Beyond the Cusp

April 16, 2018

Congress to Take On Facebook


Actually, Congress will be taking on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and the Internet generally. They are addressing it as the problem that Facebook had the information of thousands of accounts used by another company. But this exact same exchange of personal information had occurred in exactly the same manner with a similar company without any big brouhaha coming about. Why all of a sudden is this an emergency to repair what is being described as a catastrophe? Well, that is easy to explain. The former use of Facebook information by forecasting company who advise political campaigns worked for President Obama and his two Presidential campaigns. This time the company which used the data also worked on a campaign, the wrong kind of campaign, for the campaign of President Trump in the last election. That became a criminal act as it worked to aid a candidate who does not desire to grow government fast enough for the political heavy hitters’ proclivities. These heavy hitters behind our politics do not hold office; they hold the office-holders. These are the people who fund the campaigns of almost every incumbent unless the incumbent did not dance to their music, then they finance the party’s choice in a primary challenge. These are the people whose names many would never recognize unless we sit on the boards of any of the Fortune 500 companies. These are the people that control those boards by the same means that they control our political parties and the Congress and often they have undue influence on the person in the Oval Office. The problem is they have no control over Donald Trump simply because he is the maverick from amongst their group, otherwise he would be one of such people.


Congress is now coming to the rescue of the presumed hoards of people demanding that their private information be protected from such misuse as happened when the Facebook information was used in predictions of where the Trump campaign dollars would have the greatest effect and may have assisted his victory. People are absolutely jumping out of their easy-chairs and calling their Congress critters demanding they act. Actually, there are very few people who even care after the initial fabricated uproar over the fact that a Republican used the same methods Democrats use to assist the effectiveness of their campaign. How dare a conservative compete on a level playing-field, do they not know they must campaign in the dark and not use any such predictive information, especially when it came from liberal people’s postings on Facebook. This is the story that Congress is playing out in the media to explain that they are on the case and they will pass legislation which will now protect people’s information on social media, especially Facebook. The Congress is going to do what Facebook had already warned people is something beyond their control. How can Congress pass any law which will make Facebook and other social media perform a function they have already warned is beyond their ability? So, let us take a slightly less cursory look and dive just into the shallow end of this entire situation.


Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons


Facebook warned people when they opened their account in their use of service contract that there was no guarantee intended or implied that anything you placed on your account, regardless of the level of privacy you may choose, was not secure and could become public and should such occur, Facebook was not liable in any way, shape or form. Hopefully nobody was shocked or surprised by this revelation. We know that the people who wrote the code for every piece of the social media were not idiots. They likely were amongst some of the brighter people in computer coding and their understanding of the internet and networking and all other things related to these fields. They are definitely far more proficient than any member of Congress and probably more knowledgeable than the entirety of Congress combined as well as the bureaucrats who will write the resulting regulations to fulfill the legislation the Congress passes providing President Trump is ill advised and signs the bill. Still, eventually there will be a President who will be more than willing to shackle the Internet and assist any Congressional legislation through which they will actually end freedom of speech on the Internet. Do not mistake the broad and wonderful sounding words about protecting your information and making the Internet safe and your information safe because they are not even able to prevent others from breaking into the most protected networks the government uses and they have been unable to protect your information they collect and have in the multitude of government networks. The breach into the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was one of the seventeen largest computer data compromises in history, and they are going to protect your information on social media, right! From the article The hackers’ access was so extensive that U.S. officials said they think it is “highly likely” that every file associated with an OPM-managed security clearance application since 2000 was exposed. That was twenty-two-million people’s information stolen from a secure government database. We found other Federal Government data breaches with some of the worst being these three Department of Veteran Affairs with over twenty-six-million exposed, U.S. Voter Database where one-hundred-ninety-one-million exposed, and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had seventy-six-million made vulnerable. For a further list of breaches of Federal Government databases including the State Department and the White House can be found here. I feel much better now that the Federal Government means to secure my data and not the Federal Government desires to secure the Internet from information and other items they find troublesome.


