inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #101 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 9 Jan 21 22:39
re: <84> remember that a forum or social network doesn't need any
mobile apps at all. A website will do. Browsers are getting more
capable all the time. It's nice for engagement, though. Does anyone
know how much Parler's mobile apps were used versus their website?

Browsers do have built-in content-blocking, but so far it's for
malware and various annoyances. The major browser vendors haven't
used it to block any websites for hate speech, I don't think?

There are a lot of moves and counter-moves here, depending on their
technical chops and persistence. Sci-Hub gets the worst of it due to
copyright law but it seems they're hanging in there?

But assuming they survive from a technical standpoint, they will
then face the internal contradictions of a mostly-unmoderated forum
that takes a free-speech stance. It seems hard to make a forum
attractive to more than adolescents when you have lots of people
gleefully posting garbage and are also ideologically opposed to
doing anything about it? Trump would probably consider it low-class.

I wonder a bit what the Free Republic is up to, but not enough to
check it out.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #102 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 01:18
<bslesins> My unchecked understanding is that Parler users are
primarily mobile. But I don't know why users couldn't sustain their
activity via the web interface, assuming they have hosting. (I heard
earlier that AWS was ending their hosting relationship.)
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #103 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 01:51
Our "State of the World" conversation in 2021 is US-centric, our
attention focused on the emerging, so far mostly cold civil war in
the USA. As Bruce says, there's a blizzard in Spain, the polar
vortex is outta whack. As I type this Pakistan is dark, a power
outage. Covid-19 is spiking in China and elsewhere in the world, and
an Indonesian Sriwijaya Air flight has crashed into the Java Sea.
Kim Jong-Un is crowing about boosting North Korea's nuclear
capability - not unusual for that guy, though.

But the USA has everyone beat. Trumpistan has come to a head,
explosively. Trump has seized and leveraged wild political energies
that no one had taken seriously before, and given power to movements
that politics had largely ignored, like the crazy cousin that nobody
wanted to admit was part of the family. And there was a viral
mainstreaming of crazy over the last few years, spreading in much
the way we've seen Covid spreading. The disease is a metaphor for
the psychic disturbance. And I don't mean to be dismissive: this
wouldn't be happening if those crazy energies didn't resonate with
something in the sould of America. 

But we're in uncharted waters here: we had one Civil War, and a
history of contention, but nothing quite as wild as we're seeing

What woke me up in the middle of the night (it's 3:30AM here) was a
thought about the upcoming inauguration. It probably should be held
in some bunker, but I don't think that's going to happen.

My fear, given the storming of the Capitol and rumblings within
Trumpistan since that event, is that thousands of armed
insurrectionists will show up for the inauguration. And that, aided
by sympathetic law enforcement and military, they'll storm whatever
barricades are erected there. How far will they go? 

Of course, those planning the inauguration are thinking about this,
56244> “'You can imagine the inauguration will have Fort Knox-level security, with just the people who need to be there,' a source close to Biden told POLITICO after the mobs stormed the Capitol."

Reassuring? I'm still uneasy about it.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #104 of 250: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 10 Jan 21 04:18
    <scribbled by bruces Sun 10 Jan 21 04:19>
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #105 of 250: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 10 Jan 21 04:22
Meanwhile, on Parler


inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #106 of 250: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 10 Jan 21 04:23
The richest people in the world, 2021 AD

1. Elon Musk
2. Jeff Bezos
3. Bill Gates
4. Bernard Arnault
5. Mark Zuckerberg
6. Zhong Shanshan
7. Warren Buffett
8. Larry Page
9. Sergey Brin
10. Larry Ellison
11. Steve Ballmer
12. F. Bettencourt Meyers
13. Mukesh Ambani
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #107 of 250: Malka Older (malka) Sun 10 Jan 21 05:43
Cory I think you're completely right about the duplicitousness of
that stated reason, and how it obscures both the true reasoning and
the technical difficulties involved in moderating these platforms
(not to mention the cost in trauma to human moderators). Figuring
out the limits of responsible social media is crucial and to do that
we need clear terminology and honesty about the practicality of it.

(also, I cannot get over the audacity of Hawley wanting to title a
book "The Tyranny of Big Tech," both because of the use of tyranny
for something other than what he enables and because of all the
excellent, rigorous existing scholarship on the question.)

