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Jonathan Zacsh
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814 followers
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Awesome documentary about automata of the 1700s

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Glad I read this, I'll have to check out some of his titles mentioned

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I've ALWAYS wanted to know what these are!!! Satisfaction!!

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I'd really like to see the functionality of this Chrome application integrated into Gmail. End-to-end encryption is something that I strongly believe should be supported. Just my personal opinion.

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"When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics [...] we have ceased to be our own rulers"

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Inspiring 20 minute documentary

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Some laws we should pass in 2017:

The past few months seem to have highlighted some really obvious laws which ought to exist, but apparently don't. These all seem to me to be in the category of "how the hell isn't this a law already?"; they're just basic procedural stuff to avoid obvious malfeasance.

Combining these (with, of course, a lot more attention to legislative drafting than I'm giving them right here) into a single bill seems like something which an enterprising coalition of Congresspeople might consider as a good use of their time this coming year.

(1) Make the tax records of all Federal elected or appointed officials at level SES-IV or higher, or equivalents in other branches of government, or candidates or nominees for the same, public records as matter of law.

This should include the previous five years for SES-III and SES-IV positions, and ten years for all other positions.

It should also include the tax records of any limited or S corporation in which the named official or their spouse owns or owned an interest in excess of 50%.

Prior to release, personal identifying information (residential addresses, telephone numbers, and tax identification numbers) shall be redacted.

(2) Make explicit the conflict of interest rules that are currently fairly ad hoc when applied to elected officials, specifically enjoining any official at these senior levels from being the beneficial owner of any asset (etc) over which they have the ability to exert influence, either while they have this influence, or for a period of time after they have this influence equal to the lesser of the time for which they held this office or five years, unless said asset is managed through a conforming blind trust.

If an asset is held in violation of this, then all appreciation of said asset shall be forfeited as a fine; if said appreciation is negative, then said depreciation may not be considered a capital loss for tax purposes. If said violation is done knowingly, however, the entirety of the asset shall be forfeited instead.

(3) In any case where there exists an ex officio conflict of interest between a prosecutor and a criminal case – that is, when any prosecutor from the office would have such a conflict because (e.g.) the defendant in this case has executive authority over the prosecutor, or is a law enforcement officer in an organization with which this prosecutor's office must routinely cooperate – a special prosecutor should automatically be appointed, with their authority and budget being provided by law.

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Ugggh... Oh, Facebook. Shame. Really hope Supreme Court takes this

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Lately, I've heard a lot of people talking about the "fake news" problem and about the need for better fact-checking. I suspect that this entire conversation may be looking at the wrong problem -- a conversation which would make perfect sense in a different time and place, but not here.

During the 2016 election, we heard a lot of brazen, blatant lies. These typically were fact-checked by the media; the result would be stories like "Data: Immigrants don't actually cause hemorrhoids," which nobody who wasn't already perfectly aware of that fact would read. Instead, these would just give more publicity to the original quote, and people who were enthused by it would be just as excited to see it again.

The fact is that fact-checking simply didn't make a difference -- it's not that people thought that these statements were true, but that they didn't care if they were true. In Gingrich's formulation, they speak to a "deeper truth" which is more important than simple facts.

This is far from an original idea; the discussion below is about Hannah Arendt's discussion of it back in 1951. This "deeper truth" that Gingrich likes to talk about is "what must be true in order for something else to be true" -- in this case, that a sufficiently strong leader could "Make America great again" by sheer force of will, by pushing out all of those dirty immigrants, Muslims, and so on. Or in other cases, that all this talk about people's lives mattering or people having a right to use public restrooms -- talk which suggests that maybe you're going to have to make some real changes for other people's sake -- doesn't really matter, and you're actually OK and can be proud of how your life has been.

That is, the truth of these statements doesn't matter in their own right; it's that these are statements which, if you believe them, let you do something. It's the wish to do something, or to believe that doing those things will make your life better, that's really at issue here.

I think that whenever someone raises the idea of more fact-checking, we should take a serious look at whether that actually addresses the underlying problem at all. My very strong sense is that we've misidentified the question, following the traditional instincts of journalism in a democracy ("and the truth shall make you free") at a time when those instincts are simply dead wrong.

h/t +J Stone for the link.

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