Author Archives: Robert Marsanyi

Coup in Australia

In the ’70s, I remember Gough Whitlam, PM in Australia, was summarily dismissed by the Crown in the person of the Australian Governor-General. I never knew why it happened and just attributed it to some sort of internal politics.

Today I read that it was because Whitlam wanted to close down Pine Gap, the 5-eyes listening station in Oz, because the US and the British had been spying on his cabinet. A few discussions between the CIA and MI6, and voila.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/04/after-us-senator-asks-public-imagine-cia-interfering-foreign-elections-historians

Wow. Was it really that simple? Anybody know more?

Hong Kong

Ian expressed his alarm at the way the situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. I think it’s just a matter of time before the Chinese government sends in troops, at which point most of the international business in HK will leave or go bankrupt.

The only pushback available is from the British government, who made the deal returning Hong Kong to the Chinese with some caveats. The only way they could credibly stand up would be with US backing. The US has already signaled directly to China that they won’t interfere (From the Independent, here), so the UK will at most splutter and at least stay silent, as they are now.

The perils of breaking alliances. Nobody now expects the US to back them up, so the biggest guy wins.

YouTube

The New York Times show “The Weekly” did a story on the influence of YouTube in Brazil. While their conclusions are certainly alarming and seemingly valid, they’re not the whole story of how a fascist government took over the country. Missing is an analysis of the way the right wing establishment decided that characters such as Bolsonaro were useful idiots that they could manipulate to implement their own policies for their own good, and especially the plot to jail left-wing leadership as scapegoats for corruption in the country.

The discussion of the shortcomings of recommendation algorithms in YouTube remind me of the experiment with automated chat bots run by Microsoft, which quickly degenerated into hate speech. It’s clear that we have not yet incorporated basic ethics into our algorithms in the same way we have integrated the profit motive. Computer scientists need to be speaking with ethicists.

It’s important to remember that there are people behind these decisions, and those people need to take responsibility.

My gun law

Short of banning guns except for law-enforcement and the military:

Guns may not be owned by private individuals. Guns may be purchased and registered by gun clubs which are licensed, audited associations of people who wish to use them. Guns may only be loaded and fired on the premises of the gun club. Membership lists of clubs are publicly available. In the event that a crime is carried out using a gun, all members of the club to which the gun is registered are criminally liable.