Amid all this deplatforming joy, though, I come back to Fox News and
talk radio. Yes, there are specific dangers to social media
platforms, particularly in terms of organizing. But in terms of size
of audience and initial brainscrubbing, Fox and Rush et al must be
at least as culpable and dangerous. Moreover, figuring out how to
regulate or moderate television might be a useful step in doing the
same for social media. How do you determine what is hate speech on
talk radio, or more importantly what might not qualify as hate
speech but forms a long-term project of disassociation and
brainwashing, could provide some parameters? 

I tend to lean towards structural considerations to begin with:
looking at the corporate architecture that allows for coordinated
echoes on seemingly different platforms and insulates the people
making the money from the damage they do. But what about
responsibility for actual content, at a minimum for content labelled
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #108 of 250: Malka Older (malka) Sun 10 Jan 21 06:50
Meanwhile, I keep coming back to that quote from the Georgia call
(so, so long ago), in which the evidence for the claim of voting
fraud was the size of the rallies. It's obviously ludicrous to
extrapolate that many orders of magnitude, but it still brings us
back to Jon's point at the beginning about lived vs mediated
experience, and people's ability and willingness to grasp the kinds
of orders of magnitude involved in national voting (or national
vaccination, or anything else). 
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #109 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 06:58
In the mid-1980s I met former FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson at a
party. He was expressing his concern about the evolution of media
control of the political sphere, pretty much predicting what became
reality: the impact of talk radio and political media organizations
like Fox News and MSNBC. His concerns were about big media
consolidation and the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, which
still existed but was eliminated soon after. I.e. he was prescient.
Nobody was talking about the Internet as a media platform back then,
and social media wasn't on the radar (except maybe with somebody
like McLuhan - I recall studying in the early 70s about McLuhan's
"media matrix" concept).

The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine is a long and interesting
story: <> "The
Fairness Doctrine has been strongly opposed by prominent
conservatives and libertarians who view it as an attack on First
Amendment rights and property rights."

People who call themselves "conservatives" have used media power and
political manipulation to take and hold power in decades since,
culminating in the election as president of a corrupt developer and
game show host who, despite being self-serving and apolitical,
aligned himself with their interests. And one of their strategies is
to claim that the various forms of media disfavor them, so they can
eliminate any egalitarian controls that might work against their
interests. Hence complaints about "liberal media bias."

I mention this to support Malka's last post. And Cory's position
that what appears to be an issue with "media" or "big tech" should
really be addressed as a problem of monopoly and consolidation.

I realize this post is pretty dry. I may be losing my sense of
humor. <grin>
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #110 of 250: Malka Older (malka) Sun 10 Jan 21 07:07
oh .... we were supposed to be funny?
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #111 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 07:10
Not necessarily, but this is kind of funny: Clarence Thomas is
trending on Twitter. His wife Ginni was apparently involved with the
Capitol-storming MAGA mob in some way, so people are calling for him
to step down.  And suggesting that he be replaced with Anita Hill.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #112 of 250: mbrubaker (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 07:33
Via email from mbrubaker:

Since we're on big tech, here's an article showing Amazon, Facebook,
and Google's (among others) contributions to the Republican
Attorneys General Association, whose ~Rule of Law Defense Fund~
placed robocalls to mobilize attendees for Wednesday's rally:
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #113 of 250: George Mokray (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 07:35
Via email from George Mokray:

"And any one person's perception of reality should be taken with a
block of salt.”

One of the words I am trying to eliminate from my vocabulary is
“truth.”  It’s too big a concept to get my arms around and entirely
dependent upon perspective and point of view. What you see is
determined by where you stand and how good your eyes are.  I am
comfortable with only a carpenter’s truth - when something is
straight, level, and plumb, then it is true.

Other words I am wary of include “honor,” “hope,” and, increasingly,

And, after nearly 40 years of practicing martial arts, I’m pissed
off about the continuous use of “fight,” “fighting,” and all war
references while talking about confronting problems or setting
policy.  These words set up a conflict with an enemy when actually
neither conflict nor enemy may be there.  COVID19 is not in conflict
with the humans it infects and is not an enemy because it’s not even
really alive or capable of thought or even aware of us except for
maybe the ACE-2 receptors on our cells.

We have confused the literary trick of the pathetic fallacy with
what’s happening around us.  For instance, when I hear someone say,
“Oh, it’s terrible day” because the weather is stormy or cold or wet
or all three, I sometimes respond with “You shouldn’t take the
weather personally.  It has no idea who you are.”

Lew Welch, the poet, wrote: 
Why do women take everything personally?
Oh, I never do, she replied.

