…the circles that you find [DOT 20/9/22]

& the windmills of the mind...

…& the beat goes on

The first filings before Judge Raymond J. Dearie, the special master, suggested that the Trump legal team was not happy with early signs of how quickly he appears poised to try to resolve the matter.

Judge Dearie had invited the Justice Department and the Trump legal team to submit letters on Monday proposing what they should talk about at a first meeting in his courtroom in the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

He also circulated a proposed calendar, which was not made public, for how the work flow could unfold.

In its submission, the Trump legal team complained about that calendar. For example, Judge Dearie apparently proposed that both sides complete their sifting of the documents and proposals for how to label them by Oct. 7. After that deadline, Judge Dearie would write a report to a Trump-appointed judge, Aileen M. Cannon, who named him special master and set an overall deadline of Nov. 30, recommending how she should rule about any disagreements.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/us/politics/trump-herschmann-documents.html

…& I can’t say as I care for the sound of those drums

Trumpism and QAnon are inextricable, as I wrote in August 2018. (The headline: “There’s a virus in Trumpland.”) QAnon’s portrayal of Hollywood and political elites not just as culture-war opponents but as actually evil was simply an elevation of the anti-elite rhetoric that’s at the heart of Trump’s political pitch. But it also, as one Trump rally attendee told me then, helped to reframe Trump’s messy presidency as ordered.
[…]
When he was president, Trump’s team generally tried to keep the movement at a distance. Likely recognizing that associating closely with a deranged conspiracy theory had more downside than up-, Trump supporters reported being asked to hide overt symbols of support for QAnon.
[…]
“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” he said to a bemused White House press corps. Asked specifically about the idea that he was serving as a warrior against a satanic cabal of pedophiles and cannibals — a more extreme iteration of the theory — Trump didn’t say no but, instead, “If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.”

The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, who has a book documenting QAnon coming out early next year, noted at the time that QAnon had been champing at the bit to see Trump asked specifically about their movement. His failure to disavow it was seen by hardcore adherents in the same way that members of the Proud Boys viewed his failure to disavow that right-wing extremist group during a 2020 presidential debate: as a tacit endorsement.
[…]

“It’s kind of a spectrum of Q to at this point,” CNN’s Elle Reeve, who is writing a book on extremism, told me after the Jan. 6 riot: “people who are like, ‘no, I’m not that deep into Q, but who can’t get behind taking out pedophiles? No one likes pedophiles!’ ”

…brief aside

But Rep. Matt Gaetz’s name stood out for a reason.

There didn’t appear to be any real doubt about whether the controversial Florida congressman had, in fact, sought post-election presidential amnesty. Former White House official Cassidy Hutchinson testified that several of the GOP lawmakers who sought pardons participated in a Dec. 21, 2020, strategy discussion about how to overturn the election. “Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December,” she told investigators.

What was less clear is why, exactly, the Floridian made the appeal. Most of the names released by the bipartisan committee likely sought pardons because of their role in trying to overturn an American presidential election, but Gaetz, even at the time, was at the center of an entirely unrelated criminal investigation. Which of his potential legal troubles led him to make the request?

The Washington Post shed new light on the matter with a report over the weekend.

Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

For those who may need a refresher, it was in March 2021 when The New York Times first reported on the Justice Department’s investigation into the Florida congressman. According to the initial reporting, investigators were examining allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a minor, possibly violating federal sex trafficking laws in the process.
[…]
As for the congressman’s electoral prospects, in theory, a politician facing an ongoing criminal investigation over sex trafficking allegations seemingly might have trouble getting re-elected. In practice, the latest FiveThirtyEight forecast suggests Gaetz has a better than 99% chance of winning another term in his North Florida district.
https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/matt-gaetzs-request-pardon-comes-sharper-focus

…& between that particular steaming pile of ordure &…let’s say…brett-likes-beer…or any-fucking-number-of-current-GOP-officials-&-candidates-credibly-accused-of-criminally-mistreating-women-&-minors…sorry to be mentioning that sort of thing first thing in the morning but…the Qanon thing is nuts…& part of how nuts it seems to be from where I sit is that it manages to be almost performatively nuts against a backdrop where somehow the sheer surplus of examples I could have used that aren’t matt gaetz…& that freakishly high probability that it won’t cost him his seat…are apparently the baseline of what the political landscape defines as “normal”…& I don’t know about you but I’m finding this morning that that’s doing my fucking head in…anyway…where was I with that bad-acid-trip of a rabbit hole?

