…walking the talk [DOT 16/5/23]

before you can run...

…perspective is…tricky

www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/15/chinas-war-chest-beijings-great-wall-of-steel-faces-obstacles-to-military-supremacy

…like…if the other guy got that close to the slightly more than 50% of the vote secured by…incumbent means…that feels like a huge deal that belies the 2nd place part

Ahmet Yener, chairman of the Supreme Election Council, said that as of Monday morning, Erdogan had received 49.5 percent of the vote to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9 percent.

On the eve of the vote, the contest was seen as Erdogan’s toughest electoral challenge during his two decades dominating Turkish politics, and a referendum on his increasingly autocratic rule. Voters said they were concerned with the poor state of an economy marked by high inflation, and the government’s halting response to devastating earthquakes in February that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria.

The opposition appeared more united than ever. Its chosen candidate, Kilicdaroglu, promised to bolster the country’s democracy, reduce tensions with foreign allies and return to consensus leadership after years of Erdogan’s centralized control. The election outcome promises sweeping consequences for the economy and political freedoms at home, as well as the balance of global power, given Turkey’s prominent role as a mediator or participant in conflicts from the Middle East to Ukraine.

But the preliminary first-round results — which also showed that Erdogan’s ruling party alliance had retained control of parliament — shifted the narrative of the election toward discussions of Erdogan’s political dexterity and his powerful advantages as the incumbent. A shaken opposition tried to regroup as it reckoned with its missteps and inflated expectations, stirred by pre-election opinion polls that suggested Kilicdaroglu could win.
[…]
Analysts said it would be hard for the opposition to prevail in the runoff, given the first-round results and Erdogan’s control of state institutions and much of Turkey’s news media. Already, there were signs that Erdogan’s tactics, including running a relentlessly negative campaign that tarred the opposition as supporters of “terrorist” groups, had paid dividends.

In the weeks before the vote, Erdogan also raised salaries for public workers and provided free gas to households. Campaign videos and events leaned heavily on appeals to national pride and featured Turkey’s burgeoning defense industry.

As the president’s speeches were given blanket coverage on Turkish news outlets, Kilicdaroglu spread his messages to the public largely through his Twitter account, in monologues recorded at a kitchen table on topics such as the economy.

The early results showed that the “populist-nationalist narrative is effective in every country,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Liberalism is structurally disadvantaged against populist autocrats.”

In that context, the opposition would struggle in “getting to 50 percent” in the second round of voting, she said. The preliminary parliamentary results suggested that even if Kilicdaroglu did somehow prevail, he would struggle to get his policies past the legislature.
[…]
The election has the potential to remake geopolitical alliances as the war in Ukraine drags into a second year and Arab states normalize relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government after a civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, most of them by his forces.

Under Erdogan, Turkey, a NATO member, has balanced relations between the West and Russia, sometimes acting as diplomatic intermediary over a Black Sea grain deal and the freezing of conflict lines in Syria, straining relations with the United States and the European Union.

…that…feels like a very incomplete description of how that all works…but…that wasn’t a rabbit hole I planned on heading down this morning

And Erdogan’s blistering and unsubstantiated attacks on the opposition, accusing it of association with the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, also “seem to have resonated,” she said. The attacks — based on support for the opposition from a major Kurdish-led party — included a fabricated video of PKK commanders clapping to Kilicdaroglu’s campaign song.

Beyond Erdogan’s attacks, though, “there is no overlooking the fact that the opposition picked the risky candidate,” Aydintasbas said.

www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/15/turkey-election-2023-runoff-erdogan-kilicdaroglu/

…to be honest…neither was erdogan in the first place

First as prime minister and then as president, Erdogan has faced moments of uncertainty (he survived a coup attempt in 2016). Over time, though, he has moved toward one-man rule, consolidating power and leveraging Turkey’s international sway.
[…]
While in office, Erdogan has deepened restrictions on speech and expression, and under his government, the judiciary has jailed or brought charges against opponents. Kilicdaroglu, his most prominent challenger, has promised an alternative: “Nothing will never, ever happen to you because you criticize me.”
[…]
Here are some ofthe key points in Erdogan’s career as a public servant and player on the world stage, tracing his path from popular Istanbul mayor to entrenched one-man rule.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/13/president-erdogan-career-turkey-election/

…nor

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/14/opposition-parties-take-lead-in-thai-election

…despite the overwhelming temptations

For three months, France has been in revolt: Demonstrators have marched; railroad workers have blocked tracks; barricades and buildings have been set aflame; protesters have done battle in the street with police. The most recent innovation has been tamer: People have banged pots whenever the president has appeared. The cause? President Emmanuel Macron’s measure raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

This might at first glance appear to be the work of a vibrant political left wing, fighting pro-business, anti-worker policies from a center-right technocratic government. Indeed, France’s labor unions — though representing a smaller share of the work force than elsewhere in Western Europe — have been united in their opposition, making them a redoubtable force. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who leads the left-wing coalition NUPES, has been a central figure in the parliamentary fight against Mr. Macron, nearly bringing down his government with a no-confidence vote in March.

And yet it is not France’s left that has benefited from the popular rebellion. It is the far right.

Recent polls showed that if last year’s head-to-head presidential election were held now, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National, would beat Mr. Macron handily, 55 to 45 percent. Other polls that list all possible candidates have shown that Mr. Mélenchon, despite his and his group’s support for the anti-Macron movement, has gained a mere percentage point since last year’s elections, hovering at around a quarter of the votes and, in some scenarios, only 20 percent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/15/opinion/france-macron-le-pen.html

…did I mean for it to be any of these

Two of its generative AI projects including Galatica, a large-language model for synthesizing scientific research, and its BlenderBot 3 all-purpose chatbot, faced negative publicity when the models spewed inaccurate and hateful rhetoric. The company quickly paused the public demo of Galatica while BlenderBot failed to gain much traction. Since then, the company has touted more mundane innovations, including advertising tools.
[…]
“Our AI work is driving good results across our apps and business,” Zuckerberg said in a statement last month at the time of the earnings release.