Lew Welch was a mid-20th century Beatnik poet sexist and it’s not
just women who take everything personally.  We all do.  After all,
we’re persons.  It’s the only way we can take things.

At least, at first.

PS:  Lew Welch is a very, very good poet who still has important
things to say to us.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #114 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 07:56
Science fiction author Christopher Brown, a friend I met through our
mutual acquaintance with <bruces>, posts regular observations of the
natural world in his "Field Notes." From his most recent:

"It’s a heartening thing, seeing a swath of country beginning to go
back to wild after a century and a half of agricultural subjugation.
It’s a sobering thing, when you consider the extent to which those
changes to more leisurely uses of the land reflect the slow-motion
failure of the family farm-based economic system on which the
country was founded. And the cultural consequences, as the townships
into which the land was carved by the surveyors in the 1840s for
settlement by pioneers and veterans become the playgrounds of
wealthy people from elsewhere. Good for the land, bad for the

inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #115 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 08:47
“don’t kid yourself, the abstract nouns are going to get away with
it again, not a single abstract noun is going to face jail time” -

The words “right” and “accountable” are on my personal suspicious
characters list, and I’m also suspicious of adjectives for promoting
binary thinking.

But social media is built on hyperbole. Many people communicate in
clickbait headlines these days. Tweets get shared for their wit and
imitation takes it from there. Speaking in blanket statements and
stereotypes is very woke.

I guess we should talk about the spread of misinformation? We often
talk about memes going viral, but this year I have decided to take
the viral metaphor seriously. Thinking like an amateur
epidemiologist, R for most social networks is enormous and instant
resharing makes the exponential growth hard to keep up with. I
sometimes wonder if introducing some delay to when a reshared meme
appears in followers’ timelines might slow things down enough for
the fact-checkers to have a chance of keeping up with the nonsense.

With all the super-spreaders it’s going to be hard to move the
numbers much, though.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #116 of 250: Virtual Sea Monkey (karish) Sun 10 Jan 21 12:38
<jonl>, Ginni Thomas is said to have sponsored (paid for?) 80 buses
that brought "demonstrators" to DC for Trump's rally. I guess it's
not just Soros any more.

inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #117 of 250: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 10 Jan 21 14:11
When I grew up, America was the greatest country in motion picture
history. In just 4 years, it's become a country with television as
its president, and, just skimming the Bruce's hashtag harvest, one
of the weirdest in social media history. 

If any truth & reconciliation process is to go forward, thru what
media shall it be? Neighborhood town halls with local plus big tech
sponsors?  If so, I'm down with that, and happy to organize in my
city – whenever that might be in the offing.  Any ideas ?
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #118 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 14:14
It seems Parler is having more trouble. Deadline quotes the CEO from
an interview on Fox News:

> “They made an attempt to not only kill the app, but to actually
destroy the entire company. And it’s not just these three companies.
Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our
lawyers all ditched us too on the same day.”

> “We’re going to try our best to get back online as quickly as
possible. But we’re having a lot of trouble because every vendor we
talk to says they won’t work with us. Because if Apple doesn’t
approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.”
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #119 of 250: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sun 10 Jan 21 15:01
I'm having trouble geing upset.   Rebeckah Mercer can afford the hit.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #120 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 15:24
Stripe Stops Processing Payments for Trump Campaign Website

Shopify too. I wonder if any actual banks will pile on?
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #121 of 250: Malka Older (malka) Sun 10 Jan 21 15:26
Seeing that PGA is apparently removing golf tournaments from the
comemierda's golf courses, which brings me back to our earlier
discussion about companies and brands. I am thinking about "soft
power" as unconnected to nationality - since the nation-state is not
the most useful level of analysis for most of our conflicts today
anyway. In a situation where the institutions and norms of formal
authority have eroded, is the soft power of being excluded from
events of cultural significance; losing followers; being criticized
at restaurants; being mocked by brand social media managers; more
powerful (certainly quicker) than formal censure?
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #122 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 18:14
> 9. Cyberwar; global tension, destablilization, confusion and and

I went to check what's going on with Solarwinds and didn't find much
that's new, but this seems worth bringing up:

WikiLeaks successor DDoSecrets has amassed a controversial new
collection of corporate secrets and is sharing them in the name of

> Beyond just encrypting victim machines and demanding a payment for
the decryption keys, ransomware hackers now often steal vast
collections of victim data and threaten to post it online unless
their hacking targets pay. In many cases, the victims refuse that
extortion, and the cybercriminals follow through on their threat.
The result is dozens or even hundreds of terabytes of internal
corporate data, spilled out onto dark web servers whose web
addresses are passed around among hackers and security researchers.