That there’s a huge group that believes Trump is the nation’s salvation against evil has not escaped the former president’s attention. Last week, he elevated a QAnon meme on the social-media platform he owns.
[…]
Then Trump spoke at a rally in Ohio on Saturday, targeting the 2022 midterms. He wasn’t the only speaker; Greene addressed the audience to loud applause. So did J.R. Majewski, a Republican House candidate who Sommer noted has embraced QAnon rhetoric.

And then there was the music. Trump often ends his rally speeches with canned riffs meant to rouse his audience’s patriotism or partisanship. At the rally on Saturday, though, the riff was accompanied by unusual music — music that the New York Times described as “all but identical to a song called ‘Wwg1wga.’” Hearing the tune, people in the audience at the rally raised their index fingers as an apparent reference to the “one” in the motto.
[…]
“I think Trump or someone in his orbit is definitely ramping up their QAnon outreach, and the Ohio rally reflects that,” Sommer said in a direct message on Monday morning. “He’s playing this WWG1WGA song at a rally when it’s already been pointed out that there’s an obvious QAnon connection. He’s posting more explicit Q content on Truth Social. There’s definitely been a change in tenor from Trump’s camp on QAnon toward more explicit endorsement that I think is hard to miss.”
[…]
Just this month, someone under the sway of QAnon apparently attacked his family before being killed by law enforcement. The danger of bolstering the movement’s ludicrous beliefs seems fairly obvious, particularly at a moment when political violence seems increasingly at hand.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/19/trump-qanon-conspiracy-theories/

…I don’t know…the next time someone brings up the political significance of broken windows I might just about lose whatever remains of my tiny, little mind

This is becoming a big problem in Ukraine. So many windows have been shattered by explosions — “millions of them,” one humanitarian official estimated — that there is a nationwide run on glass.

In the towns and cities that the Russian military has pounded with earthshaking artillery barrages, nothing has been spared — not the high rises, not the schools, not the squat little cottages. Just on Monday, the shock waves from a powerful Russian missile that exploded more than 800 feet from a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine blew out more than 100 of the plant’s windows.
[…]
No doubt that Ukraine is facing a host of crises within crises, but one of the most urgent is the scramble to get damaged homes ready for winter, and that is where the glass comes in.

Appreciate this material just for a moment, because hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians really need it right now. Glass lets in light and keeps out cold. You can see through it, so no matter how small or cramped your place is, you have a view. Glass keeps out birds, bugs and dust, and you can open a window and let in fresh air.
[…]
And there are more problems. To make glass, you have to melt sand. And to melt sand, you need a lot of energy. And with global energy prices soaring, glass prices have risen sharply as well.

Add all of this up — the higher production costs, the increased demand, Ukraine’s logistical nightmares, like its seaports being blockaded by Russian submarines — and it’s no mystery that an ordinary pane of glass costs double, triple or even quadruple what it used to, according to glass suppliers. That makes it impossible for many people to fix their windows, even as the cold air begins to blow in. And every day, with the fighting still raging, more are being broken.

During a war, windows are always the first to go. If a bomb is powerful enough, the shock waves or reverberations will shatter glass far from the explosion, creating a blizzard of potentially lethal shards.
[…]
“Everyone is rushing, rushing, rushing to do what we can, right now,” said Frances Oppermann […] deputy country director for programs [for ACTED][a private French aid organization]. Winter in Ukraine, she said, is “intense.”

