced to value relationships over things.

                              Erm, correct?

                              Hey, remember when I said the evolutionary psychologists appear to have a completely moronic inability to notice how other cultures even _exist_, much less are different than the US?

                              Well, to bring that on topic: 70% of engineering graduates in Iran are female.

                              Gee, did they somehow evolve differently than American women? (And before we get excited there, let’s all remind ourselves that Iranians are, in fact, Caucasian.)

                              But perhaps Iranians women did, being so long in a culture where women have all the power, the women evolved to deal with things, not relationships…no, wait, that can’t be right. In fact, their culture was repressive to women longer than ours, and in fact is still more repressive! Women are still _more_ defined in their relationship to men in Iran than in the US.

                              Or could it be that their current culture somehow treats women who are interested in engineering differently? That when you take a culture with a lot of Western influence, but _absolutely_ does not allow sexual harassment or taunting (1), women _somehow_ become good at engineering!

                              And it’s nothing to do with genetics at all!

                              So, pick one: Either Iranian women have somehow evolved engineering skills that US women don’t have, or evolutionary psychologists have evolved some new level of super-stupidity never imagined before.

                              Hey, I know, let’s all pretend we’re _Iranian_ evolutionary psychologists and explain why _women_ are so much better at engineering than men:

                              I think it’s because women are natural crafters. They weave, they sew, they traditionally constructed things while men went out and hunted. So it only makes sense that their minds evolved to see how things worked, whereas men were better at hunting.

                              Hey, look at how fun evolutionary psychology is. You can make up _any_ bullshit and pretend to be a scientist!

                              1) Admittedly, the lack of harassment or taunting is because female students are often segregated, and also if you start sexually harassing women in Iran, you very quickly end up in _jail_. But I’m not saying it’s perfect, just that the stuff that keeps female students out of STEM in the US does not happen there.

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                              • 70% of engineering graduates in Iran are female… when you take a culture with a lot of Western influence, but _absolutely_ does not allow sexual harassment or taunting (1), women _somehow_ become good at engineering!

                                Women in Iran face absurd restrictions on their ability to work with men. If you’re an ambitious female, and you know you’re going to HAVE to work from home, what field do you go into?

                                So the good news is it’s possible to “fix” the gender imbalance in engineering. The bad news is it involves removing most other choices for women.

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                                • Dark,
                                  And, you know next to nothing about Iran.
                                  Can you please speak about countries that you know something about, instead?

                                  You can’t even tell me how many ways there are to get OUT of Iran, and if you can’t tell me that, you don’t know JACK about the body politick.

                                  Der Komissar is not the only power in Iran.

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                        • Dark,
                          Cut the bullshit. If you’re doing evopsych, look back ten generations. Unless you’re talking fire or beer, that’s AT LEAST how far back you need to go.

                          Standard alpha male “I get multiple women” leads to women who need to negotiate far more complicated relationships than men do, in order to have their kids survive and thrive.

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                          • If you’re doing evopsych, look back ten generations. Unless you’re talking fire or beer, that’s AT LEAST how far back you need to go.

                            Fire and Beer predate humanity. They were discovered by whatever species came before us.

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                  • David,
                    *yawn* pretty much everyone gets off on vore. That’s evopsych — old stuff from when we were rodent-like critters.

                    Evopsych works best when explaining the “what the FUCK” things… (interestingly, that incest taboo has specific breaks in it, and there are actual cultures that maintain less of an incest taboo than you’d expect.)

                    Decaying food is repellent? Buuulshit. Decaying fruit is alcoholic, and we know how much people like that stuff, don’t we? (seriously, it’s a main reason why we’re such good alcohol detectors).

                    ‘Just So’ stories are the worst part of evopsych. They insist that every brainpathway has to be a good one.

                    I mean, there are real instincts — women and men have sexual ones, there’s hunger and thirst, and how they effect our brains.

                    But humans are malleable things.

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                    • pretty much everyone gets off on vore. That’s evopsych — old stuff from when we were rodent-like critters.

                      I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Nor do I think there is the slightest bit of evidence it has anything to do with rats.

                      Evopsych works best when explaining the “what the FUCK” things…

                      No, _history_ works best when explaining those things.

                      There are societies that have completely insane behaviors that, if you look into their past, you can find a logical reason for that behavior to have developed.

                      And that entire thing has nothing to do with evolution. No one has ‘evolved’ that way. The people in the society have not been ‘genetically programmed’ with that behavior…they are _socially_ programmed with it, long after it ceases to make sense.

                      It is hypothetically possible that there are some non-obvious human behaviors that are genetically programmed, but considering we don’t allow humans be raised outside entirely outside civilization, we’ll probably never really track them down…and evolutionary psych has a pretty large hurdle trying to prove those behaviors _differ_ from person to person.

                      If people just want to apply evolutionary psych to the species, to say ‘Humans automatically start (poorly) dog paddling when they fall in water due to evolution’, whatever. That sounds like a reasonable claim. It’s not really science, we have no way to prove or disprove it, but it’s about the level of the (currently accepted) theory that we have very sparse arm and leg hair (compared to other primates) because we spent a lot of time in the water.

                      It’s when they start trying to claim that _different_ people have _different_ mental evolutionary traits that they get on the stupid-train, because a good portion of the time they’re just completely wrong about what they are describing _being_ any sort of universal trait, or even completely wrong about history.

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                  • Related

                    So we have the head of a Diversity Consulting company explain why her services are absolutely vital and companies are totally blind without her even if they think otherwise.

                    Oh, and it’s totally an issue of discrimination and there really are hoards of highly qualified minorities out there if you get her help. And she even has one antidotal story to tell (no, you can’t have actual names). So hey, who needs data?

                    Let’s quote gregiank: Part of the problem you guys are having with the push back against Damore is you seem unwilling to see the weaknesses of the data he presents.

                    This is a heart string pulling narrative which matches what the SJWs want to believe and it’s totally uncheckable for accuracy or to see how common it is.

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                      • How would you compile the necessary data in order to check the claim?

                        Micro vs. Macro. Micro first.

                        Without names and dates we can’t check the claim. That’s a big red flag in a self serving narrative, but presumably everyone on this board has had interview debacles. Someone whose job connects candidates with companies will have seen many interview debacles. Some general possibilities for this specific one are…

                        1) Candidate was solid, company really is that dysfunctional. Odds are they’re doing things which are illegal and will experience problems because of that. Not hiring qualified people because of their flavor will just be the tip of the iceberg.

                        2) Candidate was solid, company is solid, interviewers were off the reservation. Various people need to be fired or whatever.

                        3) Candidate was dysfunctional. If she had no clue how to conduct herself in an interview she’d get something like this. If her resume had clear absurdities she’d also get something like this.

                        Normally people like that don’t make it to the interview phase but whatever. Whether she knew she was a joker or not is irrelevant. It’s not my job to educate someone on how to tell better lies or (more charitably) how to conduct themselves in a professional environment. “Doesn’t fit the culture” can be polite-speak for “you’re not functional enough to have a job”.

                        Whatever the situation was, supplying the extended story probably wouldn’t have served the writer’s desired narrative. Any of “the company was later shut down”, “the interviewers were fired”, and/or “the candidate was educated on basic behavior” would reduce the SJW heartstring appeal.

                        Now Macro.

                        IMHO everything at a micro level is irrelevant. One bad interview, candidate, or company is nothing. The writer’s narrative is this happens ALL THE TIME and it’s not the candidate who is dysfunctional. Now we’re getting into “could include necessary data” territory.

                        What’s the unemployment rate for minority SW engineers? Significantly higher than normal for SW with the same qualifications? The “start your own company” rate? The publication rate for minority academic SW people? (I’ll skip lots of other “data” questions).

                        Or in other words, what’s the actual “talented people” rate and is that wildly out of whack for how industry should be treating talented people? When we have these conversations the data used is always “X is out of whack compared to the general population” which puts us into “women earn 79 cents” territory.

                        Or alternatively, if the claim is that area [X] is a hotbed of racism which thus isn’t going to show up on national data: Every SW engineer in the US walks around with a personal voice/video recorder. Unlike police interactions, you know your interview is coming. Have the woman described in the article record five interviews and show that racism is omnipresent in SW interviews in area [X], then put it on Youtube.

                        But an uncheckable claim that swells the hearts of the SJWs in how unjust the world is? My expectation is we’re not shown data because data wouldn’t support the narrative.

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                    • Let me clarify my position here. Why do you seem stuck on the idea that Damore’s data is the be-all/end-all of the issue here?

                      Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the evo-psych interpretation isn’t flat out wrong, that there is something there. Why is that the only possible factor at play and all others can be discounted as emotional narratives of convenience? Because the evo-psych explanation has the veneer of science to it?

                      Sorry, evo-psych, while it is certainly a science, does not yet have very much in the way of well formed and robust theories. It has a lot of hypothesis, some of which can be tested, but right now it’s sits in the same area where a lot of economics & climate science get to hang out, doing a lot of hypothesizing and model building, but very poor real world predictive capability. So that veneer is very thin.

