Links 2/18/17

Gallery of London’s urban foxes BoingBoing (resilc)

This Raccoon Riding on a Garbage Truck Is the Only Thing in DC That Makes Sense Vice (resilc)

Biologists find weird cave life that may be 50,000 years old Associated Press (martha r)

The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine Scout. Chuck L: “This is positively frightening.” One implication: you either need to stay off Faceborg OR use a buddy’s account to access the few times you must OR mess up your profile in a big way, such as liking things that don’t represent you and don’t go together, like Hello Kitty, Nascar, fine dining somewhere you don’t live and never go, high end cruises and Dollar Store-ish sites, PETA and pro-meat lobbying groups. Readers, can you add specific suggestions for underming Faceborg’s understanding of you? Please circulate this article and encourage friends and family to corrupt their Faceborg profile deliberately and see what fun results!


Marmite takeover bid could make toast of May’s industrial strategy The Times. The headline is a little arch for those not in the UK. The FT is more straightforward: Unilever rejects $143bn Kraft Heinz takeover bid

Tony Blair calls for fight against Theresa May’s Brexit plan Financial Times. Help me. Aside from the fact that Blair continued the Thatcherite policies that led to the backlash, my recollection is he’s piped up only once before after the vote. Making noise at this late hour is mere virtue signaling.

The UK’s Brexit bill: could EU assets partially offset liabilities? Bruegel. I’m not sure this is at all sound legally, since my understanding is much if not most of the ~€50 billion that the EU says the UK owes are actual hard dollar payments that they were required to make and still owe. And let us not forget that European operate in a civil law framework and so go by the language of statutes and treaties.

Why Putin shouldn’t want Le Pen to become France’s president Bloomberg

Housing market slumps The Times

Now That Cuba Is Open, Americans Aren’t Going Bloomberg. I had two friends who went there when it was illegal to do so who both said they liked it. But marketing it as a “Caribbean destination” is off. I was told it has great music and clubs, as well as good art.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears BBC (Dr. Kevin)

Trump Transition

New Documents Show Trump Retains Direct Tie to Businesses ABC (furzy)

Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. Politico (furzy)

How Trump skipped the military brass in negotiations with defense companies Washington Post (furzy)

ALEC Embraces Trumpism Truth-Out (UserFriendly)

As Kellyanne Conway’s credibility wanes, what should TV news shows do? (+video) Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

No plan to use National Guard for immigration enforcement: White House Reuters (EM)

Trump Tops Obama, Hands Over Full Torture Report To Court Previous Administration Refused To Techdirt. “Credit where credit is due: Trump has done more to preserve the full CIA Torture Report than Obama ever did….”

Senate Dems ask DHS inspector general for probe of Trump’s business arrangement The Hill. This looks lame. One of the rules of politics is to focus on winnable fights. As Jerri-Lynn discussed quite a while back, the Emoluments Clause is a non-starter as far as Trump is concerned. Why are the Dems not fighting on policy issues?

White House Chaos Doesn’t Bother the Stock Market Bloomberg (furzy). I hate to point out, but the press regularly stressed how chaotic Trump’s campaign was, yet he won. Trump is not over until he is over and per above, a great deal of the Dem/media caterwauling is not directed at productive targets. If Trump really does have Sessions go after the IC leakers, that would say that Trump is not close to being done.

Democrats, Liberals Catch McCarthyistic Fever Consortiumnews (furzy)

Leading Progressives Kucinich and Greenwald: Even Americans Who Hate Trump Should Defend Him Against Attempted Coup by the “Deep State” … A Coup Which Is Being Attempted “So That This Military Industrial Intel Axis Can Cash In” George Washington (RR)

Donald Trump Has Brought Forth the Worst Group of Cabinet Nominees in the Modern History of Our Country Bernie Sanders (martha r)

Trump’s Repeal of Bipartisan Anti-Corruption Measure Proves He’s a Fake Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Trump’s Self-Care Tour Is Costing America Millions Vanity Fair (resilc)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the rise of originalism Christian Science Monitor

Daily chart: Murder rates in 50 American cities Economist. UserFriendly: “​Trump wasn’t lying, he was just psychic. lol​.” Mind you, this is a shift after a long period of decline, most convincingly attributed to the lagged effect of getting lead out of gas. But as the Grantham post yesterday pointed out, high levels of inequality is strongly correlated with lousy social indicators, like murder and violent crime. From the top of the article:

Over the past two years America has become more murderous. After steadily falling for a quarter-century, the national homicide rate jumped by 11% in 2015. Last year, an escalation of gang violence in Chicago increased the number of killings there from 485 to 764. Donald Trump, America’s president, has threatened to “send in the feds” if Chicago doesn’t “fix the horrible carnage”. But whether the crime increase in the Windy City is merely an isolated event or reflects a wider trend remains unclear.

To help resolve this debate, The Economist has gathered murder statistics for 2016—fully eight months before they are released by the FBI—for 50 of America’s most violent cities. These areas contain 15% of the country’s population and around 36% of its murder victims. Our numbers show that homicides rose in 35 of them. Since urban trends tend to track national ones, this suggests that the overall murder rate is indeed rising at its fastest pace since the early 1970s. However, today’s violence still needs to be set in historical context. Across all 50 cities, the homicide rate was lower in 2016 than it was in 2007, and for the 26 years before that.

Trump’s $189 Suit Vanishes Online But the Smell of ‘Success’ Lingers Bloomberg (furzy)

NSA Split From Cyberwar Command Inevitable, Says Former Official. Intercept (martha r)

I Dare You To Elect Tom Perez, DNC. Do It. Do It And Watch What Happens. Newslogue (UserFriendly)

The DNC needs an Organizer in Chief, not a Fund-raiser in Chief CT Viewpoints (martha r)

Ellison tells DNC members that DNC chair rival is trying to skew race Washington Post. UserFriendly: “I hate the smug framing of this.”

Dem senator: I may face 2018 primary from Tea Party-esque progressives The Hill. More proof the Dems would rather continue hippie-punching “progressives,” who actually represent majority positions on policy issues, than cross their corporate benefactors.

Cohen: Elizabeth Warren the liberal darling to the rescue? Poll says no Boston Herald (UserFriendly)

DNC candidates will take stage at CNN debate CNN

New FBI Docs Reveal ‘Shadow Government’ Protected Hillary in Email Investigation AntiWar (UserFriendly). The headline is an overstatement …but the material is pretty bad.


As a Christian, I defended Obamacare. But I really support single-payer. Washington Post. This is great! The woman in the video that went viral gets an op-ed. Key section flagged by martha r (emphasis original):

But the truth is that I do not actually believe that the ACA is the best way to insure people. In fact, I am ashamed and afraid that this video might have done more harm than good. In my view, Christians shouldn’t be satisfied with health-care policy that leaves anyone out, especially those who need care most but can afford it least. Christians should support a universal, single-payer system.

Five GOP Health Care Buzz Phrases You Need to Inoculate Yourself Against OurFuture (Glenn F)

Be sure to read the entire piece.

Single-Payer Health Care Bill Introduced In California Senate California Healthline (furzy)

California lawmakers introduce single-payer health care plan today Mercury News (Bill C)

The Senate Revolution in North Dakota Will Not Be Televised Inside Elections (UserFriendly)

Storm to dump heavy rain and snow on U.S. West Reuters (EM)

Deadly storm slams Southern California CNN (furzy). Landslides in LA coming!


Dakota Access Pipeline Secret Documents: The U.S. ‘Trustee’ is not Trustworthy Indian Country Media Network (martha r)

Fake News

Newsweek Fake News: “The Russian Plot, How Putin and Trump Colluded” Michael Shedlock

To promote film, 20th Century Fox created fake news sites with fake anti-Trump stories Washington Post (furzy)

Banks drawn in as Cigna and Anthem square off Reuters (martha r)

Class Warfare

The Fed Exists As the Barrier to the American Dream RealClearPolitics (UserFriendly). Be sure to read the output gap discussion.

Bill Gates: the robot that takes your job should pay taxes Quartz (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Tomtom: “This flying squirrel loves dining at our “squirrel-proof” bird feeder every night.”

And a bonus video (Robert H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. james wordsworth

    Tax the robots and more.
    My son just finished some more robot programming training and his comment from seeing the leading edge robots being developed was – WOW. People have no idea what is coming. The advances in the last two years have been incredible, and there are going to be some massive job losses coming soon.
    So tax the robots – yes. But also get companies to pay royalties on their use of technology and infrastructure that they are taking for free. As an example any company that uses the internet ( like all of them) should be paying a perpetual social royalty to the population that developed and funded it. Same goes for roads, electricity, integrated circuits etc. We need to find some way to distribute income to those who will no longer work.
    I think by now we should be on a 3 day work week, but to fund it we need to be taxing the “things” generating income. Maybe when we get to a 3 day work week we can also stop the insane consumption that is driving our ecology and our sanity off a cliff.

    1. Robert Frances

      Fully agree with the idea that a 3- or 4-day work week should be at the top of the agenda. The 5-day, 40-hour work week was a significant economic improvement to most family’s lives, and we ought to continue down that path until we reach 1, or maybe 2 days a week, working for a 3rd party. The rest of the days should be our own to do with as we please.

      One easy way to reach full employment is to shrink the work week to create negative employment. Then the highest paying, presumably most important jobs, will get filled. The lower value jobs will wait until another day. Since I think “labor agency” is an important aspect to a healthy economy, negative employment provides plenty of work opportunities for anyone who wants to be employed, and gives individuals a stake in finding a job or jobs that seem best for their temperament and interest.

      But I don’t agree that we need to “fund it.” With a 3-day work week the demand for labor will go way up and there should be naturally occurring full employment, or even negative employment, so the need for government transfer payments should significantly decline, except in cases of physical and mental impairments. (If full employment doesn’t happen, we can shrink the work-week even further.) Individually we may have less physical money from only working 3- or 4 days, but the volume of money doesn’t seem that critical to a healthy economy. Rents and house prices will decline if we collectively receive less income, and government may need to find other revenue sources other than payroll taxes (which would be a good thing), but my guess is that many people will use the 1-2 new “weekend days” to get involved with their community, maybe helping at at local schools, community gardens, helping the aged and infirm, etc. This will help reduce the need for government intervention and may help reduce tax burdens too. And if people are commuting 1 to 2 fewer days, the impact on the transportation infrastructure should decline, not to mention a reduction on the “modern stresses” of our “modern” life.

      For me, the many discussions about “job guarantees” or “basic incomes” miss the main point. Technology reduces the demand for labor. Reducing the work week until there is negative employment provides all the benefits of 100% employment, including adequate income, with none of the government inefficiencies that often occur when it tries to intervene in the natural economy.

      1. Young

        Wow. What a dream. Here, in the heart of Silicon Valley, PG&E could not restore the power for the last twenty four hours. My robot would have had the day off without pay;-)

      2. Adam Eran

        But if people were happy, not at the mercy of disaster capitalists, who would scour those refinery tanks?

      3. Procopius

        Shouldn’t that be “negative UNemployment,” rather than “negative employment?” I can’t quite figure out what “negative employment” would be. Less than no people working?

    2. pete

      I am curious are there any specific programs that get people into robotics. I have been interested but have not found much. Or is your son a grad student or something more advanced?

      1. human

        This site, of a high school robotics team that I have seen in action at Connecticut Ag Fairs, shows much encouragement and has several leads:

        Do a search on your locality.

      2. Annotherone

        Husband’s grandson has been into robotics for several years, participating in the local (OK) high school’s team in a statewide competition; then from university acting in advisory capacity to the high school team. I think there’s a national competition, annually, when high school teams compete, entering their robot inventions. You’ll probably have a team in your locality, attached to a school.

      3. james wordsworth

        He has an engineering degree with a specialty in welding and now works for a company doing welding robotics.

    3. fosforos

      The Left’s candidate in the current French presidential election, Benoit Hamon, has been ridiculed by the French media and his opponents (especially Valls, whom he beat in the primary, and Macron who he will beat in the first round, especially if Mélenchon stops sabotaging the left with his egoistic sectarianism) for proposing the taxation of robots. Now Bill Gates (Bill Gates? Qu’est-ce-que ca veut dire?) is proposing the taxation of robots. Will their ridicule stop? Are you kidding?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1 Taxes drain money from the economy.

      2. How does 3 or 4 day workweek impact hourly workers? Losing 20% to 40% of their incomes? Will retail stores still open 7 days a week for us to consume, but students go to school for 3 or 4 days a week? Foreign students who compete with our students go to school 8 or 10 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. What do we do against such unfair competition?

      1. human

        As futurists, since at least Buckminster Fuller, have fully understood: There will be a time when less labor will be needed to achieve full productivity. This should have nothing to do with wages as a compensation based on an amount to offset the expenses of a modest living is still required.

          1. fosforos

            Hamon proposes phasing in the UBI starting with ages 16-24. He says students should be studying, not laboring in the precariat.

              1. human

                If 3 days suffice, so be it. In a free society with much more discretionary time, I imagine that any number of citizens of all ages would avail themselves of furthering their education, for whatever reasons. Competition would not be _the_ incentive.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  It depends on what we want.

                  If for example, the main purpose is prepare students to maximize their happiness in life (what is safe to eat, among other things) maybe we need only 1 or 2 days and half as many teachers.
                  If we want to prepare them to be finished (trained) parts to be plugged into the corporate machine (subsidizing training to be funded by corporations themselves), 3 days a week may not be enough.

                  1. Procopius

                    Corporations are not going to subsidize training. Their whole thrust for fifty years is to push the cost of training off onto individual workers and taxpayers. Germans still train workers; that’s why they have a huge trade surplus even though their workers get very high wages. Chinese train their workers. They had to — the traditional Chinese schools did not provide technical training. Japanese companies still train their workers. American companies demand more H1B visas.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Finland has the highest-ranking students on the global comparative achievement tests. They also have the fewest days in school. There appears to be an inverse correlation.

        In fact, much of the time in school is make-work that holds kids back as much as educates them. (My priors go back to the 60s; but more to the point, my wife was a teacher for 15 years.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I don’t how they measure comparative achievements. Do they test for healthy living knowledge or ability to program robotrading?

          Another question is how many fewer school days we can go – 1-5% fewer, 20% or 40% fewer? We know if we go to 100% fewer schools, then there is no teaching at all. Where is the inflection point in having fewer school days?

          1. TheCatSaid

            100% fewer school days, maybe. Instead there could be places people of any age could go to earn things of their own choosing, with proficiency tests they can pass whenever they choose. A different kind of “school”.

              1. TheCatSaid

                Indeed. There is still a justification for teaching some thing in person. Some people learn better that way. Some learnings require hands-on physicality.