It’s also long, nearly half the year, with wintry weather stretching from mid-October to mid-March, and temperatures can plummet to 10 below zero. Fixing windows is part of a broader winterization strategy laid out by aid agencies that includes buying tens of millions of dollars worth of blankets, coats, woolen hats and traditional felt boots.
[…]
Nationwide, the figures are staggering. Some 140,000 residential buildings have been destroyed; 44 million square meters of housing have been damaged; and millions of Ukrainians are living in homes “ill-suited to provide sufficient protection from harsh winter conditions,” according to the United Nations.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/world/europe/ukraine-war-glass.html

…there may be lies

…damn lies

…& statistics

…but…our record would seem to indicate that when you run the numbers…we aren’t good at grasping the math

But if I had understood how deeply mathematics is embedded in the world, how it figures in every gesture we make, whether crossing a crowded street or catching a ball, how it figures in painting and perspective and in architecture and in the natural world and so on, then perhaps I might have seen it the way the ancients had seen it, as a fundamental part of the world’s design, perhaps even the design itself. If I had felt that the world was connected in its parts, I might have been provoked to a kind of wonder and enthusiasm. I might have wanted to learn.

Five years ago, when I was 65, I decided to see if I could learn adolescent mathematics — algebra, geometry and calculus — because I had done poorly at algebra and geometry and I hadn’t taken calculus at all. I didn’t do well at it the second time, either, but I have become a kind of math evangelist.
[…]

Studying adolescent mathematics, a person is crossing territory on which footprints have been left since antiquity. Some of the trails have been made by distinguished figures, but the bulk of them have been left by ordinary people like me. As a boy, trying to follow a path in a failing light, I never saw the mysteries I was moving among, but on my second pass I began to. Nothing had changed about math, but I had changed. The person I had become was someone whom I couldn’t have imagined as an adolescent. Math was different, because I was different.
Math Is The Great Secret [NYT]

…& some things seem to add up in ways I’m not loving…like the modern implications of the phrase “need me to draw you a picture?”

You have probably seen this meme: 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul waves his hands in exasperation after finally being asked a question during a televised debate.
[…]
Early on, Paul’s supporters used it to convey despair if he did not win the White House, but it’s since become a common symbol for when something surprising or catastrophic happens.
[…]
In “Meme Wars,” researchers Joan DonovanEmily Dreyfuss and Brian Friedberg [three leading disinformation scholars from the Shorenstein Center] offer an exhaustive account of how the push to delegitimize the 2020 election drew inspiration from the notorious GamerGate harassment campaigns and the Occupy Wall Street protests, among other movements, both in its ideological roots and its online organizing tactics.

The Paul meme, researchers wrote, was partly a nod to the anti-establishment resentment and hopelessness building among users on fringe online platforms like 4chan. It was also a testament to how elected officials could harness those networks and translate them into more mainstream political support, as Paul did to an extent after the Occupy demonstrations.
[…]
They added: “It took all of the events of this book — all of the meme wars — to turn the brewing insurgency in America into an actual insurrection. The meme wars of the decade leading up to 2021 created movements, burnished the bona fides of movement leaders, entrenched ideologies, drafted new believers, and changed the landscape of the media ecosystem.”
[…]
“The far right was really able to mainstream their ideas into the bloodline of the Republican Party by having so much connective tissue through the internet,” [Donovan] said.
[…]
“Our research really points to the fact that while these meme wars are visible and you can decipher them, unfortunately everybody loses,” [she] said.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/19/how-stop-steal-grew-its-digital-playbook-occupy-gamergate/

…something, something, baby

The Pentagon has ordered a sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare after major social media companies identified and took offline fake accounts suspected of being run by the U.S. military in violation of the platforms’ rules.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, last week instructed the military commands that engage in psychological operations online to provide a full accounting of their activities by next month after the White House and some federal agencies expressed mounting concerns over the Defense Department’s attempted manipulation of audiences overseas, according to several defense and administration officials familiar with the matter.
[…]
The researchers did not specify when the takedowns occurred, but those familiar with the matter said they were within the past two or three years. Some were recent, they said, and involved posts from the summer that advanced anti-Russia narratives citing the Kremlin’s “imperialist” war in Ukraine and warning of the conflict’s direct impact on Central Asian countries. Significantly, they found that the pretend personas — employing tactics used by countries such as Russia and China — did not gain much traction, and that overt accounts actually attracted more followers.