The Meta CEO has forcefully denied its newfound attention on AI signals the company is less committed to its larger metaverse bet. In fact, Zuckerberg has argued AI is foundational to the metaverse, and will be a critical tool to create more dynamic and accessible virtual reality-powered experiences. For instance, less tech-savvy users will be able to use generative AI to create their own new worlds in Meta’s virtual reality-powered apps.
[…]
The rhetoric about AI has confused some employees and investors about the company’s core focus, as a string of news articles and analysts mulling whether the metaverse is dead and Zuckerberg is walking away from his multibillion-dollar investment.

Some workers expressed frustration that the company’s direction is convoluted, as it endorses AI while cutting back on jobs and other projects, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak about internal matters. Other workers rushed to receive an internal alert for AI-related jobs, a way to safely position themselves for the company’s next big bet, one of the people said.

On Thursday, the company announced it was launching AI Sandbox, which enables marketers to use AI to create more text and visual options for ads. Meta executives said the product will help marketers more effectively target their ads to different types of consumers, by experimenting with extremely subtle changes to copy, pictures and backgrounds.

For example, an ad might get more traction with women under 35 if the company’s logo is depicted on top of a cityscape with blurry lights rather than a snowy mountain. Meta also announced Meta Lattice, a new artificial-intelligence-driven model to improve the performance of its ads on its networks.

But these products are far more modest than those championed by its competitors in recent months. On Wednesday, Google announced it would start answering some search queries directly by generating its own results, drawing from sources around the web, rather than linking and summarizing from other websites as it has done for two decades.
[…]
On the research front, Meta has long been a player in artificial intelligence. The company’s laboratory stands out in the industry for publicly releasing a lot of its research. Research projects include technology using AI to animate children’s drawings, decode speech from imagery of brain activity, and enable real-time translation of most languages.

Some think Meta’s new focus on AI could help overcome threats to its ad-based business model. Increasing competition in the social media market from upstarts such as TikTok and new privacy rules from Apple have hurt the digital advertising market.

Zuckerberg credited AI last month for driving people to spend more time on Instagram, as the company promotes social short-form videos called Reels. And he reminded investors during an earnings call that artificial intelligence is powering how the company recommends content to users, delivers ads to consumers and roots out rule-breaking and offensive content — systems the company has “been working on for many, many years.”
[…]
“A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision, so I just want to say upfront that that’s not accurate,” Zuckerberg said last month. “We’ve been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/05/14/meta-generative-ai-metaverse/

The new ImageBind model combines text, audio, visual, movement, thermal, and depth data. It’s only a research project but shows how future AI models could be able to generate multisensory content. [The Verge]

…something, something

Generative artificial intelligence, which backs chatbots like ChatGPT, has dazzled and alarmed the public, as many argue that the software’s ability to create poems, write song lyrics or pen movie dialogues could put millions out of work.

It’s also changing the landscape of get-rich-quick schemes. Online influencers have seized on the idea that ChatGPT is an all-powerful technology that offers a tantalizing path to easy money. A host of YouTubers and TikTokers who specialize in personal-finance content now make videos advertising a single premise: Let ChatGPT create a business, while you sit back and gain financial freedom.

But entrepreneurship and computer science experts say that is a misguided view of how artificial intelligence can help entrepreneurs. Nearly any moneymaking scheme devised solely by ChatGPT is bound to be generic, they said, because chatbots will regurgitate strategies that are widely known. Indeed, the tools are more useful helping people with actual business ideas do the technical work of starting a company, such as writing a business plan, creating an income statement or devising a marketing strategy.
[…]
On Twitter and Discord, users rallied around a trend called HustleGPT, where people give ChatGPT a modest budget, ask how to turn it into as much money as possible, act as a “human liaison” following its advice step-by-step and publicize the results.

But entrepreneurship experts argue the torrent of videos and tweet threads are intended to attract subscribers, generate sponsorships and create videos that go viral — not to actually impart sound advice.

Several YouTube and TikTok influencers interviewed did not share how much they make from the business ideas ChatGPT suggested, but one said their YouTube channel garnered $6,300 per month. The channel is dedicated to money making strategies using artificial intelligence along with regular tools.

After posting his TikTok video touting ChatGPT as a moneymaker, Chatha said he received a sponsorship offer amounting to roughly $300 per video. He did not take the deal, and it is unclear if he’s made any money off the original video he posted on TikTok.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/05/15/can-ai-make-money-chatgpt/

…road to hell

…something

…something

…paving the way

For years, a pseudonymous blog called “Intrusion Truth” has shed light on Chinese hacking operations by naming suspected Chinese hackers.

Now, after around five months of relative silence, they’re back — and turning their sights to Wuhan.

“We’re back once more to tell a familiar tale: how an MSS-sponsored APT group — known for its hacking operations around the world — has been caught red-handed,” the blogger wrote last week. 

  • MSS refers to China’s Ministry of State Security and APT stands for “advanced persistent threat” hacking groups, which have advanced capabilities and are often backed by governments.

In near-daily posts over the last several days, the WordPress blog has been delving deep into a web of Wuhan-based cybersecurity firms and schools that it says are linked to the Chinese government. 

  • The founder of a cybersecurity school identified by Intrusion Truth lived in Florida, the Daily Beast’s Shannon Vavra reported Thursday.

As Vavra notes, the recent blog posts are tagged “APT31,” an apparent reference to a China-linked hacking group that is widely known by that name. 

