I have written council representatives about this more than anything else, and yet I suspect that it will go through again without a fuss. This isn’t the worst form of surveillance, but it is still surveillance, pure and simple. link to ‘Lexington, Ky Mayor wants to expand license plate cameras | Lexington Herald Leader’
This is such a frustrating story. I never wanted to work at a BYU, but as a Mormon earning a PhD, I often told myself I couldn’t afford to rule it out. This adds to the pile of reasons that I’m glad there weren’t jobs open for me to apply to. link to ‘BYU-I instructors fired for failing ‘ecclesiastical clearance.’ They can’t find out why.’
In recent years, my faith has become less literal, my marriage has become mixed-faith, and we’ve both committed to letting kiddo choose her own future as she gets older. This has meant revisiting family ritual and tradition for end of year holidays, but it’s kind of fun!
I’m glad I began reading Techdirt before this whole mess started… Masnick’s persective has been a helpful guide. link to ‘Elon Admits His Content Moderation Council Was Always A Sham To Keep Advertisers On The Site | Techdirt’
Is he serious? Does he really think this is a good idea? Also, I love the increasing sass that The Verge and other outlets are putting into their comments about Twitter no longer having a communications team to respond to requests for comment. link to ‘Elon Musk proposes letting nearly everyone Twitter banned back on the site - The Verge’
This seems petty, immature, and misguided. link to ‘Elon Musk tries to blame ‘activists’ for his Twitter moderation council lie - The Verge’
Hearing Black Friday commercials on French radio reminds me that I’m totally fine with the secularization of religious holidays and that the real problem is the commercialization of our holidays, whether always secular or originally religious.
What a load of garbage. link to ‘‘Most Dangerous Person In the World’ Is a Teacher Union Leader, Former CIA Director Says’
Growing up, I was taught to graze at religious texts, focusing on anecdotes that supported what we already believed. One of the great pleasures of my adulthood has been learning to read them more critically: wrestling with their problems and learning deeper lessons.
I sometimes wonder how I’d react if I were put through a ‘Peggy Sue loop’: made to repeat an earlier part of my life with all my knowledge of how things turned out. I have major disagreements with my past self, but I also owe him a lot, so there would be difficult decisions.
Oh good, so on top of the unexpected chaos, the expected chaos is also still happening. link to ‘Elon Musk begins reinstating banned Twitter accounts, starting with Jordan Peterson and the Babylon Bee - The Verge’
I’m a teetotaler, so some of my microbrewing grad school friends once declared that I would make a good “beer eunuch”—I could be trusted to hold onto a barrel (or whatever—I don’t know how this stuff works) without abusing that trust.
This doesn’t surprise me at all. So much of the current Twitter chaos is predictable.
link to ‘Elon Musk ignored Twitter’s internal warnings about paid verification - The Verge’
Is to adopt a new religious identity necessarily to leave the old one behind? Many—justifiably and understandably—use that language, but it’s never quite fit my own experience. I feel like I’m nitpicking when I try to explain it, though.
Move fast and break things, indeed. Checks as verification and checks as business model are inherently at odds with each other, and I get the vibe that Musk (team business model) is unhappy with internal pushback from team verification.
link to ‘Musk-led Twitter rolls out new “Official” tags, removes them hours later | Ars Technica’
I love that I got to vote early this year, but it also means I keep forgetting that today is Election Day.
This reminds me of all the pastors doing guest posts on the official Gab blog. Also, of course Glenn Beck was involved in this somehow.
link to ‘Meet the ‘Black Robe Regiment’ of Extremist Pastors Spreading Christian Nationalism’
A mentor in Community of Christ is encouraging me to attend the April 2023 World Conference—and even to register as a voting delegate. The idea of a church conference that asks for bottom-up consensus is very different than my previous, top-down ecclesiastical experience.
They’re so obvious as to almost not be worth pointing out, but two points: First, this is why making verification a paid feature is dumb; and second, penalizing parody because your business model is dumb is not what free speech absolutism looks like.
link to ‘Elon Musk’s first Twitter moderation change calls for permanent bans on impersonators - The Verge’
I worry about how often events in my country seem to echo the Dreyfus Affair of late 19th/early 20th century France. As one author put it, truth and justice were set aside by those who perceived them as threats to their vision of the country.
Finished reviewing my ballot for early voting tomorrow!
