Facebook

The Business Model (Social Distortion)

[#SinCity]

Ninamori eats a popsicle. (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

This is the rule: You are not allowed to feel surprised at the state of things.

We’ve arrived at the sad, dumb point in history at which the only thing less surprising than acts of mass violence are the ways in which our planet’s mega information distributors muck everything up with ensuing frauds, hoaxes, and confusion. The problem is thoroughly identified: Facebook, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Twitter have the quality control of a yard sale and the scale of a 100,000 Walmarts. But despite all our railing and shaming, these companies have a major disincentive to reform: money.

In the wake of yet another American massacre, this time in Las Vegas, media scrutiny is aimed once more at Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for the same old reasons. The sites, time after time, and this time once more, served up algorithmic links to websites peddling deliberate lies and bottom-feeder misinformation. These companies provided an untold mass of online users with falsehoods posing as news resources, as is completely normal now and only noteworthy because it was pegged to a heinous national tragedy. The discussion will now swing from “This is bad” to “What can be done?”, and we can expect all the typically empty pro forma reassurance from Silicon Valley public relations offices. Don’t expect much more.

(Biddle)

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Your Quote of the Day (Mike and the Chicken)

Missouri General Assemblyman Mike Moon (R-157).  Detail of frame via YouTube, 2017.

“Whatever Mike Moon does with a chicken in the privacy of his home is his own business. But we will not let him use the rights of women across Missouri as some kind of political prop. His call to ban abortion is disturbing and dangerous, no matter what he does with that chicken.”

Alison Dreith

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A Brief Sketch (Not Quite Caviar)

#nihil | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), January, 2014. (AP Photo)

We should probably sketch this detail of the cycle:

• Press Secretary defends Attorney General:

Sessions called the report “false” in a statement last night, saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.” He repeated this morning that he would recuse himself wherever it is appropriate to do so.

However, Spicer said that would not apply in this case.

“There’s nothing to recuse himself [from]. He was 100% straight with the committee,” said Spicer, adding that Democrats should be “ashamed of themselves” for playing “partisan politics” on this issue.

(FOX News)

• President defends Attorney General:

President Trump defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday night, insisting that the former Alabama senator “did not say anything wrong” amid swirling criticism over his testimony earlier this year about contacts with Russian officials.

Trump appeared to be referring to Sessions’ statements before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation, when Sessions said he had not spoken to Russian officials. It was revealed this week that Sessions twice spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. last year.

“Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong,” Trump said in a statement posted on Facebook. “He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional.”

(Greenwood)

• The Attorney General runs to FOX News for a friendly interview:

Sessions explained that the question he received from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) at his January confirmation hearing focused specifically on whether he had spoken with Russia continually about the presidential campaign. While Sessions has now admitted he met twice with the Russian ambassador last year, he said they did not have any such conversations about political campaigns.

Why, though, Carlson wondered, did former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s own Russian scandal not raise any red flags with him? After all, Flynn was eventually pressured to resign.

“It was never a thought,” Sessions insisted. It was “unrelated.”

The Russian officials and any one else in the room at the times of his meetings would corroborate that he “did not say one thing that was improper.”

(O’Brien)

(more…)

Exceptionally American

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Do we really get to be surprised?

In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

(Silverman)

The Americans who did this did it to themselves; we ought to remember this in coming years. It sometimes seems amazing how many age peers do not remember the history of their youths a quarter century ago, so let us keep our fingers crossed for what people might recall of this election come, say, November, 2018.

It is easy enough to predict that they will blame the press they refused to believe, and scorn liberals and Democrats for failing to stop them, but the real question will be how they manage to convince themselves. The requisite neurotic matrices might seem nearly superhuman, but the simple fact of these considerations at this time reminds without question that we should never underestimate American ego defense.

____________________

Silverman, Craig. “This Analysis Shows How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook”. BuzzFeed. 16 November 2016.