  • Finland has blamed APT31 for a hack on its Parliament, and Google and Microsoft said it tried to hack Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. (Microsoft said the group also targeted “at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration.”)
  • The United Kingdom has said that it’s “likely” that contractors working for the MSS are behind the group.
  • Cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which is owned by Google, says that APT31 works to steal valuable information that could be of use to China’s government and state enterprises.

[…]
Justice Department officials have previously declined to comment on using information posted by Intrusion Truth for their investigations. But federal indictments of Chinese hackers have corroborated some details of the group’s posts.
[…]
Researchers have also previously corroborated some of Intrusion Truth’s conclusions.
[…]
In October, cybersecurity firm Mandiant said a pro-China influence operation had set up eight Twitter accounts that tried to impersonate Intrusion Truth.

It’s not clear who is responsible for Intrusion Truth. In an interview with cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter last year, they said they’re a “global network of anonymous contributors united by a common goal to expose Chinese APTs.”

But, as Zetter wrote in a must-read deep dive on the group last year, some people have speculated that it could be a group of cybersecurity researchers or a cyber firm — or even a Western government.

www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/15/they-dox-chinese-hackers-now-theyre-back/

…what are those birds that can’t resist taking shiny things home?

The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, EDNY, had a busy day on Tuesday. In addition to indicting George Santos for various kinds of fraud, EDNY’s US Attorney, Breon Peace, got to take credit for the “remediation” of a peer-to-peer network of compromised computers exploited by Russian hacking group “Turla” to hack collection targets around the world.

For geeks, the claimed effect of the operation was pretty cool. The FBI developed code (or had a contractor do it for them) that would exploit the very thing that makes the Snake malware so tricky — the proprietary communications sessions it uses to run a global network of relay nodes through which it launches collection attacks.
[…]
We’ll see whether the operation was as successful as DOJ and NSA claimed. But the government at least claims to have significantly neutralized a hacking platform that has been a complex challenge for two decades.

A quote from a specialist on this hacking group made me want to look closer to understand what DOJ did, both technically and legally. Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade complained to CNN that the FBI had taken down the peer-to-peer network, rather than just sat on it to continue to observe what Russia’s FSB was doing.

Turla operatives are “genuine professionals,” Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a researcher who has tracked Turla for years, told CNN.

“They’re not traipsing around breaking things or calling attention to themselves in stupid ways,” said Guerrero-Saade, who is senior director of SentinelLabs, the research arm of security firm SentinelOne. He said that’s what you’d “expect from the GRU,” referring to Russia’s military intelligence agency, whose hackers are generally more conspicuous. “You don’t see that out of Turla.”

[snip]

While the FBI touted the action as another example of the bureau’s strategy to protect hacking victims, Guerrero-Saade wondered what visibility the FBI might have lost into Turla’s operations by exposing the network of hacked computers.

“The FBI has a hammer and they’ve decided this is just another nail,” Guerrero-Saade said. “And I don’t think espionage operations should be handled the same way that criminal operations are.”

But the search warrant affidavit suggests that’s what the FBI has been doing since 2016.

www.emptywheel.net/2023/05/11/russias-snakes-got-deplaned/

…seriously, though…it’s hard not to get distracted by this stuff

…even if it can be…both more & less than meets the eye?

…which…if it was an original metaphor…would be quite insightful…but…as is pointed out in the replies…that would be a conclusion you’d need to jump to

https://sluggerotoole.com/2016/05/09/brexit-could-be-like-getting-a-tattoo-when-youre-young-when-you-get-older-you-might-regret-it/

…still & all

The effort comes at a time when the use of various forms of technology to enhance security and streamline procedures is only increasing. TSA says the pilot is voluntary and accurate, but critics have raised concerns about questions of bias in facial recognition technology and possible repercussions for passengers who want to opt out.

The technology is currently in 16 airports. In addition to Baltimore, it’s being used at Reagan National near Washington, D.C., airports in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi. However, it’s not at every TSA checkpoint so not every traveler going through those airports would necessarily experience it.

Travelers put their driver’s license into a slot that reads the card or place their passport photo against a card reader. Then they look at a camera on a screen about the size of an iPad, which captures their image and compares it to their ID. The technology is both checking to make sure the people at the airport match the ID they present and that the identification is in fact real. A TSA officer is still there and signs off on the screening.

A small sign alerts travelers that their photo will be taken as part of the pilot and that they can opt out if they’d like. It also includes a QR code for them to get more information.

Since it’s come out the pilot has come under scrutiny by some elected officials and privacy advocates. In a February letter to TSA, five senators — four Democrats and an Independent who is part of the Democratic caucus — demanded the agency stop the program, saying: “Increasing biometric surveillance of Americans by the government represents a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights.”

As various forms of technology that use biometric information like face IDs, retina scans or fingerprint matches have become more pervasive in both the private sector and the federal government, it’s raised concerns among privacy advocates about how this data is collected, who has access to it and what happens if it gets hacked.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/tsa-tests-facial-recognition-technology-boost-airport-security

…then again…online/offline/online…it gets to be a blurry sort of a line

The Philadelphia Inquirer experienced the most significant disruption to its operations in 27 years due to what the newspaper calls a cyberattack.

The company was working to restore print operations after a cyber incursion that prevented the printing of the newspaper’s Sunday print edition, the Inquirer reported on its website.

The news operation’s website was still operational Sunday, although updates were slower than normal, the Inquirer reported.