The Federal Government has desired to sink their claws into the Internet and grab it by the throat and throttle it such that they can have control over what is allowed onto the Internet. The United States bureaucracy has salivated at each time there came discussions over perhaps finding some means of controlling the Internet which most often took the form of some form of net neutrality for the Internet. This was the idea that every source on the Internet would be required to present both sides of every subject and if they had articles or editorials which preferred right or left wing ideas, then they would be required to have a near equal number of the opposing side or they would be prevented from posting any more articles. This was to be something they were going to force the Internet providers to monitor and enforce. The main means which was often suggested was that the providers were to respond to complaints of lacking objectivity or too heavy a preference for one-sided political commentary. The reason for the enforcement based on complaint was simple and obvious, there would be more complaints against conservative bias than liberal bias which has been proven through previous imposing of net neutrality styled requirements which resulted in liberal imposed censoring. These previous discussions in Congress were heavily opposed by the Internet providers who simply all made the same claim, such an imposition would be onerous and result in their refusing service to all forms of societal and political opinion and news coverage in the Internet simply because otherwise they would need to hire an inordinate number of people to handle such requirements and simply refusing to carry such sites would be the only result. This, they claimed, would rob them of much of their paid usage and virtually all of their free sites. We will now admit out of fairness, BTC would be one of the sites which would be considered problematic and our ability to post and be carried in the United States would be terminated, and since our service provider is in the United States, we would be refused service under the ideas Congress has previously discussed. This discussion in the Congress, they will claim, will be different, they are simply going to make sure that social media will secure your information.


So, how can the government, particularly the Federal Government, guarantee to make your information on social media secure? Well, that is what is the interesting item, because the Federal Government does not do anything, they require other people, organizations or businesses to do things. The only thing the Federal Government produces are vague pieces of legislation which begets thousands of regulations produced by a myriad of bureaucrats. This is where we need to investigate what any Federal Government action to guarantee the security of your private information on social media would produce. First, it would put a scare across the Internet with many falling into a great panic with much hyperventilating and excessive flailing of arms while running around screaming, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Then there would come the glum predictions of horrific changes and possibly the death of the Internet or at least social media. Eventually the screaming and running would end if for no other reason, people do eventually tire. Now would come the calmer and reasoned discussions with the wisest heads saying that the best approach would be to try to influence the regulations through lobbying and other means. As the regulations would be presented, the most important reactions would come from the Internet providers and the stockholders of the numerous social media providers. As the reactions to the regulations came in to the different agencies and pressures were applied to members of Congress and the department heads, then the different regulations would be adjusted, revised, retracted or doubled-down telling those complaining to just live with it. When each regulation was hammered out and reached the just live with it point, then the Internet providers and social media providers would have to find some means of meeting these requirements or closing up shop and thus avoiding culpability. Depending on what the consequences are for any and every data breach will be applied, some Internet providers and social media providers would choose to simply pay the price for such breaches and adjust the cost to their advertisers and members accounts which would very likely result in the end of free web sites and social media accounts. This would result in Facebook and the other social media providers losing much of their membership and people would be resorting to e-mail or even turning to some new system which uses radio networks which replace the Internet thus getting around the regulations being imposed on the Internet. There also is the long rumored Internet II which has had whispers for years about it being used by a limited privileged people who received invitations for Beta-testing and has thusfar not been brought to the general public. Even if there is no actual Internet II, should the Internet we currently utilize be overly regulated, then one can bet that a second Internet styled web will be developed and brought into direct competition.