Centcom, headquartered in Tampa, has purview over military operations across 21 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia. A spokesman declined to comment.
[…]
Independent of the report, The Washington Post has learned that in 2020 Facebook disabled fictitious personas created by Centcom to counter disinformation spread by China suggesting the coronavirus responsible for covid-19 was created at a U.S. Army lab in Fort Detrick, Md., according to officials familiar with the matter. The pseudo profiles — active in Facebook groups that conversed in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, the officials said — were used to amplify truthful information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the virus’s origination in China.
[…]
“Our adversaries are absolutely operating in the information domain,” said a second senior defense official. “There are some who think we shouldn’t do anything clandestine in that space. Ceding an entire domain to an adversary would be unwise. But we need stronger policy guardrails.”
[…]
With the rise of Russia and China as strategic competitors, military commanders have wanted to fight back, including online. And Congress supported that. Frustrated with perceived legal obstacles to the Defense Department’s ability to conduct clandestine activities in cyberspace, Congress in late 2019 passed a law affirming that the military could conduct operations in the “information environment” to defend the United States and to push back against foreign disinformation aimed at undermining its interests. The measure, known as Section 1631, allows the military to carry out clandestine psychological operations without crossing what the CIA has claimed as its covert authority, alleviating some of the friction that had hindered such operations previously.

…something, something, bath water

The State Department and CIA have been perturbed by the military’s use of clandestine tactics. Officers at State have admonished the Defense Department, “Hey don’t amplify our policies using fake personas, because we don’t want to be seen as creating false grass roots efforts,” the first defense official said.
[…]
A key issue for senior policymakers now is determining whether the military’s execution of clandestine influence operations is delivering results. “Is the juice worth the squeeze? Does our approach really have the potential for the return on investment we hoped or is it just causing more challenges?” one person familiar with the debate said.
[…]
The report by Graphika and Stanford suggests that the clandestine activity did not have much impact. It noted that the “vast majority of posts and tweets” reviewed received “no more than a handful of likes or retweets,” and only 19 percent of the concocted accounts had more than 1,000 followers. “Tellingly,” the report stated, “the two most-followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/19/pentagon-psychological-operations-facebook-twitter/

…accusations…pots…kettles…& so on & so forth

As the Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko was telling US lawmakers of “egregious” security failings at the company last Tuesday, shareholders in the social media platform overwhelmingly voted to hand those problems over to someone else: Elon Musk.
[…]
Previously, Musk’s case had largely been relying on a claim that Twitter was deliberately underplaying the number of spam accounts – which are not operated by humans and disrupt the platform – among its monetisable daily active users (mDAU), a key commercial metric for the company.
[…]
Musk has been granted permission to expand his lawsuit to include Zatko’s revelations, which he argues constitute a “company material adverse effect” that substantially alters the business’s value and therefore renders the deal invalid. Zatko also argues in his complaint that Twitter has broken the merger agreement between the company and Musk by making false representations – a statement of fact designed to reassure the counterparty in a deal – about its security arrangements and other matters.
[…]
John Coffee, a professor of law at Columbia University in New York, says any errors pointed out by Zatko can be corrected by the new owner, adding that Delaware – the state where Twitter is incorporated – is inclined to supporting agreed deals such as Musk’s.

“Even if Twitter erred, Musk could correct those alleged errors without their adversely affecting the value of Twitter,” he says. “Thus, he has not been irrevocably damaged. Zatko has raised an issue that Musk does not previously seem to have cared about and whose financial impact may be minimal. Given Delaware’s strong commitment to ‘deal certainty’, I do not see this as likely to give Musk a victory. It will, however, add confusion to an already complicated case.”

A settlement between both parties has always lurked in the background and Zatko’s testimony gives a slight increase in the chances of that happening, says Carl Tobias, Williams chair in law at the University of Richmond.