Inquirer publisher Lisa Hughes said Sunday “we are currently unable to provide an exact time line” for full restoration of the paper’s systems.

https://www.nbcnews.com/media/philadelphia-inquirer-wasnt-able-print-sunday-newspaper-due-cyberattack

…subtext is a fine line in a multimedia topology

Over the last decade, wildlife researchers have refined techniques for recovering environmental DNA, or eDNA — trace amounts of genetic material that all living things leave behind. A powerful and inexpensive tool for ecologists, eDNA is all over — floating in the air, or lingering in water, snow, honey and even your cup of tea. Researchers have used the method to detect invasive species before they take over, to track vulnerable or secretive wildlife populations and even to rediscover species thought to be extinct. The eDNA technology is also used in wastewater surveillance systems to monitor Covid and other pathogens.

But all along, scientists using eDNA were quietly recovering gobs and gobs of human DNA. To them, it’s pollution, a sort of human genomic bycatch muddying their data. But what if someone set out to collect human eDNA on purpose?

New DNA collecting techniques are “like catnip” for law enforcement officials, says Erin Murphy, a law professor at the New York University School of Law who specializes in the use of new technologies in the criminal legal system. The police have been quick to embrace unproven tools, like using DNA to create probability-based sketches of a suspect.

That could pose dilemmas for the preservation of privacy and civil liberties, especially as technological advancement allows more information to be gathered from ever smaller eDNA samples. Dr. Duffy and his colleagues used a readily available and affordable technology to see how much information they could glean from human DNA gathered from the environment in a variety of circumstances, such as from outdoor waterways and the air inside a building.

The results of their research, published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, demonstrate that scientists can recover medical and ancestry information from minute fragments of human DNA lingering in the environment.

Forensic ethicists and legal scholars say the Florida team’s findings increase the urgency for comprehensive genetic privacy regulations. For researchers, it also highlights an imbalance in rules around such techniques in the United States — that it’s easier for law enforcement officials to deploy a half-baked new technology than it is for scientific researchers to get approval for studies to confirm that the system even works.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/15/science/environmental-dna-ethics-privacy.html

…& while some things may not be new in some senses

…in some senses…they’re newer than they look

…& in others…older, too

…still…these are the times we live in…allegedly

…the age of acting like blowing smoke is a virtue

Most days, due to rules at the Prettyman courthouse prohibiting recording devices and electronics in the courtroom itself, I reported from the media room with the rest of the press where I could watch proceedings on a closed circuit feed as I tweeted them out in real-time. 

But a few times, so I could put eyes on the jury or the defendants, I would leave the windowless room to sit in the thick of it and take notes the old-fashioned way in court with my notebook balancing on my crossed knee.  

We didn’t look at each other for very long. 

Tarrio looked into my face and I into his. His eyes went slightly wide and searching for a moment as he, I suspect, worked out that I was press in short order. Not many reporters were covering the trial to begin with and it was very sparsely attended by the public so a new face was likely to stand out. And of course, I always come into a courtroom bearing a notebook and pen, so the dots, I presume, were pretty easy to connect. 

But the look on his face that day is something I’ve thought a lot about recently and in particular, since he and fellow Proud Boys Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, and Zachary Rehl were convicted of seditious conspiracy and a multitude of other charges for their roles in Jan. 6.

It was roughly midway through the four-month-long trial. The prosecution’s daily pace was stilted with defense objections on a near-constant basis. It seemed proceedings were getting terribly bogged down and I wondered how much of a witness’s testimony the jury could actually remember at the end of every day given the incessant interruptions and sidebars. Turns out they did just fine. 
[…]
And considering all of this, when his eyes met mine that first time, there wasn’t a trace of anxiety on Tarrio’s face. In fact, it was the easiness in it that struck me. There’s an assertiveness that shades a person’s face when they have experience dealing with “delicate” situations but this was not just the look of experience with tough times writ large on his face. 

There was pride. The look struck me as ego. It was confidence, baldly. I wished everyone paying attention to the trial could have seen his face in that moment so they could understand exactly what I mean. 

I’ve been racking my brain as to where and when I’ve seen this look specifically before and what it reminded me of. 

And then it came to me. 

Tarrio looked at me that day in the same way I had seen politicians look when I covered Congress: It is the look of a person who knows they are selling something or they really want to sell something and there’s a lot of pressure behind their eyes for me to buy it or believe it. 

www.emptywheel.net/2023/05/10/the-ringleaders-last-circus-observations-from-inside-the-proud-boys-seditious-conspiracy-trial/

…so

It became a regular litany of grievances from President Donald J. Trump and his supporters: The investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt, they maintained, that had been opened without any solid basis, went on too long and found no proof of collusion.

Egged on by Mr. Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr set out in 2019 to dig into their shared theory that the Russia investigation likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. To lead the inquiry, Mr. Barr turned to a hard-nosed prosecutor named John H. Durham, and later granted him special counsel status to carry on after Mr. Trump left office.

But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.

Moreover, a months long review by The New York Times found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/26/us/politics/durham-trump-russia-barr.html

…& I know that’s from january…& I see how you could point at the date & claim it’s picking an answer before you’ve seen the full questionable text…which you can do now

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/05/15/durham-report-pdf

…but…although it’s been known to perplex me when, say, useful annotations that could stand to be as copiously available as bad-faith misreadings of evidence-starved bouts of projection masquerading as critique of something widely & broadly misunderstood…are paywalled

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/politics/read-the-mueller-report

…context abounds

A woman who said she worked for Rudy Giuliani during the last two years of the Trump administration alleged in a wide-ranging lawsuit that Giuliani, the former president’s personal attorney, discussed selling presidential pardons and detailed plans to overturn the 2020 election results.