    5. makedoanmend

      Taxes drain money from the economy.

      Then give the tax money to the people who lose their jobs to robots until they find some alternative employment. The money goes back into the economy.

      Or we could give it to squillionaires to sock away in their binary tax havens.

      Maybe we can serve oil martinis to robots. €500 martini. The olive is £125 extra. The tip is $75.

      Sorry we don’t serve huumaans.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just give money to those people or basic income.

        Doesn’t have to be that they give tax money. Just give money….that is, basic income.

        Does Basic-Income miss the point?

        1. makedoanmend

          well, yes, yes it does

          you redistribute output through taxation – however badly or irrationally we cost labour and its output, tax still represents some connection of the productive output

          simply printing script and throwing it from helicopter is not the same

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Yes, you can use taxation that way. Its usage should be correlated with inflation/deflation.

            Basic income is just basic income – it doesn’t have to do with taxes.

            1. makedoanmend

              That’s not the distinction I’m making. The theme is robots and taxes.

              The distinction has to do with production by robots and their replacement of human earners.

              The wages that would have gone to workers then just goes to the owners of capital.

              The taxing of robots is a redistribution of script, via profit, that would then go to displaced earning humans.

              I never mentioned basic income, nor do I have a desire to do so.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I agree we look into taxing robots, like we tax income properties.

                My other idea is to give taxpayers personal robots…that maybe a sci-fi world, or it doesnt’ have to be.

                You didn’t mention basic income. I only want to say we can give money. It doesn’t have to be tax money.

                1. makedoanmend


                  & fwiw, as a democratic socialist, imo basic income isn’t a good idea

                  an economy (and this is really the gist of my original comments) should be for humans to creatively and with dignity earn their daily bread in complex societies

                  we already, in many ways, have the ability to feed, house and clothe human populations – we can even afford to leave people alone who have learned to live in some sort of communion with their environments – (if not with each other, all the time)

                  and the need by some to actually take capital out of society by hoarding it in tax havens is a real tax on labour and society

                  and now I go for my second non-oil based martini and a hours conference with Mozart’s Requiem

                  may you enjoy your Saturday and thanks for the dialogue

              2. John Parks

                I agree…….in an academic world the increased profits due to increased productivity “might” go to profit and subsequent taxes. But, in the real world, in this country? Naaaah..That is why corporations hire accountants, lawyers, and congressmen.
                You also have a problem defining robots. If I jump onto, or into, a loader backhoe, is that not just another form of robot? I am merely donning an exoskeleton that enables me to outperform 20+ ditch diggers. Whether this backhoe is automatically programmed, operated by a remote operator, or by me, the result is an efficiency and productivity gain. Someone has lost a job. Where will the redistribution of script occur? Will the farmer face increased taxes to productivity gains of his tractors, combines, harvesters?

    6. Mark P

      James Wordsworth wrote – ‘People have no idea what is coming. The advances in the last two years have been incredible, and there are going to be some massive job losses coming soon.’

      You’re absolutely correct. Human doctors are going to be hit, for instance, by the fact that IBM’s Watson system already does diagnosis much more accurately than them

      1. Parker Dooley

        I would be very interested in what the range of inputs used by Watson is. Smell? Touch? Recognition of vocal cues? Experiential knowledge of what is a “funny looking kid” or “person who just looks really sick”? Or just digital imaging and lab sources?

        Anyone interested in the processes of diagnosis used by actual humans might want to check out Hamilton Bailey’s “Demonstration of Physical Signs in Clinical Surgery” and/or MacBryde and Blacklow’s “Signs and Symptoms: Applied Pathologic Physiology and Clinical Interpretation.”

        Needless to say, “Code is law” and “GIGO” apply here — and where does one go for a second opinion?

        1. fosforos

          But doctors don’t diagnose that way anymore. Robertson Davies’s “Clever Man” typifies a species rapidly growing extinct.

        2. Mark P.

          ‘I would be very interested in what the range of inputs used by Watson is.’

          It’s the fundamental question. I’ll know more in a couple of months. But human doctors’ success rate turns out to be actually fairly lousy, so we wouldn’t wax too fulsomely about their intuitive, empathetic, uniquely human qualities —

          Physicians Misdiagnose at an Alarming Rate

          Misdiagnosis by physicians is a serious and common occurrence in the health industry. The repercussions of a misdiagnosis can damage a patient’s health and cost money, or even a life. The prevalence of misdiagnosis is shocking, says Kaiser Health News.

          An estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed, which exceeds drug errors and surgery on the wrong patient or body part, both of which receive considerably more attention.
          One report found that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes were life threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability.
          Another study estimated that fatal diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units equal the number of breast cancer deaths each year — 40,500.
          According to doctors, misdiagnosis has occurred for quite some time. As far back as 1991, Harvard University found that misdiagnosis accounted for 14 percent of all adverse events and that 75 percent of these errors involved negligence.
          While the first diagnosis may not be the correct diagnosis, hospitals could still earn performance incentives for the “correct” diagnosis of its patients.
          The reality is that fixing diagnostic errors will be challenging given that arriving upon a medical diagnosis is a complicated and multifaceted procedure.
          Many doctors who make a misdiagnosis are unaware that they have made a misdiagnosis because patients simply seek another opinion or do not find out until years later.

          While diagnostic errors are the leading cause of malpractice litigation, the vast majority of errors do not result in legal action. Because many go unreported, it is difficult to gather detailed data on how prevalent misdiagnosis is. A recent study on the Veterans Administration hospital system in Texas estimated that there are at least 500,000 missed diagnostic opportunities that occur out of the 500 million primary care visits that occur annually in the United States.

      2. a different chris

        Hmmm. I leave you this quote from a 2014 Business Journal slobberfest, er story about this. I hope you think about it. Hint: this isn’t “intelligence”….

        “It’s consistent. Given the same inputs, Dr. Watson will always output the same diagnosis. ”

        Note: don’t infer that I don’t think these algorithms are a good thing, but they need to be understood as just that. Algorithms with limits.

        1. Mark P.

          a different Chris wrote: ‘this isn’t “intelligence”

          The John Searle ‘Chinese Room’ argument? I’m familiar with it. Searle rolled it out again for Watson in the WSJ.

          This is an interesting debate and if you haven’t seen it there’s a slightly more sophisticated version of it that Noam Chomsky and Peter Norvig (who runs AI at Google and used to do it at NASA Ames) had recently where Chomsky complains: ‘where is the formulation of the experimental theory by the investigator? All these machines are doing is running through staggeringly large datasets — that’s not science.” And Norvig essentially responds: “That is all they’re doing. But it works so it’s how we’re increasing going to do science.” It’s worth reading —

          On Chomsky and the Two Cultures of Statistical Learning

          Norvig’s page gives a link to a transcript of Chomsky’s original remarks

          1. Mark P.

            A different chris also wrote: ‘…they need to be understood as just that. Algorithms with limits.’

            Eh. There are a couple of points here.

            [1] Technically, that’s no longer true of Watson. Yeah, the original Watson that won ‘Jeopardy’ was Classic AI — a language parser that was a vast agglomeration of algorithms as the front end of a massive database. However, as of 2015, a neural network component has been added to the system.


            Which brings us to ….

            [2] A bunch of Silicon Valley types believe that (a) the three-pound lump of grey meat inside its shell of bone that creates your mind and a digital computer resemble each other sufficently that (b) we’re going to upload our minds onto digital computers and live forever. We can both agree that these Silicon Valley types are idiots, or at least they’ve transparently read and understood no neuroscience. Our soggy meat brains in no way resemble the electronic programmable logic computers that we’ve built..

            With that stipulated, however, when you say systems like Watson are just composed of ‘algorithms with limits,’ do you believe we aren’t?

            After all, our brains are massive agglomerations of neuronal modules with different specializations — for autonomic functions like breathing, for guiding our bodies’ movements, for lizard brain fight-or-flight-type reactions, and for more complex functions like language processing, scientific speculation, and reading Naked Capitalism.

            Whether or not Watson-style statistical mining of massive data sets and arbitrarily searching for linguistic patterns ever leads to AI, the similar statistical mining of the full data space of biological possibilities was how natural selection processes evolved our brains over millions of years. Likewise, it seems to be how the neuronal modules composing our brains produce the results that the binding mechanism on top of all those neurons — which we experience as the illusion of cognition/self-awareness/consciousness – then experiences as ‘thoughts.’

  2. Pavel

    I believe the link to the torture report is broken and should be:

    This is some rare good news and an example of the “broken clock is right twice a day” concept in Trumpland. Obama should be shamed forever and damned to hell for not prosecuting torture and in fact helping to cover it up.

    On a much lighter note: I remember the first time I saw an “urban fox” in London, maybe 15 years ago on Tooley Street near London Bridge. Since then I’ve seen them four or five times–once a mother with a litter (?) of offspring in a parking garage. Very distinctive with their long tails of course.

    1. allan

      Yes, “Obama should be shamed forever and damned to hell for not prosecuting torture and in fact helping to cover it up.”

      But, no, Trump should get little credit for complying with a court order from a Federal judge.

      And his Director of Central Intelligence is objectively anti-oversight, having sided when he was in the House with the CIA when they were caught rummaging through the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers’ accounts during the torture investigation, and then trying to sic the DOJ on those same staffers, and then lying about it, and then firing the CIA IG to cover it up, etc., etc.

      And his pick for the #2 at the CIA is alleged to have assisted Jose Rodriguez in destroying the torture videos in defiance of a court order.

      Credit is due when it is earned.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The situation is fluid. Their boss in the White House is under siege.

        Perhaps they’ve earned it or perhaps not, but it’s a good start.

    2. flora

      Yes. The last sentence of the compliance notice is very interesting:

      “Specifically, the Government deposited the electronic copy that had been previously delivered to the Department of Justice Office of Legislative Affairs.”

      Meaning, Obama had this report and failed to deliver it to the courts when he could have done so -“on December 28, 2016”. However, the Trump administration did comply with the court order. And the Trump administration highlights that point in its compliance notice.

      On torture: Trump says one thing, then appoints a Sec Def who disagrees, and Trump then says he will defer and allow Sec Def to override his torture position. I can only think Trump knew his nominee’s position before he was appointed.
      “WASHINGTON — President Trump said Friday that his defense secretary’s opposition to torture will override his own belief that enhanced interrogation “does work,” addressing concerns about a return to Bush-era use of waterboarding and other harsh procedures….”

      I’m starting to think, right or wrong, there’s is a pretty shrewd actor behind all the bluster and braggadocio.

      1. allan

        For the sake of repairing the US’ reputation, I hope that your reading of the tea leaves is correct,
        but have to point out that the black sites where much of the abuse took place were CIA, not DOD.
        And there are now two torture advocates/cover-up-ers at the top of CIA.

      2. The Trumpening

        Trump’s foreign policy is pretty much to the left of Bernie Sanders. Trump saw what happened to Ron Paul in 2012 running against the War Party and so he knew he had to make his pitch for peace in a very creative way! So he threw in all this tough talk about torture and bombing ISIS in order to cover the rest of his peacenik ideas like getting along with Russia and ending the Invade the World / Invite the World game of killing a million Muslims and then inviting a million survivors to live in the west. He even claimed Bush lied and people died. So Trump covered all this wimpiness by telling the stupidest story about the Philippines insurgency and bullets dipped in pigs blood.

        Liberals went wild with rage and called Trump a warmongerer. Which is exactly what Trump wanted as it covered his dove flank on foreign policy.

        1. Ignim Brites

          I think it might be more than the War Party that Trump is threatening. It is more the American Century party. When Trump says Make America Great Again he has the America within its borders in mind. The idea of America as a global power and universal model is secondary. Whether or not he is completely prepared to abandon that idea is doubtful but he has put it on the table, if obliquely.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Foreign policy can not be divorced from its domestic counterpart.

          Total progressive = W1*(foregin progressive) + W2* domestic progressive

          Where W1 and W2 are weights you assign to each of the two contributing factors. It could be that W1 = W2 = 1/2.

          1. fosforos

            Huh? They were the same war by the same “Liberal/Conservative” monsters. WWII is distinguised by the fact that the bombs (though not the bombers) were more brutal. Nothing “progressive” about Wilson, and Wilhelm, and Nikki and Franz-Joseph. Nothing “progressive” about Churchill, and Adolf, and FDR and Djugashvili.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I am not saying who is progressive and who is not.

              And I am not saying this or that person is 60% progressive and 40% not progressive.

              I am only saying we have to look at a person’s domestic and foreign policy positions.

    3. sid_finster

      Meditate on this.

      The undeniable CIA involvement in torture is one weapon Trump has and can use on the IC, a weapon that even Democrats and liberals will find it difficult to oppose, other than the fact that Obama seemed to condone it. It is also one weapon hard to boomerang back on Trump, considering he doesn’t have much of a track record in government.

      I understand that the details are quite hair raising, like something out of Dachau.

      If Trump really wants to decapitate the CIA snake, this is his Excalibur.

          1. The Trumpening

            Exactly — which gives Trump the cover to release the torture documents. If nothing else Trump is a master troll. He can say “look, Bush (and Obama?) tortured people, at some point they must have thought it worked, here is all the evidence of their torture camps, etc. Why am I not allowed to torture?”

            This puts the media in the horns of a dilemma. Do they defend their intelligence community (IC) torturing heroes? Does Trump label this “Bush torture” all while pretending to defend it? Do #NeverTrump virtue-signalling hypocrites like Evan McMullin get a mention in the torture annals? Do major Democratic politicians appear to endorse the Bush torture tactics?

            Trump can turn the White House into a sort of TrumpiLeaks where he attacks the political establishment by releasing damaging documents all while pretending to defend them!

          1. marym

            Gleefully using the police power of the state to do harm to people seems to be a pretty consistent feature of his policies so far.

            1. aab

              “Gleeful” is a bit much. He’s an authoritarian who believes this sort of thing is the best way to deliver stability and order, which are primary values for him. I suspect he would argue that “better” policing would protect the citizens of Chicago, for example. Which is probably true — even slight reductions in corruption, disincentives for officers like, you know, being punished, and different training would probably measurably improve the lives of a lot of people in Chicago. The president can’t do any of those things, though, if I understand the situation correctly. So what he will offer is “more,” which will almost assuredly make things worse (although maybe outside eyes and practices might tame CPD a little). But I don’t think it will give him actual pleasure to do it.

              As a person of enormous wealth which derives from the ownership and control of real property (even those properties he merely gets branding income from), it’s not surprising he’s a fan of the police state; it exists to serve people like him.