“I think that the Zatko whistleblower complaint and judiciary committee testimony marginally strengthen certain Musk criticisms of Twitter. However, the complaint and the hearing do not show the type of material adverse effect that Musk needs to win the case. Thus, there remains a possibility that the case will settle, although Musk has a lengthy record of not settling legal disputes.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/sep/18/whistleblower-elon-musk-twitter

…what is it about the emergent properties of the iterative process by which we derive authority over decisions that leaves us with the people it does determining the things they do?

Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects Big Tech’s editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views.

The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.

Governments that say conservative voices are the ones most often eliminated by the decisions of tech companies scored a major victory Friday, when a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a Texas law barring companies from removing posts based political ideology.
[…]
But a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit went the other way earlier this year, saying that a similar Florida law violated constitutional protections for tech companies that do not want to host views on their platforms that they find hateful, divisive or false.
[…]
All of the appeals court judges considering the Florida and Texas laws have noted the difficulty of applying some Supreme Court precedents regarding legacy media. And all weighing in so far were nominated by Republican presidents, with Newsom and Judge Andrew Oldham, who wrote the conflicting opinion in the Texas case, both nominated by President Donald Trump, who was kicked off Twitter in the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

“We are in a new arena, a very extensive one, for speakers and for those who would moderate their speech,” wrote Judge Leslie Southwick, who has served on the 5th Circuit for 15 years and dissented from Friday’s decision. “None of the precedents fit seamlessly. … The closest match I see is case law establishing the right of newspapers to control what they do and do not print, and that is the law that guides me until the Supreme Court gives us more.”
[…]
When the justices in May decided to keep Texas’s law from taking effect while legal battles continued, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the issue “will plainly merit this court’s review.”

“Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news,” wrote Alito, who was joined by colleagues Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch. “At issue is a ground-breaking Texas law that addresses the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day.”

Alito added: “It is not at all obvious how our existing precedents, which predate the age of the internet, should apply to large social media companies.” The court’s majority did not explain its reasoning for blocking the Texas law, but at the time, only a district court had weighed in, and it had ruled for the tech companies.

…if anyone has any ideas about how we maybe knock that shit off…I’m all ears?

Generally, legal experts closely tracking the case said the 5th Circuit decision is at odds with long-standing court precedent and warned that the Texas law would force the companies to disseminate what they consider misinformation and harmful content on their platforms.

…certainly seems like the 5th circuit is what you might call a hotbed for galaxy-brained bad calls on any number of things…but…they are sadly not alone out their on their various vanishingly slender but supremely-buttressed limbs

“To the extent that politicians have spread conspiracy theories or incitement, that will no longer be grounds for platforms taking them down,” said Evelyn Douek, who teaches about the regulation of online speech at Stanford Law School. Social media platforms, she added, may be forced to keep “a lot of horrible and otherwise hateful speech” that they currently remove and “may become unusable.”
[…]
At its core, the First Amendment protects against government infringement on speech. Courts have also held that the First Amendment protects the right of private companies, including newspapers and broadcasters, to control the speech they publish and disseminate. That includes the right of editors not to publish something they don’t want to publish.
[…]
Alan Z. Rozenshtein, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, agreed with the 5th Circuit’s description of social media platforms as increasingly central to public discussion, and said there is potentially a role for some government regulation of content moderation. But he said the Texas law goes too far, calling the 5th Circuit’s position that content moderation is censorship “extreme.”
[…]
“We can talk about whether or not Nazis and terrorists should have the right to speak, but it’s not straightforward censorship,” he said. “If you have an unmoderated cesspool, that’s great for the trolls, but that’s not conducive to other people’s speech — especially to those who are going to be threatened and turned off. There has to be some balance.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/19/texas-florida-social-media-laws/

…balance? …the idea seems charmingly naïve

Judge Aileen Cannon’s two rulings in the Mar-a-Lago affair offer a master class in illustrating how a young and ideologically-driven judge can badly bungle important issues of law and public policy and distort the proper role of courts in protecting state secrets and supervising criminal investigations. The Justice Department, wisely, is appealing.
[…]
It is important to note that Judge Cannon received her appointment when she barely passed the American Bar Association’s minimum length of experience following law school graduation to be considered even minimally “qualified” for the federal bench.