In a 70-page complaint filed in state court in New York on Monday, Noelle Dunphy said that after Giuliani hired her in January 2019 he sexually assaulted and harassed her, refused to pay her wages and often made “sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks,” adding that she had recordings of numerous interactions with him.
[…]
Dunphy alleged in her suit that Giuliani talked about presidential pardons. She said Giuliani claimed to have “immunity” and told “her that he was selling pardons for $2 million, which he and President Trump would split.” The lawsuit did not suggest any pardons were sold.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/giuliani-accused-offering-sell-trump-pardons-2-million-new-lawsuit

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/may/14/homegrown-book-review-jeffrey-toobin-timothy-mcveigh-oklahoma-city-trump-republicans

…in a host of ways

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in 2017 that Americans were living through a “loneliness epidemic,” due in part to oppressive and impersonal workplaces. Six years and one global pandemic later, Murthy is urging people to confront loneliness and its growing threat to our health, according to an advisory released earlier this month.
[…]
One of our national pastimes is guessing who or what is responsible for loneliness, the ancient human condition. Is it social media? Remote work? The nuclear family? Not enough sidewalks?

…maybe worrying about what idle people do online sounds like one of those first world problems…but…if you’re looking at a feedback loop that is engineered to promote & produce the sort of sad, socially mal-adjusted loners who lap up the sort of catnitp you find adjacent to the likes of catturd2…it also sounds like it might be the sort of “me” problem that only needs a “they/them” or two to leapfrog being a “you problem” all the way to being an everybody problem…which is sort of ironic when you consider how instrumental isolation is to all manner of coercive pathologies

In real life, causes of loneliness vary, Americans say. People get lonely after breakups, after moving or after soul-crushing jobs. Isolation also looks different at age 22 compared to 82. Many times, technology including social media helps forge new connections. Other times, it makes people feel worse.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/04/11/technology-loneliness-role/

…though…that host/guest analogy might be skating on some thin(ing) ice itself

By the end of March, the surface temperature of the world’s oceans was above anything seen in the 40 years that satellites have been measuring it.

Records were “headed off the charts” and, as the heat refused to fade for more than a month, the Earth marched into “uncharted territory”, scientists said.

The temperature at the ocean’s surface – like on land – is being pushed higher by global heating but can jump around from one year to the next as weather systems come and go.

But in the 2km below the surface, that variability is almost nowhere to be seen. The rising heat down there has been on a relentless climb for decades, thanks to burning fossil fuels.

“The heat-holding capacity of the ocean is mammoth,” says Dr Paul Durack, a research scientist specialising in ocean measurements and modelling at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“The ocean captures more than 90% of the imbalance of energy that we’re creating because of anthropogenic climate change.”

The ocean is much less reflective than the land and soaks up more of the direct energy from sunlight.

But as greenhouse gases trap more of the energy that’s reflected back – allowing less to escape to space – the ocean tries to balance itself with the heat in the atmosphere above.

A technical chart in a chapter of the latest UN climate assessment laid out the unfathomable heat gain. Between 1971 and 2018, the ocean had gained 396 zettajoules of heat.

How much heat is that? Scientists have calculated it is the equivalent energy of more than 25bn Hiroshima atomic bombs. And that heat gain is accelerating.

study in January found the ocean gained 10 ZJ more in 2022 than the year before – enough heat to boil 700m kettles every second.

Compared with the ocean, according to a study in January the atmosphere has held on to about 2% of the extra heat caused by global heating since 2006.

To understand what’s happening below the ocean surface, out of sight of satellites, scientists look at a vast network of thousands of thermometers on buoys, ships, underwater gliders and permanent moorings.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/15/oceans-have-been-absorbing-the-worlds-extra-heat-but-theres-a-huge-payback

…so if you were, say, an empty-headed pseudo-insightful regurgitation engine

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/05/13/jack-teixeira-discord-leaked-documents

…& you concluded that being a dumpster fire

Some of the UK’s top scientists are struggling to deal with what they describe as a huge rise in abuse from climate crisis deniers on Twitter since the social media platform was taken over by Elon Musk last year.

Since then, key figures who ensured “trusted” content was prioritised have been sacked, according to one scientist, and Twitter’s sustainability arm has vanished. At the same time several users with millions of followers who propagate false statements about the climate emergency, including Donald Trump and rightwing culture warrior Jordan Peterson, have had their accounts reinstated.
[…]
“There’s been a massive change,” said Mark Maslin, professor of earth system science at University College London and the author of popular books includingHow to Save Our Planet. “I get so much abuse and rude comments now. It’s happening to all of us, but I challenge the climate deniers so I’ve been really targeted.”

Maslin says he used to have regular meetings with Sean Boyle, Twitter’s former head of sustainability, who was laid off in Musk’s mass cull of staff shortly after he began his takeover in April 2022. Maslin said Boyle discussed the platform’s work to develop ways of ensuring that trusted information was pushed to the top.

“They were using climate change as a good test bed, because it was fairly clear who the good and bad actors were,” Maslin said. “But he was sacked and Twitter became the wild west.”

Maslin said he will stay on the platform and push back against conspiracy theories with scientific evidence. “I want people to understand there are solutions. There is a real need for us to be on social media defending the truth, however nasty the responses get.”

But not all scientists have found standing up to regular hostility an easy feat. Doug McNeall, a statistician working on climate change at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, said he had blocked or muted many accounts on Twitter even before Musk’s arrival. “I got to the point where it was definitely affecting my mental health,” he said.

“I spent years debating quite strongly with climate sceptics, including people I assume were paid,” he added. “But there can be a real personal cost interacting over a long time with people who are abusing you.”

McNeall said it was hard for scientists to work out how to cut through the false information on Twitter. “I just can’t tell if people are seeing disinformation or getting good scientific information about what is happening,” he said. “That’s really worrying.”

Ed Hawkins, professor of climate science at Reading University, who has 94,000 Twitter followers, said he had seen a “huge increase” in tweets from climate-denier accounts, often involving conspiracy theories or long-debunked topics. “A larger fraction of the comments are personal and abusive,” he said. “Any mildly popular tweet from a climate scientist is now targeted for a barrage of replies.”

