The New York Times Receives a Little Feedback

I’ve still got a digital subscription to The New York Times but am limiting myself to the International section, the Arts section and Paul Krugman’s column. Our president is in England, so the International section wasn’t safe today. 

The Times headline says: 

Trump, on His Best Behavior, Heaps Praise on May as ‘Tough’ and ‘Capable’

I was moved to submit the following comment (with inflation, it might be worth two cents to somebody):

“Trump on his best behavior” suggests the White House Press Office is writing headlines for The Times. One British paper, The Guardian, describes Trump’s presence as “the visit from hell” and refers to “Trump’s oily and obnoxious personality” and “towering lies”.

Regarding today’s press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May, a British journalist writes:

Then he went into overdrive. Sure, Boris Johnson would make a great prime minister. Why not? He was a great guy who had said some nice things about him. May looked as if she might throw up at that point. It was a while since a prime minister had been publicly insulted in her own back garden. Even when Trump went out of his way to praise her – “She’s doing a great job. The greatest job” – he somehow managed to sound patronising and condescending.

No, he wouldn’t take a question from CNN because they were more fake reporting. But, hell, he knew about nukes because his uncle had been a professor of nukes. He was now full-on delusional, repeating lies about events and meetings that had never happened. A masterclass in uncontrolled narcissism made orange flesh.

Perhaps the reference to the president’s “best behavior” was a moment of sarcasm? I doubt it, because the American establishment continues to treat this monster with undeserved respect.

The Brexit Referendum May Have Simply Been Political Theater

Andrew Moravcsik, a political science professor at Princeton, predicted back in April that the United Kingdom wouldn’t leave the European Union even if the “Leave” referendum were to pass. Now that it has passed, it’s important to remember that it wasn’t legally binding. The parliaments in Scotland and Northern Ireland may be able to veto it. In addition, neither Prime Minister David Cameron nor the Brexit-supporting MP, Boris Johnson, who wants Cameron’s job are in any rush to begin the formal process of leaving:

The Brexit debate has become a global spectator sport, which suggests that something very important must be at stake. Yet, unlike issues such as migration, the euro crisis and Ukraine, it lacks real significance: under no circumstances will Britain leave Europe, regardless of the result of the referendum on June 23. It is instead a long kabuki drama in which politicians, not least Eurosceptics, advocate policies they would never actually implement…

Instead, the government would probably do just what EU members — Denmark, France, Ireland and the Netherlands — have always done after such votes. It would negotiate a new agreement, nearly identical to the old one, disguise it in opaque language and ratify it. The public, essentially ignorant about Europe, always goes along.

Now that Brexit appears within [the Euroskeptics’] grasp, they are backing away from it. What they really seek is domestic political power. If Britain votes to leave, the government will fall or, at the very least, the cabinet will be reshuffled. For Eurosceptic backbenchers, this is a once­-in­-a-­lifetime opportunity. Yet they lack parliamentary and popular majorities to govern alone. They would have to strike a deal, which means moderating anti-European demands — all amid post­-referendum economic chaos. Renegotiation inside the EU would be almost inevitable.

Excessively cynical? Hardly. Few Eurosceptics are more prominent (or ambitious) than Boris Johnson, and he has signalled his willingness to compromise. The mayor [now former mayor] of London’s soundbites remain flamboyant: “The door of the jail [is] open, and people can see the sunlit land beyond.” But read the fine print.

When the referendum was announced, Mr. Johnson said that voting to leave need not necessarily mean leaving. Britain might renegotiate a better deal inside the EU, followed by a second referendum. So voters need not worry: “If you vote to leave, all your options are good.”

After a Major Event, Life Goes On, But Surreptitiously

gnote1A major event? Yes, finally replacing my aging but handy Blackberry with a new Android smartphone (good-bye, Verizon, you bloodsuckers!).

Some might say it’s only a phone. It feels more like a lifestyle. You can’t do that anymore. Do this now. How do I do that? Guess! Or download an app. Which app? That app! Wait, what did I just do? I must have touched something. Oh, no!

Come on, why do you zoom in on Google Maps by pinching your fingers together instead of spreading them apart? Isn’t spreading them apart a more expansive gesture? And why can’t I spread my fingers apart in the prescribed way? It’s probably a genetic defect. Those of us who can easily carry out the correct two-finger spreading motion are now better-suited to getting around and finding mates. The rest of us will tend to stay put and die alone. If only I could remember the Alternate Zoom Technique:

In addition to pinching the screen to zoom, you can also double-tap on your map, hold, and then scroll down to zoom in, or scroll up to zoom out.

Coincidentally, the New York Times reported more from the Snowden Files today:

When a smartphone user opens Angry Birds, the popular game application, and starts slinging birds at chortling green pigs, spy agencies have plotted how to lurk in the background to snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information, according to secret British intelligence documents.

In their globe-spanning surveillance for terrorism suspects and other targets, the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have been trying to exploit a basic byproduct of modern telecommunications: With each new generation of mobile phone technology, ever greater amounts of personal data pour onto networks where spies can pick it up….

[Among] the most valuable of those unintended intelligence tools are so-called leaky apps that spew everything from users’ smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.

Fortunately, I don’t play with angry birds. But Google Maps is said to be one of the best sources of information for the intelligence agencies. The Times quotes a secret report from Britain’s G.C.H.Q. suggesting that “anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a G.C.H.Q. system”. Thank you. No problem.

We know that corporations collect whatever information they can about us. Now we know that the NSA and GCHQ are doing the same.

But assuming that we don’t want to stop using our phones or the internet and we can’t get our governments to stop this spying, we can take some solace in the fact that these people are collecting so much data, they don’t know what to do with it. Most of us will never stand out in the crowd.

However, if you happen to be planning a terrorist attack, or want to tell the President he or she is a jerk, you should definitely avoid Angry Birds. Or communicate the old-fashioned way:

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