Categories
meantime

Justice Ginsburg’s Vacant Seat

As I wrote back in 2016, I believe the Constitution requires a president to nominate (not just for SCOTUS, but for all appointed positions) within some period of time. Congress should designate that period, but 90 days seems appropriate barring statutory guidance. Donald John Trump has repeatedly failed to fill positions in our government, or to fill them through the constitutionally-required process.

But this one he will not fail to fill. And the Senate, by the same shared shall in the Constitution, is required to offer its say on any nominee. They, again after some reasonable time, have a duty that they failed to undertake, that they were derelict and contumacious in failing to perform, to vote up or down any nominee for any appointed office. As such, I believe that calls to not hold a vote, or to obstruct, are misguided.

The call should be to vote down any nominee until the results of the election are known, and if there be a change in officeholders, whether in the Senate or the Presidency, then the new members should bout it out to finality and confirmation of whoever is fit to fill the seat.

I make that call: vote down whomever Donald John Trump nominates, until such time as we know what the people say.


More generally, the bulk of Republican leaders, certainly nationally, and in some states, seem to not care what the people say. They work to suppress the vote. They work to hide the truth. They put themselves forth as foes of the right and good, as degenerates. And so, we may have a six–three court, a Republican-packed court. For a time, anyway.

And women’s rights may suffer. And minority rights, voting rights, the rights of those suffering in the penal systems, speech rights, human rights… God knows. And those of us who do not support the lowest star shall do what? Route around the damage. Vote with our wallets, our feet, our raised cries against it. And vote with our ballots.

The cooling saucer has become an icebox, with no COVID bill of any worth. The icebox will not renew the Voting Rights Act. They will not act on any matter of justice, and instead priority for them is to place a padlock on the Judiciary, their last, best hope to maintain power and supremacy over a people who deserve better.

But Americans have long fought off masterdom by anyone. In time, Americans have bested every tyrant before it. And so we, the people, will fight off these latest mutants to claim mastery of our lands and of our people. Of that I have no doubt.

The matter at hand is not if, but as always when? And right now, you can help make that when be very soon, by registering, and by voting.

Do it for Justice Ginsburg. Do it for the dead. Do it for your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your gal-pals, your female manager, coworker, customer. But also do it for your homeboys, fathers, brothers, sons. The government runs on elections, it is the fuel of that engine. Every citizen who votes fills up that tank so it can run better.

Categories
data

About the Privacy Argument Against Autocars

Image of an overgrown field with the remnants of a car visible (back wheels, steering column).
By Ben Salter (Flickr: ben_salter)

One of the arguments against self-driving vehicles is the privacy argument. Won’t you be tracked? Won’t police be able to stop the car? What if the navigation is hacked? And so on.

The problem with this argument is that it avoids the fact that we have the same problem already in many other facets of our lives. The issues are only more obvious and accute when you’re talking about putting your life into the cyberhands of an algorithm.

Society has a real need to confront the security and privacy issues much more directly than it has done. Autocars may raise the issue to higher prominence, which may help us strike a new balance sooner. In that, it could be a feature. But how we ultimately deal with the erosion of barriers to privacy and security is still unsolved.

It will need to be solved even if we stuck to manual cars, of course. But it also needs to be solved with televisions that watch you, phones that listen to you (for voice control), and similar services. It needs to be solved when the day comes that your phone tells a restaurant you’re allergic to something. And so on.

There is a balance to be struck between providing information and retaining privacy. And we have yet to strike it in most cases. Our political world is full of dark money, where donors choose not to reveal themselves while attacking others. Our tax code is full of subtle blind alleys where large companies and the very rich hide their money.

What you buy is tracked, which is one of the reasons that some companies are shunning NFC-based payments like ApplePay. ApplePay would reduce the information they receive when you buy something.

And, of course, online you leave your digital footprints as you jump from reading Eight Exercises that Your Ancestors would Laugh Their Asses Off at You for Doing to ordering food online to reading this blog.

Point is, we’re already being tracked through all manner of invasive tools both in meatspace and in cyberspace. One more meatspace tracking measure does not seem to raise itself in priority above balancing them all correctly and comprehensively.

Even your goods are tracked as they are shipped to you. And you like that. It lets you know when your stuff will get home.

Done right, instead of waiting on someone running late for a meeting, you could see that they’re stuck waiting for an autocar. Done wrong, you might have a surprise party ruined because the birthday human sees that everyone’s at their house. Or couples might catch each other cheating. Or stalkers and criminals will hack the system and use it for evil means.

But the good news is that there are real enough non-totalitarian harms to giving up privacy to make strong arguments for laws and technical designs that let us retain privacy, even in autocars. The balance is yet to be struck, but the reasons are there for it. It may not even be a world we find comfortable, it may be less private than we would like. But there’s no indication it will be as bad as the tracking that’s already going on today.