Hawkins has noticed that many denier accounts have paid subscriptions to Twitter and therefore appear higher up in the replies. “It appears to be a coordinated effort [by climate change deniers] to make it appear as though climate denial is more prevalent than it really is,” he said.

Professor Richard Betts, chair of climate impacts at Exeter University and head of climate impacts at the Hadley Centre, said: “Outright hostility has increased in recent weeks. It’s mostly just people saying you’re talking rubbish. They don’t want a conversation.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/14/climate-crisis-deniers-target-scientists-abuse-musk-twitter

…is a winning strategy

How to Raise $89 Million in Small Donations, and Make It Disappear [NYT]

…would your reflexes single that out as a hallucination

…or…do we need to expand our hypothetical vocabulary

…or did wittgenstein have the right of it?

What can be said at all can be said clearly, and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein/

…because…speaking as whatever bits of all-too-weak flesh might be trying to cash the checks the all-too-willing mind that loops & cartwheels its way through this stuff in the background while I’m trying to get something at least plausibly constructive done with my day apparently insists on throwing impromptu powerpoint presentations about in my mind’s eye’s line of sight…I struggle to walk the walk that goes with that particular bit of talking the talk…or not, as the case maybe oughta be…so I’d be hard-pressed to go about telling you how to code for that…I’d…probably have to get some AI to generate it for me & hope I could iron out the bugs…while probably understanding approximately nothing about how it worked, why it worked, what broke it or how I fixed it…let alone the impact it might have on my day to day existence or how those two things might shift in response to the interplay of the causes & effects or different weightings of those unseen variables

…sort of like how most people I know feel about their phone, you might say…anyway…past time for a bit of the sound of silence out of me…or at least some sounds adjacent to that

[ETA: …in case it’s a citation anyone felt the lack of…the combat fatigue thing the deranged patriot guy was trying to attempt disdain over…would be this one]

…as & when I can find them & persuade technology to let me leave them here?

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46 Comments

  1. The problem is like with everything else humanity has tried to improve, the pushback from morons can be too much.

    The climate change skeptics subconsciously realize things are going to shit, but keep going deeper into denial, getting more angry and reactionary.

    The scientists are Simons trying to tell the world of the danger and truth, and most of us are Jack and his followers dancing around a rotting pig’s head like a bunch of idiots (Lord of The Flies here we come.)

    • …there’s a lot of those out there peddling raw sewage & hoping people keep calling it kool aid & sucking it down?

      …I’d say you couldn’t make it up…but I sound like enough of a fantasist as it is most days without turning a hand to claiming to be able to swim against that kind of rip tide…so…maybe it’s “combat fatigue”…but apparently nothing & nobody is going to stop you & you absolutely can make up any old shit if you think it has an angle you can play…& the ear of a willing acolyte…or just an echo chamber…with or without bots

      …the temptation to just go back to bed some days seriously approaches even the miracle properties of the bean of wakefulness, I do declare…but…since I’m not batman

      …I don’t know what I’d do without it?

        • …haven’t taken the time to figure that part out…but that one I don’t think has been off twitter at any point…& out of all the frothing nonsense that induced george actually soros his own self to tweet that he had not in fact had a heart attack & died but in fact remained both financially & medically in what some consider rude health…that slice of the replies offered a two-fer…so there it sits with the rest of today’s flotsam & jetsam…when it comes to ducking & diving & shucking & jiving I can’t particularly claim it’s all pearls & no swine…but…it strikes me less like pearl fishing than it does mudlarking…& if “where there’s muck there’s brass”…then maybe where there’s improbably-sized brass appendages…it’s not surprising to find large amounts of muck

          …also not today’s kind of larking about…but some enterprisingly destitute types eked out a living on those margins once upon a time…some waters I guess I’d rather hear stories of than sail long enough to be familiar with that part

          …speaking of which…don’t know which genius deserves credit for coming up with it first…but as low-key shade on the trajectory of twitter goes…$8chan takes some beating

    • And of course Stone is now tapping the gullible idiots in fundamentalist cults for his schemes. “Jesus forgave me.” I can’t tell you how many times scumbags have said that phrase to me or people I know.

      Remember, folks, any time anyone invokes Jesus in public, check to make sure you still have your wallet and that your kids are safely out of reach.

  2. The phrasing I’ve liked most is that Erdogan isn’t Turkey’s Trump; Trump is America’s Erdogan. And I enjoy that he gets the same credulous framing as our own Mango Unchained does when he doesn’t deserve it. Given his position and use of power, there will be lingering questions about this vote that will likely never be answered.

    • …were it not for the kind offices of @lemmykilmister it’s entirely possible I’d have continued to skip past stonekettle the way I did that beau of the fifth column fella for a fair while…so I don’t recall which side of his pointing me in that direction that post originally dropped but I went digging in the crates on that blog a few times & that combat fatigue post is certainly one I remember being quite impressed by…hadn’t seen the thread where he went off at the deranged patriot before though…so…wow is about where I landed on that one, too

  3. I’m amazed Zuckerberger named an AI system sounding so close to the TV series about remorseless AI wiping out nearly all of humanity.

    But it does track with the idiotic billionaire fantasy of leading a tiny core to a new home in the stars.

    • …zuck watched person of interest & decided the problem wasn’t the black box part…or the rogue/co-opted competition part…or any of the other things that were fundamentally a problem…that was all just part of people being over-excited about jack bauer coming back from the dead for the umpteenth time…in “real time”…harmless fantasy & passable entertainment fodder…but in the real world you don’t send the guy in the suit…you flood the zone with appropriate ads to monetize the situational paradigm…in the other sort of real time…where you use that sort of thing to *checks notes*

      is powering how the company recommends content to users, delivers ads to consumers and roots out delineates rule-breaking and offensive content

      …uh-huh…is…same-as-it-ever-was & all…but also…meta et al have plenty of form…& when it comes to what parts of things that are valuable men-in-the-middle are “open source” & “free” & what parts are proprietary &/or under the hood…so

      …nah…I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about…we’ve got so much else to choose from, after all?

