Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eric Drum's projection

Apparently, in Eric Drum's world you can't defend someone's free-speech rights without making a hero of the person:
it's certainly been fascinating to watch Nakoula morph into a right-wing hero within a matter of days
He continues:
Initially, even the most zealous conservatives merely claimed that the Obama administration wasn't defending free speech strongly enough. The reasons were slightly obscure, but when pressed they usually said that a defense of free speech should have been in the first sentence of some statement or other, rather than the second. Or something. But they didn't actively defend Nakoula.
That's because Nakoula hadn't been attacked yet. He didn't need defending until the FBI exposed him and he was shuffled off by a half-dozen armed men at midnight for "voluntary" questioning. As to why the Obama administration failed to protect free speech: no it wasn't the order of his sentences; it was his giving any credence at all to the idea that the filmmaker deserved some of the blame for the riots and murders. That was an unconscionable and cowardly act.

Not only was this done to deflect blame from the administration for their failures at foreign policy and at protecting their diplomats by pretending that these 9/11 riots were spontaneous and therefore unpredictable --on 9/11-- but also, blaming someone for crimes is often the first step in persecuting them. It gives the justification for sending the FBI to expose their identity and make little suggestions to the local sheriff like "Hey, how could he put a movie trailer on YouTube without violating the parole condition that says he can't touch the Internet, hmm?"

If Obama had said something like "I don't approve of that movie, but it does not in any way excuse the violence." then no one would have been criticizing him for throwing the First Amendment under the bus. But then there would have been no excuse to go after Nakoula, no pretext for the FBI to be investigating him at all.

This isn't rocket science, and frankly if it were Bush say, blaming Michael Moore for a Tea Party riot that broke out in protest of his latest work, no one would have to explain this to Kevin Drum. He would be at the front of the criticism comparing Bush to Hitler and probably, turning Moore into a hero. Because apparently Drum can only defend free speech for heroes.

Drum also deliberately misses the point of worrying about Nakoula's treatment:
But now he's a conservative martyr. Not because the Obama administration did anything to him, but because they can weave some kind of weird conspiracy theory linking probation officers in Los Angeles County to the White House.
What difference does it make if the White House was involved? I don't need any conspiracy theory to think that when armed men descend at midnight on a home where the occupant is suddenly in grave danger of being murdered by terrorists, not to protect the person but to insist on dragging him downtown "voluntarily" through a hoard of photographers to ask him questions about a possible parole violation due to actions he took that embarrassed the President near an election, that someone is persecuting Nakoula for his speech, even if it is just the local sheriff doing so and goes no higher. And even if it is just the local sheriff, then it is still something that should not be tolerated in this country.

But is it just the local sheriff? The Obama-supporting press doesn't seem to think so. If they did, then why aren't they trying to figure out where this action originated from and clearing Obama of suspicion? Because despite Drum's predictable reference to a "weird conspiracy theory", there is a good reason to suspect White House involvement --namely the fact that it was the FBI that started this by investigating the film in the first place and by leaking Nakoula's name.

Since the press is protecting the anonymity of the leaker (unlike the anonymity of the man whose life is actually in danger), we don't know if the leaker was a political appointee or what his relationship to the White House is. Why would an apolitical civil servant have leaked that information, endangering a man's life, not to mention his family, and perhaps all Copts in Egypt? It makes no sense.

And given that the FBI started this investigation, is it really all that weird to wonder if someone in the FBI talked to local enforcement? We know that the FBI was investigating Nakoula. We know that they knew about his conviction and the time he spent in jail. Is it really all that weird to think that they may have talked to the local law enforcement officers who were involved in that?
And finally we get to the only thing in the article that could even be remotely viewed as justification for Drum's contention that the right is making a hero of Nakoula:

Within a heartbeat, Obama was Hitler and Nakoula was a "Christian filmmaker" who was being persecuted.
 See Nakoula is a Christian and a filmmaker, so when someone refers to him as a "Christian filmmaker", that is sort of like, making a, you know, hero out of him. Because everyone knows that being called a Christian filmmaker is high praise. Or something.

Still, as solid as this argument is, it would be even more solider if Drum could have come up with a quote from any significant conservative writer who actually called Nakoula a hero. Or said anything nice about him at all. Because everything I've read by conservatives either offers no judgment or calls him reckless and/or calls his film terrible. Sure would like to know who is idolizing him.

But Drum can't provide examples because there aren't any. Drum is just projecting his own partisanship onto others. If the situation were reversed and Bush were in the White House, Drum would, in fact, view anyone who cause trouble for Bush's reelection as a hero, for that reason alone. He doesn't understand that for conservatives, the bar for being a hero is a bit higher than just accidentally having a political impact that we view as favorable.

Monday, September 17, 2012

programmer's appreciation day for nook

Programmer's Appreciation Day is a fantasy of mine where they line up all of the programmers and we get to go down the line and slap those that have made stupid decisions that made our lives more difficult than they had to be.

There is some prime slapping to be done for those who made the Nook --the Barnes and Noble e-book reader. Actually, blaming the programmers isn't always entirely fair since a lot of my complaints are against content providers.

Here's some of the problems:

When you are in "Shop" mode, you can click on a title and get a summary that has a tab that takes you to other works by the same author. Nice feature --after you have already looked up the book or author by typing into that annoying search screen. It would be lot nicer if you could get to that summary from the "Library" mode where you have the books listed that you have already read --you know, the place where you actually know whether you want to see more books by that particular author. But you can't do that from there.

In some places where they show you a list of books (I think it was in "Shop" mode) there is no way to list the title as text. All they will give you is a picture of the front cover --a black-and-white 1-inch picture of a cover that was originally designed to be in color and at least five inches. Needless to say, it is often impossible to read the covers. For this one, the slap goes to the managers. Minimal product testing should have warned them that this was a stupid idea.

Then there are the book series where there is no way to figure out what books are in the series and in what order. You have to go on-line on another computer and then come back to the Nook and search for the book that you already found found on the other computer.

Finally, there are a lot of books that are huge collections of out-of-print stuff for a few dollars. That's really cool and I've bought several, but I've really lost my enthusiasm because of the very poor quality control. The people who create this stuff don't bother to break it up into sections so that you can use the index feature of the Nook to get to the book or short story you want. Even worse, they sometimes don't bother to even put series material in order so you end up reading them out of order.

Over all, e-book readers are a really great idea, but the Nook and it's content leave a lot to be desired.