Mar 04 2017
You may or may not have noticed amongst the blizzard of other stuff that's happened in the last two weeks that Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai to the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai has a history of being something of a contrarian; during his time as one of the five commissioners of the FCC, he repeatedly spoke against regulations that protected the consumer and was against diverse media ownership (since the 1980's, we went from 50 media companies to just six). Time and again Pai's said that he was going to tear down regulation after regulation that the FCC was responsible for enforcing, and so far he has a track record of making that happen, albeit piece by piece and not all at once.
But what does this mean?
Net Neutrality is the legal state in which every Internet Service Provider out there has to provide the same kind of service for all of its users to every online service out there. In other words, the Net is treated like a basic utility, no different from water or electricity. If a provider gets caught monkeying with its service to privilege some company over another, they can get fined. A number of large service providers, including Comcast and AT&T, pledged publicaly that they'd adhere to the terms of Net Neutrality until a certain future date. That's pretty much it.
Let's look at a world in which net.neutrality is a thing in the United States, which it still seems to be as of the time I wrote this article:
Jan 28 2017
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I very much want to be wrong.
Within 180 days of 0000 hours UTC, Friday, 27 January 2017, the United States of
America will declare war once again. That puts it at Wednesday, 26 July 2017
at 0000 hours UTC. I do not know for sure, but countries in the Middle East
seem the most likely targets.
This seems due, in part, that the USA seems to be trying to start the Crusades
again (George W. Bush tried once). The Trump administrations' public and
flagrant distrust, disapproval, and seeming pants-shitting-fear of Muslims
around the world would seem to point to this.
This seems due, in part, to the low approval ratings of President Donald J.
Trump. As of 28 January 2017 @ 1454 hours PST8PDT, they are at 36% approval,
44% disapproval on http://www.pollingreport.com/djt_job.htm. I've made a PDF
copy of this file here:
SHA-512 hash of trump_approval_ratings-20170128.pdf:
To jack up his approval ratings (and improve his chances of re-election, if
nothing else) this is a logical national action to take. It certainly worked
for George W. Bush after 9/11 but wasn't enough to sustain his approval ratings
in the long run.
Evidence of the above claim: http://www.gallup.com/poll/116500/presidential-approval-ratings-george-bush.aspx
Local copy of the above claim:
SHA-512 hash of george_w_bush-overall_approval_ratings.pdf:
I have received no orders, demands, or suggestions to write or post this. I
have received no pay or other compensation to write or post this.
I have no insider knowledge.
I have only the patterns of history to suggest this, and I'm seeing everything
happen all over again. And again.
I don't want to be right again.
- --The Doctor [412/724/301/703/415]
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Dec 24 2016
"And eventually, there aren't any real people left. Just robots pretending to give a shit."
"Perhaps. Depends on the population dynamics, among other things. But I'd guess that at least one thing an automaton lacks is empathy; if you can't feel, you can't really relate to something that does, even if you act as though you do. Which makes it interesting to note how many sociopaths show up in the world's upper echelons, hmm? How ruthlessness and bottom-line self-interest are so lauded up in the stratosphere, while anyone showing those traits at ground level gets carted off into detention with the Realists. Almost as if society itself is being reshaped from the inside out."
"Oh, come on. Society was always pretty— wait, you're saying the world's corporate elite are nonsentient?"
"God, no. Not nearly. Maybe they're just starting down that road. Like chimpanzees."
"Yeah, but sociopaths don't blend in well."
"Maybe the ones that get diagnosed don't, but by definition they're the bottom of the class. The others are too smart to get caught, and real automatons would do even better. Besides, when you get powerful enough, you don't need to act like other people. Other people start acting like you."
--Cunningham and Sascha!Gang of Four, Blindsight, by Peter Watts
Nov 27 2016
There, I said it.
I don't think that votes were messed with, I don't think that any (horribly insecure) voting machines were tampered with, and while jerrymandering is totally a thing I don't think it had anything to do with the election. I think that appealing to people's most deeply held beliefs, the ones that few are willing to talk about openly had everything to do with it.
Donald Trump is everything that USians want to be, deep down inside. Let's be honest: Whether or not Donald Trump is really as rich as he says doesn't matter. What matters is that many people believe he is rich. In the United States cultural mindscape that equates to power. As he's bragged about on television repeatedly, he's done some pretty heinous and ignorant things and gotten away with all of them. That show of power demonstrates that he's effectively above the law. He's on television a lot, which to the USian cultural mindset equates to fame. Fame is a form of power all its own, because to be on television you have to have access to the media somehow, and having access to the media means that he can reach everyone watching a television, listening to a radio, and haunting every social network without even trying. If you follow his Twitter feed you can observe his antics first-hand.
USians love money. USians love power. USians love getting away with things. USians love fame. He's everything every USian wants to be - he's the American dream.
And who doesn't want to be like him? Who doesn't want to be Bruce Wayne, who's stupidly rich, gets away with the craziest shit during the day, and still has time to himself to practice being a badass after dark? Who doesn't want to be Tony Stark ("Genius, billionaire, playboy, philantropist."), hook up with Playboy centerfolds, and kick asses around the world while getting away with it (mostly)? Who doesn't dream of being Lex Luthor, an amazingly wealthy industrialist who just happens to want to kill Superman, the all-American do-gooder?
Donald Trump is all of those fictional characters brought to life (modulo being a hero, though I'll get to that in a second), every badass example of the American Dream that people think they have. Throughout the entire election he showed off all of those qualities writ so large you could see them from orbit, and people ate it up. The hero bit I mentioned? He promised a nebulous effort to "make America great again," which just about everybody who's worried about their lot in life ate up and went back for seconds. Afraid that the middle class is vanishing like spilled water in the desert? Hate "them other folks" but either won't admit it out loud or don't even realize you're racist? Openly racist and hold demonstrations calling for ethnic cleansing in the United States? Want reassurance that anything sketchy you might be up to might get a pass because Trump's promised to make it go away? Just want to watch it all burn? Trump not only validated those feelings but openly embraced them among his constituency and campaign staff. He promised to make the boogiemen under the bed go away. Everybody on the fringe, from the folks who took somebody's attempt at trolling seriously to genuinely scary people sat up and howled when the dog whistle blew.
You don't have to rig an election when you work to be the person that everybody identifies with. When the people of the United States voted for Donald Trump, they actually voted for the kind of people they themselves most want to be.
The bed's made, and bedtime's near. Nightmares are coming.