  4. I wondered how things will shake out with AI writing detectors. My writing is consistently flagged as AI, apparently because I understand spelling and grammar and am capable of backing up my conclusions.

    I have to say, if a teacher came at me with this “written by AI” bullshit, I would NOT react kindly. Nor would I if they came after my kid, who also, not coincidentally, understands spelling and grammar.

    I used to require my students to do writing assignments in class and turn them in at the end so I could get a baseline assessment of their ability (it’s possible to get into college and be completely illiterate). I originally used paper (gasp) and eventually let them write on their laptops. I suspect teachers are going to need to go back to that model. If they don’t teach handwriting any more (they don’t), they’re going to need a way to cut them off from the Internet while they’re writing. That is going to be really tough with school-wide wifi and phone hotspots.

    • …I dare say the teachers wouldn’t relish tacking yet another line to their to-do list…but generally speaking even if a student used an AI the way I used a scientific calculator instead of dusting off the slide-rule…I wouldn’t necessarily think of it as grounds to penalize them much less sanction them

      …if, say, in the course of a few minutes brief discussion it was clear that they’d at some point grasped the subject well enough to understand, make, debate…& preferably admit to being open to legitimate rebuttal of…the case for the argument laid out in their submission

      …if on the other hand they cast themselves as the guy inside the chinese room trying to hand in their homework in chinese…that’s clearly the season’s riff on a classic outfit & probably ought to be dealt with accordingly

      …trying to rely on automated processes to replace an assessment that requires a person might be on brand to the point of fleek…but they’re also getting the systems to try to output explanations of the bits of the systems they can no longer explain the nuts & bolts of

      …& I was taught that you can’t use the term you’re defining in your definition of the term…so it is clear I am but a relic of a bygone past…very possibly one few will mourn…or even particularly notice the passing of…& therefore probably voided any claim I might otherwise have to speak to who deserves a passing grade where this stuff is concerned?

    • It’s worth looking at the history of polygraphs for a good sense of why AI tests are catching you in particular, and are a problem in general.

      I think a lot of people believe AI detection is a relatively discrete issue like plagiarism detectors, which are chasing a pretty specific thing. But AI isn’t, especially AI-assistance.

      Polygraphs are essentially stress detectors, and the connections between stress and lying can be awfully tentative, especially when the test itself is inherently stressful. Operators may try to set stress  baselines, but it’s often very hard to do in practice.

      Likewise, AI detectors may look for certain things, but the ability to correctly sort out the actual use of AI from human writing gets awfully tricky awfully fast.

      • …automated checks & analysis of submissions is arguably a task AI is as well or better suited to than generating text…& they’ve got pretty good at that

        …whereas your average corner-cutting student/press “author” still doesn’t proof-read

        …so some of this stuff is of the order of “as an AI chatbot, I would have to say” being a text-string you can simply ctrl+f for

        …& even in a bunch of those cases I don’t know that running along the pathway of sanctions that leads to exclusion from class & overlaps with murderous disaffection in armed teenagers is a better approach than the “could we have a chat about your essay” routine

        …but there’s also going to be an overlap between early adopters & potentially abusive uses of the tech

        …so here’s hoping they manage to jury-rig something better than a poly-graph…or figure out how to have approximately n-dimensions of axis to call on…because there are already runners & riders in that arms race & schoolwork isn’t far off the kind of academia that backstops a lot of what we think of as “having nice things”?

      • Plagiarism detectors are also bullshit.  I got flagged for those every time I submitted a paper during my masters program because I used a ton of cited sources to back up my positions and it was flagging my fucking end note pages.  I told my professors that the detector was giving people an incentive to NOT cite their sources and that I was going to keep doing what I was doing anyway and if the school tried to sanction me they could suck it.  The professors were apparently not fans of the detector either so they were fine with my position.

      • I know how they work. I’ve failed polygraphs before. They used to be used in the hiring process sometimes, and I had to sit for them a couple of times. They are notoriously unreliable.

    • When I was in college back in the 1880s we were issued “bluebooks” for our final exams and everything was handwrittten under the watchful eye of the prof and sometimes even a proctor or two. The worst you could get away with was to position yourself so that a fellow student could surreptitiously read what you were writing, or vice versa. I once got a very unwelcome phone call from one of my econ professors/advisor who said, “You are one of my best students and your friend [X] is one of my worst. [X] did very well on his final. I am going to ask for him to be expelled for cheating. Do you have any explanation for this?”

      I said, “Yes, once or twice a week I commandeered a small conference room in the library and tutored him. The best way to learn something is to try to teach it to others. If you remember I sat right in the front of the classroom and he sat in the back.”

      He considered this. “That’s true. I remember now. Have you considered a university career?”

      • I had a high school teacher who told the story of having a professor who was a notoriously hard grader, so on the final paper he worked overtime on research and citations and did the absolute best he could.

        The grade was a D and the professor wrote “you clearly stole this and if I could find the source I’d have you expelled.”

        One of the basic problems with AI detection programs is that they can produce a list of symptoms but the ultimate judgment call is going to end up with people who will see what they want to see. Or else people will choose a list of symptoms that fit their preestablished ideas, and let the machines decide.