                      Also, relying on the evo-psych explanation on it’s own gives Occam a headache. What is a more likely explanation for the disparity? That women are genetically predisposed away from CS, or that the CS was dominated by men for a long time, that the few women in the field were there for lack of better professional options, and when professional options that were more aligned with what women are looking for in a career began to open up, women flocked to them?

                      Now perhaps there is something to the evo-psych angel. Perhaps genetic wiring means men get to learn CS concepts on easy mode, whereas women have to put in more effort to achieve the same level of proficiency (note this does not mean they can not be top tier, only that it might require more effort). And this is assuming there are no external developmental pressures that give boys a leg up over girls (e.g. boys being encouraged to play with logic puzzles very early while girls are encouraged to sort out social and relational puzzles).

                      I have to ask, so what?

                      I mean, I agree with you that if there are only X many women in the field that would meet Google’s recruitment standard, having a recruitment goal that exceeds that standard in unrealistic ways is silly, and Google should adjust that goal to better reflect reality. But that is a vastly different suggestion from Google should stop making such an effort to recruit women into the tech teams. They absolutely should continue to make such an effort, and part of that effort is talking to women and finding out not only what kinds of benefits are appealing to them (which was the whole point you missed about the NYT piece), but also making sure that women don’t feel like all the decisions regarding the workplace are being made by men. If every person on the hiring committee that is looking for female candidates is male, that is a problem, unless there are absolutely zero women at the company capable of being part of the committee (and honestly, that is when you bring in the outside consultant like the one from the NYT piece). A whole bunch of male engineers sitting as a search committee are going to fall into a male-oriented techie groupthink in pretty short order (just as an all female team would).

                      So yes, you get women on the team, ones who will think about flex-time, and maternity leave, and nursing rooms and any other issue that is probably much more front and center in a woman’s mind. At least, you do if you are serious about hiring the best female engineers you can.

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                      • Why do you seem stuck on the idea that Damore’s data is the be-all/end-all of the issue here?

                        Because if the Emperor legitimately doesn’t have any clothes, then pointing out that he’s not wearing any clothes shouldn’t be a firing offense. At the moment the reasons for firing him seems to be… people were upset at things he either didn’t say or (more rarely) things which “have the veneer of science to it”.

                        Allowing “emotional narratives of convenience” as evidence is saying we’re just fine burning witches regardless of whether or not they’re engaged in witchcraft. What’s important is the accusers’ emotions, not things like guilt or innocence.

                        Specifically for this case, was he making his workplace hostile? If the memo by itself is enough, then no one can even talk about the science (and maybe even not statistics) without blowing up the office. Exclusive of that memo, what did his female co-workers think of him? Was he dismissive of female accomplishments? Did he treat everyone as people? Was this memo cover for emotionally laden anti-female stands or was the cold analyst always coldly analytic?

                        As far as I can tell, we simply don’t know (although if Google had other good reasons to fire him it’s weird they haven’t mentioned them), but there’s been nothing presented showing him having issues other than that memo, which means we’re in witchhunt territory.

                        So yes, you get women on the team, ones who will think about flex-time, and maternity leave, and nursing rooms and any other issue that is probably much more front and center in a woman’s mind. At least, you do if you are serious about hiring the best female engineers you can.

                        Yours is a reasonable, rational, counter statement. If we were going to continue with a rational discussion then I’d counter ask if whether Google is already doing those things. Google is already the #1 best place to work (fortune). That’s a weird ranking if they’re missing all these female friendly policies. I’d also ask whether normal “recruit the best” techniques also bring in females because the assumption that “the best” is never “the female” seems suspect.

                        However we don’t need to go down the reasonable rational path because Diversity’s proponents simply had him fired on the basis of their emotion, without bothering to check whether his coworkers thought he was hostile.

                        This was a high tech lynching.

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                        • First, are you seriously expecting data in a NYT op-ed? This ain’t an academic paper.

                          Also, regarding Damore, everything I have heard is that it wasn’t a big deal until it got outside the company, then it suddenly was. Google might have very well decided to quietly let him go, and was just waiting for the opportunity. So yeah, I agree he was unfairly & publicly run out on a rail. People should be allowed to say stupid crap in non-public places without having their lives torn apart.

                          Narratives are not by default incorrect. I agree that some data would be nice, but my own experiences are such that the narrative has an element of truth to it, so I won’t casually dismiss it, nor should you.

                          As for Google, they probably are doing a lot of things right, and it probably is working, which leads to the question, why was Damore bothering to speak out of school? He wasn’t in HR, and HR hiring policies were not impacting him directly (he was not a manager making hiring decisions), so what got a burr under his ass?

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                          • …why was Damore bothering to speak out of school?…

                            I’ll speculate.

                            Presumably because he’s concerned about Google. From Damore’s point of view, as the company has gotten bigger, HR has gotten stronger and they’re now more able to force policies that negatively affect engineering.

                            HR doesn’t launch products. They have a seat at the table with the big boys, they believe they’re useful and add value, but the more the company listens to HR and not engineering, the more it’s a problem from a “launch products” point of view.

                            Finding someone who is good is a challenge, if that’s not the top priority for hiring then it doesn’t happen. If I find a top person, the odds of them being a woman are 15%. If HR finds a woman, the odds of them being a top person are roughly 1% (same as with anyone else).

                            HR probably has no clue what engineering competence even looks like, they can’t because if they were engineers they wouldn’t be in HR.

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                            • Interesting criticism since from my pov as a real engineer (aero/mechanical with 20+ years in the field) Damore’s memorandum shows that he has very little idea what engineering competence looks like. I suppose that isn’t surprising, since he isn’t really an engineer. He never went to an engineering college or took the PE exam. He writes code – which is the soft, user-oriented “people, not things” end of the tech spectrum.

                              Even more ironically, Damore is using studies in a field most engineers (people trained in the physical sciences) either don’t view as real science or consider the soft, squishy “people, not things” type of sciences that Damore claims *women* are drawn to. And he presumed to make pronouncements about what makes a good engineer at Google after less than 3 years there, which demonstrates a level of arrogance and/or cluelessness that deserves the derision he’s received.

                              Writing a memo that both denigrated the abilities of many of his co-workers and plays the “I’m the real victim here” card would argue against any actual concern for Google.

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                                • I know, and I’m sorry if I offended. I am just fed up with engineering being defined as though it’s only software, and even more fed up with someone who never studied actual engineering, whether CS or one of the more traditional branches, making pronouncements about what makes a person a worthwhile engineer. (I very much doubt Damore is one of “down in the metal” coders since his degree seems to be in bio).

                                  That the “people, not things” argument came from someone that people in my field tend to view as not making “things” (i.e., hardware, engines, airframes, etc) that seemed particularly rich.

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                              • Writing a memo that both denigrated the abilities of many of his co-workers…

                                Right there that says you don’t understand what he was saying. Averages of groups have nothing to do with individuals.

                                I’m way more logical and data driven than the average woman/man/whatever. My female coworker is more data driven than I am. No matter what we want to assume about women in general, she is still more data driven than I.

                                Most women are shorter than most men. Saying that doesn’t make any specific man taller nor any woman shorter.

                                and plays the “I’m the real victim here” card would argue against any actual concern for Google.

                                HR doesn’t launch products. If it’s policies are getting in the way of people who do, then that’s a problem for the company. If the SJWs just shot the messenger because of the message, then yes, that makes him a victim, and yes, it’s bad for the company.

                                He writes code – which is the soft, user-oriented “people, not things” end of the tech spectrum.

                                :Amusement: I have done embedded, big data, algorithmic (stock trading), database, general systems, and made user interfaces. At a handwave, if the system doesn’t need a UI then you’re far enough away from people that “user-oriented” isn’t a good word.

                                There’s a reason SW is attractive to introverts.

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                                • Averages of groups have nothing to do with individuals

                                  Just keep digging.

                                  “Google has 1,000 female employees who, on average, are worse than men!” “Wait, why is everyone getting offended, I didn’t say which ones are worse than which men?”

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                            • Man, I got handfuls of criticisms for HR departments that get too big for their britches and make technical hiring difficult.

                              But do you know why I have those criticisms? Because I’ve been a hiring manager, and I am very often on search committees and interview teams, because I’ve been kicking around for getting close to 20 years. I’ve seen HR work well, and work badly.

                              A kid with three years in the field has maybe been on one interview team, unless Google is very progressive about getting young engineers involved in that, and probably zero search committees (which means he isn’t involved in the overall process). If Veronica sees this, perhaps she could comment on the internals.

                              So I’m left wondering where his attitude regarding HR practices comes from. He’s not dialed into HR, since he’s not high enough in the food chain, so his concerns are, while perhaps understandable, well outside his duties and training. He can’t possibly know how much power HR wields over hiring decisions since he’s not part of that.

