Thursday, December 12, 2019

Formula for Perpetual Minority Rule

Just a quick review:

1. This Republican President has unlimited authority to defy all subpoenas, lawsuits, and other legal proceedings.  The proposed remedy is an impeachment.

2. This Republican President has unlimited authority to defy all witness subpoenas and document production during impeachment proceedings.  The proposed remedy is an election.

3.  This Republican Party is actively working to limit voter registration, ballot access, and proportional Electoral College allocation, while engaging in gerrymandering of districts and other anti-democratic efforts which prevent every voter from being counted and overturn efforts to ensure their votes count equally.  The proposed remedy is to allow Republicans to continue rigging, cheating, and interfering with elections, ensuring the installation of Republican Presidents against the will of the American people.

This is the formula for perpetual minority rule under the framework of a one party, authoritarian state.  And so long as Republican voters believe such a system benefits themselves and punishes their perceived enemies, they will unrelentingly support it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Trump Rallies and George Orwell

December 10th, 2019: Outside a Trump rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania - Image Courtesy of News2Share

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Facebook Circa 2005

This was the first story CBS News ran about - a website that had spread to college students across 575 schools and required a campus email address to create an account.

Notice how completely unaware this report is with what Facebook has become or the corrosive, disruptive power it has wreaked across the country and around the world?

If only we knew then what we are discovering now.

Perhaps technology is not neutral. Perhaps it fosters an increasingly destabilizing effect on existing social and political institutions - usually in ways which favor the powerful interests who control and capitalize upon these digital tools.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A "Joker" for Our Times

"Joker" is a dark, disturbing, powerful, and timely film. It is less a conventional comic book movie than a searing modernization of Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, or similarly brooding cinema. It is expertly directed, performed, shot and presented. Memorable and unrelenting, it pushes the boundaries of representations of violence as entertainment and is not likely to be enjoyed so much as endured.

The film's American release has been incredibly polarizing and is rightly controversial. However, that controversy should be reflected right back upon a country festering from a breakdown of trust in political institutions, growing economic inequality, eroding public services, insufficient mental health and social assistance programs... and yet awash in guns, television, psychotropic drugs, anger, fear and resentment.

The film has something to say about all of this and more. It is a brave, bold, ambitious and perhaps dangerous work of art. By the film's searing finale, we are all but forced to consider why such a film hits so close to home as a macabre distillation of our own zeitgeist. And perhaps we realize: the joke is on us.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Social Media and Storming Area 51

"Storming" Area 51 is a criminal offense and at least one person has already been killed by security personnel while attempting to do so.

On one level, "shit-posting" memes like this are very amusing exercises in sci-fi irony.  But taken as a serious call to action, which some misguided or delusional people will predictably do, is also extremely dangerous to any actual participants.  The nearest hotel in Rachel, Nevada is already completely booked around the proposed date in question.

Further, this highly popular Facebook event (with 2 million marked as "going" and 1.5 million marked as "interested" thus far) rather clearly communicates the intent to violate federal law (such as 18 U.S.C. § 1382 - trespassing on a military facility).

I have no idea why it is still allowed on Facebook's platform. This isn't likely to end well and social media companies will again be confronted with the role they played in disseminated what amounts to the incitement of imminent lawless action.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Facebook Jailed... for Quoting James Baldwin

Apparently Facebook believes I cannot quote among the most prominent activists and authors, himself a black man who used the n-word to interrogate its meaning and use, without being put in Facebook jail?

If my comment directly quoting James Baldwin is "hate speech," is IMDb prominently publishing this quote also "hate speech?"  Is the documentary itself from which this quote was derived also "hate speech?"  🤔🤔🤔

Likely this entire process was automated without any Facebook employee oversight and is the equivalent of an AI axe doing the more careful work of a human scalpel.  Devoid of evaluating purpose, context, intent or effect, the banning of words regardless of their application represents a serious problem for public discourse on popular media platforms.

So this is an information flow challenge which Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. clearly has't effectively addressed.  The "automate everything" Silicon Valley types still seem to believe they can mechanize away all the context-dependent administrative and curation duties necessary for running giant websites which serve billions of users each day... but it turns out we still need humans to really understand what humans are saying and Facebook clearly isn't equipped to monitor that.