        • …once again GI:GO renews its bid to be inducted into the hallowed realms of the recognized principles/forces from which the fundamental nature of the physical universe is derived

          …it’s like a shitty pro-entropy version of pascal’s wager…if entropy were god, I suppose…because even when you feed in not-garbage…so long as you add time & entropy…you can generally still manage to get garbage out…so garbage is where the smart money’s at

        • Mrs. Butcher had the exact same thing happen to her in high school for a poetry submission in English class.  She didn’t get expelled but the teacher gave her an F on the assignment and refused to change it.  Couldn’t find the allegedly stolen poem anywhere, but was certain that a high school girl had no capacity for that level of talent, ergo it was stolen.

  5. In 1950, Senator McCarthy held up a random piece of paper and claimed he had a list of pinko rats in the government.

    Recently, James Comer, who is chairing a GOP hunt for evidence of Biden’s corruption claimed he had a key whistleblower. 

    But now he can’t find whoever it allegedly is. And he claimed to Maria Bartiromo that ““Nine of the 10 people that we’ve identified that have very good knowledge with respect to the Bidens, they’re one of three things, Maria… They’re either currently in court, they’re currently in jail, or they’re currently missing.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/15/comer-biden-allegations/

    Which I guess in his fevered mind is supposed to make it sound like a horrible plot by Biden, but comes across more as a wacky conspiracy theory.

    • …that whole cluster of bumblefucks routine was another of the things that…when it didn’t have me skipping between the gif & the flow-chart above…I was looking to find space for but it lost out today the same way it did the other day when I went with the feedback loop between the met & the daily mail about the dastardly plot to treasonously undermine the majesty of his majesty at his majestically processionally majestical moment of coronated-fried-nobody-here-but-us-chickens peak pinnacle-ness…& the duly-appointed members of an anti-rape charity doing the thing they all agree is a good thing & not a protest despite being an effort to blunt harms that would surely be very much worth protesting…in day-glo pink “tactical gear”…like proper terrorists

      …but there was a guy out there the other day who at least claimed to have the better part of a couple of decades of experience in relevant alphabet agencies commenting on the fuss that kicked off when biden mentioned white supremacy while speaking at an HBCU the other day…who acknowledged that those “thin blue line” flags are considered by at least some parts of at least some federal agencies to be the flag of a terrorist organization…& it’s all parts of the same whole as the biblical-fig-leaf routine…never mind the part where yet another hollow sham rests on a foundation comprised of a single slab of take-my-word-for-it…or rather…don’t…take the word of the other guy…the “witness”…that my friend…the “whistleblower” says is totally legit…but…you know…take my word for it that those guys said the thing I said they said & that it means the stuff I said it did

      …look…I’m very important & it’s important that you take me seriously…can’t you tell…I mean…look at this mustache…it’s even better than bolton’s…& he’s so serious I grew a mustache…badda bing badda boom…are we done here, your honor?

      • I rail against the political press a lot, so I take it as a hopeful sign that even those guys are tiring of Comer much faster than the press in the 1950s with McCarthy.

        An obvious question is whether today’s press can pass a test that the 1950s press largely failed. The old press didn’t really circle back to exonerating people who had been dragged through the mud, or addressing people like Nixon who was nearly as bad as a US rep as Senator McCarthy.

        There is clear distinction between the Biden administration and Trump’s administration. It’s not even remotely close. There will inevitably be more attacks by the GOP and Trump on ethics issues, and that distinction has to be moved out of the deep background to the foreground.

        They failed that test in 2016 with Clinton and Trump, and Trump’s record has gotten exponentially worse. We’ll see how they do.

  6. Hey guys. Sorry for the leave of absence. No good excuse. Just withdrawing from life like a depressed hobbit.

    My mother, who lives in a different state, was in town over the weekend. We (her, myself, & my uncle) were going thru some of the generations of stuff at my grandpa’s house. He’s still alive but wanted us to start looking at it all before he kicks the bucket and things are more emotional. Since it was mother’s day weekend, I was trying not to fight with her. DIFFICULTY LEVEL TEN. I love her, but I don’t like her very much. She’s just not a nice person. Let’s just say I will not be surprised if she ends up in a “Crazy Karen Compilation” video on youtube. We went to an international grocery store so she could stock up on some Polish goods she can’t get where she lives now, and she had the gall to complain about immigrants (not speaking English, not driving well, etc). Not only are we the descendants of immigrants, but we’re at an INTERNATIONAL GROCERY STORE IN THE SUBURBS OF CHICAGO, and ma’am you don’t even live here anymore. It was like that all weekend. I almost bit my tongue off. But if I point out her hypocrisy or rudeness, then *I’m* the asshole and she starts crying. Bright side, I probably won’t see her again until grandpa dies…..

    • …I realize one of these things is not like the other…& I don’t want to undersell the extent to which you have my sympathies with all of that

      …but on the other hand the mention of turning on the waterworks when things aren’t going your way reminded me of this…so I figured I’d throw it out there?

      • Usually if she sees I am not playing along, the next step is Silent Treatment. Which is actually fine with me. I am used to her antics, but that doesn’t make them any less infuriating. I have been the adult in our relationship all my life, so I know that nothing really works, but some tactics reduce stress on MY end.

        • …I would…& am fairly sure I have been known to…drink to that…not a mother myself but according to mothers’ day cards I have seen…on the one hand

          “if at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mother told you to in the first place”

          …but on the other hand…achieving that level of omniscience requires more than mere breakfast of champions

          “motherhood: powered by love, fueled by coffee…sustained with wine”

          …so I’d probably make a dog’s dinner of the whole thing

          …that said…you’re no help to anyone including yourself if at least you aren’t looking out for yourself…so if it works for you…it seems pretty similar to “let ’em stew & see how long they keep it up when they hungry”…which was a well-thumbed page in the childcare handbook when I was in my long-lost school days

          …so hopefully giving yourself a hard time about reducing your own stress to a tolerable window isn’t on the menu

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