              Whether he actively enjoys physically controlling and hurting people is an open question still, I think. Hillary clearly enjoys it. If I had to guess, I would say neither Shrub nor Obama enjoyed it, but they were both some combination of too weak/too selfish/too solipsistic to stop it, and both are conservative, so both fundamentally also believe in policing and top down control is positive. So while we at least avoided the horror of putting an actively sadistic person into the presidency, one demonstrably does not have to be a sadist to expand and increase the police state, state violence, implement torture, and shred constitutional protections.

              Trump’s not actually the Joker. He doesn’t have to be, to do great harm. We’ve already had that demonstrated.

              1. marym

                His EO’s show the intent of empowering police organizations, federal and state, to do harm to Muslims who have legal status; Mexican and other illegal immigrants; and urban targets, including protesters. I didn’t say he doesn’t think he’s doing something good for someone. His EO on policing does show an interest in protecting the cops, if those are the “citizens of Chicago” one thinks need protection.

                1. aab

                  I was picking at you over the word “gleefully,” not to be a jerk but because I don’t think it helps anything to fall into the trap of mythologizing him as worse or different he is. That could lead to fighting someone who isn’t there, instead of the actual person who is, and who needs to be fought.

                  That’s always a bad idea, but with the maelstrom of concocted bullshit swirling around Trump (both by him and his enemies), I think we on the left (I’m assuming we’re fundamentally on the same side here) need to be disciplined about not adding to that defecatory twister.

                  A protester at Standing Rock got her arm almost blown off while Obama was still president. It isn’t clear to me how much worse Trump’s EOs are really going to make things. We have lived in a heavily militarized police state with eroding privacy and constitutional rights for a while. This conversation started out being about the possibility of Trump using the torture report and other evidence of CIA wrongdoing to tame it. That’s an interesting idea. If I’m correct that Trump doesn’t actually enjoy hurting people, it is possible that confronted with the reality of torture (presuming Mattis or someone like him educates him), that might be possible.

                  The question is what can we do to protect people and move towards change that’s more than performance, and what can we do to get good things out of this situation? If there’s ANY way to weaken the CIA, that would be a really good thing. At this point, his being weak means the CIA is getting stronger, and that seems worse to me overall and long-term.

  3. tony

    What looks like chaos to people educated beyond their intelligence is actually just applied optionality.

    For example, he put Jeb in double bind by calling him low energy. Then Jeb could either let Trump speak over him and dominate him, proving Jeb is weak and no leader, or Jeb can challenge him, bringing more energy and thus Trump can frame him as the influence on Jeb. Jeb loses.

    Trump says controversial things that may be true. Press goes on a psychotic rage, attacks him, gives him a lot of attention and occasionally Trump is proven to have spoken the truth. Which then eats up the credibility of the press and when Trump does lie, the press has no credibility to call him out. Press can then either let him say whatever without a challenge or or give his statements attention, which won’t discredit Trump since the press are already confirmed liars. Trump wins.

    The Resistance opposes Trump, not specific policies. Which makes them reactive and also means Trump has no reason to give them an inch, since their goal is to take him out, not modify his policies. So Trump can sign emotionally salient executive orders, like the Muslim ban, and direct their energy into activities that Trump does not necessarily care about. (I really don’t think he or his more intelligent supporters actually are worried about Muslims) The Resistance can either let it go, in which case they lose respect and become irrelevant, or they can fight it, and Trump gets to gut the EPA in peace. Trump wins again.

    But because liberals are rather stupid, arrogant and have spent their lives in echo chambers, the only argument they have is: Trump is stupid, mentally ill and out of control. If that is true, what does it say about liberals, who had USD1.3 trillion and the support of pretty much every institution that they lost to Trump?

    The solution for the press would of course be to have integrity and for The Resistance to have values, reflect them in policy and use carrot and stick to affect Trump’s policies.

      1. Ignim Brites

        Or more likely, his opponents are extraordinarily uninsightful and ingenious (or more probably ingeniously disingenuous).

      1. ambrit

        Lady Gaga and Weird Al go together. I suspect both of being proponents of Dadaism.
        Try King Sonny Ade and Waylon Jennings. (Or the Afro Celt Sound System, by itself.)
        We don’t know how sophisticated these AIs are now. Haven’t they had a few years of “self learning” to improve so far?
        I like bmeisen’s ‘dystopictoglyph.’ It being F-book, wouldn’t ‘dystopictomeme’ be more accurate?
        Enquiring minds want to know.

  4. PlutoniumKun


    Tony Blair calls for fight against Theresa May’s Brexit plan Financial Times. Help me. Aside from the fact that Blair continued the Thatcherite policies that led to the backlash, my recollection is he’s piped up only once before after the vote. Making noise at this late hour is mere virtue signaling.

    I wonder has any major world leader had such a collapse in respect and popularity after leaving office like Blair. His tiny number of supporters are generally too embarrassed to admit it. For him to pipe up like this is the very definition of futility, and it probably does more harm than good to the Remainers (and for that matter, the soft Brexiteers, who are beginning to panic now they see how determined May is to bring in a hard Brexit). I suspect he is being put up to this by his foreign contacts who don’t realise how unpopular he is in the UK.

    1. paul

      He does not seem to realise that if there’s one thing people resent more than being mugged off, it’s being reminded that they have been.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yeltsin. Putin fan clubs went bonkers when Putin went to the dedication of Moscow’s new transit system named after Yeltsin.
      Marshall Petain? There were French Nazis at one point.
      Stephen VI?

      Blair is just fortunate he lives in a modern society. I figure it’s at least a 15% bump in the polls if one of the parties demanded Blair be sent to the Tower.

    3. peter

      I believe this is not even about Brexit per se (noise at this late hour), but rather to help out in the effort to oust Corbyn as the party leader. Now that Trump is dominating the news cycle, Corbyn has had a relatively quiet few weeks. It’s something that Blair and his affiliates won’t allow to continue.

  5. Clive

    Re: Creepy Creeping Facebook Creepiness.

    One very effective way to fool (or put a big, confusing spanner in their algorithmic works) is to visit, link “like” (yuck, please, help me) or otherwise associate your profile with foreign language material. Especially non-Latin based content. Chinese, Japanese, Tagalogue, Greek and so on. Mix everything up. It doesn’t matter what the articles are or even if you understand the content.

    1. Stephen Gardner

      It’s not clear what you mean by non-Latin based. If you mean non-romance languages then why leave off German, Dutch and Polish. If you mean languages that don’t use the Roman alphabet then you can’t include Tagalog.

      1. Clive

        Yes, that’s the sort of thing. Another good idea is to use a lot of idomatic and colloquial expressions that befuddle automatic non-human linguistic analysis, for example, like “carping”.

        1. PhilM

          I like it. The Comments here could have a sub-heading, “The New School for Social Commentary and Carping Pedantry”.

          Samuel Johnson was known to slightly misquote, and even to, occasionally, split an infinitive (I think–I don’t have a link there, for all of him that I read is actually on paper). He did that because he knew so much by heart, and his authority was so great, and the quotations were so apposite, that small misquotations were beside the point. He even made this very remark at one point, thought again, I don’t have it at my command–as he surely would have.

          Montaigne was the same way. Both of them just “knew everything” and felt free to toss it in as needed, on the assumption the audience would be familiar with the material, or at least, could be one day; so that they would get the point. What’s more, those men were not snobbish or pedantic. Nothing like it: both were extraordinarily humanitarian and charitable in their finances as well as their learning, despite, or because of, their adherence to the subordination inherent in their (and here I opine, by saying, any) social order.

          1. Katharine

            Johnson could be generous, and I’ve always liked his carrying home the drunken prostitute he found lying in the street, but he was extremely snobbish towards women, and ludicrously insecure. I don’t recall offhand what it was he could have learned from his wife, some skill like knitting perhaps, but he insisted on learning it from a man instead because he refused to learn anything from his wife. Too childish for words!

            1. witters

              “he was extremely snobbish towards women, and ludicrously insecure.”

              Why not look at Johnson’s Household and Anna – Mrs. Williams – and then try and say that again?

              1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                witters, it might not hurt for you to expand a bit about Anna Williams – readers might find the details interesting.

            2. PhilM

              “Too childish for words.”

              Anyone who sets forth in a righteous cloud of prejudice-padded ignorance to remark dismissively on a great historical-cultural figure, indeed one who showed as much strength of character, frankness, faith, strength, consideration, temperance, judgment, wit, application, assiduity, humor, piety, engagement, humanity, and charity as any human being has ever been documented to show; well, such a one might–and more particularly when impugning the character of Samuel Johnson of all people–at least try to find words.

          2. ewmayer

            Aside re. the splitting of the infinitive (for some reason I’m picturing an atom smasher here, to use the archaic term for it) – one of my favorite Macbook installs is the dictionary app, based on the OED. It has this remarkably detailed entry on split infinitives:

            split infinitive
            a construction consisting of an infinitive with an adverb or other word inserted between to and the verb, e.g., she seems to really like it.

            USAGE Is it wrong to use a split infinitive, separating the infinitive marker to from the verb? If so, then these statements are grammatically incorrect: : you have to really watch him;: to boldly go where no one has gone before. Writers who long ago insisted that English could be modeled on Latin created the “rule” that the English infinitive must not be split: : to clearly state violates this rule; one must say : to state clearly. But the Latin infinitive is one word (e.g., : amare, ‘to love’) and cannot be split, so the rule is not firmly grounded, and treating two English words as one can lead to awkward, stilted sentences. In particular, the placing of an adverb in English is extremely important in giving the appropriate emphasis. Consider, for example, the “corrected” forms of the previous examples: : you really have to watch him;: to go boldly where no one has gone before. The original, intended emphasis of each statement has been changed, and for no other reason than to satisfy an essentially unreasonable rule. Some traditionalists may continue to hold up the split infinitive as an error, but in standard English, the principle of allowing split infinitives is broadly accepted as both normal and useful.

            1. Richard

              It’s not unreasonable at all. Funny, you know, whenever I see an American criticizing the breakdown of grammatical rules in English, I KNOW that I’m about to be dealing with the usual dumbing-down of the language which is the hallmark of the American way of doing everything in life: lazy, anti-intellectual, so-called ‘cool’, mediocre, haphazard… you name it.

              1. ewmayer

                That’s not “an American” doing the criticizing, it’s the OED staff, whose work I simply quoted. But I hope all the ad-hominem-spewage made you feel better … Dick.

              2. different clue

                Perhaps English is evolving into a bunch of different languages the way Latin developed into a bunch of languages called the Romance languages. Maybe in a thousand years we will have the Englance languages. Englandish, Amerenglish, Austringlish, New Zinglish Singlish, Hinglish, Spanglish, etc.

              3. Foppe

                Thanks for sharing the thoughts you have when you think about “Americans,” Richard. I do not really understand why you shared them, however. Did you estimate people here lacked insight into your mental conception of “Americans”, and did that thought — your judgment that you weren’t being heard — bother you? If so, I hope purging made you feel better, though I’m not sure you didn’t create a new problem along the way.

        2. From Cold Mounatin

          All of these schemes will not work. You have no idea how deep Faceborg surveillance goes.

          As long as they have your IP address, and your friends list, they will weed out the immaterial.

          Using VPN and having zero friends is the only way out. But they will still know a lot about you since cookies. So thinks like Cookie Monster on Firefox would help. But then they can still fingerprint you browser so you have to take measures to control that. They can even AUDIO fingerprint you.

          And it does not even matter if you do not even use Facebook because they track you as well unless you have a blocker like Disconnect.

          All that work, for what? What is the use? Facebook makes money off of eyeballs seeing advertisements.

          Better to BOYCOTT FACEBOOK and stop giving them not the you day AND your money.

          1. Clive

            Not using your home network will overcome the IP address logging. If you use WiFi hotspots and — especially — a mobile (cellular) network, these offer anonymous IPs. VPN is the other option.

            As the article suggested, it is unfortunately not having a social media footprint that is the signifier (or could be in the future) so it may come to having an obscured one that has a bit of nice, healthy activity on it. Otherwise you may as well wear a big hat saying “my other hat it made of tin foil” for all to see.

            1. From Cold Mounatin

              I would say that using hotspots that you regularly frequent will not help if they really wanted to know about you.They can finger print your browser. And then the cookies will associate your IP at the coffeeshop with your IP at home.

              It would take way too much work to fight against it all that makes using Facebook impractical.

              But I think we are missing the big point, that Facebook is ADDICTIVE and that is why so many people use it.

            2. dcrane

              “Otherwise you may as well wear a big hat saying “my other hat it made of tin foil” for all to see.”

              Great way of putting it. :-)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              How are social media connected to spies and surveillance (and in many cases, voluntary)?

              It’s as if they couldn’t have come up with a better plan.

        1. ambrit

          It’s a shame that there doesn’t seem to be a video copy of “Scrooge Has No Honor” up on the internets. It was a stroke of perverse genius to translate “A Christmas Carol” into Klingon with Klingon protagonists.

    2. footnote4

      Good idea – can readers suggest a pool of non-Latin-based material that is pro-neoliberal, pro-MIC, pro-MSM, pro-Clinton? Useful for confounding the algorithms in multiple dimensions at once.

      1. Uahsenaa

        The Yomiuri Shimbun is perhaps what you’re looking for. The Japanese center-right is its own weird thing, but the YS comes as close as you’ll get to a “consensus opinion” in Japanese media.

    3. Norb

      I wonder if this is not the first stage of effective resistance. False information. If information is power, then by all means mess up the inputs. So much of contemporary corporate malfeasance is dependent upon willing cooperation.

    4. DJG

      Clive: Even if you have postings from languages that use the Latin alphabet, FB is easily confused. I have a bunch of Italian friends who post quite a bit. FB’s response? The occasional Spanish-language site. The algorithm is that crude.

      Advice? Follow some sites outside the U S of A. Post occasionally about all of your interests: Yes, I do like Hello Kitty, who is a girl, not a cat, you know, and who lives in London. FB can’t digest that datum, given my profile. I also like Japanese prints. FB can’t seem to deal with that, either.

      Don’t accept anything offered by FB in the bars to the right: No suggestions as to friends, no suggested sites, and never the adverts.

      FB also freaks out if you click on the suggested sites or intrusive ads and then mark them as irrelevant or grotesque or offensive. Sometimes, the algorithm freaks out for a few days.

      What I don’t like is that it has become obvious that FB is monitoring e-mail messages. I once wrote to someone about a FIAT 500. Lo and behold, car ads turned up in FB within a day or so. Creepy.

      Back to Hello Kitty and Hokusai.

