CV- You Asked For It

The ever-increasing erosion of our electronic data by big tech companies is a pet issue of mine. I deleted my Facebook in 2014. I’m trying to plan my exit strategy from Google. I dream of life without a smartphone. These are my credentials.

I saw an article on the Wall Street Journal about a “Privacy-as-Antitrust” concept which I think is a good idea. But the comments section had this perplexing refrain which comes up every time people raise the issue:

  • You can still use other platforms without using Facebook
  • You can voluntarily choose not to use facebook (thereby protecting your data)
  • Everyone knows that Facebook is using your data and so by using the platform they obviously approve.

This has always struck me as a fallacy, I just can’t put my words on to why. So this is where I’m going to explore these ideas.

Argumentum Ad Populum

The formal argument could be structured thus: Facebook is not a monopoly because you can still effectively use the internet without using Facebook.

This is by comparison with Standard Oil, where you couldn’t buy an oil or oil related product without putting change in the pockets of a Rockefeller. So lets break down the premise a bit:

Monopoly is the idea that there is only one vendor available for a product. Lets just start with this simple step.

Facebook is not the only vendor of internet services because you can still use the internet without using Facebook.

But the argument in the WSJ article is arguing that our data is the cost. Can you use the internet without giving Facebook your data? There’s an abundance of articles that show that Facebook was tracking you even after you left the site, and many smart phones come with Facebook pre-loaded, an un-removable, permanent fixture in your phone. It would be naive to think that Facebook wasn’t collecting some kind of data through those means. So lets change the argument to reflect the data-as-monopoly concept.

Facebook is not the only vendor that collects your data because you can still use the internet without giving Facebook your data.

So far this is still holding true, because Facebook is definitely not the only entity collecting our data. But that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it? Not every instance of data collection is consented to. There are many parts of the internet where, if there is a “share on Facebook” button and you click it, Facebook will start tracking you and collecting your data. Is this phenomenon everywhere? By no means! At it’s core, this argument is saying:

Everyone else is doing it so Facebook should be able to, too.

This doesn’t address the Monopoly problem, but we can now identify the actual problem: People who object to Facebook need to object to every other data collector. Not every instance of data collection is consented to. You literally cannot use the internet without consenting to data collection.

Therefore, Facebook is not a monopoly, but it is a symptom of a bigger problem.

False Alternative

Lets again begin with a formal statement of the argument: You can protect your data from Facebook by not using Facebook.

Again, Facebook is not the only one doing this so lets not make this about Facebook. Lets refer to the category broadly as Data Collectors.

You can protect your data from Data Collectors by not using Data Collectors.

In this sense, it already breaks down. The internet by design cannot be used without someone collecting your data. Every thing you do on the internet is known to somebody. So we have a problem: If you want to keep using the internet and truly secure your data, you would have security such that the internet becomes unusable. If you want to truly protect your data, you need to not use the internet. This is a Laffer Curve for digital security.

The False Alternative problem comes from the fact that people consider Data Collectors as vendors of services, and if you don’t like the service you can use a different one.

I’m having trouble framing the problem here. Imagine a Supply and Demand curve. We might argue that the internet has an infinite supply (limited only by server farms, bandwidth, etc), and the demand is finite by only the people who have access to the internet. The internet itself is a commodity, then, which would be free if you found it in the wild. Standard oil found oil, but added value to it and brought it to the consumer. So the real Supply and Demand question is Supply of internet gate keepers vs. Demand for access to the internet.

But wait a minute, that’s getting into the Utility company problems. Where do Data Collectors make their money? Ad revenue. Their customer, whose demand they care about, is advertisers. Their product, whose supply they care about, is data. The producers of Data are people.

So the argument is really this:

If you don’t want Data Collectors to sell your data, stop making data.

Which is like telling someone not to breathe. Two farmers, producing corn, are mad that the local Baron is taking their corn from them and selling it to nearby cities. One Farmer says, “I wish he would stop taking my corn.” The other replies, “If you don’t like him taking your corn, stop growing it!”

The reason that argument is so confusing is because on it’s surface, it’s true. But the injustice is not in the Farmer growing corn, it’s in the acts of the Local Baron. The Farmers should not have to change their behavior to spare themselves injustice on the part of someone else. Lets take this argument ad absurdem.