The Straight Dope

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Here’s a a narrative for you, via Kenny Ocker at the News Tribune:

According to court documents:

The teenager set up a drug deal on Facebook with a friend. His friend met the dealer, who showed him the marijuana he wanted. The friend grabbed the bag and ran.

The dealer and the passenger from his car chased the friend about 50 yards before the teenager — wearing a mask and showing a handgun — showed up and asked, “What’s up?”

The dealer and passenger then ran toward their car.

The teenager went to put the gun back into his pants and the weapon fired a bullet through his leg.

In a state where marijuana is legal, this makes exactly no sense. Honestly, you know that bit about how one needs to live, instead of merely exist? Some days it seems like living isn’t enough; it’s like people need to live in an action movie.

Or a one-star farce.

Pick your poison.

____________________

Ocker, Kenny. “Lakewood teenager shoots himself in groin during robbery attempt, documents say”. The News Tribune. 2 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Pipe Bombs and Pussies)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is an important rule:

• It is not always fair to blame a politician for the actions of supporters.

And this is the flip side:

• Sometimes it is exactly fair to blame a politician for actions of supporters.

But there is also this:

• This is the quality of mind that supports Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Or, as Ryan J. Reilly explained yesterday for Huffington Post:

A fanatical Donald Trump supporter, who was arrested by the FBI in Oregon this week after repeatedly threatening to kill President Barack Obama and federal agents, had multiple pipe bombs in his home, authorities alleged in court on Friday.

In one Jan. 31 Facebook post cited by the FBI, [John Martin] Roos referred to agents as “pussies” and wrote he would “snipe them with hunting rifles everywhere.” (Despite his threats to kill members of law enforcement, he also complained on Facebook earlier this month about the “liberal media … slamming police.”) In a post in November that was also cited by the FBI, Roos spoke out against accepting refugees and threatened to kill Obama.

John Martin Roos in detail of undated photo via Facebook.“Obama you goat fffing fudgepacker, the refugees are men of fighting age. Black lives matter! Sure we need someone to pick cotton and wash cars. Paris, burn diseased muslim neighborhoods to the ground and start over with human beings. Obama you are on a hit list,” he wrote in a post that appears to have been removed.

Beyond what was mentioned in the affidavit, Roos regularly posted on both Facebook and Twitter about his support for Trump and his hatred for Obama, who he called a “muslim faggot” and other derogatory terms. He indicated he wanted to kill Obama’s family and made other racist and sexist statements about Michelle Obama. He also made negative references to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, singer Beyonce, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and reporter Michelle Fields, and said he believed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was killed by Obama. He praised Ann Coulter and Stacey Dash, and posted several links to posts on Breitbart.com.

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Either Significant or Not

Evangelist Franklin Graham speaks before the Festival of Hope at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Frank Couch)

This is interesting …

Evangelist Franklin Graham announced Monday that he left the Republican Party and is now an independent over the GOP’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood in last week’s omnibus spending bill.

(Koplowitz)

… I think. Maybe. Possibly.

Still, though: And?

You know. Like―What now?

Oh, right. Go on tour.

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Image note: Evangelist Franklin Graham speaks before the Festival of Hope at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Frank Couch)

Graham, Franklin. “Shame on the Republicans and the Democrats for passing such a wasteful spending bill last week”. Facebook. 21 December 2015.

Koplowitz, Howard. “Franklin Graham quits GOP over not defunding Planned Parenthood; ‘I have no hope in the Republican Party'”. AL.com. 22 December 2015.

A Note on Politics and Accountability (NRA Responsible Rhetoric Remix)

Congressional candidate and Nevada Assemblyman John Oceguera (D-16).

