Zuckerberg’s hoarding

A post from Mona Chalabi popped up on my Twitter timeline this morning.

As you can see it’s a beautifully cutting analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent $25 million donation to help in the fight against coronavirus. She manages to show in the simplest way possible just how much Zuckerberg has sacrificed to the greater good. Twenty-five million dollars is few millilitres, a squirt from the vast glass of his $81 billion fortune.

In the old days, in the UK, a billion meant an million million, but since 1974 the UK Government has used the American definition of a billion when announcing figures. An American billion is just a thousand million, or a one followed by nine noughts; 1,000,000,000. Even using this lower scale, Zuckerberg’s $25 million donation accounts for only 0.03% of his current $81 billion fortune.

To give this some perspective. $81 billion is the equivalent to the gross domestic product to Cameroon. A country ranked 90th by the CIA in their World Factbook, that includes a listing of countries by GDP.

Basically Zuckerberg has more money at his disposal than bottom 53 countries of the World Factbook list combined. His personal fortune is the equivalent to the combined gross domestic product of Guam, Liberia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guernsey, Central African Republic, Andorra, Belize, Curaçao, Guinea-Bissau, Seychelles, Aruba, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Greenland, San Marino, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, ComorosSolomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Western Sahara, Dominica, Vanuatu, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Sao Tome and Principe, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tonga, Saint Martin, British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Falkland Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Marshall Islands, Anguilla, Nauru, Wallis and Futuna, Montserrat, Tuvalu, Saint Helena, Niue, and Tokelau.

Why’s that a problem? Twenty-five million dollars is a large sum of money. It’s a problem because the billions Zuckerberg has taken from the economy, and is now sitting on, might be the difference between people living or dying from COVID-19.

My reply to the text message from UK_Gov

I got a text message this morning from UK_Gov. Not sure how they got my number?!? That’s the subject for another time. But if they’re going to start texting me on my personal phone, I feel it’s my right to offer my two penneth.

Why isn’t John Sweeney’s whistle-blower letter to OfCom getting more attention?

Prompted by Boris Johnson’s refusal to release the “Russian Report”, John Sweeney has turned whistle-blower. He sent the following letter dated November 4 2019 to OfCom accusing BBC News and Current Affairs of being risk-averse, and or corrupt. Please share his letter. His accusations are the the latest in a long line of stories relating to Russian interference in British politics.

https://www.johnsweeney.co.uk/?blog=blogs/archive/2019/11/24/john.sweeneys.letter.to.ofcom.aspx

Here is the Twitter thread that prompted Mr. Sweeney to release his letter to OfCom.

https://twitter.com/johnsweeneyroar/status/1198648032130191360?s=20

Labour’s manifesto offer something others don’t, hope!

Even if you choose to criticise the Labour Party’s manifesto as ridiculously expensive, which it’s not. Just watch the clip below from BBC Newsnight. “It would basically bring us still to levels that are lower than France, Norway, and Sweden.” We pride ourselves on being the fifth largest economy in the world. Why can’t we afford it? The Labour Party’s manifesto has something the other parties won’t offer. A vision for the future, a vision that offers hope. This manifesto gives hope to all of us who have been bled dry by this huge vampiric pyramid scheme of neoliberalism. It offers the possibility that things might get better, instead of predictably worse.

Homophily

While in the car today I caught a few minutes of Naturebang on BBC Radio 4. This episode explored the link between Starlings and Social Networks.

I learned that when starling murmurations, or the swirling patters they make when flying in synchrony, were modelled they discovered that groups of seven birds control all of the crowds movements. One bird moves, taking with it the six birds close by, and they take the six around them, until all of the birds move together.

It’s all beautifully and elegant when seen in birds. Not so when translated into humans and our social networks. In humans this “tendency for people to seek out or be attracted to those who are similar to themselves” is called homophily. It’s also what causes the echo chamber myopia you get on social media. We all do it. Follow people we agree with. Repost things that reflect our opinions. I’m going to say it’s one part of the many things that’s contributed to political tribalism. Those with similar ideologies only interacting with others of a similar ideology. It’s probably why polling doesn’t work anymore. I’m sure the causes of the current political malaise are more complicated, and it’s a mistake to reduce things in this way, but as someone from Oakham once said, “the simplest solution is most likely the right one.” Beware, the way birds move together, might mirror how we coagulate on social media.

This’ll be interesting

Channel 4 News is “wading into the murky water of political ads online.” I for one will be very interested to see who is doing what? I would hope after the Cambridge Analytica scandal all the parties would be a little gun shy of “targeted” political advertising. But considering the players involved, particularly those in Tory circles, I suspect things are going to get shit covered very quickly. If you have shit thrown at you, email it to targetvoter@itn.co.uk.

Leave have faith

This is an intelligent unpicking of BJ’s lies by @UKLabour. The problem I fear is that we’re not dealing with intelligence, or logic, or even truth. We are dealing with belief. We’re dealing with faith.

Leave have faith, despite all the evidence, that leaving the EU is the right thing to do. For me faith is just a short bus journey to Zealot Town. I have no idea how to counter their belief. They don’t listen to reason.

Despite their best efforts I have no desire to make them my enemy. But that’s what I am. I am other. A none believer. And not to believe, not to have faith, is heresy. I can live with being a heretic. But no amount of faith will put food on the table, or pay my rent.