      1. Partyless

        If its so creepy why do you still use it?
        Never understood why even people on the left who are so against government
        spying, just cant give up Facebook even knowing its owned by Goldman and has admitted to
        doing CIA propaganda experiments.
        If I don’t like a companies influence I don’t buy its products.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Facebook is an important organizing tool. I’m on it just for that purpose. (It’s also enabled a few old friends to find me – I’m having dinner with one, a college friend I haven’t seen in 40 years, tonight. OTOH, some others see to have vanished off the face of, at least, the internet. I hope they haven’t actually died.)
          This political reliance on Faceborg and Twitter makes me extremely nervous. It’s a huge vulnerability, to a giant corporation which doesn’t have our best interests at heart. They could just cut us off. But they’re now indispensable, just because so many people use them. I try to keep my own involvement to a minimum – I have enough problems with email and websites like this one – but I’m not at all sure that matters.

      2. Dead Dog

        Creepy yes, if they picked that up from your message.

        I am an insomniac, often getting up in the early hours, NC moderators can attest.

        Being of that age, in 50s, and male, and browsing the internet at all hours, I guess not too much of a surprise to get ad for medicines which can help me avoid the mid sleep need to urinate…

        Go figure, I am waiting for the ads to start appearing on message boards as I go through the shopping mall.

  6. integer

    I was gonna post this yesterday but didn’t.

    Imo everyone who purports to be on the left side of the political spectrum who is obsessing over Trump is missing the forest for the trees. The old saying about getting one’s own house in order before criticizing the houses of others comes to mind. The Republican party is a conservative political party, and always has been. Thus, for the left, the real problem is that the D-party is rotten to the core and is not a viable alternative. Its establishment has sold the party to the highest bidders (Wall St., multinational corporations, neocons, billionaires, etc.) and now seemingly only exists to enrich its inner circle while blocking any real movement towards the left.

    What I find the most frustrating about all of this is that if all the vitriol that has been directed at Trump since he won the election had instead been focused on the toxic D-party, there could have been the type of acute shift in public sentiment that would have had the potential to catalyze the removal of the D-party establishment and thus affect real and lasting change for the better. So while I’m sure the “resistance” has been therapeutic for those who have what I perceive to be a media-fueled pathological hatred of Donald Trump, it has come at the price of a missed opportunity.

    At this point, at least from where I’m standing (which is admittedly on Australian soil), relative to the disgusting D-party and its fearful and hypocritical liberal support base who yearn for a return to the status quo, Trump looks better and better with each passing day. Sad!

    1. integer

      Also, I find it very hard to believe that the D-party establishment wasn’t aware of their vulnerability after the election, and while it is impossible to quantify these sorts of things, I would bet my last dollar that they have actively worked to redirect any dissatisfaction with the election result away from themselves. It’s all the Trump and his deplorables’ fault! The anti-Trump brigade has been played by allowing themselves to be diverted from the true source of the problem, and yet they are out in force all over the internet, basking in their self superiority and the unanimity of the MSM, defending the CIA, and generally showing their true colors, which are unflattering, to put it mildly. Imo the left needs to purge these people and build a base among the 50% of eligible voters who have been refraining from exercising their political power. Let the liberals be the ones with nowhere else to go for a change.

      If I seem absolutely disgusted, it’s because I am.

      1. JTFaraday

        The D-Party leadership is not going to stop until it fully replaces the white evangelical Christian party as the go to party of the moneyed elite.

        That’s it. That is their sole objective. Trump is a Godsend.

    2. DJG

      integer: Read the link in today’s list about Greenwald and Kucinich. They have diagnosed the situation much as you do. And all of you are right.

      Also, check out the link about how Trump’s people gave the full Senate torture report to the federal courts after Obama diddled with it for years.

      Strange times. But let’s not panic, as you say.

      1. integer

        Thanks. I found this comment left after the article interesting:

        Ever since Flynn said that he wanted to restructure and pare back the CIA, they have had him in their crosshairs. The CIA had over $40 BILLION in intelligence gathering before 911 occurred and to what avail? What exactly have they been good for, besides regime changes (81), assassinations (50 -documented), the drug trade (thanks for the heroin epidemic!) and most likely human trafficking, etc. They compete within their 16-department division for budgetary provisions and withhold information from each other! They most definitely need a restructuring, to be pared back or abolished entirely.

        It’s also a fact that the US and Israel’s #1 export is arms sales so any intelligentsia “mishandling” or “blunder” comes in quite handy when the (not-so) hidden agenda is perpetual warfare.

        Does anyone else find it curious that Netanyahu was in DC at the exact same time that Flynn was ousted? Does the CIA answer to Israel ultimately? Who’s really calling the shots here? Is it just a coincidence that the CIA and the state of Israel were created within one year of each other? We shouldn’t dismiss this, especially considering what Kucinich reminds us:

        “I want to remind the views and all those who are on the panel that in the closing months of the Obama administration, they put together a deal with Russia to create peace in Syria. A few days later, a military strike in Syria killed a hundred Syrian soldiers and that ended the agreement. What happened is inside the intelligence and the Pentagon there was a deliberate effort to sabotage an agreement the White House made.”

        I wasn’t aware of that the CIA and the state of Israel were created within one year of each other. From the relevant Wikipedia entries:

        The Central Intelligence Agency was created on July 26, 1947, when Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act into law.

        On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.

  7. JMM

    Readers, can you add specific suggestions for underming Faceborg’s understanding of you?

    Don’t use Facebook. It requires less work than any other option. I closed my account a few months ago and don’t miss it at all.

    Also, I would take that article with a grain of salt. In the last days there have been a number of people disputing its claims. List of links here:

    The myth that British data scientists won the election for Trump

    Trump’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Is Just More Ketchup

    The Truth About The Trump Data Team That People Are Freaking Out About

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Not having an account is by far the best way to thwart this practice but it still won’t stop data from being collected. I did a search on myself recently just to see what would come up. In the past I wouldn’t find much which is the way I liked it but this time a trove of info came up on one link. It had all my family relationships linked to me – my sister with her new last name, mother, small daughter, wife, everybody. I don’t have a Fleecebook account and never have. I rarely communicate with my parents by email, never with my sister – generally we just speak over my land line phone. My daughter is young and has no internet accounts. But my family all have FB accounts, use them frequently and have mentioned me. That coupled with public records that have been hoovered up seems to be the only way someone could have put all that info together about me as I have certainly never mentioned all of that myself on any forum.

      My buddy who also has no FB account but is much more tech savvy than me gave up on anonymity years ago. Now he just assumes everything will be collected and throws curveballs as Yves suggested by putting out bogus info about himself.

      Companies certainly are aggregating as much as they can but as you say, I’d take the claims in that article about changing opinions with a grain of salt as they are somewhat light on the details of exactly how all of this was supposedly done. Collecting data is one thing but completely changing someone’s mind about political candidates seems a bit of a stretch. That being said, just collecting all the data is scary enough.

      And apart from the scary aspect, still don’t understand how it’s legal to buy and sell everyone’s personal info without compensating them in any way.

      Can we all get together and decide to sell Zuckerberg’s house and split the proceeds?

      1. Dave

        Find someone with your name, look up where they live.
        Use Fireflox and learn about its privacy features.
        Delete all cookies. Go to a library, coffeeshop, etc.
        Start a second, third or beyond, email account.
        Send out party invites from your original Gmail and other free services to your new email address. Use the address of person with your same name, or look up new apartments for rent and use that address.

      2. visitor

        Now he just assumes everything will be collected and throws curveballs as Yves suggested by putting out bogus info about himself.

        I contend that this is probably ineffectual.

        1) If the objective is to send Facebook completely off-track with a made-up “personality”, then that fake persona must be (a) consistent internally and (b) over a long period of time. A lot of work.

        This is actually a point that was raised when people in tech forums discussed how terrorists could thwart the possible obligation to disclose their social network passwords upon entry in the USA. Setting up a fake Facebook account would possibly not work — and even be revealing — because of (a) and (b).

        2) If the objective is to confuse Facebook systematically, then you must make sure that the quantity of chaff sufficiently overwhelms the amount of genuine information so that the algorithms cannot filter out one type of data from the other in the long run.

        As an example, if your real interest is bird-watching, and you put some random assortment of links to Japanese manga fan clubs and Indonesian political news, then, over a period of time, the stable, very active (lots of sharing and communication) core of your “social network persona” will appear, while those other bits showing randomness and low engagement will be considered as noise. Again, a lot of work if you want to make them appear as genuine.

        3) If the objective is to subvert Facebook by inserting some random links/photos/infos, but not in the massive amount as in (1) and (2), then you run the risk that Facebook will indeed consider them as genuine.

        It is a risk, because the algorithms will try hard to establish connections and you have no idea whatsoever what kind of inferences they work out from your data. This might have surprising results — sometimes amusing, but they could be nasty as well. A few unlucky happenstances that match some mysterious pattern Facebook derived from its treasure trove of “big data”, and you may be categorized in an embarrassing or detrimental way.

        All in all, a lot of work. Might be worth if you have really good reasons to send Facebook off scent. Otherwise, it is easier not to use it at all.

      3. oh

        That Zuckerburg lives in Palo Alto and has bought all the houses around him to isolate himself. What a jerk! He’s responsible for inflating cost of houses in his neighborhood. Maybe he should leave there and live in his estate in the Bahamas or whereevr.

        1. JoeK

          The very people who claim “privacy is passé” and “if you’ve done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide” aren’t practicing what they preach, even require much more privacy than normal? Perhaps we should call Silicon Valley’s political culture a “Hypocracy” since its ahem leading lights all appear to be utter hypocrites.

      1. Chris Hargens

        Yeah, a bit overwrought. I have to admit that I’ve never personally experienced much Facebook manipulation, aside from the random adverts which I scroll over. I say this because the vast majority of opinion posts that I get are from Friends, and I read and judge these on the merits of their arguments. So I guess I’m in the dark about how all of this FB manipulation works. Not arguing it doesn’t exist; just don’t see it. Some examples?

      2. curlydan

        totally agree. What Cambridge has done isn’t that revolutionary. Some fairly basic A/B testing by researchers could tell if there’s a decent impact by these tools, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be with regard to politics. It could be anything from fashion to music.

        I heard lots of suppositions that there was not only influence but a necessary vote flip, but little to back it up. Put it this way, if Clinton had one we’d be hearing the praises of Ada and their data scientists. I read self-congratulatory articles about their chief data scientist after they’d beat Bernie.

    2. mad as hell.

      Back around 2010 my sister posted some Colorado pictures on Facebook. Problem was she was supposed to be on sick leave and a “friend” notified her boss. Oh oh! I thought.

      Then a few months later I sat on a jury and the verdict was based on a Facebook posting. Oh oh again.

      So I decided not to get on the band wagon because this novelty had the potential of causing some major blow back to what I said on line.

      Can’t say I miss it because I never tried it.

    3. Carla

      “Don’t use Facebook.” I concur. Had a FB acct. for a few months in 2009; when it became just a tiny bit apparent how it operated, I quit and never looked back.

      Count me in on selling Zuck’s house and splitting the proceeds. Great idea! If, as a one-time member I still qualify to participate in the spoils, I hereby pledge to donate my share to Naked Capitalism.

    4. justanotherprogressive

      Sigh. No Facebook and other social media isn’t going away. It’s the future – get used to it! I have a large extended family and friends all over the world that I like keeping contact with. I don’t want to spend all my time on the phone or writing letters so Facebook is an easy way to keep connected. Do you think I am the only one in this situation? Yes, I know what risks I am taking. Fortunately for me, I have a daughter who has made a great business for herself analyzing social media risks, so she set up all of our accounts and informs us of what we need to do to limit unwanted information flow. But as she always tells me – everything she does is already freely available if I would only just do a search…..

      You Luddites can disconnect if you want, but what do you gain? You aren’t going to turn back the clock. You aren’t going to stop the growth of social media or even put a dent in its unwanted behavior by just “signing off”. There are so many other ways of accessing everything about you – the fact that you are using the internet right now makes you more vulnerable than you realize. So since Facebook and other social media aren’t going away, the trick is to make yourself “street smart’ in much the same way you become “street smart” living in a big city. There are ways to limit how much Facebook knows about you. It is up to you to become knowledgeable and determine for yourself how much risk you will take on social media, but to stop using it? Do you not drive or take the subways because of “risk”?

      1. From Cold Mounatin

        What do we gain?

        1) Time
        2) Quality local contact with people
        3) Knowing that you are not giving money to Zuckerberg
        4) The lessened chance that we will be brainwashed into keeping up with the Joneses.
        5) Losing our fear of missing out( or FOMO as the kids call it).

        It is not the social media aspect the concerns me. It is the fact that they are collecting the data. There are other platforms that do not do this, like MeWe.

        Comparing taking the subway to using Facebook is a reach. The data that is collected by Facebook can be used against you in a court. This has the unfortunate ability to provide prosecutors with the appearance of your quilt regardless if you are guilty.

        But then again, I would rather walk than take a subway or drive so…. :)

        One can use the internet in a way to limit data about you. But the fact that you think it is easier too use Facebook than to talk on the phone only tells me that you do not care about the people you are contacting enough to make the sacrifice.

        Should we have friends “All over the world?” And what do these “friends all over the world” water down our local relationships? And are those people really your friends? Is it that difficult to use email to talk to these people?

        But I get you. There is no middle way with the internet. If you are on it someone is tracking you.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          WHOA! I’m noting a serious cultural disconnect here! Probably due to age, no doubt…..

          It isn’t “Should we have friends “All over the world” – it is that people travel these days and aren’t stuck to the community they grew up in, so yes, one most likely will have friends anywhere in the world. Should I have given up my friendship with a person simply because he got a year-round research gig in Antarctica? And yes, they are my friends – my Facebook page is only open to people I know intimately.

          “But the fact that you think it is easier too use Facebook than to talk on the phone only tells me that you do not care about the people you are contacting enough to make the sacrifice.” Really? That is so 50’s…..we are all busy people and understand very well that phone calls can be very disruptive when someone is in the middle of something. I see my NOT calling simply because I have the time right then, to be evidence that I respect their time and their lives. My, how culture has changed for most of us!

          When I retired, I moved to a city I had visited often and loved, but I hadn’t lived here before. I am making friends here, but I would be very lonely and unhappy had I given up all my friends simply because they don’t live locally.

          Did you not know that the camera footage of you on the subway or driving or even walking can also be used in court? (Especially that walking part. Insurance investigators love to catch people walking especially when they are claiming disability for some injury….).

          Sorry, but social media won’t ever go away, and yes, it has MANY bad things associated with it, but like every other technology, it has good things too. The point is that it isn’t to be avoided, any more than any other technology is to be avoided (such as using the internet) – it is to get savvy enough to maximize the good and minimize the bad…..