More significantly, she appears to owe her appointment to her membership in the Federalist Society, the virtually exclusive source of Trump’s judicial selections.
[…]
The sad story of her management of the controversy over the 11,000 government documents that Trump unlawfully spirited away to his beachfront club began at the threshold of her courthouse. Immediately after Trump’s lawyers filed what should have been a desperately unsuccessful plea to hamstring the government’s recovery and examination of its documents, including highly classified state secrets, she announced that she was “inclined” to grant the request and appoint a special master and to put the criminal investigation on hold.
[…]
A critical hallmark of the judicial process is that responsible judges listen to both sides before making up their minds. As became evident from her initial, formal ruling on Labor Day and from her refusal on Thursday to modify even the most egregious aspects of that ruling, she lacks the wisdom to admit that she got it wrong – and seriously wrong.
[…]
This is a dangerous arrogation of judicial control over judgments assigned by the Constitution and federal statutes to the executive branch official responsible for national security. More than 70 years ago, the supreme court warned judges to be extremely cautious about attempting to conduct their own review of documents containing information relating to the national defense.
[…]
Twice this year the supreme court reaffirmed this doctrine that determination whether information constitutes “state secrets” is vested exclusively in the designated executive branch officials, and courts may not legitimately second-guess that determination.

Yet that is precisely what Judge Cannon is seeking to do in her zeal to protect what she views as the ex-president’s prerogatives, defying established law and usurping responsibilities that belong elsewhere.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/19/the-trump-judge-ruling-on-the-mar-a-lago-affair-is-defying-established-law

…I guess some shit just isn’t up for debate

heading into the US midterm elections, the debate appears to be in decline, a casualty of fragmented digital media, a deeply polarised political culture and a democracy losing its sense of cohesion.

For many Republicans, ducking debates is a way to express disdain for a national media that former president Donald Trump has derided as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people”. Some Democrats have a different motive, refusing to share a platform with Republican election deniers peddling baseless conspiracy theories.

[…]enthusiasm to debate is underwhelming: candidates appear to be looking for an excuse not to do it in a divided America where the sliver of undecided voters offers diminishing returns.

They turn instead towards partisan echo chambers aimed at motivating turnout from their own bases. Republicans, in the particular, have been snubbing the mainstream media in favour of fringe rightwing outlets during the campaign so far. It is one more blow to the idea of communal experience, shared reality and the glue that holds democracy together.
[…]
But [Elaine] Kamarck, [a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington] who worked in the Clinton White House, remains optimistic that the shift is not permanent. “It is driven by a group of Republican candidates who are very inexperienced and ideological and know that they can’t do well in a debate because there’s so many things that they are for that are either unpopular or indefensible in terms of policy.

“What you see here is a Republican party that’s gone off the rails led by Donald Trump. It is this year’s crop of candidates who are not very serious people and can’t debate but I do think debates will return when the Republican party starts nominating normally qualified people to run.”
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/18/the-end-of-the-debate-republicans-midterms

…so…yeah…the prevailing weather is/was/looks likely to pretty fucking unpleasant…as alaska, japan & puerto rico can currently attest to pretty much as advertised…but…I’ll give it a rest on the links & quotes & go look for some tunes…best of luck with your latest installment of next tuesday

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17 Comments

  1. In “Meme Wars,” researchers Joan DonovanEmily Dreyfuss and Brian Friedberg [three leading disinformation scholars from the Shorenstein Center] offer an exhaustive account of […]

    And I’m sure they’re delighted to learn that another distinguished disinformation scholar, Brian Stelter of the canceled “Reliable Sources” chat show with abysmal ratings, and BA, Towson University, will be joining their ranks at the Shorenstein Center.

