Author Archive: Erich Vieth

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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Who are you? Strangers can get a good idea based on a few dozen of your Facebook “likes.”

February 6, 2017 | By | Reply More

Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to size up who a person based on their FB activity.

If you would like to get a small taste for what companies can do with Big Data, follow this link to Kosinski’s own website (found in the above article). I did this, and I was impressed. Based on 60 of your FB “likes,” a company can get a impressive read on who you are.

This is not just a parlor trick. This type of analytics can swing a tight presidential election.

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How to Argue Across the Culture Divide

February 2, 2017 | By | Reply More

This article in the Atlantic, “The Simple Psychological Trick to Political Persuasion,” urges us to consider the values of those to whom we direct our arguments in order to be effective.

Feinberg and his co-author, Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, have extensively studied how it is that liberals and conservatives—two groups that now seem further apart than ever on their policy preferences—can convert people from the other side to their way of seeing things. One reason this is so hard to do, they explain, is that people tend to present their arguments in a way that appeals to the ethical code of their own side, rather than that of their opponents.

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Bill Moyers: The EPA is about to be destroyed.

February 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

Donald Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has made a career of attacking the EPA on behalf of his fossil fuel contributors, to be head of the EPA. Based on his past conduct, including his denial of climate change, Pruitt’s mission will be to destroy the EPA, thereby putting the American public at great risk of living in a toxic cesspool, the conditions leading Richard Nixon to create the EPA in the ’70’s.

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Delving further into the Moral Landscape

January 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

After Sam Harris wrote The Moral Landscape, he encountered both accolades and criticisms. In response to the criticisms, he held a contest, offering $2,000 to the best short essay to challenge his own work. He published both the winning essay and his own response to it. I find it to be a good read that cross-cuts some traditional concepts of moral philosophy (e.g., that there is no intersection between descriptive versus prescriptive statements) and points the idea that we can dispense with (or at least translate into factual observations) the notions of “good” and “bad.”

Here is an excerpt from Harris’ essay commenting on the winning essay:

Part of the resistance I’ve encountered to the views presented in The Moral Landscape comes from readers who appear to want an ethical standard that gives clear guidance in every situation and doesn’t require too much of them. People want it to be easy to be good—and they don’t want to think that they are not living as good a life as they could be. This is especially true when balancing one’s personal well-being vs. the well-being of society. Most of us are profoundly selfish, and we don’t want to be told that being selfish is wrong. As I tried to make clear in the book, I don’t think it is wrong, up to a point. I suspect that an exclusive focus on the welfare of the group is not the best way to build a civilization that could secure it. Some form of enlightened selfishness seems the most reasonable approach—in which we are more concerned about ourselves and our children than about other people and their children, but not callously so. However, the well-being of the whole group is the only global standard by which we can judge specific outcomes to be good.

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About Blocking Immigration

January 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

This image Anti-Media posted on FB sums it up about right:

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Priorities for 2017

January 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

I’ve followed and supported the work of Electronic Frontier Foundation, and will continue to do so with even more energy in coming months and years in light of recent political events. To be fair, my position would not be much different even had Hillary Clinton been elected. The attacks on digital freedoms seem to be a defect of both Democrats and Republicans, as reflected in this recent statement by EFF:

But as EFF has learned in the course of defending our fundamental rights over four American presidencies, our civil liberties need an independent defense force. Free speech and the rights to privacy, transparency, and innovation won’t survive on their own—we’re here to ensure that government is held accountable and in check.

Technological progress does not wait for politicians to catch up, and new tools can quickly be misused by aggressive governments. The next four years will be characterized by rapid developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, connected homes, and smart cities. We welcome innovation, but we also expect to see an explosion of surveillance technologies designed to take advantage of our connected world to spy on all of us and our devices, all the time. That data will be used not only to target individuals but to project and manipulate social behavior. What will our digital rights look like during these uncertain and evolving times? Will our current rights remain intact when the baton is passed on once again?

What follows in this EFF article is an excellent articulation of priorities and strategies for preserving digital rights of all Americans.

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Rogue Navy Seals

January 20, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

Navy Seals are legendary for their combat skills and courage, but like any group of humans on the planet, some members fall sometimes far far short, and for those inevitable occasions, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Perhaps some will think it is inappropriate to investigate and expose abuses members of a group that so many people revere, much as one hears about rogue police, but the issue is the same with Naval Seals or any other other group. Being held accountable is what all responsible professionals do invite. Responsible Navy Seals stepped forward as part of this investigation conducted by The Intercept because of the lack of internal checks and balances.

Neil Roberts was the first member of SEAL Team 6 to die in the Afghan war, and among the first elite operators who died after 9/11. Beyond the dehumanizing manner in which the al Qaeda fighters had treated his corpse, Roberts’s death pierced the SEALs’ self-perception of invincibility.

The battle of Roberts Ridge, as it came to be known, has been frequently described in books and press accounts. But what happened during Objective Bull, the assault on the convoy in the Shah-i-Kot Valley, has never been previously reported.

Roberts’s death, and the subsequent operations in eastern Afghanistan during the winter 2002 deployment, left an indelible impression on SEAL Team 6, especially on Red Team. According to multiple SEAL Team 6 sources, the events of that day set off a cascade of extraordinary violence. As the legend of SEAL Team 6 grew, a rogue culture arose that operated outside of the Navy’s established mechanisms for command and investigation. Parts of SEAL Team 6 began acting with an air of impunity that disturbed observers within the command. Senior members of SEAL Team 6 felt the pattern of brutality was not only illegal but rose to the level of war crimes.

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Lee Camp offers evidence that the “mainstream news” is not news at all

January 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp offers clips of “mainstream news” that will leave you shaking your head:

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Evidence-free news continues to propagate, courtesy of the military-industrial complex and the mainstream media

January 17, 2017 | By | Reply More

From the Intercept, article by Glenn Greenwald:

IN JANUARY 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry, and damaging those behaviors might be.

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