                              And, as I’ve said before, if his overall point was that Google’s goals are not aligned with reality, he could have made that point without ever touching on the evo-psych stuff. Bring the evo-psych argument to the table was unnecessary, and frankly unrelated to the clean point he could make (goals not aligned to reality). Which means he is either a grade-A idiot who has no idea how to make a formal argument (especially in an area that is going to be touchy), or he wasn’t actually interested in making a clean point and wanted to throw shade at his female co-workers.

                              No, what I suspect is that he had an axe to grind. Maybe he is a full on misogynist and just really does not think women can do the job. Or he had a friend interview for a job at Google, and the friend lost out to a woman who he thinks was less qualified (not that a kid three years out of school has any basis of experience to actually make that judgement, but as we are discussing on Mike’s post, this seems to be a feature of millennials).

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                              • So I’m left wondering where his attitude regarding HR practices comes from.

                                He may be voicing a common concern held by a large number of people. A substantial percentage of Google agreed with him; Rather than read that as “the Fortune #1 Best Place To Work is a hotbed of sexism” we could read that as “Google’s HR has widely recognized problems“.

                                As for why, my guess would be “Interns”.

                                Interns are the canary in the coal mine. HR has more influence in getting them in than with real employees and there’s constantly a new batch. I assume Google has an intern fair where they show off what they did. It’d be trivial to get an overview there of how many engineering interns actually did something.

                                I do not work at Google, but I suspect all HR departments over a certain size follow the same fads. Our intern washout rate has been really awful recently. It’s clearly a problem, and we need good interns because that’s where we get good employees.

                                Which means he is either a grade-A idiot who has no idea how to make a formal argument (especially in an area that is going to be touchy)…

                                He’s a Systems biology guy. Making policy off of bioanalytics is touchy, but that’s where he lives.

                                My expectation is if you’re used to the idea that the sexs are different, then the awareness that the concept summons lynch mobs goes down. Didn’t we have the President of Harvard or something make the same mistake within the last decade or so?

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                                • A substantial percentage of Google agreed with him

                                  Cite? I’ve seen this claimed quite often, but never seen actual evidence of it as anything more than a convenient narrative.

                                  I’m not sure how interns fits into it. Can you expand on that?

                                  My expectation is if you’re used to the idea that the sexs are different, then the awareness that the concept summons lynch mobs goes down.

                                  Ergo, no idea how to make the argument he wanted to make to his target audience. Or perhaps he did, if your claim above is borne out, and it was the leaking that did him in (because the world at large was not his target audience – this is something we’ve all seen before in academic papers). I can’t blame Google for firing him, though, once it leaked. No way a junior engineer was going to weather that.

                                  Of course, he isn’t helping his case by making bad Twitter arguments.

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                                  • Dark Matter: A substantial percentage of Google agreed with him

                                    Cite? I’ve seen this claimed quite often, but never seen actual evidence of it as anything more than a convenient narrative.

                                    https://twitter.com/sonyaellenmann/status/894756561087746049

                                    no idea how to make the argument he wanted to make to his target audience

                                    That, and his target audience wasn’t the SJW world at large.

                                    I’m not sure how interns fits into it. Can you expand on that?

                                    Ideally we go to a technical school, get a good Junior (or more rarely Sophomore), and they do an internship. We’re trying to impress them as much as we’re giving them a chance to impress us. Interns are well paid, they don’t get people coffee, if they can build a bootloader or whatever without too much handholding they’ll end up with a job, if they can’t then we look good on their resume. About half get job offers for when they graduate.

                                    Generally the technical interns are either outstanding (meaning they get stuff done) or worthless (meaning they don’t). It’s mostly obvious who is whom at the intern fair, there are exceptions both ways but whatever. I go to the fair to steal people. We do this to other groups too, my more data-driven co-worker used to be our QA gal.

                                    This year we had two statistical anomalies. The first was the amount of diversity for the interns was way up. The second was the quality of the interns was way down, only half the normal amount (i.e. a quarter) got job offers (worse than it sounds).

                                    Anecdotally, these anomalies seem related. A HR recruiter came back from a college with three of the best students, all of which were Diverse (statistically unlikely), and none of them got anything done (also statistically unlikely for that school).

                                    My impression is HR’s needs and goals are not ours and they’re focused on things which are not helpful for launching products.

                                    If I were less cynical, really into bioanalytics, and thought it possible to refocus HR so they’re productive (and/or if HR were in charge enough that I had no choice but try to refocus them), maybe I’d write a memo pointing out how their religion is getting in the way of real work and flies in the face of known science.

                                    More usefully, we’ll try to not let HR go to “find intern” events without engineers anymore. No matter how busy, I (and one hopes lots of others) have been ‘Strongly Encouraged’ to go. This is too important to ignore. Long term, bad interns means fewer engineers, and we already don’t do some projects because there aren’t enough people.

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                                    • Thanks for the survey data, seems to support the idea that internally it wasn’t a huge deal (although it obviously irritated somebody enough to leak a document from a forum that was supposed to be for internal discussions, but apparently few people see this as a legal liability for Google).

                                      Per your anecdote, the issue seems to be less about statistical distribution of talented among genders, & more that HR has selection criteria that has weights that are too heavy towards gender over ability. Couple that with STEM programs that are still heavily weighted towards male for reasons not entirely related to any inherent limits in gender, and I can see your point.

                                      Which still doesn’t excuse pulling in the evopysch\bio stuff to what is a straight statistical argument.

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                                      • the issue seems to be less about statistical distribution of talented among genders, & more that HR has selection criteria that has weights that are too heavy towards gender over ability.

                                        I’m hoping it’s much worse and HR has been filtering out talented people in general. General recruiting is new for me, I’ll have a better idea on it all after I go to an event or two.

                                        Which still doesn’t excuse pulling in the evopysch\bio stuff to what is a straight statistical argument.

                                        I lean to agreeing with you on this… but I’ve also got one carve out exception.

                                        If he led with evo\bio, then yeah, that was totally off topic and a trainwreck waiting to happen. But forum might mean an OG style board. I assume there are factions at Google which think HR’s polices are perfect for advancing society or something and will simply Work. A back and forth argument on why it’s useless, even in theory, could easily end up in evo/bio.

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                                    • *Screams* “I knew this bootloader was written by an intern!”

                                      Of course some interns would be really sharp. I wrote a Forth interpreter in 8080 assembly language when I was a 18. It got me hired by the aerospace/biomechanics lab that trained Ham the space chimp. Reportedly, Ham was a vicious monkey.

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                        • If the memo by itself is enough, then no one can even talk about the science (and maybe even not statistics) without blowing up the office.

                          I thought you explicitly disclaimed this point above when I asked why you thought a firing was wrong but pretended that only the least-offensive part of the memo existed in explaining why. You said you weren’t, because you didn’t have a problem with the firing.

                          And yet, now you’re calling it a “high tech lynching” which is indefensibly absurd in every conceivable way, and relies entirely on you pretending that the rest of the memo doesn’t exist (among other things).

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                          • And yet, now you’re calling it a “high tech lynching” which is indefensibly absurd in every conceivable way, and relies entirely on you pretending that the rest of the memo doesn’t exist (among other things).

                            Please quote him where, in your opinion, he’s at his most offensive. And quote as in “quote”, not some strawman summary.

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          • And as was exhaustively explained he missed a heck of a lot and even on the things he may have been accurate on he doesn’t understand enough to know if they are even significant. He was far more wrong or clueless then right.

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      • I agree that Damore said a lot of things in his manifesto, not all of which were objectionable.

        For instance,

        Pichai also went on to say “we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves.” It looks like part of Damore’s memo is worthy of praise, and part of it is cause for firing. As the title of Pichai’s memo says, “Our words matter.”

        (from https://venturebeat.com/2017/08/07/google-fires-author-of-controversial-diversity-memo-for-breaking-company-rules/)

        I saw another quote from Pichai saying more explicitly that there are a lot of things in Damore’s manifesto that they could talk about in the company and it would be good to talk about. But not the idea that some group of the people there are biologically unsuited for their work. It created a hostile work environment. Game, set, match.

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        • But not the idea that some group of the people there are biologically unsuited for their work.

          Except that’s not what he said, that’s just what his detractors want to claim he said.

          It created a hostile work environment. Game, set, match.

          Believe what I tell you to believe or you’re a nazi and your mere presence will create “a hostile work environment”.

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          • This is a distortion. It was not his presence that created the hostile work environment. It was what he said, and propagated actively throughout the company that did it. He had agency here, and you are ignoring it.

            Do we really need to discuss “the death of the author” here? Do we really need to parse his words so finely?

            Now, I personally would be happy to discuss any statement in his manifesto. We could do it line by line. But that’s because I’m not threatened by any of them. This feels very different when you are the one being threatened by some statement or some action.

            Which actually applies to you at the moment, too. You feel threatened by Google’s actions, and this has a big impact on how you understand what other people are saying, and how much weight it has.

            If you are a woman working in tech, the statement “Women have higher neuroticism” is not a statement of fact, it’s something they’ve heard all their lives as an excuse for why they, personally, have ended up with the short end of the stick.