    • I read something very funny about Stelter’s appointment. It went something like, “Imagine, students at the Kennedy School are going to be paying thousands of dollars to listen to Brian Stelter when just a few months ago almost no one wanted to listen to him at the cost of a monthly cable bill.”

    • …when it comes to a lot of things the middle ground between two potential extremes is not a bad starting point for a useful perspective…but with something that’s as technologically & behaviorally complex as the online ecosystem & as dynamically skewed towards younger demographics I’m not sure the mid point between an always-online kid of the sort that parlayed a communal obsession with korean pop music into the flash-mob equivalent of trolling campaign events & the retired-fox-news-junkie demographic is the solid foundation from which to gain as much perspective as the folks occupying that bit of the spectrum would have me take their word for

      …but the fact that they’re trying to employ terms like “meme war” & getting in the papers for it…I guess it feels like a turn signal on what might be an oil-tanker but would be nice not to discover was instead a slavishly accurate re-enactment of the titanic…in which brian & his esteemed colleagues might find themselves cast in the part of the band that played on

      …but it could be I’m just in a bit of a mood this morning?

      • …speaking of which…seems like an odds-on bet that if it does turn out the titanic analogy is the more accurate one…this will be in heavy rotation

        …& I strongly suspect my failure to include it in the run at the foot of today’s litany probably constitutes proof of a disordered mind…or the aforementioned mood?

      • No, the phrase “meme wars” is incredibly stupid and stuck in my craw, too. It’s an attempt to add false gravitas to “social media” to elevate it to the status of an actual discipline. Perhaps they should ask someone in Ukraine to define the word “war” for them.

        That said, my admittedly not in-depth reading of the CIA’s cyber-activities suggests that they were trying to combat foreign disinformation, and Zuckerberg shut them down without attempt to do the same to foreign bad actors. Which, in turn, seems to suggest that Zuck was pulling for the fascists during the last election cycle, further cementing both my suspicions and my incredibly low opinion of that troll.

         

        • …not disputing the characterisation of zuckerberg…or necessarily trying to lend support to the book or the thesis it presents…but I think there’s one reason I’d grant them for using that term…& one thing I suspect they may not have intentionally referenced but wouldn’t be surprised if they had as part of an academic MO

          …they didn’t coin the term…& I’m fairly certain that in overlapping online circles from the breitbart/rambo-photoshopped-as-jesus-&-or-orange-foolius ones to the dark-brandon-is-dank crowd meme wars are a thing a bunch of people consider themselves to be waging…& with ukraine experimenting with approaches to defending against russia’s spectrum of “total war”…there is arguably a digital front in that conflict that sort of thing would constitute a facet of

          …it’s still arguably as incredibly stupid as you found it…but it’s an incredible stupidity I can at least wrap my head around in a cause & effect sort of a way

          …the part I can’t swear they didn’t invoke though would be what meme meant when the term was first coined

          [1][2][3] an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.[4] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[5]
          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

          …if I’m honest…saying that at that sort of a level we’re not in the middle of an all out war…I dunno…I might not feel like I can really make that claim?

  2. Rapey McForehead asking for a blanket pardon for uncharged misdeeds is pretty much what you’d expect, but to be fair (“to be fair“) I do that all the time with my wife.  I apologize and she doesn’t even ask me for what.  She just assumes quite rightly that I did something wrong somewhere along the line.

  3. Speaking of Q and social media have we talked about the conspiracy theory that Charles is going to abdicate and trump is going to be crowned King of England? Because the Queen knighted him King. There’s another one that claims Melania is really Princess Diana and Barron is in line to be king.

    https://www.dailydot.com/debug/conspiracy-theory-donald-trump-king-england/?amp

    They have no idea how these things work but make their statements with such confidence.

    • Hound breeds are like that. My black Lab keeps trying to befriend the neighborhood rats that we sometimes come across near the sidewalk trash baskets and doesn’t understand why they run away so quickly once they realize he’s approaching.

      We’re going on a road trip in a couple of months and one of our stops will be to see my sister. She’s overjoyed because she has two golden Labs who adore my dog so Christmas will come early for them.

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