A mugger stops a husband and wife on a darkened street. The husband says, “I wish you wouldn’t mug us.” The mugger replies, “If you don’t like getting mugged, don’t carry money around.”

It completely inverts the responsibilities of the parties. In modern parlance, one might call this “Victim Shaming”.

Our legal system allows us to make choices, and our moral predilections mandate that our choices be good and just choices. A person, making choices which are legal, and choices which are also virtuous, should not be inhibited by another parties misdeeds. This argument says that you should have anticipated those misdeeds before you went about making legal and virtuous choices. “You should have thought about not getting mugged before you lived your life successfully!” That argument is absurd on it’s face.

Silence as Consent

The third argument, formally stated, is thus: Everyone knows Facebook is using your data, so using the platform is implied consent.

Lets modify this with things we’ve already discovered: Everyone Knows Data Collectors are selling your data, so continuing to produce data is implied consent.

Again: Not every instance of data use gets consents from the user, so often times these companies use general consents. By using our platform you agree to let us use and/or sell everything you give us. Lets take a page out of metaphysics for a moment:

Essential to using a platform is consent to certain terms at the time you signed up for the platform. Accidental to using the platform is how that data is used, or what that data even is. So the key issue is that using a platform implies some kind of agreement to use the platform. It sounds tautological because it is: You don’t do things you don’t want to do.

So lets say in Year 0, Bob agrees to use DC Inc’s social media platform. DC Inc’s terms of use have no reference to privacy of data.

In Year 2, DC Inc decides to update their policy to include some collection of data but they promise to be very careful with it. Bob has 10 friends on DC Social, so he says he can just manipulate his settings and that’ll be that.

In Year 5, DC Social updates their policy again, and informs Bob. Their policy says that every word he writes on the platform is owned by DC Social and they will sell it to movie producers to make a movie out of Bob’s life. Bob knew that they were collecting data, but the agreement he made in Year 0 is essentially different from the agreement in Year 5. Bob was not asked to affirm his agreement every time they make a change, and because the terms are essential to using the product, even if Bob disagreed he would no longer be able to use the platform.

This is what we might call the Darth Vader Rule: They are altering the deal, and we better hope they don’t alter it any further.

Lets look at this through an analogy, too. When two parties make a contract, any amendments need to be re-affirmed by both parties. I deal with this all the time in my work: My company would like to ask for more money, so we need to go to the other company to negotiate the terms, come to some agreed upon amount, and then re-execute the entire contract as amended. Changing the agreement unilaterally and forcing all parties to comply is ludicrous. Imagine, for example, that you’ve contracted with a company to cater a corporate event with a motivational speaker. You are contracted to provide 50 comically large sub sandwiches. Then they change the contract unilaterally that you are now to provide 50 comically large vats of chili. This is a fundamentally different service, and if you want to get paid you better provide it. You can choose to opt out of the contract, though, if that’s too much for you to handle.

Too many people treat Data Collectors as a nightclub, where if you don’t like that at 11:30pm they mandate everyone wear silly hats, you can just leave and go to a different club. No one is considering that Terms of Use are a contract between two parties, and that contract ought to be re-affirmed. A consequence of not re-affirming it might be that you leave, but if the change is that they are collecting your data and selling it to a movie company, they shouldn’t assume you comply. No data should change hands until you have affirmed or rejected the new terms. I don’t believe that’s happening at all.

The new argument here is: You want to use the Data Collectors more than they want you, so they can change the terms unilaterally and they’ll assume you agree.

And So…

I don’t know whether Facebook counts as a monopoly, even looking at the methods of Data Collection. But the arguments excusing Facebook and other Data Collectors are fallacious at best and malicious at worst. The Internet has been free and unregulated since it’s inception, and the exploitation of this by Data Collectors is pushing the bounds and we are rapidly approaching an era where the Internet will be regulated into oblivion.

I hope you like reading books!

AMDG

CIV – The Hero's Journey

Act I – Departure

“Why do you look so tired?” The Manager asks over what is possibly their third mug of coffee. I look at my watch: 7:30am. “Mondays, right?” I respond.

“You need to get more rest on the weekends. I used to hate mondays like you, but then…”

As The Manager waxes philosophical on the benefits of weekends, I pour my first mug of coffee of the day. My conversational evasive maneuvers have failed.