Now for what is the most probable result of Congress deciding to make the Internet safe for the people and with guarantees that your information will be kept safe. First item is that no matter what regulations are pressed on Internet providers or social media providers, there will be very little actual changes as business is business and business has always found a means to minimize the problems, interruptions, complications and costs of regulations by some means as business only succeeds by providing their service or merchandise at the lowest possible price and with the minimalist imposition on their target customers. The quickest and easiest means for any business concerning the Internet to minimize the effect and interference of regulations will be altering their terms of service such that they warn that they will not be held responsible to protect you the customer or the advertiser from whatever ills the regulations try to make them be held responsible. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media already indemnify themselves from being legally responsible for protecting the information which you post to their service. They will probably need to adjust the wording and may even need to have every user actually check the box claiming that the new agreement has been read and understood and found to be completely acceptable. That done, they will continue with business as usual until the next time there is an uproar over some conservative leaning company, institution or candidate utilizing the personal information gleaned from social media sites demands that such an unforgivable usage of liberals’ information for political use other than those which they agree with politically. For those who claim that an equal uproar would come from the right or conservatives over liberal or left wing political entities had used stolen Facebook personal information, allow us to point out that the reason that there was a need to use presumed hacked information was because the left has been having access to just this information and was used by Barack Obama in his Presidential campaigns and there was no screaming. Perhaps there is only one regulation to end this entire potential invasion on the Internet, make the information available to all who request such and not just to those with whose politics those controlling the information agree. The only problem with that idea is that it would cause even louder screaming, as that would permanently level the playing field. Actually, it would cause quite a deal of lawsuits demanding access to information and long drawn-out appeals such that the case continues until the election has passed. People controlling information will always do whatever it takes to make sure that only those with whom they agree politically have access to said information as information is power and those holding power wield it to their own advantage, and that is life.


Beyond the Cusp



December 21, 2017

Now the Presidency Has Too Much Power


It is simply astonishing to hear left leaning politicians vested in Democrat power and maintaining the government regulatory monster are all of a sudden all awash with examples all about the extent that Presidential power has reached. The latest scream is the rescinding of the President Obama Net Neutrality four-hundred plus regulations being touted as how far President Trump has been capable of reaching. When President Obama imposed these regulations out of the blue with absolutely no Congressional authorization, that was simply wonderful as it gave the government the ability to monitor the internet and assure that it remained free from being overtaken by some evil corporate menace and other undefined catastrophes which only the Federal Government was capable of harnessing and protecting the world from. There was no care or worry that four-hundred plus regulations might be crippling internet freedoms and having the government running herd on the internet might be placing a completely different menace loose on the freedoms the internet should have. The actual main effect of these regulations was to limit information of political manner making it that any internet provider who might have been detected providing conservative sites an overly preponderance or heavy presence, then they could be forced to also find an equal number of left leaning sites. Of all the providers struck by these regulations, over eighty-five percent were sited for not providing sufficient voice to liberal web sites especially in the news they provide. Thank all that is holy that we are advertised as an editorial site and not news source.


The rescinding of these four-hundred plus regulations was a great step in freeing the internet as now providers may carry those news sites which provide the best content and the greatest return on their space provided. They can no longer be forced to provide a web presence to news sites which do not generate sufficient traffic to warrant the resources provided by the providers. Simplified, web providers can now use their web resources to maximize their profit and not have to worry that the government might demand that they waste resources on a web presence which does not carry the weight of the resources invested in such a site. Why should a web provider be required by government to provide equal web presence and resources and bandwidth to sites which do not generate the traffic by which these providers are able to sell commercial and attach advertising space wasting bandwidth and losing money with some of their resources just to satisfy some preconceived government idea of fairness. Web providers are not in business to be fair, they are in business to garner traffic and have profitable web sites and balance be damned. That is the hard cold fact just as other media are in business to turn a profit. Imagine if the New York Times or the New York Post were required to have reporters and editorialists which represented the opposing views from their normative political perspectives. Their readers would not be served and such a requirement would eventually drive both newspapers out of business. Neither newspaper would be able to retain their readership. The same should be permitted for when providers, as they also have, in some form, a readership, and if having a balanced view is profitable, then such will become the norm and there would be no government regulations to enforce such a result.


