I should probably be more secure about stuff like this

But I can’t help but notice my friends tally on Facebook has been slowly trending downward lately, which means people are either closing their accounts or unfriending me. And I naturally wonder: Who were they? And why did they do it? Did I do something?

In fact, I don’t think it’s a matter of security: It’s a totally natural thing for a social creature who is introspective to ask.  I find it important to think about how my actions affect others. I find it important to consider if my actions are getting the results I want.

I won’t necessarily change. It’s decently likely that I did nothing particular at all. If I offended someone, did I do so because I was careless in my speech or because they disagreed with my ideas? If it’s the latter, I won’t worry about it. As long as I’m living by my values and principles– which include being respectful of others and being willing to speak up for what I believe in– I won’t worry about it.

But that self-examination is always necessary to make sure that’s the case. Until recently I’d been ill and not thinking about it so much.


Links of the Day, Election-Rigging Edition

Harper’s with an article on election-rigging, with some historical tidbits, some examples of how dangerously insecure our electronic voting machines are, as well as some examples of highly unusual results in the electronic voting era:

Symbolically speaking, this era was inaugurated by Chuck Hagel, an unknown millionaire who ran for one of Nebraska’s U.S. Senate seats in 1996. Initially Hagel trailed the popular Democratic governor, Ben Nelson, who had been elected in a landslide two years earlier. Three days before the election, however, a poll conducted by the Omaha World-Herald showed a dead heat, with 47 percent of respondents favoring each candidate. David Moore, who was then managing editor of the Gallup Poll, told the paper, “We can’t predict the outcome.”

Hagel’s victory in the general election, invariably referred to as an “upset,” handed the seat to the G.O.P. for the first time in eighteen years. Hagel trounced Nelson by fifteen points. Even for those who had factored in the governor’s deteriorating numbers and a last-minute barrage of negative ads, this divergence from pre-election polling was enough to raise eyebrows across the nation.

Few Americans knew that until shortly before the election, Hagel had been chairman of the company whose computerized voting machines would soon count his own votes: Election Systems & Software (then called American Information Systems). Hagel stepped down from his post just two weeks before announcing his candidacy. Yet he retained millions of dollars in stock in the McCarthy Group, which owned ES&S. And Michael McCarthy, the parent company’s founder, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer.

A Popular Science bit about just how easy it is to hack an electronic voting machine today.

This Youtube video comes in today from someone who claims he tried to vote for Barack Obama, but the machine kept selecting Mitt Romney instead. UPDATE: Per MSNBC, the offending voting machine has been removed.

The Culture of Extraction; or, What Scares Me Most About Mitt Romney

I’ve made no secret that I believe Mitt Romney would be a disastrous President for a number of reasons: He would be completely regressive on the major social issues of our time, he thinks foreign policy largely consists of being belligerent and insulting other countries, he seems to completely lack empathy for other humans, I wouldn’t trust him in a crisis, and his inability or unwillingness to release any specifics of his tax plans or his own tax returns suggests a mendacious prevaricator who will say anything to get elected and then enact an agenda that could easily have little to nothing to do with anything he’s campaigned on.

The one thing that seems to be rarely discussed these days is just what that agenda might be, economically. Continue reading