Saturday, March 02, 2019

Amazon no longer sells all books from A to Z

Amazon used to carry all the books in print, without censorship. Not anymore. Here is a disgruntled author, and other examples.

Some Libertarians will argue that this is not censorship, because I am free to start my own online bookstore and sell the banned books. Yes, I can still do that, but some web sites with unpopular content are now being banned by the financial system, including MasterCard, Visa, and Paypal.

Yes, I can start my own payment system, but that is a lot more difficult.

There are lots of books still on Amazon that are a lot more offensive and legally questionable, as the above articles note. So the banning is not based on offensiveness.

The books are being banned because certain authorities are desperately worried that certain fringe ideas might reach a broader audience.

They must surely wish that they could have shut off Donald Trump's access to the news media when they had the chance.

Statistician A. Gelman writes:
In his classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” the political journalist George Orwell drew a connection between cloudy writing and cloudy content.

The basic idea was: if you don’t know what you’re saying, or if you’re trying to say something you don’t really want to say, then one strategy is to write unclearly. Conversely, consistently cloudy writing can be an indication that the writer ultimately doesn’t want to be understood.

In Orwell’s words:
[The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
If no one is allowed to speak bluntly anymore, then I expect to see more cloudy writing.

There is a lot of cloudy writing attacking Donald Trump. In much of it, it is really hard to tell why the author hates him so much.

For example, Michael Cohen seems to hate Trump, but why? I listened to his testimony, and here is how the Wash. Post reported it:
Cohen has testified that while Trump never directed him to lie to Congress about a potential Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016, he made his desires known through hints.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) asked Cohen to elaborate more on these hints that Trump would give, seeking to shed light on how Trump gives orders without saying the words specifically.

Cohen said Trump likes to give orders by making a sweeping claim — then asking a question that’s not really a question, per se. Cohen likened it to a powerful individual pointing to his tie and claiming it’s “the nicest looking tie!” — then asking a subordinate if he or she agrees.

It would have made more sense for Cohen to say, "I have orders from the secret Jewish cabal to backstab Trump, so that is what I am doing."

Apparently someone promised Cohen that Trump will be impeached, and Cohen has a chance to be the John Dean of the Trump administration. Dean went to prison for his crimes, but in the end he profited enormously by becoming a hero to Nixon-haters for his backstabbing.

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