“… so my wife and I we went to the store and we bought what I think they call an inversion table so…”

I take my first sip of the day.

Continue reading “CIV – The Hero's Journey”

Weekly Prayer Intentions – 9 December 2019

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Please join me in lifting up these intentions:

That I can work diligently through the rest of Advent.

For M. while traveling, and E. in new ventures.

That this advent, more people may learn to know and love Christ.

That the Holy Spirit, through those I follow and those who follow me, may lead us all to Holiness.

That all the souls in Purgatory may be granted kind admittance into the eternal light of God’s Grace.

St. Jude, Pray for us.

Please leave your prayer intentions or Saint intercessions in the comments, for myself and passers by to pray for this week.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

CII – Scoot and Hambone Talk About Stuff

In which Scoot and Hambone discuss Heaven, Eschatology, and Union with God. 24 November 2019.


Scoot: Do angels have memories?

Hambone: I think they are subject to time. Probably don’t forget things. I would say yes.

S: I guess God wouldn’t have memories per se because, as an all knowing creator, he could just perceive at all times and places. No need to recall, just to know.

H: Yeah I think memories require no knowledge of the future.

S: So we, when glorified and resurrected, would have memories too.

H: Yes

S: Presumably we would have all our human faculties perfected. Would we be able to know about the world in the period between our death and the end of all things?

S: My anxiety about death is not so severe as it used to be but one aspect of it is wanting to see what I missed in the world. A heavenly nostalgie de la boue.

S: How much does the divine presence make all that seem petty and small? Would we still wonder at creation?

H: 100% Petty and small.

S: So consider this: I like space. I think that’s an attribute inherent to me. If I’m perfected, by the grace of God, would I get to know what it’s like to see the stars or just not be interested anymore?

S: I guess beautiful things like the stars are only beautiful and awesome insofar as they reflect God. And in the presence of God, those things would be a poor substitute for the real deal.

H: Yeah I think it’s one of those Aristotle things where awesome stuff participated in the awesomeness of the source.

S: So it’s like choosing between a painting of a beautiful woman, or spending time with a beautiful woman. I wouldn’t prefer the painting, but that doesn’t make it not a beautiful painting.

H: Right, it’s just once you’ve got the real thing around, you don’t think about the painting. We’re also tainted by the Protestant “Oh I bet Bill is golfing up there!” stuff.

S: That makes sense, and is even reassuring, in a way.

H: Imagine something so awesome that in your earthly body, beholding it would destroy you.

S: If man ever does tremendous things I’m sure the Angels and Saints rejoice with us, insofar as those things glorify God.

H: So you literally become one with Christ, yes? That’s how you enter Heaven?

S: Yeah–I mean, I think so. Our bodies are still glorified and resurrected. But the Trinity is true in Heaven too…

H: Yes but your spirit legit joins the divine.

S: So it might just be a mystery. We become one with Christ and remain ourselves. If we are perfect, and God is perfect, if we were separate we would be a lesser order of perfect and thus not perfect?

H: God became man so that men might become like God. The deficit between me and perfection Christ bears on the cross. I enter heaven because I am one with Him.

S: Marriage is unifying, no?

H: ‘Til Death.

S: Are you not one with your wife, though separate persons?

H: Yes, “one flesh”- Father brought up the same with kingship. The King and his people form an irrevocable covenant.

S: I think that’s it. Marriage reflects our unity with God?

H: Yes – Us always the harlot.

H: The Old Testament is basically the world’s most patient and cuckolded Husband refusing to abandon the least honorable and most whorish wife ever.

S: It’s true, we are awful.

H: We have some advantages they did not, but it appears, given sufficient time, we too abandon our covenant.

H: Christ would have died just for you. I think Lucifer foresaw mans failure and wanted to highlight it to show God the folly of free will. But he never anticipated the degree to which God would condescend to save even one of his creatures.

S: He’ll get His bride in the end.

S: Body of Christ is the Church. Bride of Christ is also the Church. We are in the body of Christ, and united with God in Heaven…

H: “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh.” (2 Samuel 5:1)

H: “And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23)

H: The king is one flesh with his people. Father was saying that’s why the Jews expected a monarch forever. Because of the covenant relationship. And that Christ, King eternal in the line of David, fulfills that.