One of the wilder variables in the American political discourse is figuring out just how inappropriate any given impropriety actually is, which in functional terms translates to just how wrong or outrageous the marektplace―citizens and voters―will deem any particular words or conduct. Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress offers a tale that brings this seeming bit of superficiality into some reasonable degree of focus:

Just a few hours after congressional candidate John Oceguera announced he was terminating his lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association, the angry comments began flooding his inbox and Facebook page, calling him, among other slurs, a “pussy traitor,” “kool aid-drinking zombie,” and “libtard.”

“May be [sic] he can get an endorsement from the Muslim brotherhood?” mused one commentator, while another advised, “Castrate yourself.”

Sitting in his office on the western edge of Las Vegas, the former Nevada Assembly Speaker and Democratic candidate for Congress told ThinkProgress that the “vitriolic” reaction has only strengthened his resolve.

“The NRA does a lot of good things, like with hunting safety, but they’ve just become so stringent and won’t compromise on any issue,” he said. “It’s like you can’t say anything about commonsense gun reform without people screaming, ‘You’re taking our guns!’ or ‘You’re an idiot’ or a lot worse than that. When I made this announcement, I became enemy number one. But do I really want to belong to an organization where I can’t have an opinion that’s just slightly different?”

There are a number of superficial things we might say about candidates and causes, to the one, and the supporters thereof to another, but in this case we might ask a less common superficial question: President Obama has been expected, in some corners of the legitimate discourse, to account for all manner of idiotic notions; the New Black Panthers and the “Obamaphone” wannabe-scandals come to mind. There is this weird idea out there that any criticism of the president is denounced as racist. In various ways we often hold certain people or causes accountable for the words and actions of others, but this isn’t even a question of whether rock music turns children into mass-murdering Satanic maniacs versus the effects of normalized violent rhetoric on unstable elements within the culture.

Rather, this is like Obamaphone, or the New Black Panthers. Do those people represent the average Obama or Democratic voter?

Similarly: Does the abuse hurled toward Congressional candidate, Assemblyman, and former Assembly Speaker John Oceguera (D-16) represent the average responsible gun owner?

This is the point: If the answer is yes, then the United States of America are in serious trouble.

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Way Too Much Effort for a Cheap Joke

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 30 November 2015.“That the words uttered by the brave Tazendra are not as grandiose and full of pomp as Kieron the Conqueror’s, ‘The sea has brought our salvation’, or Undauntra the First’s, ‘Let him who doubts the victory wrest the banner from my hand’, or Sethra Lavode’s, ‘I speak for the Mountain and the Mountain speaks for the Orb’, or Lord Kuinu’s, ‘By all the Lords of Judgment, it is proved at last’, or expressive of the elegant understatement of Tigarre’s famous, ‘Turn around, my lord; I am behind you’, or Deo’s, ‘Welcome, my lady, to my home’; still, they are what was said, and so our duty as historian places before us the necessity of laying them before the reader.”

―Paarfi of Roundwood

See what I did there?

Never mind. Paarfi does.

Adam doesn’t, but that’s not important. In fact, Adam is only important on this occasion because it’s his fault I thought of Tigarre at all; and maybe I should be at least somewhat distressed about the proposition that I have yet to figure if Tigarre is the historical figure or historian.

And, yes, I would feel really stupid if someone has done that bit before, but I would still blame Adam because it was either the Tigarre joke or Facebooking my sister-in-law.

Oh, and we can safely ignore Steven; he’s just a set piece and occasional washing-machine leveler.

You know. Ironic counterpoint. Subtext. Dark side of the moon flashing like a drive indicator.

A tangent to the contextual orbit ’round my head.

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Image note: Tigarre the Turtle? ― Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 30 November 2015.

Brust, Steven. “Official Biography”. The Dream Café. 5 November 2015.

Paarfi of Roundwood. “The Lord of Castle Black: Describing Certain Events Which Occurred Between the 247th Year of the Interregnum and the 1st Year of the Reign of Empress Zerika the Fourth”. The Viscount of Adrilankha, vol. 2. Adrilankha: Glorious Mountain, 179 NOR2.