          1. From Cold Mountain

            But you do not NEED Facebook to keep in contact with these people. There is email and other social networks that do not use your data. The very fact that you use Facebook over these other means tells me something about your addition to that network.

            If you are so busy how worthwhile is it keeping up with people who are in Antartica? Could you not just wait till they came back and had a beer and a great conversation with them?

            Facebook is a crutch for a disintegrating social structure brought on by capitalism.

          2. perpetualWAR

            “I see my not calling as respecting their time”???? A phone call is disrespecting of someone’s time??? With friends like these, who needs them?

            1. Katharine

              A phone call can be disrespecting of someone’s time, certainly. If you have some knowledge of their schedule you can minimize the risk by not calling too late (or early) or in the middle of their likely work or meal times, but frequent calls just to chat can be an imposition on a busy person.

              Part of this difference of opinion may be a generational divide. Many people over sixty (perhaps less) are mystified by the constant short communications of their juniors. I see people nominally taking the baby or the dog for a walk but totally engrossed in their phones, and I’m actually sorry for them, and more for the baby or dog. They effectively aren’t there, they’re missing most of what they pass on the street, and the pleasure of being with the person or critter who’s with them.

              1. perpetualWAR

                Our poor world. A phone call from a friend is an imposition.
                I’m certainly glad I don’t view it that way and feel sorry for people who do.

            2. different clue

              I was listening to the Diane Rehm show recently and she was discussing “digital courtesy these days” with an expert digitologist and with her own great nephew or someone who was a typical digital-native young person.

              Digital native explained that to all the Youngers of today a phone call is indeed considered a boorish display of discourtesy and disrespect. The respectful thing to do is to send the person you want to call a text-message asking when would be a good time to call. When they send you a text message back saying what a good time would be, then you call them at that time.

              Young people today! I swear! . . . But that’s the way it is these days. If one wants contact with people who follow these customs, you follow these customs. If you find the customs unpleasant, you cultivate contact with people who likewise consider these customs unpleasant.

              Of course if you are old and the prospective phone-callee is a relative or something, they can either get used to YOUR customs or they can get used to losing touch with you.

              I don’t have facebook or twitter or anything. Never have. Maybe never will.

      2. Toolate

        This is tongue in cheek right? Not having a FB account makes me a Luddite?
        It is true that I collect pencil sharpeners

      3. From Cold Mounatin

        And then we have this today:

        Op-ed: Mark Zuckerberg’s manifesto is a political trainwreck

        Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just published a 5,700 word “letter” on his profile, where he asserts that Facebook represents one of history’s “great leaps.” Though he covers a number of topics, what’s most interesting is how he positions Facebook as a force for political change in the coming years. His goals are lofty, sometimes even grandiose. That’s not the problem.

        The problem is a fundamental contradiction built into the way he hopes to create what he calls a “global community” by essentially gerrymandering the Internet.

        1. oh

          I think he tried that in India by trying to “sell” free internet access which was pretty much limited to FB and luckily the opponents didn’t let it happen.

      4. Jeotsu

        Strongly disagree.

        Social choice exists. Technological inevitability is a comforting lie of the “modern” world.

        We can make the world we want. Right now “convenience” is valued more highly than anything else. Facebook is the social equivalent of McDonalds. Convenient? Sure is! Good for you in the long term….?

        1. aletheia33

          love the comparison to mcdonalds. ersatz food, ersatz “connections”.
          i tried FB for a few months a couple of years ago. at first it was kinda fun. then it got a little weird as i realized that it was its own universe, a separate one from the one i live in in my body. i have real friends, who i have long conversations with, mostly while walking in the woods, sometimes with our dogs. the feelings and sensations of walking in the woods with a friend and dogs, i can’t get that any other way. commenting on the beauty that surrounds us. greeting other walkers and their dogs. watching the dogs play!! looking into each other’s eyes from time to time. listening. hugging, until next time. words cannot describe the satisfactions of such engagements of body and heart.

          in the other universe, the virtual universe of FB, i was reading all kinds of announcements from people about what was happening in their lives. but when i was away from my computer, it was as if they did not really exist. i did not know how to manage both these universes simultaneously. they don’t intersect. and i could not see how, if, say, someone’s dog died, a column of FB “i’m sorry”s could feel like much in the way of real sympathy from real human beings. where is the hug? where is the tearful phone call with a friend who you know is taking the time just to listen because she cares about you and she too will miss your dog?

          sure people will say of course that is not what FB is supposed to be for. so what are the rewards? real relationships with friends and family are priceless. they reward what i invest in them many-fold. if i want to keep some people, like if i had some distant relatives i didn’t like, at arm’s length, just fulfilling the minimum socially required polite connection with them that FB makes easier, is that really a better way to live? if we really think our society is atomized, alienated, too competitive, individualistic, consumeristic, and all of that is part of what is destroying us, then why go near a daily practice that furthers all these tendencies, in oneself and others?

          i just don’t get it. hope the above doesn’t come across as just a nutty dog owner–“friends and dogs” is just an example. i’m glad to see so many here not participating–i feel less of an oddball. OK maybe my “universe” is smaller because i am not in the FB world. smaller and deeper. that’s how i need mine to be.

      5. Bunk McNulty

        I gotta use fb to promote my band. This does not mean that any of my personal profile information is actually true. Zuck can disseminate all the fake information about me he wants.

      6. Mark Alexander

        By leaving Faceborg years ago, I gained control over things that belonged to me. I quit after taking a look at the Terms of Service and realizing that Faceborg claimed ownership of every bit of text and every picture I had posted.

        I gained a huge payoff of time. For example, I was being inundated by status postings from “friends” who wanted me to see exactly what they were eating for dinner at their new favorite trendy ethnic restaurant (apparently this is a popular pastime in my former home of Silicon Valley, where few people eat home-cooked meals).

        I gained freedom from the agony of deciding whether to accept “friendship” from people I barely knew (typically coworkers in the huge software company I worked for at the time). I didn’t want to insult these people, but I also didn’t want to clutter up my life even more.

        Lately it’s become obvious that I also gained some slight protection from surveillance, though I suspect even that gain might be illusory.

      7. Bugs Bunny

        I quit FB after 9 years — I was one of the original people on it in 2005-6. I noticed that I got 2 extra hours a day freed up and that I was less stressed out. There are advantages to using it for communications but I’d rather just email the people that I really know from the real world. Phone calls are a fraction of what they used to cost and texts are pretty cheap as well.

        That said, I have a “fake” FB account that I never use (just a profile picture) to cover me in case the idea of “not having a FB account” becomes a checkbox for “radicalization”.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That said, I have a “fake” FB account that I never use (just a profile picture) to cover me in case the idea of “not having a FB account” becomes a checkbox for “radicalization”.

          Guilty until proven innocent here???

      8. Oregoncharles

        Perhaps you could refer us to your daughter’s business? Or is her consulting in-person only?

        OK, that might expose your own identity; but it does seem to benefit both her and those who might want her services.

        I bet she could provide some great links, without compromising her-your identity.

      9. Altandmain

        There are encrypted messaging systems out there.

        Signal is an example. Even the leaks so far suggest that the NSA is worried it will gain steam.

        Amongst my friends, I have noticed that the more tech savvy they are, the less information they give on Facebook and many very techsavvy people avoid it altogether. There seems to be a correlation there.

        LinkedIn is unfortunately more necessary to list one’s work history.

  8. fresno dan

    Democrats, Liberals Catch McCarthyistic Fever Consortiumnews (furzy)

    “Coming on top of credible information from America’s intelligence agencies that Russia tried to destabilize and influence the 2016 presidential campaign, these latest revelations are more than sufficient reason for Congress to investigate what Moscow has been up to and whether people at the highest levels of the United States government have aided and abetted the interests of a nation that has tried to thwart American foreign policy since the Cold War.”
    “…since the Cold War.”
    Whoa! Sounds like a long, long list of grievances…..”thwart American foreign policy” fortunately, our sterling successes in Vietnam and Iraq and too many other scams to mention render us blameless with regard to….anything.
    AND I can’t stop myself – “credible information” ???? I thought the NYT was banned from assessing “credible information” after WMD….

  9. schultzzz

    this is a good game.
    My faceborg dystopictoglyph: NWA, DFW, Coptic churches, flan, Lemmy, heat death, and finally, grotto maintenance.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Thanks. Good post.

      We can rely on the Dem zombies to stay smug and tone-deaf. It’s their brand!

  10. Eureka Springs

    Why use facebook at all? Just go back to snail mailing birthday cards. Add any needed contacts directly to your email address book and say buh bye fb. Isn’t facebook for older people these days? I never hear anyone under 40 mention it anymore.

    1. roadrider

      I’m an “older person” (60+). Never had a Faceborg or Twitter or any other “social media” account. Don’t understand why anyone does except the usual idiotic, lemming-like consumerist behavior that younger folk are just as prone to as anyone.

    2. ambrit

      Yep, well, consider what F-book offers the “older cohort.” A simple and extensive social circle with which to try desperately to continue old, pre-internet social relationships. In essence, that mythical village that the Arch Demon H Clinton once alluded to as a necessity for the maintenance of a “civil” society. For the less tech savvy, F-book acts as the gatekeeper to “connectedness.” With the dimly felt surrounding legions of “others” available, F-book can also replicate the sense of ‘community’ that living and interacting within a small to medium sized neighbourhood imparted. In the increasingly atomized and disconnected society we in the West live in, F-book promises “security,” for a price. How the younger cohort handles this I’ll leave up to them to explain.

      My nominee for Word of the Day: anomie

      1. tegnost

        great word, not so great results, but if one takes the angle of userfriendly’s link on daring the dnc to serve us up some tom perez, the resulting despair will be served up on someone else at least and we’ll be the survivors…at this point we’re a pack of ravenous dogs waiting for the meat to get dropped on the ground. Must be depressing to see there’s no demand for the crap your fantastic robot has stamped out. Imagine what $4/gal gas would do to the economy, then extrapolate out from there. Revenge is a dish best served cold….selling zucks house sounds like a fantastic idea, or maybe just break it and remake it in the silicon valley way….can’t wait til they get the myspace treatment (go ahead, call me a dreamer)

        1. HotFlash

          Imagine what $4/gal gas would do to the economy, then extrapolate out from there.

          Hello, tegnost. Can you please explain what you mean by this statement? I live in Canada, we are currently paying around $1.09 pr litre for gas, that should come out to about $4 per gallon, even with exchange. We have had no discernible change in our economy — well, nothing I would pin on higher gas prices — am I missing something?

            1. tegnost

              on the west coast it’s around 2.50/gal right now, the last time they tried $4/gal was 2007 as I recall…what happened next was?

            2. Dead Dog

              We’re around 6 to 7 bucks Aussie here, so it’s above 4US.

              Taxes are the diff I suspect, but cheaper would be good, esp as the taxes aren’t ‘spent’ so well anyway

          1. ambrit

            Right now, we here in the Deep South are paying about $2.00 a U.S. gallon for gasoline. Much of the region is rural, and automobile ownership is almost required to exist here. There are almost no public transportation methods outside of the medium and major population centres. In Hattiesburg, the main public bus runs once an hour from dawn to about nine at night. So, personal mobility and also disposable income are directly involved. Also of importance is shipping costs for the “new” online and “just in time” shopping venues. Most peo[ple I have spoken to about this subject remark that they take shipping costs into account automatically when figuring what brands and sources to use for purchases. E-Bay has a function hidden away on it’s display page that figures prices in several ways; one of which is price plus shipping. An effective doubling of the monetary worth of gasoline will have a large depressing effect on online sales, especially when “average” wages continue to deteriorate.

            1. HotFlash

              Well, we have real healthcare (single payer) and pretty good pensions still here in Canuckistan, so maybe we can afford to just ‘suck it up’? I still don’t know what you mean, though. Are you saying the economy will stop if the price of gasoline goes over $4/gallon?

              WRT 2007, 100% of people who ate pickles prior to 1865 are dead. I don’t see how high gasoline prices (a highly manipulable price, btw) explains the 2007 implosion. I see high consumer fuel prices as a symptom rather than a cause.

              1. tegnost

                disposable income. Americans don’t have much, the people who appear to have it are mostly in debt up to their eyeballls. Dick Cheney said famously that the economy could bear 4 dollar gas. In 2007 I paid $800 in one month to gas up my truck for landscaping…so I sold the truck and now if customers want me to use a truck I rent one, so a change in habits resulted from high gas prices in the us, australia and canada are not the usa, you don’t have aca, you may or may not have student loans, I think rent is high everywhere, but in general the us economy is debt, people are maxed out, and raising gas prices means rather than 100 a week for a commuter, it’s 150 or 200, and if you extrapolate from that it’s a lot of money that is not spent in restaurants or on movies or any number of other things, so while gdp stays the same, the distribution goes straight to NYC and the investment banks and we are revealed as a command economy where x dollars goes to gas (NYC via goldman et al) x to student loan (nyc via goldman et al) x to sick care tax (nyc via goldman et al) and if there’s anything left over well you’d better not save or else what will happen to all the people who need you to pay them in order for all of them to service their own massive debt pile, and in 2007 that happened and it had zero to do with pickles in 1865. Zero. No comparison. just as comparing three sovereigns is apples to oranges as the way it’s dealt with in each country is not the same, in the us we are supremely concerned with giving more to those with the most, not sure exactly how it works in canada or australia. And finally, yes, it would appear to me that those countries ability to bear higher gas prices implies more elasticity in the population, but as the commenter re australia points out, a lot is tax and gas taxes can be used to ameliorate the situation, and as yves points out above taxes can create incentives or redistribute in a country with that aim, but in the us that aim is to make the rich richer because markets where the price is what the market will bear, and if we won’t eat the dog food, they pass a law to force it upon us (non dischargeable student loans, ACA, etc..) but at some point there’s not enough in the fish bowl and changes must be made and the command economy fails.

      1. Atypical

        Senior trying to set password

        WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.

        USER: cabbage

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

        USER: boiled cabbage

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

        USER: 1 boiled cabbage

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.

        USER: 50bloodyboiledcabbages

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.

        USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.

        USER: 50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon’tGiv eMeAccessNow!

        WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

        USER: ReallyPissedOff50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourA ssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow

        WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.

        1. Annotherone

          Laughing – yes that was funny, and would be funny. and appropriate. relating to many more than just “seniors”.

          I’ll probably sound like a pain in the ass, but ageism pisses me off. Racism=very bad. Sexism=very bad. Ageism? Have at it!

          Change the noun “seniors” for “black people” or “women” and…..hell would break loose.

          Yep, I’m old – 78 a few weeks ago. – doesn’t automatically make me decrepit, ga-ga. or useless on the internet.