            Whether or not they are neurotic.

            This is, in fact, the same sort of thing that conservatives get upset about being called racists or nazis. Once you get framed that way, you now have the burden of proving that you aren’t that. It’s not fair, in either case. I know plenty of conservatives who are no more racist than I am, but they have to constantly battle the stereotype.

            I have some empathy for Damore, whom I believe to be non-neurotypical. I have other friends who are spectrum, and they might say these things with no valence, but be horrifyingly unaware of how an audience might understand them. Nevertheless, I support his firing. If I had been his friend, I would have told him, “We can talk about this, but you need to take that thing down right now, with some words about the potential for misunderstanding being too great”

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            • But that’s because I’m not threatened by any of them. This feels very different when you are the one being threatened by some statement or some action.

              That is something which very easily becomes weaponized. You said “science says X”, I say “I’m threatened by that”. That’s over and above the whole problem that mostly “he didn’t say that”.

              People feel threatened by something science says is probably a thing. This is them insisting they shouldn’t need to confront something they disagree with, and anything which does confront them must be a threat/nazi/racist.

              Which actually applies to you at the moment, too. You feel threatened by Google’s actions…

              :Amusement: Hardly. I’ve got no dog in the race. I already knew the SJW lynch-mob is strong enough to get people fired for daring to disagree with them.

              If you are a woman working in tech, the statement “Women have higher neuroticism” is not a statement of fact, it’s something they’ve heard all their lives as an excuse for why they, personally, have ended up with the short end of the stick. Whether or not they are neurotic.

              If you’re going to pretend to quote him saying things which get people upset, then you should actually quote him, preferably including the part where he explains the differences between group averages and how it doesn’t apply to individuals.

              Damore, whom I believe to be non-neurotypical.

              Perhaps, but think about everything you’ve posted in the last however many years. Now assume you’re misquoted out of context and the lynch mob gets ahold of it.

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        • Without getting into the content of what Damore said, what if the alleged hostile work environment is being created by constitutionally protected speech? And further, what if the government is never really being required to test that issue because companies will fire people rather than risk a complaint?

          To me thats the big issue here.

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          • But it isn’t an issue (legally) in this case because he has no right to his job. This is actually being tested right now in another case, though, where a Court just held a union worker could not be fired for making explicitly racist statements directed at black temp workers during a strike.

            https://www.iowaappeals.com/eighth-circuit-rules-for-union-worker-who-hurled-racist-comments-at-strike-breakers/

            Will be interesting to see what happens next.

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              • Yep, definitely evidence of liberal bad faith since the Clinton appointee and the Bush appointee picked the union worker and the Reagan appointee wrote “No employer in America is or can be required to employ a racial bigot.”

                As evidenced by the split decision, its a tough call that actually puts precisely the issues motivating at issue. ..

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                • Not bad faith, more me poking fun at people who take absolutist positions on things (not that you are, I’m talking more in general).

                  As Hanley said recently, nuance may not be dead, but it’s certainly in the ICU on life support. I mean, for me it’s a no brainer. The guy shouting racial slurs has defacto created a hostile work environment and he’s gone.

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            • Also, I see what you’re saying with regard to right (or lack thereof) to a job but it calls into question the constitutionality of what these agencies are doing. Can they threaten to apply facially constitutional laws in arguably unconstitutional ways that result in third parties sanctioning people?

              Im not saying theres a simple correct answer to that but it does bother me and it seems like it could have a real chilling effect on legitimate exercise of rights.

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              • There’s no regulator involved.

                To the extent the guy was fired because of “hostile work environment” concerns (rather than “shitty PR hurting the company” concerns), it would be a fear that the next time the company fires a woman or minority that person sues arguing discriminatory termination, and uses that memo as proof. Certainly it would be tough to fire a woman or minority who had any interaction with this guy.

                As far as chilling effect, “at-will” employment already has the effect since you can be fired for (almost) any reason. Hell, you could be fired for liking the wrong sports team if your boss was enough of an idiot, which would certainly chill that form of expression.

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                • All fair points and maybe it’s a call for re-examining how we approach employment generally. Back when people left the office at 5 and no one had any way of knowing what Bobby in accounting or Jane in sales did after hours absent some real weird circumstances maybe it was workable. It seems to me like we’ve lost most of the factors that favored restraint and put all the factors that favor reactionary snap decisions on steroids.

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                    • That wouldn’t hurt either. As others have noted I often think how glad I am to have come of age before social media really blew up. It makes me worry a lot about my son though.

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                  • If he worked for state government, he would be able to sue because he would have First Amendment protection, and more protections if he was in a union. I do think it is interesting to make these types of comparisons, not necessary because they lead to easy conclusions. They do such some universal value being assumed is not universal. (I’ve made a similar point regarding lawsuits for searches and seizures at public schools; they don’t apply to private schools)

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          • Of course a hostile work environment can be created by constitutionally protected speech. If someone’s boss talks daily about how women are inferior and incapable he has a right to his beliefs and talk about them but that would be certainly hostile to his female employees.

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            • Part of this is my error because I should have qualified with ‘outside the work place.’

              Even then the part you’re missing is that ‘hostile work environment’ is a legal term of art. No one is ever actually establishing in court that the conduct in question is in fact creating a hostile work environment as that term is defined by the law. Instead companies are firing people for saying or writing (even on their own time) anything even remotely controversial to avoid anyone even raising the question or sparking an investigation, in large part because enforcement agencies are regularly issuing guidance which is a nice way of saying threats about how they’re willing to enforce. Thats where I think there’s a problem.

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              • I think the firing for out of work speech is more of a concern. That is quite different. I don’t hear people being fired for the out of work speech on hostile work enviro/ discrimination grounds though. It’s not that employers are afraid of the gov coming into their work place because they have a nazi on staff. At least i haven’t heard that. It’s more that employers either don’t want to have nazi’s on staff or afraid of the PR hit.

                If there is a larger force at work i think it’s social media. Now we can easily find out where people work and what they say and what their hobbies/beliefs are. So if someone is doing the tiki torch nazi thing it’s super easy to find out all these things and that leads to repercussions. There is very much a down side to that but that is the new world of social media.

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                • Depends on who you are. My industry is very person-focused (basically all law firms post detailed bios of all lawyers, and clients make hiring decisions personally), so when my name appears in public on anything, that reflects on my firm. It just does.

                  Now, my firm is sufficiently enlightened that I don’t worry about liking the Athletics in a Giants-obsessed office. I also feel comfortable publicly supporting political groups. But if I put my name on a quote supporting–say–neo-naziism it would certainly harm my firm’s reputation and might well get me fired. That might be less true if you’re employee #100,000 who has no internet-searchable connection to your employer, but that’s only true for as long as the connection remains unknown.

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                  • Oh i agree with that. But that is a social media/connectivity issue not the gov coming in to say fire so and so because he is creating a hostile work environment. It is a PR thing and i understand why companies do it. I do also see the potential downside if it becomes even more common for private opinions to lead to firing. It will gore everyones ox at some point.

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                    • At some point we’re going to have to make a world where people’s poor choices (which are more and more available online) aren’t considered problematic.

                      I was fortunate to be in college before everyone shared everything (in fact, I was a proud user of [mycollege].thefacebook.com back when they were expanding college-by-college), but people only a touch younger than me probably shared a large percentage of their bad choices.

                      Which means we will soon be able to demand externally flawlessness. Since we aren’t there yet, though, you gotta play by the rules as they are.

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                  • That might be less true if you’re employee #100,000 who has no internet-searchable connection to your employer, but that’s only true for as long as the connection remains unknown.

                    This is key. Prior to it leaking, it was a non-issue for Google, since it was an internal doc. Once it hit the wider world, it became a PR issue.

                    And I’m still not convinced that Google doesn’t have to make a significant effort to find and discipline the leaker(s) for violating policies regarding the handling of internal documentation (and I doubt such persons would fall under whistle-blower protections).

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                • “. Now we can easily find out where people work and what they say and what their hobbies/beliefs are. So if someone is doing the tiki torch nazi thing it’s super easy to find out all these things and that leads to repercussions. There is very much a down side to that but that is the new world of social media.”

                  Or it’s the old world of small towns.

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                  • Oh yeah, small towns can be oppressive. Social media is bringing the small town experience to big city folks and reminding them why they don’t live in small towns.

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                    • I think a lot of big city folks have never lived in small towns (or even tight neighborhoods) and so they have this idea that being judged in these ways is somehow non-normative.

                      When really the effort to separate public-professional and different-public-personal lives (or at least not to be judged in the former according to the latter) is very new and very fragile and has never really had all that much buy-in across the board. Look at how people-in-general react to, for example, the use of internet pseudonyms….

                      (Hey, I moved from an island where almost everyone knew my grandmother to an island that was also the center of a city of 3 million the second I had any choice in the matter, so I get the concern. Just don’t often see it framed as something other than new! and startling!!)