> In June of this year [2020], DDoSecrets published its own
bombshell collection of hacked documents, a massive collection of
law enforcement files known as BlueLeaks, given to the group by a
hacker associated with Anonymous. The 269-gigabyte collection of
documents from 200 state and local police organizations led Twitter
to ban the DDoSecrets account and even block all tweets containing
links to its website. Reddit banned the r/blueleaks subreddit.
Shortly afterward, German prosecutors in the town of Zwickau ordered
police to seize a server belonging to DDoSecrets that hosted many of
its files and the search engine for its data collection, a
significant setback for the group from which it's still working to
recover. It now plans to host its data on Tor-protected .onion sites
that hide the location of servers, making such seizures far more
difficult in the future.

> Despite those hurdles, DDoSecrets remains undeterred in its larger
mission. With its new ransomware trove, it's also tapped into a huge
new source of leaks. Just last year, more than 1,000 ransomware
victims had their data spilled onto dark web sites, according to
Recorded Future's Liska. He estimates that one year of ransomware
leaks alone adds up to between 100 and 200 terabytes of stolen data
posted to various dark web sites.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #123 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 18:36
The talk about abolishing police seems to have died down for some
reason? Maybe we're clearer now on why we need them, but
contradictions remain and it's still a huge mess.

I am a bit vague on Buzzfeed's reliability but this is quite the

Two Black officers told BuzzFeed News that their chief and other
upper management left them totally unprepared and were nowhere to be
found on the day.

> The officer even described coming face to face with police
officers from across the country in the mob. He said some of them
flashed their badges, telling him to let them through, and trying to
explain that this was all part of a movement that was supposed to

> “You have the nerve to be holding a blue lives matter flag, and
you are out there fucking us up,” he told one group of protestors he
encountered inside the Capitol. “[One guy] pulled out his badge and
he said, ‘we’re doing this for you.’ Another guy had his badge. So I
was like, ‘well, you gotta be kidding.’”

> Another officer, a newer recruit, echoed these sentiments, saying
that where he was on the steps to the rotunda on the east side of
the Capitol, he was engaged in hand-to-hand battles trying to fight
the attackers off. But he said they were outnumbered 10 to one, and
described extraordinary scenes in which protesters holding Blue
Lives Matter flags launched themselves at police officers.

> “We were telling them to back up and get away and stop, and
they’re telling us, they are on our side, and they’re doing this for
us, and they’re saying this as I’m getting punched in my face by one
of them … That happened to a lot of us. We were getting pepper
sprayed in the face by those protesters, I'm not going to even call
them protestors, by those domestic terrorists,” said the officer.
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #124 of 250: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 10 Jan 21 19:49
Now the banks are piling on too.

Goldman, JPMorgan, Citi Suspend Political Donations

> Goldman is still formulating its measures that will probably
curtail future political giving to the elected leaders who fought to
overturn the 2020 result. A representative for the firm confirmed
the plan. JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said it’s
planning a six-month suspension to both Republicans and Democrats.
Citigroup said it intends to temporarily stop all political
contributions in the current quarter.


> The action from the banks followed an earlier announcement from
Marriott International Inc., which said it will suspend donations to
Republican senators who voted against certifying President-elect Joe
Biden, after considering the “destructive events” on Wednesday.


> Marriott is closely tied to Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a former
board member and a vocal critic of Trump. Romney’s connection to
Marriott predates his service on the board: his given name, Willard,
was in honor of J. Willard Marriott, a friend of the 2012 Republican
presidential nominee’s father and founder of the hotel company.

If you’re wondering whether corporations control everything, this
is... probably not a good test? It seems like they are being
reactive, following election and riot results here?

I wonder if they will close any accounts?

I guess the QAnon conspiracy theorists spin faster? Or is it just
more raw material?

I feel like I’m posting too much. Sorry about that, I’ll take a
inkwell.vue.510 : State of the World 2021
permalink #125 of 250: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 10 Jan 21 20:43
It's good info, our challenge is to make sense of it.

There appears to be a fine line between "we're doing this in the
interest of transparency" and "we really want to fuck you up."

And there also appears to be a fine line between "we're doing this
to help you" and "we're here to burn it down." 


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