AMDG

Weekly Prayer Intentions – 2 December 2019

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Please join me in lifting up these intentions:

That I might appreciate and participate in this Advent season.

That our Young Adult ministry can be fruitful and grow in the new liturgical year.

That this Advent may be a season of peace and preparation for all men.

That the Holy Spirit, through those I follow and those who follow me, may lead us all to Holiness.

That all the souls in Purgatory may be granted kind admittance into the eternal light of God’s Grace.

St. Joseph, Pray for us.

Please leave your prayer intentions or Saint intercessions in the comments, for myself and passers by to pray for this week.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

CI – Thanksgiving Proclamation

New York, 3 October 1789

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Source

C – One Hundred Articles

I started this blog almost a year ago without really a clear idea of what to write about. I had discovered Zippy Catholic and Orthosphere and had begun engaging with them, and found myself galvanized to add my voice to the ethereal cacophony that is the internet. I have written 100 articles about a number of topics, but mostly my writings are me thinking aloud about ideas of faith and metaphysics and trying to assimilate into my own being the knowledge provided by those great writers elsewhere.

I don’t write for a following, though a modest group of regulars has formed, and I appreciate you all. I am not doing anything original, nor adding significantly to the corpus of Catholic thought. But if I can help someone, a novice like myself, follow my train of thought and be a step-stone to those thinkers and writers greater than myself, then I will consider this blog a success.

I started this blog, as I start most things, with gusto and enthusiasm, and I wrote about two dozen articles in the month of December, getting them out about as quickly as they came to mind. I tried to moderate myself during Exodus 90 and found more and more things to write about during that season where I originally planned to not write at all. I lost my way following Easter, unsure what I was doing with this blog. And then I set a schedule, I committed, to producing two articles a week and starting the week with prayer intentions. This has helped calm my manic mind, and give focus to my writing.

So I don’t know what this blog will look like by article CC. I appreciate if you would stick with me for it, and let’s see together what happens.

Thank you, God Bless you all.

AMDG

-Scoot

Weekly Prayer Intentions – 25 November 2019

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Please join me in lifting up these intentions:

That I might experience rest and relaxation during my time with Family and return to work rejuvenated, ready to glorify God through my work.

That J. might experience the bountiful blessings of God.

That all those who are hungry for the grace of God may turn to Him and be filled.

That the Holy Spirit, through those I follow and those who follow me, may lead us all to Holiness.

That all the souls in Purgatory may be granted kind admittance into the eternal light of God’s Grace.

O Lord, Jesus Christ, through your Sacred Heart, Pray for us.

Please leave your prayer intentions or Saint intercessions in the comments, for myself and passers by to pray for this week.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

XCIX – Ontology of Failure

What does it mean for a life to be a success or failure?

lets look at success. Success can be in two flavors. Objective success, this person lived life well. And relative success, this person lived life better than others. Failure, then, follows the same rubric. This person lived life poorly, or this person lived life worse than others.

We know success and failure by the relative term most frequently. A successful businessman is one who is making more money than his peers. An unsuccessful businessman has lost money, and perhaps declares bankruptcy as his speculative venture has ruined his finances. Relative success has the connotation of building up; while relative failure has the connotation of ruination.

Objective success I can only conceive of as Sainthood. An objectively successful life leads someone to heaven. The pathway for this can lead through relative success or failure in equal measure. Objective success involves practicing virtue.

Objective failure, conversely, would be living a life of unrepentant sin, thereby permanently denying themselves the grace of God.

Objective success is still attainable to me, even if my life is relatively a failure. relative success does not translate to objective success, nor does relative failure translate to objective failure. Despair or Pride are the points on which relative success or failure pivot to objective success or failure. Both Despair and Pride are the thoughts that God is not present; the former because he has abandoned us, the latter because we are better than him. Said another way, We abandon God in both Despair and Pride, but in one because we believe we don’t deserve Him, the other because He doesn’t deserve us.

Relative success requires humility, and relative failure requires patience. Humility because God has blessed us and we don’t deserve it; Patience because God’s blessings are coming and we must wait for it.

Relative success can be turned into objective success with humility, or lost with pride. Relative failure can be turned into objective failure with despair, or corrected with patience.

AMDG