Choosing not to do business with someone isn’t an assault on free speech—it’s the very definition of the marketplace of ideas.
link to ‘Elon Musk tries to distract from Twitter layoffs by claiming advertisers are fleeing the platform - The Verge’
Yesterday, I wrote a post on Jephthah, a figure in the book of Judges who makes a commitment that if God helps him out in battle, he’ll sacrifice the first thing that exits the door of his house when he returns home. Robert Alter notes that there’s been a lot of rabbinic and scholarly effort to make sense of this but that in “any case, it is a rash vow.” Indeed, the vow goes wrong, and Jephthah winds up in a situation where’s he believes he’s committed to offer up his daughter in sacrifice.
To get my current driver’s license, I was asked to take off my glasses for the photo and told it had something to do with facial recognition. That terrified me, but my hope is that since I ALWAYS wear my glasses, the software is going to struggle matching me to that photo.
Some of the most troubling passages in the Christian canon have to do with the sacrifice of children in the name of God. Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac is perhaps the most obvious example of this, but there are other examples that (ought to) raise as much concern in the mind of the believer. Perhaps the most interesting (to me) story along these lines is found in Judges 11:31 (I’m using Robert Alter’s fantastic translation throughout this post), where one of the eponymous judges, a man by the name of Jephthah:
Republicans’ reaction to this just makes the story more and more tragic. We have a real problem on our hands, and while I don’t believe all Republicans are this far gone, I’d like to see more from them condemning this behavior instead of trying to keep the party together and ahead.
link to ‘With Falsehoods About Pelosi Attack, Republicans Mimic Trump - The New York Times’
McDaniel can say what she wants—and its true that not all criticism of Pelosi is violent in nature—but in my mind, there’s no denying that two decades of GOP demonization has had a role to play in this terrible attack.
link to ‘Nancy Pelosi, Vilified by G.O.P. for Years, Is a Top Target of Threats - The New York Times’
The fediverse is great and all, but for me, it won’t be complete until there’s a Mormon instance of Mastodon at curelom.social.
Interesting read here from Masnick. I’m not familiar with everything he writes about here, but I always appreciate his perspective.
link to ‘Elon Musk’s First Move Is To Fire The Person Most Responsible For Twitter’s Strong Free Speech Stance | Techdirt’
Some neat data analysis here—both in terms of methods and in findings. Hat tip to Jana Riess for bringing my attention to this in today’s column.
link to ‘Talking about the church president over the pulpit | LDS Data Analysis’
I’ve written a fair amount already on my rereading the Book of Mormon project, where I’m entertaining the idea of what a modern language edition of the book (or at least the Book of Mosiah) might look like. In my work thus far, I’ve been proceeding under the assumption that this is an inherently liberal project: In both the LDS and RLDS traditions, there has been considerable resistance to large-scale changes to the English language text of the Book of Mormon, largely because the English text is held to be translated through divine power and therefore unassailable.
I’d skipped over the story when the Markup reported it, but seeing local coverage of how it plays out locally makes it even worse. Municipal broadband ought to be more common!
link to ‘Report: Internet providers offer Louisville residents unequal speeds for similar prices – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
Fantastic post here. One of the first calm moments for me in a very messy faith transition was leaving the Louisville Temple and thinking about how central Adam and Eve’s “disobedience” is in Latter-day Saint theology.
link to ‘On Choosing Each Other and Eating the Fruit | By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog’
I don’t like Paxton, and I can’t imagine this is much more than performative railing against a strawman version of Big Tech, but this is a real issue, so I’m interested to see where it goes.
link to ‘Texas Sues Google Over Use of Facial Images - WSJ’
Yesterday, I listened to a new episode of the Project: Zion podcast, the semi-official podcast of Community of Christ. This episode was an interview with Shandra Newcom, one of two apostles-designate who will begin their service after the April 2023 World Conference of the church. It was a delightful episode, and I posted something to the Community of Christ subreddit that I wanted to repeat here:
What a great episode!