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                  • Actually recall back in 1993 there was much talk of a global village being created by the internet. It actually was created and it is as full of gossip as the old village. The issue is that in a village there is no privacy if you choose to go to the courthouse square and speak others will hear it. Social media are the modern equivalent of the courthouse square. So this is an unintended consequence of the internet

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  3. The recent SC decision overturning prohibitions on sex offenders registering on social media sites becomes, I believe, much more interesting now.

    Though I believe that had to do with state/local laws, not site policies. Still, they held that there was a first amendment stake in access to the (electronic, at best semi-public) fora themselves. Which is to say, I recognize the distinction between a public and a private regulation of speech w/r/t the first amendment. But there’s now some kind of precedent gesturing (if vaguely) toward the idea that a private entity blocking access to the internet because of the speaker’s viewpoint is like a private entity (physically?) blocking access to a physically-extant public space because of the speaker’s viewpoint.

    N.B.: These thoughts have all been composed on less than 1/6 of a cup of coffee. I’ll attribute all failures of logic to that, and not actually being a lawyer.

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    • I would disagree with that. My understanding of that decision is that it held the offenders’ interest in communication couldn’t be restricted by the government because crimes were committed.

      Whatever you think about these choices, I see no First Amendment issue.

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  4. Very, very good post.

    Basically: If you kicked off the Daily Stormer, why don’t you blackball VDare? And if you blackball VDare, why don’t you blackball everyone on SPLC’s list? And it reaches a point that if you aren’t blackballing, that means you must at least implicitly approve of their message! (I saw this logic just two days ago, when people who were okay with Nazis being fired were told that if they weren’t okay with Google Memo guy that must mean they actually agreed with him.)

    That!

    And the weird thing is, if we go down this path and make these groups utilities and whatnot, then they’re insisting that Trump call the shots.

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  5. This week, on Rights In Conflict!

    I can see requiring top level services to be content blind, but hosting services can be discriminating for 2 reasons:

    1) private entities are not obligated to boost the signal of anyone’s speech, or should we require newspapers to publish every letter to the editor?
    2) nothing is stopping anyone from starting a hosting service friendly to the alt-right.

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  6. In 2015/16 there was this concept call Net Neutrality. The details are a bit fuzzy, but one group, call them Dims, generally argued for a model in which the Internet was treated like a utility, common carrier with open access and equal quality of service for all comers.

    There was another group, call them the Gaps, that argued that Net Neutrality would kill innovation in America (*).

    Then in November 2016 there was an election. Something something email, something something she despises me, and a lot of people, including most voters that also read the Daily Stormer, voted for the Gaps.

    Come 2017, the Gaps control all branches of government and Net Neutrality died as a concept, and this is what NOT Net Neutrality looks like: the ability of (not common) carriers to restrict, allow, or deny service for whatever reason, even if the reason is not “make more money”.

    So I’m confused. Isn’t this what this people voted for? Next thing, you’ll tell me they didn’t vote to kick 23 million people out of health insurance.

    (*) or limit the ability of plutocrats to make money. As I said, details are fuzzy.

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    • Exactly this. Net Neutrality sucks when Comcast wants to charge extra for Netflix access. But it’s crucial when otherwise unrepentant racists can’t have a forum.

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      • So now the goal now is both Internet content taxation and “capricious” access?

        Sounds like Kleec’s law to me… in a properly functioning polity this dawning realization for the opponents of Net Neutrality might be called a chit. And reasonable coalitions could be built to prevent the Internet from becoming a spoil of war.

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    • Net Neutrality is such a sack of conflicting norms that people forget the key point (thanks to the vague way the word ‘content’ is tossed about).

      NN is about preventing a service from throttling specific types of content from specific sites or classes of sites, so Comcast can’t artificially degrade the flow of information from Netflix or YouTube, or artificially boost their own over others. The idea that hosting services should not police content for content (see how that word gets confusing) was tacked on later.

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      • Even more simply: You cannot throttle packets by origin, but you can by type. As in “you can prioritize all streaming video packets over HTTP requests over torrents because screw torrents” but you can’t prioritize “Comcast video” over “Netflix video”.

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        • I’d have to call some old colleagues to see what current accepted practices are, but think you can throttle based on “well known” or registered port numbers but you can’t open up the packets and look at the actual content. BitTorrent has registered TCP ports 6881-6889 and 6969 so an ISP can throttle streams that use those ports. Some of the BitTorrent extensions allow clients to negotiate the use of other (session-specific) ports for actual file data exchange. My understanding — which may be out of date — is that your ISP is not allowed to examine actual packet content to find out which random ports your software has negotiated.

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          • Yeah, but network analysis can give you a really, really, REALLY good idea of what’s going through it without cracking the packet.

            Like “in real time at the hardware level” good. So you can configure your hardware to throttle everything it flags as torrent or video, and then whitelist specific addresses (like yourself) to avoid the throttling.

            You’ll know 100% if you open the packets, but just statistical analysis is enough to screw over anyone sending the “wrong type” of data and not on your whitelist.

            You couldn’t do it a decade ago, but you can now. And they were moving to implement it and shake down the big content providers and other big names when the FCC first slapped them down.

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    • This is not what net neutrality is about. Net neutrality would mean that my ISP can’t charge me extra for bytes that come from the Daily Stormer, unless the Daily Stormer is willing to pay my ISP protection money not to.

      It never was about forcing anyone to do business with anyone else – it just removed bandwidth throttling extortion rackets as a kind of business carriers can offer to do.

      If the Daily Stormer can find a hosting and DNS provider that is willing to work with them, then net neutrality would mean other ISPs can’t sabotagey that hosting providers deal with the DS.

      But this here, what actually happened between the DS and CloudFlare? Nothing to do with net neutrality.

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      • Except that the solution that the FCC decided upon was to make broadband providers into common carriers. And common carriers don’t really get to make any editorial choices at all. If you pay, you are on the service, and that’s that.

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        • Yeah, CloudFlare is not DS’s broadband provider though, they’re a CDN. They’ve decided to stop hosting the DS’s content.

          The DS could be online and protected by such net neutrality provisions as the US has, if they decided to set up their own data centre to host their own site out of it (so no hosting provider can kick them out), and get all the bandwidth they need directly to that data centre, not relying on a CDN’s services to reduce their own bandwidth needs (so no CDN can axe their contract).

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        • Cloudflare is an anti-DDoS service. You pay them to handle all the difficult technical crap required to minimize DDoS attacks.

          Cloudflare no longer dealing with Stormfront doesn’t take them off the internet, but it opens them up to DDoS attacks that will effectively make it impossible to get there.

          Basically it’s like having another company build and maintain a fence around your pasture, protecting your herd against persistent cattle thieves. They decide “We’re not dealing with you”, you’re about to lose a ton of cows. Not because that company stole them, but because they stopped protecting you.

          Cloudflare’s CEO is pretty right that it’s a screwed-up situation where denying an ancillary service (DDoS protection) effectively denies them a primary service (their content being accessible).

          it’s got jack-all to do with net-neutrality. Denial of services attacks are hacks.

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          • So is Cloudflare hosting the sites, or just acting as a secure proxy?

            Either way, if their primary function is to act as a firewall, that reduces their obligation even further.

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            • They’re a few things (including a CDN), but the news stories indicated what they’d done is kick Stormfront out from their anti- DDoS services

              Now, their proxy services work (I think) by filtering DNS requests and traffic through Cloudflare first (which then handles DDoS attacks) before passing it through to the Stormfront’s actual servers, and then reversing the process.

              Effectively they’re a big honking firewall. If you’re using them, every request to your servers goes through them — starting at the name-lookup.

              So they booted Stormfront, but they don’t host them. So requests for their site would now go directly to Stormfront, which I suspect immediately got DDoS’d into oblivion but I haven’t actually checked.

              The CEO’s point is that his service is basically required for any controversial content to be hosted. If Cloudflare isn’t protecting you (or a handful of other, similar companies I’d imagine), a simple DDoS run by a handful of angry script kiddies would be sufficient to render your site non-existent to the public.

              And that, he feels, is a pretty bad place to be. He woke up, decided he was done with those idiots, and while all he did was say “We’re done providing your DDoS firewall”, the net effect was inevitably going to be the site going down.

              He doesn’t think that’s a good situation for the internet to be in, but on the other hand….it’s not exactly his fault, his duty, or his responsibility. The letter was mostly a “This is an issue going forward for the Internet as a whole. I’m one guy, running one company, and through just the way the internet as evolved I’ve accidentally become a major gate-keeper”.

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    • The critical regulatory decisions were made much earlier than that. The 1982 breakup of the Bell System introduced the idea that “monopoly” local service providers could be forced to share their wires. The 1996 Telecommunications Act split the world into either communications service, regulated one way, or information services, regulated in a quite different fashion. Shortly thereafter, the FCC decided — for reasons that made business sense at the time — that internet access was an information service. Those of us within the telecommunications/cable industry who said that TCP/IP was going to slowly take over the world, and that it couldn’t be reasonably regulated under either of those two existing schemas, were a very small group indeed (and things like net neutrality were very much a concern we expressed).