Net Neutrality was sold as assuring that all web presence has sufficient bandwidth for fairness, whatever that means. That could be interpreted as requiring that we here at Beyond the Cusp have a similar bandwidth to Netflix. That would be ridiculous, as we are not streaming movies and television shows for thousands of people simultaneously and do not require even the smallest percentage of bandwidth as Netflix. Even if we had a similar number of visitors as Netflix, if only, we still would not require anywhere near their required bandwidth as we provide largely text with occasional videos and some images but not constant streaming once the article is loaded. There would be no reason for the two sites; Beyond the Cusp and Netflix, to be given anywhere near the same bandwidth or memory space and that is also why Netflix pays a premium price and has their own servers and we publish here at WordPress. Oh, and we chose Netflix as our example as one of the great scare tactics used by the left was that many companies and users whose services people love, like Netflix, were all of a sudden not going to get the necessary resources and that competing internet providers were now going to make Netflix no longer available to their users. We can think of no faster way to push away users than to provide shoddy service or by blocking desired services to your customers. When you are using Netflix, two items determine how well it will function beyond the capability of your computer, the baud rate your service provider has available and that will be as high as you pay for and any limit is hardwired into the type of service you buy, and second the ability of the Netflix servers to handle the demand load placed on them, which Netflix will make sure is comfortably above the demanded ability or somebody else will provide the same service with better quality and Netflix will join Blockbuster as a former company providing movies on demand. The idea that your internet provider would block Netflix because they do not provide it with servers if the government was not there to protect you was ridiculous from the start as Netflix was doing just fine before President Obama “guaranteed” through four-hundred plus regulations that did nothing except strangle competition thus making progress and new start-ups from gaining any traction. Net neutrality was simply another vehicle for government to decide what was best for the customers instead of the companies providing service doing so as customer demand required.


There is one glaring example of how going from government fully regulated to private provider has brought faster innovations at less cost to the taxpayer with a far greater variety of choices. This example is spaceflight. We used to have a very simple regulation about spaceflight which was used presumably to make spaceflight safe. That regulation was that the government would provide all space related services. That was what gave NASA the freedom to control risk to the public. It worked great as NASA never risked the public until they had an accident and a teacher was killed, Christa McAuliffe (see image below). But other than crewmembers, NASA kept all on the ground safe. Having NASA as the sole provider of entry into space also made numerous companies go overseas to launch their payloads, as it was less expensive and their payloads and satellites reached space faster. Since space has been opened to private competition there has been a virtual explosion of directions being taken and there has not been any loss of life as of yet. Will that change, of course as space is dangerous. The United States did not build a coast-to-coast railway system without a few thousand casualties along the way and that was expected as part of the price for progress. Somehow, the world, specifically the developed world, has come to expect that any venture into the future be conducted with absolutely no cost in human lives. That expectation is ridiculous and if permitted to be pervasive, it will make space travel impossible as well as any development of space. The one item that we can guarantee despite having no ability to influence outcomes is that people will die making any Mars base into an actual working and self-sufficient inhabitance. Eventually going to Mars will be relatively safe and affordable as that is the next frontier but getting there and establishing mankind as a fact will be costly in more than just money, there will be risk to human life and possible catastrophes. It is even likely that the initial settlement on Mars will result in the same end as the Jamestown, Virginia, failed; but future attempt after attempt eventually built a city of that name which served as the capital of Virginia for some years.


From left to right the space shuttle Challenger's STS-51L mission astronauts are Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Michael Smith and Ellison Onizuka

From left to right the space shuttle Challenger’s STS-51L mission astronauts are
Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee,
Ronald McNair, Michael Smith and Ellison Onizuka