            1. Annotherone

              Thanks – yes I realised that. Yours was funnier, so I felt more comfortable responding to it. :)

              1. Atypical


                Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona
                when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

                As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.

                With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

                Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman.

                The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw,
                studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

                “What in bag?” asked the old woman.

                Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, “It’s a bottle of wine.
                I got it for my husband.”

                The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two.
                Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said:

                “Good trade.”


                Things are grim – need to laugh.

                1. Susan C

                  Very funny! Thank you! I heard one a few years ago I also liked –

                  This older couple was sitting outside on their porch one nice evening enjoying a fine bottle of wine. As they were enjoying the evening, the woman says “I love you”. The husband thinks about this for a second and says “Is that you talking or the wine?” The woman says “I was talking to the wine.”

                2. Cat's paw

                  Man, I hope that’s a true story. Good stuff, which causes me to remember a story of my own

                  I picked up a tiny little Navajo grandmother on the northern part of the rez one time as well. She was hitching back to her hogan from the post office. She was so quiet and gentle–talked, but very little; just comfortable with the silence. I took her all the way to her hogan several hundreds yards off the highway down a dirt road hidden by juniper (if you’ve ever picked up a Navajo hitchhiker they will usually say, “I’ll get out here” somewhere along the highway and then hop a fence or take off through the scrub leaving you wondering where the hell they’re going).

                  When we got to her hogan (no electricity or running water, by the way) she insisted I get out to introduce me to her tiny little smiling navajo husband. One of the best memories I have of this world.

                  Thanks for reminding me. I hadn’t thought about that brief encounter in a very long time.

          1. Katharine

            Thanks for saying it! Way too many silly assumptions out there.

            Among others I might mention, there is a widespread tendency for people to think an older person is crabby when they see deep vertical lines alongside the mouth. This is based on lack of thought about the way the body works. When you are young, your skin is elastic and snaps back after being stretched. As you age, it loses that elasticity and can only fold over to take up the slack. Well, what common facial motion stretches the skin beside the mouth sideways? Smiling! So when you see those vertical lines, it is reasonable to suppose the person possessing them has spent a lot of the past few decades smiling, if not outright grinning, not that they are crabby. Please keep it mind!

            1. Annotherone

              Thanks! I was quite surprised to see it from you. I usually agree with your postings here. I assumed it was unintentional, but thought I’d speak up anyway. :-)

        2. pricklyone

          Like others, I fail to see the connection to age, here. Maybe the “young, savvy” net denizen who creates a site like the above fictional example, is the one deserving of scorn.
          Simply state the requirements upfront?
          Says WAY more about the silliness of the techies, than the poor user of their sites.

    3. RudyM

      I work with a lot of people in their late teens and early twenties. Most of them are frequently on Facebook, and they discuss it quite a bit as well. I keep seeing these claims that it’s for older people now. I don’t see any evidence of that, anecdotally.

      1. Susan C

        I have never used facebook or twitter. I refuse. Obviously once you put your information out there anyone can grab it. I believe in privacy although I know that when I have mentioned a brand name on a personal email the next thing I see is a pop-up ad for that brand on my email page. So I know those are being read by some company. I feel most sorry for the young people in that they never knew how it felt to have privacy in their own lives.

  11. RenoDino

    “If Trump really does have Sessions go after the IC leakers, that would say that Trump is not close to being done.”

    This would have been true if he had kept Flynn on and then gone after the leakers full throttle. That’s a mission statement. Instead he folded like a cheap suit and called a snap press conference to put lipstick on his ham sandwich, as if to remind us that out of chaos comes greatness. Despite his characteristic bluster, there was a nervousness in his body language that told me he was well aware of his defeat at the hands of the IC and its significance.

    All he had to say to stay relevant was,” I’m keeping Flynn on because he didn’t break the law, the leakers did and they will pay dearly. What they did shows we are living in an out of control Police State and I will not allow it. ”

    But he couldn’t say that because he loves and fears the Police State so he caved and now’s he’s basically toast, reduced to firing his guy and pleading for an investigation that will never happen. Hoisted on his own petard.

    Pence is in Europe spouting the neocon line and Trump is joking about sinking Russians ships. The IC Swamp couldn’t be happier, but they’re work is not finished. And with that boys and girls, we end this tale of how a Troll became a Prince of the one true and great Ship of State.

  12. oho

    >OR mess up your profile in a big way, such as liking things that don’t represent you and don’t go together, like Hello Kitty, Nascar, fine dining somewhere you don’t live and never go, high end cruises and Dollar Store-ish sites, PETA and pro-meat lobbying groups.

    Ironically, doing that would make you stick out like a very sore thumb on the long-tail.

    If anything, I imagine being a cliche/stereotype would work the best so you get lost in the crowd—-herd anonymity.

    Go like Target, Starbucks, Apple, Mad Men, NPR, Paris.

    Or Ford, NASCAR, Toby Keith, Cabela, Target

    No one is like that!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read the article before commenting. If you fit a type, you’ll be targeted for very highly tuned and effective propaganda. If you don’t fit any profile they understand, they won’t bother with you. So being a class of one is EXACTLY where you want to be.

  13. jo6pac

    Why are the Dems not fighting on policy issues?

    The only policy the demodogs have is Russia and the fbi made us lose. Then there’s We are the less evil.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        A long term of consequence of party recruitment that focuses on self-funded, blank entities is Team Blue is so vacuous there are no policies to discuss.

        1. Gareth

          The Democrats in Wisconsin did just that, running a wealthy woman for governor two years ago whose campaign revolved around her business experience and management expertise, and oh yes, she was a woman. This permitted Scott Walker to run upstate as a populist in opposition to the elite liberal establishment.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            One of the Congressional districts in Virginia where a reasonable Democrat won in 2008 (the district is largely unchanged) ran a very similar sounding woman to your candidate who as far as I could tell wanted to expand rural Internet service and you could check out her website for more Info. She pushed her Chamber of Commerce background too. This was really going to bring out the African American vote.

            I knew the incumbent, retiring Republican. He was a worker bee in the state legislature*, and getting trounced by him isn’t a shame. Getting trounced by the fat slob running to replace him is a special kind of incompetence.

            *I’ve found many legislators are lazy. The ones who advance are usually worker bees.

    1. Dead Dog

      I speak with my friends and we don’t get this Russia shit in Australia, outside of the MSM of course, who send the same ‘scare messages’ that you get. Where is this fear and hatred of Russia coming from, 30, 50 years ago? Come on…

      I don’t see the threat that requires a strong defense, or indeed any defense. The Russians are just people trying to live in a complex, odds against most world, not constantly thinking about how they can outwit the West and the East…

      Or am I seeing things through rose colored glasses?

      1. integer

        I think this marks the beginning of the latest round of Russia hating bs:

        As President Barack Obama struggled to rally Congress and the American people behind military action in Syria, Russia seized on a remark by his secretary of state on Monday to say Damascus should save itself by handing over its chemical weapons.

        John Kerry was quick to dismiss as hypothetical his own comment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avert U.S. strikes by surrendering his chemical arsenal to international control. But Assad’s ally Russia quickly turned it into a firm proposal that was “welcomed” by Damascus and echoed by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

        It seems (to me at least) that Russia’s only crime was to throw sand into the gears of the neocons’ overarching plot for the Middle East. Interestingly, the Nuland manufactured Ukranian coup began approximately three months after Russia first became involved in Syria. I doubt this was a coincidence.

        1. integer

          Make that: Russia’s only crime was to throw sand into the gears of the neocons’ overarching plot for the Middle East war machine.

          The original version was not quite in Friedman territory, but still a little too close for comfort.

  14. Carolinian

    Re Jack Shafer’s Politico “nothing to see here” reaction to Trump’s press bashing–if this is indeed business as usual then perhaps it’s not so much “Baby Donald” as Baby Chuck Todd. One suspects those long ago reporters who faced abuse from FDR or even NIxon were a tougher bunch who could take it in stride. Highly paid TV celebrities taking umbrage at blows to their carefully manufactured images seem to be making Trump’s point if he has one.

    At any rate nothing to see here is a curious stance for someone writing a column of supposed press criticism. If there’s nothing to see then he doesn’t have much to write about. His suggestion that this is all Agnew redux ignores the changes in the media themselves. Back then a more robust if still flawed press produced a lot more original information. These days it often seems to be all agenda.

    1. barrisj

      Re: old-school journalist/reporters: Ah, the years when people such as Dan Rather and Clark Mollenhoff would stand up and slug it out with Nixon in his many press conferences…never intimidated, but the net result was getting put on Nixon’s “Enemies List”…didn’t deter Dan Schorr from egging Nixon on. And the old “Meet the Press”…well, Chuck Todd couldn’t even qualify to fill the reporters’ water glasses on that program. Gone are the days, and we are all the worse for it.

  15. allan

    Prime Minister Trudeau, tear down build up that wall!

    Nine people flee U.S. border patrol to seek asylum in Canada [Reuters]

    Nine asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.

    As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side. …

    The man turned to a pile of belongings and heaved pieces of luggage two at a time into the gully — enormous wheeled suitcases, plastic shopping bags, a black backpack.

    “Nobody cares about us,” he told journalists. He said they were all from Sudan and had been living and working in Delaware for two years. …

    The best deterrent will probably be to tell them about Canadian real estate prices. And poutine.

    1. Tom

      On the other hand, it is the birthplace of SCTV, Kids in The Hall, The Trailer Park Boys and Schitt’s Creek. So it has that going for it.

    2. Gareth

      Poutine, is now all the rage in Madison, Wis.. It’s difficult to find a place that doesn’t serve it. This isn’t surprising as Wisconsin is the beer guzzling state that invented deep fried cheese. There are even gourmet takes on the Canadian dish such as ‘calamari and poutine’. Yum. I gave up drinking over a decade ago but I’m guessing poutine goes down best between the sixth and seventh beer.

      1. Jim Haygood

        I’m guessing poutine goes down best between the sixth and seventh beer.

        That would be breakfast time in Wisconsin. ;-)

    3. tegnost

      the mexican americans who I was working with in sf all had that as an option (it’s a mixed bag, the one’s with relatives, land in their home country may go back, but many have no ties to latin america and border on being stateless actors paying, by the way, lots of money to insure their american citizen kids so when I pointed out that there are lots of hot canadians and universal healthcare they’re all “I’m Goin…” I’d advise against the poutine as well, heart attack on a plate.

    4. philnc

      A bit more from that story:

      “As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.

      One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.”

      Flashback the to the Berlin Wall in the 1960’s and 70’s. In those days everyone knew where freedom was, who the good guys were. I guess we now know too: North, to the Canadians.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Where are the North American freedom trains?

        In the end, 12,000 people left East Germany on 14 trains between October 1 and 8, 1989. Today, the trains are considered a symbol of the revolution, and large crowds of people turned out to greet the Freedom Train as it retraced the journey of the original.

        Christina Gerlauf, who was 21 at the time, said people 20 years ago had a feeling that something was happening in the country. “We could not say what it was, but we knew a rumor among the people, that they would not accept the situation anymore,” Gerlauf said.

  16. Stephen Gardner

    Sorry but I can’t share your fear of Facebook. I don’t have a Facebook account and I can’t imagine what it would do for me but more importantly algorithms and AI are dangerous because of what they get wrong not what they get right. Human PR and advertising teams already do a magnificent job of manipulation. But eventually people wake up and believe what they see in front of their eyes not what they are propagandized to believe. That will be true even if the overhyped AI world gets its act together.

    1. Steve H.

      Zuck mentioned he’s thinking about the White House, which confirmed that use of Fcbk benefits not just our intelligence agencies, but most particularly his personal political aspirations. (This is long-term, not short term, remember Trump was talking prez 16+ years ago.)

      It’s not just the knowledge base, per marketing research the last few decades. The algorithms control who sees what. Not only can he cultivate a base that appeals to his benefit, and figure the best stimuli-response mechanics, he can actively mess with opposition. Voter suppression is a very effective historically verified method of winning elections. He can do more than simply blank out his non-supporters networks, he can mislead them with Squirrel! links, and disrupt cohesiveness by increasing in-group variance and disharmony with Friends suggestions.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Excellent point! My biggest fear with social media is NOT with what ads and propaganda they target you with – it is what they will block from your view…..

  17. LMS

    A lot of businesses near me now use Facebook instead of maintaining a website. Even when a company has a website, that site is rarely updated with holiday hours, closings due to weather, etc.; the information is posted on the FB page. Also, many clubs and activities rely on FB for communication, such as for notice of meeting times and changes. I rarely use FB, but it would be too inconvenient for me to avoid it completely.

      1. LMS

        The groups to which I’ve belonged have been closed groups. Members have used FB to post personal information, such as their home addresses for practice locations. Businesses might be different.

  18. timbers

    “…the Emoluments Clause is a non-starter as far as Trump is concerned. Why are the Dems not fighting on policy issues?”

    I think you underestimate the Democratic consultant class! For example:

    “Hillary 2020…BECAUSE EMOLUMENTS”

    Fly over country Trump voters will think emoluments is some sort of female preferred sexual lubricant for older women with stroke related fainting spells while the coastal elites will totally get it. Can’t think of a better way to not reach out to even 1 single voter not already part of the Team Blue while avoiding anything that might offend corporate donors.

    A perfect issue free, fact free, social identity campaign to repeat Hillary’s 3 million vote victory in 2016!

    1. flora

      Emoluments…. Clinton Foundation “donations” during Hill’s Sec State tenure…. it’s all so confusing. /s

  19. Norb

    Re: Deadly storms slams Southern California.

    The before and after photo of the Oroville Dam spillway shows the raw power of nature unleashed. Climate change will force an open confrontation and reevaluation of capitalism in its present form. With such widespread destruction, the drive for profit alone cannot stand up. A resilient, self reinforcing system is needed to survive what is coming, which is the opposite of parasitic opportunism.

    In such a turbulent world, private insurance will become an economic impossibility. What else is left but a new social compact to survive the turmoil? Your are either with us or against us indeed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For older people, a new social compact is indeed needed in that new turbulent world.

      Without it, nursing homes are empty and Medicare is solvent.

      Not comforting to go through a revolution for those in their 80s or 90s.

  20. B1whois

    In that CNN Story on deadly storms threatening California, this quote looks suspect:

    But Hennen, the CNN meteorologist, said, “The next week of storms could potentially bring hundreds of billions of gallons of water into Lake Oroville, adding pressure back onto the already compromised structure of the concrete spillway and emergency spillway next to Oroville Dam.”

    Isn’t the threat at Oroville Dam based entirely on elevation? I don’t think pressure is a problem at all. Is this some as-yet-unnamed form of fake news? #FearNews? #IdiotNews?