      Today, 20 years on, we’re still in the same boat. A couple of years back some Congress critters proposed changing the information services schema to require net neutrality at a TCP/IP packet level, an idea that I supported as a sane intermediate step. The Obama FCC instead made the decision to switch from the information service model to the communications service model — and opened up a huge set of potential court cases by also promising that they simply wouldn’t enforce all the parts about physical plant and tariffs and such that the law required.

      The right step is still for Congress to recognize a new service class, one that is part utility (ie, should have guaranteed access, certain types of packet-level neutrality, etc) but that is delivered over facilities that cannot be realistically shared in the same ways required by current law. Some aspects of this will require reversing international agreements — ICANN is the controlling authority for DNS names, and does not provide any guarantees that someone will be able to find a registrar that will do business with them (the assumption is that with hundreds of registrars in the world, at least one of them will take your money).

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  7. “A lot of rightward commentators are suddenly really concerned about the power of big corporations. ”

    uh my dude we’ve been concerned about this since forever. We’ve been concerned about it for years.

    But I’m sure everything will be fine. These are just private corporations and whatever they do is their own business and not subject to the First Amendment, or any kind of free-speech restrictions or common-carrier regulations. Our own Tod Kelly said so!

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  8. [Cloudflare employee’s name redacted] asked after I told him what we were going to do: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question. It’s important that what we did today not set a precedent. The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral. But we need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled. We couldn’t have that conversation while the Daily Stormer site was using us. Now, hopefully, we can.

    oh, god, this guy. This sweet, innocent guy. “Having built the Death Laser and used it, we must now address the question of what happens when the Bad Guys get control of it. We have decided that the proper response is to put a piece of tape over the firing switch with “NEVER USE ON GOOD GUYS” written on it.”

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    • We have decided that the proper response is to put a piece of tape over the firing switch with “NEVER USE ON GOOD GUYS” written on it.”

      :Amusement:

      I’d be much more impressed with the “only Nazis” idea or “Nazis are special” idea if every GOP politician wasn’t auto-magically branded a Nazi the moment he opposed a Dem.

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  9. Like, seriously, we’re bitching about nazis?
    Yeah-huh.
    Right.
    The fine girlie men (oh, yes, whose bright idea was it to ban a normal word on this forum and call it a slur. Watch me be creative) who can kick you off the internet come with knives, and don’t leave until people are dead.

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    • It was my bright idea, it is a slur, and telling me that you’re finding creative ways to express the same transphobic ideas without using that particular word is telling me you don’t really value the effort that goes into keeping this site functional on a social as well as a practical level.

      We give you a lot of latitude for expressing yourself in non-standard ways, without assuming ill intent on your part, and you rarely seem to value it.

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      • Maribou,
        Hi! Thank you so much for being willing to engage me on the subject!
        If it’s a slur, do you think we ought to boycott Television Shows that use it?
        How about people who use it?

        I originally brought up the word while talking with V Dire, and I was relaying some insight from a talented Public Relations Executive (He’s done significant PR work for George Takei, for example). His commentary on the subject was that t**** was significantly… more lighthearted and less technical than using trans or transsexual. Perhaps it’s his influence, but I don’t really see the term being used as a slur (it’s not “Trap”, say, which is dehumanizing and offensive)… and I suppose it’s safe to say that I’ve been on kiwifarms.

        I am finding creative ways to express myself. I do that. It was not intended to provide transphobic ideas (although, I must confess, there’s a bit of schadenfreude inherent in playing with the concept of ‘murderers are generally street toughs’ in what i wrote).

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      • I assumed girlie men was an insult, just like “nerd bro” or such, and meant “beta” males.

        You know, like how Rainier Wolfcastle uses it. I’d never in a million years assume it referred to a trans person.

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  10. The answer to this is pretty straightforward.

    EFF is right. Services like registrars and ISPs should be treated like utilities and required to accept anyone who pays (and treat all traffic equally). That’s as true for swatsikas as it is for anything else.

    Websites (e.g. Twitter/Facebook) are different, because they create communities and should be as entitled to set rules over those communities as OT is. (Google memo guy is equally easy, he was an at will employee who tried to make the company look bad by advocating that it higher fewer women)

    Cloudflare is a harder question. It definitely isn’t creating communities but it also isn’t necessary to use the internet. In the utility context, it’s not your gas service, but rather your modern, efficient furnace. I don’t know where that falls on the spectrum but the CEO’s comments are certainly silly. If you’re concerned, think first and act second.

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    • I don’t quite agree with this. Running a website with Cloudflare means not being able to run a reasonably secure website. If you have unpopular views, and Cloudflare isn’t protecting you, your website might as well not exist.

      However, where I think Cloudflare might get a pass is that there aren’t the huge barriers to entry that exist elsewhere. So if they ever became too capricious about when they pull that trigger, somebody else could step up and do what they do. Somebody else may anyway. It’s just that right now they’re the only ones doing it.

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    • I really balk at trying to making hosting services utility-like. Access? Sure. Registration? Fine. Hosting? nope.

      If daily stormer wants to come back online, they can find a hosting company that will work with them, or they can head over to BestBuy, buy a server, and contract with their ISP for server level upstream bandwidth, then launch their own website.

      A private company should not be required to boost anyone’s signal as long as it is possible for them to boost it themselves.

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    • Services like registrars and ISPs should be treated like utilities and required to accept anyone who pays (and treat all traffic equally).

      Really? I should be able to buy a .co.uk domain despite not meeting the requirements for that? What about a .gov domain, can I get one of those?

      Registrars have _never_ treated everyone equally.

      My registrar asserts the right to take my domains offline if they are illegal online pharmacies, and a few other reasons. Are you saying they should be forbidden from doing this?

      I will also point out that the US government has no ability to treat registrars like _anything_, as it literally is not in control of them. ICANN is.

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      • I’ll step it back to clarify: ICANN’s rules should be content-neutral.

        Or are you telling me there’s a long history of ICANN electing to block registrations it disapproves of?

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        • I’ll step it back to clarify: ICANN’s rules should be content-neutral.

          Two questions:

          1) ‘should’ in what sense? You wish ICANN would make that a rule? If they did, couldn’t they just unmake it as a rule?

          ICANN is basically an international sovereign entity that has power not via any legal reason, but merely because every ISP listens to them. It is technically an _American_ non-profit, but if America started trying to control it under that logic it would just move, or even dissolve into dust and reform.

          2) What on earth are you talking about? How could their rules _be_ based on content? Whose content? ICANN doesn’t interact with domain owners.

          Or are you telling me there’s a long history of ICANN electing to block registrations it disapproves of?

          ICANN is not in charge of domain registration. ICANN, being in charge of the root DNS system, is in charge of domain register _operators_.

          Register operators are the people who operate TLDs (Top level domains) like .com and .us and .whatevermadeupthingexistsnow. These are either called ‘registry operators’ or ‘network information centers’, both of which are very stupid and confusing names, so I shall call them ‘TLD operators’. They run a DNS server that is the authority for that TLD. (Or, rather, ICANN _says_ their DNS server is the authority.)

          Interacting with those TLD operators are the registrars (Some TLD operators are themselves the entirety of the registrars for that TLD, like .gov, and no one else is allowed, and some TLD operators are like .com, where anyone can become a registrar.), who are the people who people buy domain names from. These registrars are allowed to put records in the TLD operator’s DNS servers that say ‘For example.com records, look at these DNS servers’.

          Registrars have specific rules that domain owners have to follow if they want their domain to keep working. Note a registrar cannot terminate someone’s ownership of a domain, at least as far as I know, except for non-payment…the person can always transfer it elsewhere.

          TLD operators, OTOH, have completely random rules, in all possible ways. Country TLDs have tons of weird restrictions, but there are plenty of random gTLDs that have weird rules as a _feature_. They actually can terminate ownership of domains…in fact, they can do pretty much whatever they want. (Unless ICANN has said otherwise.)

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          • I’ll freely concede you know more about internet architecture than I do.

            Should = my ideal policy.

            I think those who provide the backbone internet services that take “www.website.com” and tell my computer which other computer to connect to should be content-neutral the whole way through. They shouldn’t be able to tell my computer to eff itself, they shouldn’t be able to throttle my connection, and they shouldn’t be able to decide they’d rather I not go to website.com because those guys are jerks. Some of that ties into net neutrality the U.S. political issue, because things like ISPs can be government regulated. Some seems not to. The reason for “should” is the same.

            The people operating website.com should, by contrast, have lots of leeway in how that place operates. If they screw up, I’ll go somewhere else.