Government regulations do not expand service or make something more free. Removing regulations does and that is what cancelling net neutrality did, it made providing a free and open internet experience more possible for those residing in the United States and with time will benefit the rest of the world as well. If net neutrality actually provided what it claimed by those defending the four-hundred plus regulations, then how did people outside the United States have their service survive without net neutrality in their respective countries? The answer was they saw no change with or without for the most part but now that the United States has taken a live and let live approach by removing burdensome regulations from the internet, the world will see improved service largely in the area of variety of available features as new internet companies of all types no longer must wade through four-hundred plus regulations to assure they were compliant with government regulatory demands and restrictions. This is true of every regulation that the government can shed from its overregulated society. Regulations do not necessarily make one safe, as no company actually desires killing off their customers with certain obvious exceptions such as those items posing health risks such as cigarettes. Does anybody believe that any number of government regulations short of a total ban could make cigarettes safe to use? Of course not and cigarette smoking has decreased as awareness has increased and that would be true with or without regulation. The one service the government provided which reduced the numbers of smokers was the public service spots on television and radio. Even the warnings regulated to appear on cigarette packages had minimal effect, and many here are former smokers and can attest to this fact.


Government helps when it provides independent and unencumbered scientific investigations and releases true facts. This means that government need provide funds for research into public health issues free of preconceived notions or targeted results. Nowhere is this more obvious than the concept of global warming. Since the initial discovery that the Earth was warming, the idea was hatched that it was caused by man. This gave rise to the concept of anthropogenic global warming or mankind causes global warming. This became “scientific unchallengeable fact” after Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration testified after being sought out and handpicked by Senator Timothy E. Wirth, the Colorado Democrat who presided at the hearing. This bombshell led to the United Nations becoming involved despite almost no witnesses were ever allowed to testify who denied the “scientific unchallengeable fact” of anthropogenic global warming. The United Nations jumped in with both feet and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has paid scientists to prove that their concerns over anthropogenic global warming were and is true. Funding without a predetermined outcome was difficult to find as the United States, European Union, United Nations and several European and other governments were all paying exclusively for proof of anthropogenic global warming, so that was what the world got an preponderance of evidence proving. The evidence against anthropogenic global warming came almost exclusively from individual scientists who investigated global warming independent of government funding. Private funded scientists found no or next to no proof of anthropogenic global warming outside of the government funded research which was predisposed to finding proof if they desired continued funding. The media acted like an echo chamber for the government-funded research and the public bought that as the truth. Only now are people actually starting to question these results and rightfully so. The reason is that the only evidence for anthropogenic global warming comes from computer models which all thus far have failed to give results which mirror reality.


Al Gore with his hockey stick graph of global temperatures which would have had the Earth now at a balmy 150o Fahrenheit, or there about, proved completely false as have the other predictions of higher average temperatures and the Earth having a fever. The hysteria caused by government-funded research with a presupposed result and the media echo chamber along with anthropogenic global warming being taught from kindergarten through college paid for with government funding has all combined to taint the scientific research in one direction, scare people into doing whatever the governments demand of them to solve this terrible guilt they have had foist upon them by the false results proving anthropogenic global warming. This was what fueled the brouhaha over President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement which would have required a tax on carbon, which translates to a tax on any fuel source, including electricity, and eventual restrictions on fuel use most especially on vehicle use. Cities would ban cars from morning to night if not all together and eventually complete travel bans making people pay for a license to take a trip on vacation. This would permit government to predetermine where people would be permitted to reside and skyrocketing cost for housing as building would be restricted with choking regulations. For an example simply look to California and more accurately, San Francisco where new construction has been next to nil for two decades or longer. Steadily the truth is emerging and people are starting to listen and question the government bought-and-paid-for research. The truth is, in science, skepticism is presumably a good thing as a part of science, which was all but starved out in this debate. Questioning every hypothesis and every conclusion should be researched, both to support and find faults, and the latter was lacking in research on anthropogenic global warming. One thing which almost always proves out in the end is truth; the only question is how long it takes us to get there. Government always has an angle where it takes the side of whatever provides it a route for growth and greater control. Emergency crisis give government powers they would not otherwise have and anthropogenic global warming has been a powerful emergency, life or death according to government research, and that is permitting further regulation on business and private lives and has been used to promote a single world power which regulates everyone out of Turtle Bay, the headquarters of the United Nations.


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