    1. Aumua

      Well it’s based on the height of the water column, and also the danger is from erosion of the spillway areas. But aside from that, “hundreds of billions” of gallons sounds kind of high.

      Edit: apparently the capacity of the entire lake is about 1 trillion gallons, so I suppose it’s possible.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And surface area, one multiplier on volume, increases with height, sometimes a lot. He’s talking about the whole watershed, anyway, not just the reservoir.
        I think “pressure” was meant metaphorically, not technically. Larger volumes do more damage. The Ice-Age Columbia floods are the extreme example – thousands of square miles, maybe more, reshaped. They ripped out sections of bedrock. very like the damage to the spillway.

        1. ambrit

          There is great controversy about the causes of the Scablands floods. Check out Randall Carlson’s YT videos about the science speculations involved. He’s a committed ‘Catastrophist’ by the way. Also, he’s a ‘credentialed one.’ He keeps to the facts about this subject. The science does not seem to support any form of incrementalism.
          The basic factor that will control the size of the disaster is how quickly the dam fails and how much of it’s “height” fails.

    2. Katharine

      Any time you have water behind a barrier there is pressure (force per unit area) on the barrier; the higher the water level, the greater the total force on the barrier. If it exceeds the strength of the barrier, the barrier gives way, so yes, pressure is or could be a problem. From what the officials quoted say, they seem to be draining water fast enough to keep the lake at safe levels, limiting the total force. If they can continue to do that without having to use the auxiliary spillway again, they should be all right. Description from previous analysis:

      The water began eating away at the ground beneath the top of the auxiliary spillway, carving deep gullies into the earth. On Sunday afternoon, the Department of Water Resources warned that the lip of the auxiliary spillway, which was never built to be as sturdy as the main spillway, was in danger of “failure” if the ground beneath gave way.

      That was terrifying: If the 30-foot-high concrete barrier at the top of the auxiliary spillway collapsed, billions of gallons of water would start bursting from the reservoir all at once, swamping the Feather River below.

    3. pricklyone

      May be taking “pressure” too literally? I read in terms of “putting pressure on resources”, not physical term of pressure.

  21. George Phillies

    With respect to the AntiMedia ( not report on shadow government, I seem to recognize some of those names. They were people who the Trump administration invited to leave. Indeed, and you are better at searching these things out, I seem to have seen reports that the 7th floor operation was being disassembliated, with segments of its staff being sent on its way.

    1. pricklyone

      From the Department of Redundant Redundancy Department:
      “Deassembliated” ???
      Sorry, had to say something.(Big grin)

  22. Portia

    from “Biologists find weird cave”:

    “It’s simply another illustration of just how completely tough Earth life is,” Boston said.

    So, frack and spill, pollute and nuke! the Earth can take it. There are more and more of these kinds of articles of late…

    1. River

      The planet can take it. We humans however….not to mention: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, fungus. But if you’re a microbe the Golden Age is upon you!

  23. political economist

    Re: New FBI Docs Reveal ‘Shadow Government’ Protected Hillary in Email Investigation

    HRC lost because of her actions (a reflection of who she is) which is what this item reminds us.
    However, you should have noted that this story is from October of last year when we all needed to know the character of the nominees, not merely a current release of an ongoing FBI investigation. In this context, the ‘Shadow government’ of October’s news is the ‘deep state’ of today’s and the forces who violated Federal law elect HRC to try to elect the war hawk, are the same working to impeach Trump now.
    Also noteworthy is that the attempt to shift blame for her loss away from HRC is very problematic given that aside from some temporary blips up and down, she basically stayed at an average of about 3% above Trump throughout the campaign. (

  24. Ivy

    Squirrels may be pests around the bird feeder, however they are also quite clever in solving those primal food access problems. They are also entertaining for cats and dogs to watch from the window. Outdoors, there are fairly benign species interactions with feeder and ground activity, as squirrels and some birds co-exist.

    All get scared away when a jay flies in noisily, then return after the jay sees how difficult it is to balance on the swaying feeder. The mourning doves feed in groups on the ground, enjoying the seed so casually scattered from above. Myriad little brown jobs flit about nervously, grab a few seeds and zip off. All scatter when the red tailed hawk makes an appearance to observe.

    1. Edward E

      Flying squirrels are really wary, but one year I had some taking peanuts from my fingers. They would come swooping in at dusk and after a few nights they eventually calmed down about my presence and actually became somewhat friendly.

      One or two occasionally takes over a birdhouse and fills it with tree bark for nesting. Which is OK until they’ve been discovered, then they might leave if you opened the birdbox without knowing.

      One year there were so many they became a bit of a nuisance. Chewing holes in the top of my deer and turkey feeders, then getting stuck until I came along to take the lid off and turn the feeder on its side to let the cute little squirrels out. Some years there are none, so they likely migrated to areas of better mast crops, like their bigger cousins.

  25. JEHR

    This description of the raccoon riding on the back of a garbage truck totally describes how I feel looking at the world controlled by billionaires engorging themselves on the world’s riches:

    Can you see the mixture of wonder and terror in his tiny raccoon eyes? Those are eyes that know that this dangerous ride on the back of the garbage truck will lead him—if his luck holds—to the mecca of trash that is the dump. There, he will feast and feast on all the food scraps society has thrown away, gorging himself on the world’s waste.

  26. John k

    Why are dems not fighting on policy issues?
    Because they agree with reps on policy… and this because reps and dems share the same owners.

    Guess question was rhetorical…

  27. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Leading Progressives Kucinich and Greenwald: Even Americans Who Hate Trump Should Defend Him Against Attempted Coup by the “Deep State” … A Coup Which Is Being Attempted “So That This Military Industrial Intel Axis Can Cash In” George Washington (RR)

    Reducing the problem to its essence–from a commenter to the article named David Schultz:

    The question is are you as progressive as Kucinich or not? Do you really want to end the expensive and wasteful [me: and DANGEROUS] war against Russia even if it means letting Trump do it?

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Couldn’t agree more with Dave Schultz’s comment, as far as it goes. The second part is do we really want to institutionalize the practice of each legacy party opposing tooth and nail every initiative of a government controlled by the opposition, even those obviously in the broad national interest, just because it’s out of power?

      1. jonboinAR

        I donno. Was 8 years steady and uninterrupted of said practice enough to consider it “institutionalized”?

  28. GF

    The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine Scout.

    Interesting that I can’t read the article without javascript being activated and even though it appears to be a secure URL with the https in place, it is not—hmmmm

    1. allan

      Sebastian Mallaby, Sebastian Mallaby … that name rings a bell:
      The dire consequences of the U.S. budget deficit [CNN]

      The United States is running an unsustainable budget deficit. The International Monetary Fund calculates that it will come to 10.8 percent of GDP in 2011, worse than the 8 percent projected for the group of advanced G20 countries and far worse than the 2.5 percent projected for the emerging G20 countries.

      The future doesn’t look much better. The IMF calculates that the gap between the current budget path and a sustainable budget path is larger for the United States between now and 2016 than for any other country bar Japan.

      Deficits for a few years don’t matter. The United States can borrow easily to cover its budget gap thanks to the dollar’s status as the leading reserve currency. But sustained deficits do matter. They add to the stock of national debt, driving up the cost of interest payments and draining the government of resources.

      When cumulative deficits drive national debt to around 90 percent of GDP, a country’s growth rate starts to suffer [Reinhart and Rogoff, take a bow]. On current projections, the United States will hit that level within a decade. …

      At some unpredictable point, investor jitters could spark a rush for the exit, driving U.S. interest rates up and causing the dollar to fall sharply.

      How pressing is this risk? CFR’s Center for Geoeconomic Studies tracks the foreign-exchange reserves held by BRIC central banks (PDF); the data show that faith in the dollar may already be waning. …

      From 2011. Just in time to support the austerity fever that was gripping D.C.
      How’d that work out for Mallaby and his colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Deplorables’ problem is, then, that they are not perceiving reality realistically.

      Perhaps time to introduction a bill to submit them to psychiatric surveillance.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. Politico (furzy)”
    And apparently the press’s approval ratings are about as low as Trump’s own.
    Which is why we’re reading NC instead of a newpaper.

    1. John k

      Read NC not because newspaper ratings are horrible but because the papers are horrible.
      Who do read them? Clinton supporters, explaining why they print what those supporters want to read.

      Survival means keep the base happy at all cost, including loss of cred.

  30. Oregoncharles

    ” Why are the Dems not fighting on policy issues? ”
    Because their positions aren’t really that different?
    And perhaps more important: because they avoid discussing policy altogether. If policy was in the news, they might have to come up with some and deliver some actual democracy. That’s why Bernie had to be shut out: he talked about policy, not just empty slogans.

  31. skk

    re: the Weaponised AI propaganda article – I’ve been a math modeller for 40 years, in its current guise of data science for 10 years, I even for a nano-second thought of applying for the Data Scientist job on Hilary’s campaign when it was posted on the Kaggle DS competitions side. I’m exploring using the Atlas ad product from FB.

    The article has zero mentions of Type 1, Type II errors, or their equivalent formulations false positive, false negatives, sensitivity and specificity. So I view its claims with extreme scepticism for its accuracy beyond what you’d already know by viewing business, NOT stat presentations by Google, FB and the like. So as an antidote to that article – here’s mathbabe’s view

    1. LT

      Okay, but that article just mainly says, “The Democrats are doing it too.”
      You probably have a better explanation in mind for the errors that can result. It wasn’t expained there.
      I’d imagine emotion has much to do with the errors and despite common personality traits that are perceived, so much more goes into people’s judgements.
      At the end of the day, we are still actually living in a real world with real people.

    2. curlydan

      Thanks, skk! I am a long-time data analyst and maybe statistician. I felt the exact same way reading that article. Heavy on fear and supposition, light on stats.

      The stats I saw in that article were a few “under the curve” (ROC curve?) stats and some Pearson correlation coefficients in a chart, neither of which seemed impressive or particularly good from a statistical modeling perspective.

      Thanks for the O’Neill article. I will share with others!

    1. tegnost

      stop telling them that the sooner they die the sooner the robot utopia can blossom into it’s rightful glory and whomever is left can take a self driving uber to nowhere?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you are ONLY appealing to the white working class because you want to counter Trump’s appeal to them (Here, the guide to counter it – that sounds like reacting), do you genuinely care for them?

      Or is the motive ulterior?

      It’s relevant here, because the next question is, will this compassion last long?

  32. George Phillies

    Indeed, Tillerson appears to be sending parts of the shadow government on their way and/or they left voluntarily.

    Various reports on departures and who went

    The prior firings

    Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy
    acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Thomas Countryman
    Gregory Starr, Assistant Secretary for State for Diplomatic Security
    Michele Bond, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs,
    Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr,
    Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions

    This list is incomplete.

  33. Katharine

    Taibbi is sloppy in calling it Trump’s repeal. Congress did the main work, he just signed off. That may be deplorable and inconsistent with his campaign rhetoric, but still one should stay focused on who is doing what. Congress is getting too little attention from media obsessed with Trump.

  34. flora

    re: Democrats, Liberals Catch McCarthyistic Fever

    Thanks for that link. I went to grade school when children were being instructed in “duck-and-cover” drills – stand up out of you desk chair and then sit on the floor underneath your desk – using your desk top as protection from a nuclear blast. Even at that very young age most kids knew it was a silly exercise. I think reducing tensions with Russia is a very good idea. Calming down the war drums is a very good idea.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “So try us, DNC. We’re probably just bluffing anyway, like we were when we told you Bernie or Bust. You should try us and find out. Stop postponing the inevitable and elect Tom Perez to DNC chair. Then watch and see what happens.” – from “I Dare You To Elect Tom Perez, DNC. Do It. Do It And Watch What Happens. Newslogue”

    Might be interesting. This whole article sure looks like “posturing and pretending” to me, especially considering most of the “Bernie or Bust” people WERE bluffing.

    Watching the Democratic Party tear itself into little bitty shreds sounds pretty entertaining to me. We’re quite prepared to host the refugees.

  36. hreik

    Facebook: Use in stealth mode. Only friends or friends of friends (If I’m being generous) can see my posts. I noted that when I don’t use stealth mode, I see ads for things that actually interest me….. NOT good. Means someone (or some ad app) is stalking me. So I go in stealth. No one can post on my timeline. lol

    1. pricklyone

      I don’t think other users seeing your posts is the problem. Facebook itself is the problem. They still see, and use all of it for their own purposes.

    2. Cynthia

      If your FB connections are not using the same privacy setting as you and they ‘like’ something that you post, all of their friends can then see it. That is why I will FB even with just family and real friends.

        1. duck1

          read newspaper article re bedroom pests
          day later clicked on google add for pesticide
          thereafter deluged with bug related adds in various contexts
          deleted browsing data on chrome and the parade subsided
          kinda gross

          1. skk

            yeah retargetting – yeah I searched for some electronics at Target and since then all my FB ads are for Target for a few days now. Definitely icky and tiresome – but I’ve got past seeing it as spooky and think its rather unsophisticated and old hat even at that .. I remember in Aden wayyy back when I stopped for and seemed to like some geegaw at one shop and as I walked down the street – seemingly all the other stores knew what I liked and pushed that on me…

            DId they discern my personality from my behavior at the first shop and then text it to all the other shops ? Which they then matched to the goods they had, based on a recommender system matching likes–>>personality trait –> to products ? This was in 1970 so unlikely ! More likely they just sent the young helper down the road.

            So, especially since I am in data science I see this is really rather crude.. Retargetting has a really bad conversion rate.. but is it even self-defeating ? Am I turned off from Target now ? Some marketeers I discuss this with – the inverse-halo effect – believe so.

  37. Foppe

    Very well-written piece of satire, here:

    There’s a Deep State in America?!

    Imagine my surprise when, on my flight back from San Francisco to New York, that’s what my trusty New York Times revealed to me.

    My first thought was: I can’t believe how this horrible Donald Trump has set up a Deep State in less than a month?!

    Surely Russia was involved in its formation.

    Then again, I strangely find myself thinking a lot about Russia these days. I’ll admit it – when my morning breakfast was late it fleetingly occurred to me that the Kremlin was behind this slowdown in my hotel room service.

    Putting that aside, I was immediately relieved when by the 3rd paragraph our nation’s paper of record had put to rest my fears of an unprecedented formation of a US Deep State with, “Not quite, experts say….”


    I just don’t put anything past the evil capabilities of the Donald!

    Reading the article I was surprised to find that the Deep State isn’t what I thought it was – apparently it’s only when the government leaks information to the media?