            Now, there are trickier parts. Hosts, for example, get paid by the website.com folks to store their data. I can see why a particular host (or many), would not want to host the assholes who run website.com. Seems trickier than how website.com runs its site, but on that side of the spectrum. Cloudflare, apparently according to some on this thread, runs a monopoly service without which any website run by anyone that anyone else thinks is a jerk cannot run (which, I suspect, readily simplifies to “any website”). But Cloudflare is NOT in that first paragraph of things that actually form the backbone of the internet. It’s just (apparently) a really really good service that everyone relies on provided by a company. Which makes a hard question.

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            • Correction – Cloudflare does not run a monopoly service. They run a nearly necessary service if your site is likely to be a target of DDoS attacks or the like. But they are not the only player out there.

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              • Then they actually can’t “kick anyone off the internet” unless the rest of that group boycotts.

                Which makes their choice an easy question and the CEO’s memo sort of unnecessarily hand-wringy, right?

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                • I think the fear is that now that’ they’ve done it, they’ll be constantly pressured by rabid activists to drop protection from whatever site has garnered the activists ire today.

                  Previously, I don’t think most activists gave such services a second thought.

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            • I think those who provide the backbone internet services that take “www.website.com” and tell my computer which other computer to connect to should be content-neutral the whole way through.

              This isn’t any ‘backbone’ people, or ISPs, this is the website.com’s _own registrar_ not allowing DNS lookups on website.com.

              I.e., this is ‘We do not want you as a customer anymore’. (Although note that, legally, they cannot _cancel_ the domain, so the owner can still transfer it out.)

              It’s basically the same thing as the web host saying that. DNS registrars are basically ‘DNS hosts’. (Although the ‘registrar’ part is merely hosting a record that says where the DNS server is…and then, incidentally, all registrars also operate DNS servers.)

              So why should web hosts get to decide what content they are willing to give out, but registrars do not get to decide what content they are willing to point to?

              It is perhaps worth pointing out that any corporation can become a registrar of .com names. Verisign is the TLD operator for that:
              https://www.verisign.com/en_US/channel-resources/become-a-registrar/verisign-domain-registrar/index.xhtml

              If you really really really want to operate a domain name, and no registrar will keep it online for you, you can become a registrar.

              Of course, you apparently have to prove you have $70,000 in capital to get certified by ICANN, so perhaps a better thing to do would be to find a registrar that knows what sort of content you are hosting _in advance_ and has no problem with it.

              Considering there are registrars that seem to have no problem with hosting spam domains (And being spam-supporting in any way is a good way to get kicked off the internet.), you can probably find one.

              Oh, incidentally, how exactly would _spammers_ get treated under this hypothetical ‘everyone must allow access to everyone’ internet?

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              • To be clearer: I type in website.com on my browser. Soon afterwards, content loads on my screen.

                There are a lot of things between me and that content (and you clearly know them better than I do).

                There’s my ISP. It damn well better not be allowed to decide it doesn’t want me going to website.com (or that it would like $5 first, or that it wants that website to work really slow.

                My request also travels over the proverbial “series of tubes” (i.e. fiber networks), and they should likewise be totally neutral.

                As you mention, how the ISP and the networks know where to send my packet is a registrar issue. The “.com” part means that Verisign knows which registrars might be able to help my packet. Verisign shouldn’t be able to blacklist specific domains it doesn’t like. (Note: I can imagine non-US-aligned TLDs may incorporate different rules under different principles. That troubles me less).

                I’m persuaded by your point that the registrar (i.e. the person who says “over here! website.com = 16.255.32.81”) probably doesn’t need to be content neutral because they are providing a paid non-exclusive service on their own machines (particularly as it sounds like only Verisign would have the authority to say “www.ilikenazis.com” simply cannot exist). Nevertheless, its a closer question than Cloudflare (which, as I understand it, basically says “Not actually 16.255.32.81, hit our server first!” then does a bunch of cool stuff to minimize the traffic between Cloudflare’s server and 16.255.32.81).
                Which is a closer question than whether a host should be required to sell hard drive space to a site it disapproves of. Which is a closer question than whether a site should be allowed to limit the content it disapproves of. Which is a spectrum.

                We can keep going deeper into the guts of the internet–I’m a lawyer with a dusty unused CS degree, not an internet expert, so I’m sure this is missing plenty of detail and I’m not going to lose interest–but I trust that’s enough detail to get a sense of how I’m thinking about things.

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  11. These debates show up on liberal-left blogs alike. The part of the Left that isn’t really enamored with unfettered free speech because it allows for hate groups to spread their pernicious messages are all for tech companies making it harder for hate groups to communicate on the web. They tend to stick to a very formal reading that what Google, Facebook, and other net companies are doing is not censorship because they aren’t the government. Liberals who are wary about limiting free speech for most people think that there needs to be limits like Net Neutrality and stricter anti-trust laws in media to prevent corporations from dominating the norms of acceptable discourse even if that means hate sites get to use the Internet.

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      • Many people on my side only think that hate crime legislation will be used against the things they hate. More savvier people on my side realize that hate crime legislation can easily be used against our side by clever political opponents. There are also ambiguous questions. The Charlottesville Rally was filled with easily identifiable hate groups. However, the controversy over the recent book “Democracy in Chains” shows that things can get complicated. There are people who believe that arguments for things like the free market and against the welfare state are de facto hate speech because minorities, women, and LGBT people are presumed by them to thrive better under social democracy than the vagaries of the free market. Most Jews like myself also see a little of anti-Israel criticism/anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic hate speech while the activist set generally does not.

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      • I love this comment so much. So, SO many people who watched the LotR film saga had the takeaway of “It’s important to fight evil”. But the takeaway for me, and I think for you, is “how you fight evil is probably more important than whether you win”. You have to destroy the ring, not use it.

        I support the proposal in your link. I was kind of hoping that Obama would inspire Congressional Republicans to shrink the Presidency. They spent a lot of time complaining about it in media, but they didn’t really do much about it, as far as I can see.

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          • Except that in trying, they also succeeded. Despite their flaws and their failures, sometimes because of them, the Fellowship did, eventually, succeed. Merely sitting to one side rejecting evil (eg Tom Bombadil) is not something Tolkien presented as a better path for mortal beings.

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            • Well, I would suggest that they failed; and that’s an important point that Tolkien is making; they lost the fight, they are overwhelmed outside the gates of Mordor; but for their renunciation of power (which is also manifest in failure – for Frodo elects to keep the ring) they would be subject to power.

              Rather than Bombadil, I’d point to Galadriel; hers is the pivotal act in the drama, and the denouement for the entire Elven salvific arc; it too is based on the renunciation of power… the end of the fight against Morgoth, which caused their fall and led them astray. She concludes her temptation {evoking the Magnificat} “I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.” [So ends the Simarillion]. But still, Sam speaks for us all:

              [Sam] “I wish you’d take his Ring. You’d put things to rights. You’d stop them digging up the gaffer and turning him adrift. You’d make some folk pay for their dirty work.”
              [Galadriel] “I would. That’s how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas! We will not speak more of it.”

              So, to be sure, there is resistance, and the resistance is based in Hope (carefully explored vis-a-vis the despair(s) of Denethor and Saruman) but it is a hope for things unseen, not specifically in victory. I’d even go so far as to suggest that every character in LoTR fails; it is a study of failure. Eucatastrophic failure.

              Such would I put out for your consideration; and thanks for the excuse to revisit my favorite Galadriel passage.

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              • Failure at the gates is too strong a word; we are led to believe that they are distracting the Eye, and thus assisting the Hobbits in the final leg of the journey to the Crack of Doom. This is still a work of heroic fiction and heroism mostly reaps rewards, its just that the greatest heroic act in the book is by the least significant of people, and it was Frodo showing mercy to someone as contemptible as Gollum.

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                • I take your point; the plan succeeds, so it isn’t a failure.

                  “[Gandalf] I do not counsel prudence. I said victory could not be achieved by arms. I still hope for victory, but not by arms. For into the midst of all these policies comes the Ring of Power, the foundation of Barad-dur, and the hope of Sauron.”

                  The interplay of “hope” is important; they can only surmise that the Ring is unfound, not that Frodo is alive and/or their plan is anything other than a sacrifice… based on hope.

                  But, I’m happy to stand by my main point…that ours is the little work, not the big work; and to paraphrase Gandalf later in his speach, ours is to weed the garden, not control the weather.

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                  • March,
                    People need to understand that Lord of the Rings is a story about someone taking the puncher’s chance long after the Real War has been lost.
                    Minas Morgul wasn’t orginally controlled by Sauron after all.

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                • it was Frodo showing mercy to someone as contemptible as Gollum.

                  That would be the same Gollum who eventually bit off Frodo’s finger to successfully steal the ring.

                  Personally I’d have rather seen Sam throw Frodo into the lava than Gollum screw up and fall into it.

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        • It would be great if we could scale back the executive branch’s authority and still have a functioning government.

          Unfortunately, that sure feels improbable. Which makes for a mess of a situation.

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          • I can see how you might arrive at such a conclusion, but without seeing which are the operational premises, I have no idea what level of concern I ought to have. Not that you are obligated to lay them out… just pointing out that laid out they are not.