Insightful speculation by Masnick. Ye’s said some horrible things recently, but that doesn’t mean Parlement can’t be taking advantage of him.
link to ‘Ye’s ‘Buyout’ Of Parler Looks Very Much Like A Failed Company Taking Advantage Of Troubled Rich Guy | Techdirt’
Politicians need to better understand the internet. This is just as dumb (and perhaps more devious) than the nonsense the governor of Missouri was up to.
link to ‘Arizona GOP Secretary Of State Candidate Insists ‘Deep State’ Google Is Blocking His Website; Turns Out He Requested It Not Be Indexed | Techdirt’
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast is one of my favorites—I’ve gone so far as to support it on Patreon so that I can get all the Tribune’s religion coverage without having to subscribe to the entire newspaper. Mormon news interests me a lot, but Utah news doesn’t interest me at all. Yesterday’s episode on age and Latter-day Saint leadership was one of the most interesting episodes that I’ve listened to.
During the last few years I spent as a practicing Latter-day Saint, one recurring pet peeve that I had was the overbroad use of the term “gospel” to refer to all Latter-day Saint doctrines, teachings, and beliefs. In hindsight, learning to separate the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ from everything that I believed was a major part of my faith transition—and my ability to continue in Christianity even when the version that I was used to started to no longer work for me.
After recently finishing an excellent biography on Brigham Young, I’m starting to make my way through some other Mormon Studies books that I own but have not yet read. This has brought me to Paul Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. It’s very good so far, and I regret having waited until now to read it. I’m currently working through Reeve’s chapters describing Mormons’ relationship with American Indians, and I just now read a paragraph that really surprised me.
Russia is currently demonstrating just how powerful and dangerous nuclear weapons are—and, unfortunately, how complicated disarmament is.
link to ‘In Washington, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Stir Growing Alarm - The New York Times’
Good reporting on a scary but important subject. I’ve been collecting Gab blog posts to eventually study some of this Christian nationalism.
link to ‘Gab Founder Andrew Torba Wants to Build a Christian Nationalist Internet’
Very interesting article on how Tolkien can inspire far right thinking.
[link to ‘How ‘Lord of the Rings’ Inspires Italy’s Giorgia Meloni - The New York Times’](https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/21/world/europe/giorgia-meloni-lord-of-the-rings.html?action=click
This is juvenile enough that I feel guilty finding it funny, but it’s a good demonstration of the problems with this backlash against content moderation.
link to ‘https://www.techdirt.com/2022/09/26/subreddit-discriminates-against-anyone-who-doesnt-call-texas-gov’
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to preprare a “focus moment” for today’s worship service in my Community of Christ congregation. There are some things I might change for a different audience (putting more nuance into my current view of God, for example), but I’m still pretty happy with what I came up with. I’m particularly happy about the translation of the song—I didn’t bring it up when sharing, but this is a French Canadian song that I translated for today’s purpose.
This article provides good examples of how the efficacy and efficiency of a given technology is often less important than deeper questions of reliance and roles.
link to ‘Too much trust in machine translation could have deadly consequences.’
I missed the vertical integration aspect of this in earlier reporting I’ve read. It makes this story even worse.
link to ‘‘Ring Nation’ Is a Terrible Idea That’s Unstoppable Because Amazon Owns Everything’
We need to do more work to divorce free speech from content moderation. The world without content moderation would be a much worse world, and we don’t want to live in it. Sure, social media platforms are too powerful, but this is not the answer.
link to ‘Texas has teed up a Supreme Court fight for the future of the internet - The Verge’
This is a gross idea for a TV show, and I’m glad people are pushing back against it.
link to ‘Dozens of civil rights groups are calling on Amazon and MGM to cancel Ring Nation reality show - The Verge’
I ride an e-bike into work, and because an e-bike is expensive, I bring it into my office rather than lock it up at one of the bike racks on University of Kentucky campus. Because an e-bike is heavy, I also take it up the elevator to get up to the third floor, where my office is. My e-bike takes up a lot of space, but I’ve figured out how to share the elevator with others as I make my way up to my office.
Look, Parler isn’t as bad as Gab, but this kind of softball, uncritical approach to the platform is not helpful. WSJ should know better.
link to ‘Social Network Parler Restructures, Focuses on ‘Uncancellable Economy’ - WSJ’
I am a big fan of the Book of Mormon. It’s one of the reasons that I stuck with Community of Christ when transitioning out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know the book is problematic, and I doubt its historicity, but I’m still an advocate for making some religious meaning out of it.
There are diverse opinions about the Book of Mormon in Community of Christ, and while there’s plenty of room to believe lots of different things, the default institutional view tends to be either indifferent or suspicious of the text.