    That’s funny, because one time on the SF-NYC “Job Creator Red-eye” I sat next to an Egyptian guy. Of course I was worried, at first, but I found out it he was a Coptic Christian, so that put me at ease. Who even knew they had those?!

    This Egyptian told me about his country’s Deep State, and it sounded really bad:

    He said that they colluded with “some Western countries” – he didn’t say which and looked kind of uncomfortable as he said it, for some reason – to stop that great Tahrir Square Revolution which was to guarantee that Israel would be safe.

    “Mr. Gypsy” said that the Egyptian version of the Deep State was that their military controlled the economy, and that they bribed, imprisoned and killed people to keep their grip on the economy and control over foreign policy.

    It sounded pretty bad.

    I told him I was happy that Washington was supporting Al-Sisi’s military takeover with billions in aid, and that he didn’t have to thank me personally for that.

    A “military” intertwined with the “economy”…I must admit, it did make me think.

    Of Russia! I’m nearly certain that Putin created something similar over there after he banned elections, so why even verify it with some research?!

    But this Egyptian must not have known what he was talking about, because the New York Times article didn’t say anything about the economy?

    More at link

  38. OIFVet

    Four NATO Nations Would Pick Russia to Defend Them If Threatened: Poll.

    At the same time, some of the results in European NATO countries showed how their fundamental security choices were moving beyond the alliance, he said. Bulgaria and Greece, for example, see their biggest security threat coming from Turkey. Although Turkey is also a NATO member and so theoretically an ally, its invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974 showed that these countries cannot rely on NATO to protect them, so they look to Russia.

    Similarly, in Western Europe, some NATO members are increasingly looking to other Europeans for security, according to Stoychev. Although 30 percent of Belgians chose the U.S. in the survey, more chose European partners — 25 percent France and 12 percent the U.K. — while almost as many Swedes chose the U.K. (29 percent) as the U.S. (31 percent).

    Quite the legacy that Clinton, Dubya, and Barry have left us! The world is basically telling the US that it is not a trustworthy partner, and this is a direct result of the post- Cold War US foreign policy. It has been a bipartisan effort to ensure such a massive failure, and a slow clap is in order.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other options for protection:


      Saudi Arabia?



      Somali pirates?


      Private Contractors?

  39. Steve H.

    North Korea Assassination Suspect Thought She Was Participating in a TV Prank

    A suspect in the killing of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, who died in a shopping concourse at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday, reportedly thought she was participating in a television prank, not an international assassination.

    Indonesia’s national police chief Tito Karnavian said that the suspect, Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to commit what she thought were a series of pranks, involving convincing strangers to close their eyes so she could then spray them with water, the Guardian reports.

    “Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”

  40. pricklyone

    “Protection” by the US invites comparison to the same-named product of the Mafia. And seems to come with a similar price.

  41. allan

    A Trump Ally in Congress Warns His State, California, to Make Nice [NYT]

    And in an interview here, [House Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy left no doubt that his loyalties in this fight were east of the Mississippi River. He assailed California’s Democratic leaders for provoking the president, and warned that it could prove damaging to the state, particularly as the Trump administration created an infrastructure program to pay for public works projects across the nation.

    “Look, I will represent my district, and I will represent my state,” Mr. McCarthy said in his first-floor suite of offices, between votes. “But what they are doing, they are playing with fire. Donald Trump is not going out in any way or form to attack California. They are the ones who are attacking California right now. They are the ones who are putting Californians at risk in every shape and form. And they are doing it to make a political point, which is wrong.”

    From the Party of States’ Rights™.
    [Offer valid only south of the Mason-Dixon Line and in the Intermountain West.]

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They are not provoking Trump as much as provoking the Deplorables.

      “He’s your president, not ours – we are a new, different independent sovereign, after secession.”

      “We have created a lot of national distribution jobs to handle products that used to be made in the Rust Belt, but are now made overseas and trans-shipped through the Golden State to the other 49 or 48 states.”

      And in exchange, we can sell more Hollywood movies to those newly developed middle class consumers abroad.

      That’s California profiting from the hollowing out of our manufacturing.

  42. Rahul

    I am off facebook and I don’t miss it. I have time for myself. I actually have a flip phone. Yes life is inconvenient in some ways. I do love the time I have now. I put it to good use either by reading a book or doing an activity. I grew up not having a phone. My grandfather never had a phone. He turned out well and fine. My dad has a phone. Not much of a difference in status nor relationships. With the phone few things are easy. That is about it. Beyond that its all in you. I don’t understand we are debating this topic so heavily. To me this is a no brainer. Easy 101. Get off the social media and get a flip phone with a 30 dollar monthly plan. Erase all those ridiculous taxes you pay on your phone bill. Have you folks looked at your phone bills. They are 30 pages long… Lol

  43. ChiGal in Carolina

    public safety alert:

    there is an email going around purportedly from Zephyr Teachout soliciting donations for Keith Ellison for DNC chair that is actually a scam.

    they get your credit card info and then ask for another, which was the tipoff for someone I know. when she looked closer, it is from some “anti-corruption league” located in Nigeria. so she cancelled the card she had given them.

    another clue should have been that in addition to the $27 donation they ask for, they also suggest a 10% tip

    1. aab

      There was an actual* con man on Twitter during the primaries pretending to be a close associate of Jerry Brown and Bernie, soliciting funds for various supposed Bernie-supporting efforts. It was horrifying seeing how easily people fell for it and started giving him their money, thinking it would go to Bernie, on the basis of…nothing. He got them to trend a hashtag funneling more suckers to him, even — which is pretty impressive when you consider how heavily Twitter was suppressing Bernie-related hashtags at that point.

      * Meaning not a politician or “journalist”; the real thing.

  44. Jim Haygood

    Trump’s best tweet ever (so far):


    The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

    4:48 PM – 17 Feb 2017

    Yeehawww … torch ’em again, Donnie!

    And don’t forget the WaPo next time, okay?

    1. Eureka Springs

      He really took those guys out to the presser woodshed for all the world to see! Beauty. And I as an NC fake newsnic loved every bit of it. We couldn’t buy that with all the money in the world from a Democrat.

  45. Daryl

    > Readers, can you add specific suggestions for underming Faceborg’s understanding of you? Please circulate this article and encourage friends and family to corrupt their Faceborg profile deliberately and see what fun results!

    I’ve seen some browser extensions for stuff like this (I don’t think it was Facebook specifically, perhaps Google Anayltics, I can’t remember). I think it’s a great idea given the asymmetrical nature of data collection: you can’t stop yourself from being profiled, but you can mess up the profile. I hope it becomes more common.

  46. LT

    The liberals (non-classical, modern variation)re using the state and mainstream media outlets for dissemmination of their tropes and conservatives (non-classical modern variation) are using the bots/algorithms.
    Hillary used polling and demographic based marketing techniques – popular with ad agencies that give us terms like “Boomer” and “Gen X.”
    Trump used personality based marketing (which I always suspected was superior to the demographic/age based models).

    You can see the state promoting its Putin tropes all over the globe in anticipation of the upcoming elections in Europe. The main dissemminators, the mainstream press.
    Then we’ll get to see how the conservatives counter with their bots employing personalith based marketing.

    It will be an interesting propaganda battle.

    Really, the best defense is staying off social media as a guide to news sources and becoming as well read as possible on civics, history, and the like.

  47. ewmayer

    Re. “The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine | Scout” — Ironically, was unable to see any actual article content at the page, just a raft of JS widget-links in the upper left corner. So I temporarily enable JS for the domain … still no content. Go to my NoScript pulldown and see that the page is wanting me to enable JS for multiple 3rd-party sites, e.g., and So an article warning us of AI profiling is itself illustrative of, and contributory to, the problem. Nice.

    1. LT

      One of the things I like about this site NC, is that I can read and comment using my Ghostery browser.
      If I have my Ghostery browser blocking the trackers (for marketing analytics), a lot of sites don’t seem to allow you to see or post to the comment sites.

  48. susan the other

    Real Clear Politics. The Fed Exists as the Barrier to the American Dream. That dream of free private enterprise in a free market world wherein all revenue suddenly dried up and nothing was done, intentionally not done, to make this wonderful economy recover? The Fed colluded to sandbag a recovery, you say? And now they are fluffing over the whole unfortunate incident by saying “The output gap is gone.” Our work here is done. And anybody who doesn’t have a job is ether a leaching old useless boomer or a drug addict. And who cares if we were just pretending to help the economy “recover” all those jobs – that’s your tough luck. The fact is the Fed knew QE had no chance of creating a recovery – only fiscal stimulus and industrial planning can do this, which the Fed knew was under control by congress in order to keep the dollar strong, as it foamed the runway with 5 trillion dollars for 10 years for the finance industry at taxpayer expense. It didn’t want to cause inflation. Make me sick. The US bailed out the banks and imposed austerity as harshly as Wolfgang Schaeuble ever did, buying time for the banks to write off their losses and keeping them alive to do so. Runway foam forever. Yeah, so what else is new? Will anything ever be as disgusting as this?

    1. susan the other

      And now interest rates can jet right up there because everything under the sun is in sublime balance again. Having created enough poverty and hardship to absorb many foolish and wasteful uses of money for quick and dirty profits for your cronies. Never mind that interest itself causes inflation… and on and on.

  49. Foppe

    Wrt the Unilever-Heinz takeover bid: leaving aside that Unilever happens to be “uninterested” in this LBO attempt, how is it that anti-competition offices don’t forbid this outright?

    1. Eureka Springs

      Pardon me, but my rudimentary search skills fail. I seem to recall almost precisely the same time Senator Kerry became SOS… Heinz the company was granted some sort of waiver or ability to conduct business far beyond its scope or some such. And I was surprised at both the timing as well as silence about it. Do you know/recall what it was?

    1. dcrane

      Much as I dislike linking to National Review given their performance over the past decade, this was also interesting (on 2016 election numbers). The author predicted what became Trump’s electoral path to victory in mid-2015 and believes the midwestern states could become a “big beautiful red wall” for the GOP.

      In 2016, the path to victory for the GOP ran through the Midwest, and this may remain true for some time. In combination with its solid southern base, a GOP that targets much of its energy toward midwestern concerns could be a juggernaut.

  50. LT

    Bill Gates: The Robot that Takes Your Job Should Pay Taxes…

    How else would defense contactors, much of the Fortune 500 and Surveillicon Valley survive?

    I wouldn’t be surprsised if a fianancial sector honcho came forth next and said, “Robots should be allowed to get home mortgages…”

  51. hunkerdown

    All those Like buttons on external pages also supply tracking data to Facebook, whether you click them or not.

    Facebook’s machinery can often be blocked at the router level by “parental controls” settings, or more surgically in Firefox by the NoScript addon’s ABE (Application Boundaries Enforcer) feature. To get you all started, here are excerpts from my own ABE rule set, leading off with Facebook. The Accept lines may be omitted to taste and allow inclusion or links to Facebook site resources from, respectively: the application and the Social Fixer addon; Google search results interstitial tracking; and address bar URL entry. The Deny line at the end is important, denying any site not previously addressed by a rule:

    Accept from
    Accept from moz-nullprincipal:* about:blank

    This completely denies certain Flash web bugs served by Facebook:


    Here, Twitter, with allowances for Storify, Twitter internal interstitial tracking, and address bar URL entry:

    Accept from
    Accept from
    Accept from moz-nullprincipal:* about:blank

  52. Foppe

    Oh, dear:

    But Mr Trump’s stints in the palm lined 126-room pink palace – which he likes to call the ‘southern White House’ – represent a potential for conflicts of interest like never before, as he undertakes the business of running the country surrounded by America’s most rich and powerful.

    As a member of the club – the membership fee doubled to $200,000 Mr Trump became president – you might find yourself sunbathing beside a White House strategist, or, as happened last week when Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, visited, dining beside a world leader.

    A waltz in the ornate pool side ball room could see you bump into the leader of the free world.

    A review of membership lists by the New York Times shows that club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by the president’s policies.

    Seems he’s one-upped the Clintons.

  53. Foppe

    Here’s a wonky but worthwhile discussion of the future of the EZ by Blyth, from feb 5th.
    Retreads some old ground, but also includes interesting historical bits about Lockean-Humean liberalism, enclosure & private property, and the way they thought about debt vs. tax-financing spending. Imo it would be interesting to comment on or ‘retell’ this narrative by someone with a good grasp on MMT and education

  54. drexciya

    That was one of the first things that came up in my mind as well. There’s no way that the anti-cartel laws allow this. By the way it’s not Heinz doing the bid, but it’s the investment company which previously bought Heinz, called 3G. They only keep the facade intact as to not piss off the public (who might have some objections about a Brazilian investment company buying a big “national” company).

  55. ChrisPacific

    Count me unimpressed by the weaponized propaganda article, which struck me as alarmist and veered off into wingnut fake news/Russkies territory at the end, even mentioning some of the same material covered by PropOrNot at the end (interview with Russian trolls! Wearing black masks!)

    Some of it is real but it’s mostly second or third hand research – the links are usually to Guardian articles or similar, which are often equally thinly sourced. Cambridge Analytica is real and most of the facts quoted around their relationships with political campaigns seem correct. The original Kosinski research paper (on data-mining likes) mentioned in the article is real, but it’s unclear how significant his results are. Jonathan Albright’s work on the ‘fake news’ network can be found on Medium, but has nothing like the alarmist tone that it was later used to justify. It doesn’t even reach any real conclusions, and amounts to him drawing a tracking network diagram and then speculating about it. Finally the details of how the methodology helped Trump win the election come from Cambridge Analytica itself, which obviously has a vested interest in talking up its effectiveness. The Wiki page for Cambridge Analytica includes a link to a German language article that expresses skepticism on similar points.

    One important point I did come away with was how people who can see your data on Facebook might be sharing it with third parties (possibly unwittingly) by opting in to Facebook surveys and the like. So nothing you post on Facebook should ever be regarded as secure, regardless of how well you think you have managed to lock it down using privacy settings (granted the data mining was said to have breached the TOS, but they don’t seem to have faced any consequences for it and they kept all the data). That is pretty obvious from their security setup and business model, but they are certainly not honest with users about it and should be more accountable. They could quite easily impose genuine security but it would likely kill their business model if they did (“Your friend X is trying to share your personal data with a third party! Allow Y/N?”)

    The article also illustrates the danger of building air castles using daisy-chain citations. Links to sites like the Guardian along with quotes should be filed under the ‘Stuff Somebody Said To A Reporter’ category, and not confused with actual evidence. Frequently those articles reference other articles which reference others and so on, and when you reach the end of the chain you find the original source is either non-existent, has nothing to do with the topic at hand, or doesn’t support the conclusion.

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