The New Radical

by Alex Wilhelm

Letters From a Contrarian

Page 2


Christopher Hitchens’ comments on Crossfire, lest it rise from the grave

As excerpted in The Quotable Hitchens:

Way back in Reagan’s first term, I was invited to CNN’s Crossfire studio to debate something or other. The usual form was - and still is - that some right-wing big-mouth would be asked to say how bad Communism or terrorism or child abuse or drug addiction was, and some liberal or leftist would be given a few moments to say that they weren’t so bad after all. Two conservative moderators, one extreme and one rabidly extreme, were on hand to see fair play.

Enough said, in my view.

Continue reading →


Microsoft, Facebook Home, MG, and that meaning of it all

///It’s Friday, so expect a typo or two. Email corrections to imkidding@goaway.com.

Yesterday at Facebook the technology media showed up in full force, counting in the hundreds by my estimation, to gawk at whatever Mark and his merry band had created. The result: Facebook Home, an Android launcher - if you didn’t know what that meant until yesterday, you are in surprisingly large company - and a handset in conjunction with HTC.

There isn’t a need to go over the specifics here, as many a fine publication has written that post.

However, the move by Facebook to take a more active roll in the mobile space has resulted in commentary from both those critical of Microsoft, and the company itself. It’s worth our time to look at what is being said, and award demerits where they are fitting.

We’ll cover this in two tranches: Microsoft’s current market posistion vis a vis Facebook’s mobile

Continue reading →


American Theocrats and the Abrogation of the Constitution

From WRAL-5 in North Carolina:

A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

Infuriating.

The Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the Constitution are simple, well-known, and unbending; they protect your right to follow any religion, worship any god, and, if you so desire abstain entirely from religion.

You can’t get around it. Unless, of course, you try to declare the Constitution null in your state, which is precisely what these lawmakers intend.

From the bill, as quoted by WRAL-5:

The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by

Continue reading →


The Communal Mystery of Religious Experience

/// Tired, so expect a typo or two.

I don’t spend much time in churches these past days. Since 2007, really. A few weddings. Baptisms. That sort of thing.

Tonight was such a night. At St. Bedes in Palo Alto my youngest nephew, Joey, was baptized. Family is in town, and we’re mostly camping out in Joey’s parents’ house in Sunnyvale.

His mom, my oldest sister and her husband Brian, are Episcopalian. In fact, though my family was mostly raised in the Lutheran church, we’re slowly becoming Episcopalian.

I’m the functional holdout, though the members of my family, like every family of educated independents, varies in our religiosity.

It’s not a simple situation; homogeneity in religious view can be a harmonizing reality among some groups. Happily, in my family our mildy, and my case antithetical, views exist side by side in a respectful tension.

We are not the same, but we love as

Continue reading →


Going on the record concerning the Chinese real estate market

Even a casual observer of international economic trends can see the structural weaknesses that have accumulated in the Chinese real estate market.

Here are the facts:

  • Chinese developers are building new units at a dizzying pace.
  • Early efforts by the Chinese government have been either ineffective, or simply minor.
  • Development continues apace, as growth targets demand construction.
  • The construction sector’s share of the Chinese economy is too high, implying wild imbalance.
  • There is a growing need in China for a flood of new units as the population of the country becomes increasingly urban.
  • However, while there is a demand for housing, and spools of empty units, the demand and supply cannot meet.
  • This is due to the price of the apartments in question being far, far higher than the average family can afford.
  • The now infamous existence of ghost cities is a result of that mismatch.

A

Continue reading →


The stupidest thing I have read in some time

TechCrunch today posted an editorial - blog post, let’s not get fancy - throwing its support behind CISPA.

I’m utterly not kidding. Here you go:

There are two governments vying to be the best at spying on U.S. citizens: the American government and the Chinese government. While I’m not thrilled about either military sifting through my private data, if information sharing allows the U.S. government to block Chinese hackers, I’ll happily choose a democratic government over a viciously authoritarian one. […]

Supporting CISPA isn’t about giving up rights; it’s about deciding which rights are more threatened. I wish we lived in a world where I didn’t have to choose. But the likely concrete harms from government surveillance, self-censorship and whistleblower blackmail, seem far less scary to me than stolen nuclear secrets, destabilized vital infrastructure, and disrupted commerce.

If I

Continue reading →


Sexual harassment lawsuit targets CMEA Capital

CMEA Capital - $1.2 billion invested - is under legal assault by three female employees over what I can only describe as scandalous allegations of hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and later recriminations.

Hot damn. I snagged the case from the “Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco” website. Original can be found here.

There are 89 counts in the document. Read them.

A

Continue reading →


Blatant Hypocrisy

Today in The Blaze, following the dredging of an old - then not Senator - Ted Cruz speech in which he accused a dozen faculty at Harvard’s law school of being avowed, revolutionary Communists, the following:

Nevertheless, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said the Texas Republican’s “substantive point” about Harvard Law School being home to Communists “was absolutely correct.” […]

“It’s curious that the New Yorker would dredge up a three-year-old speech and call it ‘news,’” Frazier said in a statement to TheBlaze late Friday.

It’s impossible to stomach this level of hypocrisy.

Senator Cruz recently spent time during the Senate’s public grilling of soon-to-be Secretary of Defense Hagel, reading old speeches from the now ex-Senator. This is precisely what his spokesperson is now claiming to be a fatuous tactic.

Perhaps. But I would find it impossible to employ a method as offense

Continue reading →


The Price of Free Speech

From The Next Web’s Anna Heim:

Paris High Court today ordered Twitter to reveal data that will help identify authors of racist and anti-Semitic tweets, French news agencies AFP and Reuters report. The court also gave the company 15 days to comply, after which it will be subject to a daily penalty of €1,000 ($1,335).

It’s not often we see the price of free speech. In this case, it costs roughly $487,000 per year for Twitter to operate without fetters in France.

Fuck them. Pay it.

Don’t back down, ask where the check should go, and if bi-weekly payments are acceptable. Can you get a discount if you pay it all at once? Can you get a contract to ensure the rate doesn’t increase at more than the price of inflation for the next five years?

Don’t give in, don’t back down, and do not censor.

Free speech will never be cheaper than this; often it requires non-financial sacrifice of a painful

Continue reading →


Hell, it could be worse

From the above-linked post:

“First, Silicon Valley, including San Francisco, becomes a much less interesting place for world-changing ideas. The well-documented lack of diversity in the Valley would be comical if it wasn’t so harmful. It feels like, and often is, a bunch of Stanford guys making tools to fix their own problems.”

Indeed. However, just imagine how bad it would be if kids from UChicago were at the helm instead.

The horror.

Continue reading →