What a cheap, cynical about-face. The fact that candidates think this is something they can do to drum up voters and then change strategy is worrying.
link to ‘Right After Primary Win, Bolduc Reverses Support for Election Lies - The New York Times’
Dallin Oaks, the second highest-ranking apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a speech at Brigham Young University yesterday where he touched on the “two great commandments” identified by Jesus in the Book of Mark. Unsurprisingly for anyone who’s been following recent signals of retrenchment at BYU (or anyone familiar with the apostle for that matter), Oaks put the two commandments in a particular order. Here’s how the Salt Lake Tribune quotes him:
Currently reading John Turner’s excellent biography of Brigham Young, and I keep wanting to highlight passages and then send them to Brad Wilcox.
I’ve never had qualms about listening to Christmas music outside of December, but it still surprises me that I’ve been listening to parts of Handel’s Messiah during my morning routines over the past couple of weeks. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the music of Messiah, and in recent years, I’ve let go of my attachment to King James language and learned that a lot of the passages quoted in Messiah represent Christian prooftexting of the Hebrew Bible (here’s a great post on the subject by Pete Enns—and here’s another).
This is a tragic detail in an even more tragic story. Government can absolutely be good, and our allergic reaction to spending, laws, and policy only makes these situations worse.
link to ‘West Virginia, Kentucky officials repeatedly ignored plans to prepare for catastrophic floods. Residents are paying the price. – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
It isn’t that TikTok doesn’t pose a real threat, it’s that it’s not alone in doing so. In particular, I appreciate that this article points out that U.S. border agents REGULARLY SEARCH COMPUTERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. So, yes, raise concerns, but be consistent instead of creating a moral panic around thus one app (which, by the way, would be a privacy threat even if it were totally owned by a U.
The inconsistency here is infuriating. When I was in grad school, I had the philosophy that I (a Mormon working toward a PhD) couldn’t rule out the possibility of working at BYU. There’s still a lot that I like and respect about BYU, but seeing the way they’re putting the squeeze on their employees makes it clear that I could never have survived there.
link to ‘BYU requires new hires to waive their right to clergy confidentiality’
Learned about the Trib article from this blog post, which I think also makes some solid points. It’s one thing to prefer that outside organizations not provide materials, but if BYU isn’t doing anything itself…
link to ‘BYU Tramples Queer Students, Again – Wheat & Tares’
Great example of how automation often makes things easier but not better. The former can be good so long as we don’t lose sight of the latter.
link to ‘Lost in Transcription: Auto-Captions Often Fall Short on Zoom, Facebook, Others - Consumer Reports’
What an epic—if illegal—rickroll. The best part in my book is repurposing student monitoring software.
[link to ‘Inside the World’s Biggest Hacker Rickroll | WIRED’](https://www.wired.com/story/biggest-hacker-rickroll-high-school-prank/?mc_cid=b5e6da334c
I appreciate the way that Masnick uses examples from the news to call out how dumb some of these laws are.
link to ‘Twitter Removes Florida Political Candidate Advocating Shooting Federal Agents; If DeSantis Won His Lawsuit, Twitter Would Need To Leave It Up | Techdirt’
I read Torba’s blog post last week but hadn’t been aware of the context. Interesting read.
link to ‘Gab Users Somehow Astounded To Discover Gab Will Comply With FBI Requests For User Information | Techdirt’
This is why the EFF and others have concerns about overreach of even clearly well intentioned content moderation. CSAM is clearly despicable, but automated content moderation can make mistakes, and consequences for those mistakes aren’t small.
link to ‘A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal. - The New York Times’
Masnick makes two good points here: The GOP seems to only care about content moderation in self-serving ways, but also we should be wary of political mandates for content moderation.
link to ‘Google Maps Is Misleading Users Searching For Abortion Clinics… And The GOP Is Threatening The Company If It Fixes That | Techdirt’
I want to be more involved with and aware of what the FCPS school board is up to—livestreaming seems like a good idea to me.
link to ‘Fayette school board members ask to stream meetings online | Lexington Herald Leader’
These numbers sound great, but what cost are we paying? I’m not talking about the $70,000, I’m talking about the hard to quantify costs of surveillance—which, as the ACLU of KY points out, are likely to disproportionately target communities of color. Except we can’t know that because the city won’t tell us where the cameras are.
link to ‘Lexington KY looking to address more crime, safety issues | Lexington Herald Leader’
This may be the most fascinating episode of Mormon Land I’ve ever listened to. It’s amazing how much the Latter-day Saint understanding and practice of temple rituals has changed over time.
link to ‘Streamez l’épisode A law professor explains “temple divorces,” and how they changed through the years | Episode 246 du podcast Mormon Land | Écoutez en ligne gratuitement sur SoundCloud’
On one hand, I strongly believe Trump should be held accountable for all laws he’s broken or flouted. On the other, I believe that the Espionage Act has been used as a crude cudgel by several presidential administrations, and it’s really important not to be sloppy here. The second doesn’t outweigh the first, but just like one can defend the FBI raid without putting the FBI on a pedestal of infallibility, we need to be critically minded about all this.
