Over the weekend, I went to a reading of Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen.” When I came home, I saw this long Twitter thread.
I’ve long been annoyed with what I often refer to as “Silicon Valley boys.” It’s becoming more acceptable to say that out loud, and I occasionally do on Twitter. The shallowness of their exhortations for everyone to learn coding, their ignorance of human relations, and their belief that they can change the world for the better with code alone are at best naïve.
Revelations of Facebook’s ethics-free policies in taking advertising and manipulating its users have been dribbling out for over a year. Christopher Wylie’s insider view of Cambridge Analytica and Britain’s Channel 4 investigation have made questions of responsibility impossible to ignore. Read More
This story got buried under the news of Andrew McCabe’s firing on Friday, but it’s important if we want to elect people who can bring about responsible government. That starts now, as we move toward November’s elections.
You know those cute little quizzes that are supposed to tell you something about who you are? Which movie star are you? Are you a cat or a dog person? What is your color? So much fun to compare with what you think of yourself and with your friends’ results. In fact, you could share on Facebook and urge your friends to see what their favorite color was. Those quizzes asked you to share most of your Facebook data before you could play.
You may have been contributing data to Cambridge Analytica’s work to help elect Donald Trump. Read More
Kazakhstan will now officially use the Latin alphabet rather than Cyrillic. They have been moving toward the change for some time. I can recall quite a few signs in the Latin alphabet from the early 2000s.
Part of the reason is to establish Kazakhstan more firmly as independent from Russia. When Vladimir Putin grabbed Crimea from Ukraine and started a war in the Donbas, Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev took notice. There is a significant Russian ethnic population in northern Kazakhstan.
Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan as a part of the Soviet Union. He is inclined to dictatorial ways, but he has helped Kazakhstan develop as an independent country and is an acute policitician.
Russia has gotten a lot of mileage out of claims about ethnic Russians in the Baltic States. Those claims become less true with every passing year. Paul Goble reports that most ethnic Russians in Estonia are now loyal to Estonia, even if they speak only Russian.
That’s consistent with what I saw in the early 2000s. Many ethnic Russians who were uninterested in Estonian citizenship were older people who wanted to stay where they had always lived and did not care about voting or a passport to travel. They are dying off now, and more and more ethnic Russians have grown up in a free Estonia, part of the European Union.
The United States is trying to develop a nuclear cooperation agreement (123 agreement) with Saudi Arabia. The stories (another) focus on whether such an agreement would limit Saudi Arabia’s access to uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, two technologies that can produce materials for nuclear weapons.
Let’s look at two other factors. 1) Although Saudi Arabia has had big ambitions for nuclear power, starting from sixteen reactors and now down to two, it is not clear that they can afford those reactors and have no administrative support for them. 2) Westinghouse, the company being pushed by the United States, is in no position to build those reactors. Read More