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            • Fair enough. I’d say the most important premise is that no law will be passed in the foreseeable future if opposed by 41 senators. The corollary is that no party will have 60 seats in the foreseeable future.

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              • I see, so failing that, we need/want an executive who “legislates” through EO’s…?

                That strikes me as a cure worse than the disease. Because – and I hasten to add, not that you say this – that more than anything Trump might do really is a precursor to authoritarian usurpation. If we collectively elect presidents for the purpose of breaking legislative log-jams… then log-jams will be unjammed.

                Which is why reducing the Executive authority is more of a priority than ever. Or so I would argue.

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                • As I said, a mess of a situation.

                  My solution is actually not executive-branch legislation. It’s abolishing the filibuster. That way the minority party never has veto power, and the only gridlock comes when the house and senate are split (but each can at least pass laws THEY want, so the public has something concrete to see and respond to).

                  In the current world, though, I believe both that it is important for government to do stuff and that the legislative branch can’t do anything. I also believe that we should not be run by an unbalanced single branch. I finally believe that “starving the beast” is a really dumb solution, because that inflicts unnecessary pain (often on those least able to bear it). If there’s a good solution, I haven’t heard it.

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            • That’s not really the question, the question is what parts of government function are necessary and how can they get done.

              We’re on the cusp of finding out whether the GOP can fund their own government, and whether they can extend entirely uncontroversial laws upon which millions of Americans rely (for the legislative branch: CHIP, for the executive: the exchanges). I’m far from 100% certain these things can happen.

              That said, I don’t have a magic bullet, and I’m not in a position to review every executive action taken since Gingrich reinvented the filibuster to tell you whether I think they are (1) legitimate in a normally-functioning government; and (2) if not, whether they are truly necessary, rather than merely convenient/expedient

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        • The ends do not justify the means is a very important lesson for nearly everybody. Not all must your goal be good or right but the methods and tools that you use to achieve your goal must be good and right. Failure to recognize this led to the excesses of the communist countries. On paper their goals general sound wonderful to many people but the brutality they were willing to inflict to achieve those means led to a lot of horrible situations.

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  12. So, Tucker Carlson now wants broadband providers, and domain registrars and even CDN’s (That’s what Cloudflare is, and it puts them a lot closer to content than a registrar) to be common carriers?

    I support that. Let’s make a deal.

    I support broadband providers being common carriers, too. This to me, is what Net Neutrality is all about. (By the way, the new administration FCC hasn’t yet changed the rule, and you can still put in comments on their website).

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  13. What’s interesting about the CloudFlare thing is that it’s the liberal nightmare scenario, where a near-monopoly provider refuses to serve a customer they find offensive, and as a result that customer is unable to engage with society in the manner they find most preferable due to the lack of a necessary service, and that lack is due to the whim of the provider rather than the customer’s inability to amass the resources necessary.

    But…it’s a liberal provider refusing to serve a conservative customer, which isn’t how the scenario was supposed to go.

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    • Why does everyone seem to think CloudFlare is a monopoly?

      There are dozens of CDNs out there. Akamai is still the biggest one.

      For the ‘protection from DDoS’ part, there’s Incapsula, there’s Amazon CloudFront (Also a CDN.), and a few more that are just pure anti-DDoS like Sucuri and Reblaze (Although as that last is an Israeli company, it is, perhaps, not a good fit.)

      CloudFlare is just operating a very user-friendly and cheap service. I mean, yeah, they are probably ‘the best’ for most people at this point, but they aren’t a monopoly.

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      • The Cloudflare CEO didn’t really help himself, but then again that memo was released internally to people who knew what Cloudflare did and how big it was.

        Cloudflare’s really popular, and removing it’s protection means (especially if you’re likely to have angered anyone with a botnet) that your website is offline until you find a replacement. Which is difficult when you were booted as client for, basically, being a giant PITA and bad PR.

        The CEO’s point was that Cloudflare is neither ISP nor hosting server, that it is simple a service that is incredibly necessary for anything that controversial, successful, or otherwise a good target — and that because he was annoyed with them, his quite sensible action to boot them off his client list effectively removed them from the internet for the time being, and that seemed like a bad thing.

        His whole memo was basically “This is how it works, I have this right, it’s my company, but the results here — we should probably rethink the whole “internet thing” so that me booting a client doesn’t effectively neuter them on the web, that shouldn’t really be something that I can do”.

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        • morat20
          And, like clockwork, someone saw business opportunity.
          Of course, they’re using words like “final solution” in said advertising, so clearly they need more help with english.

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      • “Why does everyone seem to think CloudFlare is a monopoly?”

        If you really want to go down the road of “if alternatives exist then denying service for political or personal reasons does not constitute a hardship” then I’ll happily go with you, but I don’t, actually, think that you want to go down that road.

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        • I didn’t say it wasn’t a hardship, I’m just baffled as to why everyone seems to think it’s a monopoly. There are perfectly good alternatives.

          And setting it up a different service really _isn’t_ a hardship. You make an account, and then you change the domain’s DNS records to what they ask you to.

          It’s much easier than changing hosting providers, hell, it’s easier than changing DNS registrars!

          I guess you can argue that doing _anything_ is a hardship, but this is an almost trivial thing to set up. I’ve put domains in an existing CloudFlare account with about five minutes of work, and the alternatives should be basically the same. I’ve switched domains between CloudFlare and Incapsula, again, five minutes of work. (Plus waiting for DNS propogation.)

          Add in, I dunno, twenty minutes in creating an account or whatever, and thirty minutes tweaking things, it’s still probably less than hour work.

          Seriously, of all the _possible_ internet services I could be forced to lose and have to set up an alternative to, the frickin DDoS protection is the one I’d pick to lose! As opposed to losing email providers of hosting serviers or DNS registrars? Fuck yes I’d rather lose the DDoS protection/cache service!

          I get that you’re trying to make some sort of point of ‘People shouldn’t be kicked out of things’, but that doesn’t change the actual facts of DDoS protection services mostly work completely transparently WRT an already functioning site, so literally all you have to do is put a different one in the way via using DNS.

          There’s a difference between the one grocery store in town refusing to serve someone, and one out of the ten pizza delivery places not servicing you. One of those, you have to do a lot of work to get groceries, the other…you have to call a different number to order a pizza. You can argue there’s no difference in *principle*, but in practice, there is a large one.

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            • In a sense. But being a white supremacist isn’t a protected class.

              But perhaps you remember my solution for that, in which, assuming that the business has alternative suppliers (Which is admittedly a complicated question.), I would merely require businesses to state their restrictions on the door and in advertising.

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  14. Basically: If you kicked off the Daily Stormer, why don’t you blackball VDare? And if you blackball VDare, why don’t you blackball everyone on SPLC’s list? And it reaches a point that if you aren’t blackballing, that means you must at least implicitly approve of their message!

    My quick take is call me when that happens and I’ll start caring.

    The longer version is that it doesn’t make any sense to be worrying about slippery slopes when we are already barreling down the mountain. There are already a few dozen other ongoing debates about speech and expression where the pro-censorship side wants to deny platforms, doxx the politically incorrect, and generally draw all sorts of nonsense parallels between words and violence. I’d rather spend my time addressing that than worrying about whether Daily Stormer or VDare can find a web host or a domain registrar.

    Tyler Cowen as a good take on this issue, viewing it through the lens of the Coase Theorem, which roughly states that market participants can bargain their way to an efficient outcomes in cases where the rules are ambiguous. Doing business with literal Nazis and White Nationalists has a negative externality, it has both internal ethical risks and external reputational risks. There is a price at which someone is willing to overlook those risks and do business with them, so let the Nazis pay that price. I don’t see why the rest of us have to go out of way to make it easier to be a white nationalist or to make sure that white nationalists have a place. I have about the widest possible conception of free speech and expression norms, but I also have pretty strong free association beliefs as well.

    Personally, I don’t know what the right answer is about exactly where to draw the line between behavior that is merely controversial and should be generally tolerated and behavior that should be allowed to exist but given no special accommodation. What I do know is that the best chance we have to get it right is to let these situations play out in real time and over multiple iterations between people who have actual stake in the game as opposed to trying to get to the right answer by arguing about it on the internet.

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    • “I don’t see why the rest of us have to go out of way to make it easier to be a white nationalist or to make sure that white nationalists have a place.”

      Because everyone will be a “white nationalist” at some point (or a Jew, or a capitalist, or a Social Justice Warrior, or a shit-starter, or a 4chan poster, or a gamer, or a stupid airhead bimbo.)

      The point is not that these white nationalists have a great message which everyone ought to hear, the point is to not normalize “it’s cool to actively deny someone’s ability to speak if you disagree with them about something”.

      Oh, and:

      “I have about the widest possible conception of free speech and expression norms, but I also have pretty strong free association beliefs as well.”

      So it’s okay for someone to, e.g., not make a flower arrangement for someone whose philosophy they find morally questionable? After all, that’s an expression of strong free association rights, isn’t it?

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