I was not aware of this episode of history, and I feel more informed for it. It’s an example of where a Democratic president should be held to the same standard as Trump is being held right now—not out of any kind of whataboutism, but because both presidents crossed lines. In fact, “both” isn’t right here: Nixon comes out of this looking as bad as (if not worse than) Johnson.
link to ‘It’s Not Just Trump — LBJ Took Classified Documents Too’
Lots of directions to go with this one, but “based” is the red pill red flag for me. Lee is (unsurprisingly) borrowing the language of the far right.
link to ‘No cap, Sen. Mike Lee’s personal Twitter account is called ‘BasedMikeLee’ - The Verge’
I’ve been thinking this since yesterday. It’s telling how so many “law and order” conservatives who make a big deal about being pro-police reverse on those positions as soon as law enforcement is inconvenient for them.
link to ‘Republicans Are Suddenly Very Eager to Defund the Police’
McCarthy isn’t saying the same thing as these Telegram channels, but he’s making it easier for them to say what they’re saying.
link to ‘Trump Supporters Are Calling for Civil War After FBI Search of Mar-a-Lago’
I’ve long lacked confidence in my own opinions (as a general rule—I can also be an opinionated jerk), so even the simplest disagreement with a position I’ve taken can take some wind out of my sails. When I read the official Latter-day Saint response to the recent AP story, I didn’t agree with it, but it still slowed me down some. “Maybe I should consider things from another point of view,” I thought.
This reporting is from a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time, and recent events make me regret that.
link to ‘The Teen Who Helped Expose the Boy Scouts’ Pedophilia Epidemic, and the Mormon Church’s Cover-Up’
Some good points about how Amazon owning Roomba is scarier than just Roomba existing on its own—even if I didn’t realize that Roomba was creepily mapping houses.
link to ‘Amazon Buys Roomba Company, Will Now Map Inside of Your House’
I haven’t attended the Latter-day Saint congregation I officially belong to since March of 2020, and I’m coming up on one year of being an official member of Community of Christ. It’s pretty clear to me—and, likely, to others—where my religious future is headed.
Yet, I’ve always expected that I would remain a de jure—if not de facto—member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if it’s not the right spiritual home for me or my family any more, and even if I have major disagreements with it, this church has been an important part of my life, and I’ve always wanted to preserve that by retaining my official membership.
This is a horrifying, sickening story. When it’s marriage equality, the Church is eager to say that being legal doesn’t make something right (a bad take, for the record), so to hear “it was fine because it was legal” as a defense for bishops’ failure to report child sexual abuse (at Salt Lake’s encouragement) is sickening.
link to ‘Mormon church sex abuse: AP investigation | AP News’
I don’t believe nuclear disarmament will be easy, but I’m increasingly convinced that it must be done. Just a single mistake or miscommunication could doom our entire planet.
link to ‘Hiroshima and Nagasaki Are Not Just History: The Horrors of Nuclear Weapons Live On | Friends Committee On National Legislation’
There’s a similar amendment on the ballot in Kentucky in November; here’s hoping for similar results.
link to ‘Voters in Kansas decide to keep abortion legal in the state, rejecting an amendment – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
This week and last, I’ve been reading up on Mormons’ commitment to both the language of the King James Version (Philip Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible is a fantastic read) and what is seen as the authoritative text of the Book of Mormon. In Paul Gutjahr’s The Book of Mormon: A Biography, he quotes the official Latter-day Saint Scripture Translation Manual as including the following guidelines for translators of the Book of Mormon:
Nearly a year ago, a friend gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation as a gift for my confirmation into Community of Christ. It (obviously) took me a while to start it, and it’s taking me some time to read through it, but there’s a lot in there that I like. This afternoon, this passage stood out to me:
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.
Compelling podcast episode from Mozilla highlighting morally dubious uses of AI. It’s really important that we be more reflective about this instead of trying things and seeing where they lead.
link to ‘The Tech We Won’t Build — The Internet Health Report 2022’
I knew that Gab was supporting Mastriano, but I didn’t realize ties ran this deep. Gab is a toxic hellhole, and if Mastriano is sending them money, that should rule him out as a candidate.
link to ‘Doug Mastriano Faces Criticism Over His Backing From Antisemitic Ally - The New York Times’
Look, I’m a critic of Apple’s closed system, but it’s laughable for Meta to set itself up as an oprn alternative.
link to ‘Zuckerberg: Apple, Meta are in “deep, philosophical competition” | Ars Technica’
This case seems so clear cut to me, and the American right’s willingness to harass this doctor suggests that things are going very wrong.
link to ‘Indiana doctor says she has been harassed since providing 10-year-old’s abortion : NPR’
I haven’t watched Stranger Things 4, but it’s interesting how media depictions of Mormonism often get some of the details wrong, folding it in with broader conservative Christianity instead of focusing on its unique weirdness. This often confused me as a kid, especially when adults would wonder if I were allowed to play games with supernatural themes or… sing songs?
link to ‘Stranger People | Times & Seasons’
Who is allowed to watch the watchmen? This is why I’m grumpy about Lexington being hush hush about its new automated license plate readers—it sets a precedent for secretive use of even more invasive surveillance.
link to ‘Police Are Still Abusing Investigative Exemptions to Shield Surveillance Tech, While Others Move Towards Transparency | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Some more coverage of the (possible) photo find. This is the only news I’ve ever read related to facial recognition software that I’ve been happy rather than grumpy about 😂
link to ‘At long last, a photo of Mormon founder Joseph Smith emerges’
Whoa. Big news here. My feelings about Joseph Jr. are complicated, but it’s very cool to see a possible photograph of him.
link to ‘Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s photo discovered by descendant after nearly 180 years’
Look, there may be less of a coordinated defense, but ignoring the Jan. 6th hearings is almost as bad as defending Trump from them.
link to ‘With midterms in sight, few Republicans are defending Trump as they did in 2019 : NPR’
Here’s the EFF pointing out that “free speech” on these platforms means something very particular rather than a broad, deep commitment to legally-protected expression.
link to ‘Self-Proclaimed Free Speech Platforms Are Censoring Nude Content. Here’s Why You Should Care | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Opting out of location sharing is a good and important step, but there are no tech solutions to this horror—only political ones. We need good legislation, and we need it now.
link to ‘DHS bought “shocking amount” of warrantless phone-tracking data, ACLU says | Ars Technica’
Saturday morning dad biathlon: Solo walk and run for latest couch to 5k session then 7 mile roundtrip on bike (kiddo on ridealong) to play at local playground.
It’s funny how conditional the GOP’s concerns about free speech are. That’s not to say that free speech isn’t a complicated topic to be weighed in conjunction with other concerns—it absolutely is. But if a party wants to use a simplistic view of free speech as a rallying cry, stunts like this show how just how simplistic that view is.
link to ‘Arizona Makes It Illegal To Record Cops From Less Than Eight Feet Away | Techdirt’
So, here’s a case where TikTok’s Chinese ownership is actually a really big deal—though, of course, YouTube and other U.S. companies have also been quicker to moderate than to archive material that could be valuable in a similar way.
link to ‘TikTok resists calls to preserve Ukraine content for war crime investigations | Ars Technica’
If I were allowed one religion-related time travel shenanigan, I would go to the late 1960s and arrange for very left-wing RLDS apostle Charles Neff and Bircher LDS apostle Ezra Taft Benson to be in the same room, just to see how things would turn out.
I’m glad the article identifies Art as an apostle for Community of Christ, to emphasize that it’s entirely possible to be affirming and Christian. Coming from Mormonism, I’m not used to the idea of apostles standing up for queer causes, so as gross as the book removal is, I’m grateful for Art’s example here.
link to ‘Independence schools ban book for gender content – The Beacon’
Ugh. We “buy” too many things this way.
link to ‘Ubisoft Teaches Customers They Don’t Own All That DLC They ‘Bought’ | Techdirt’
The amount of data collected by TikTok is more concerning for the possibility that it could be fed to Chinese state officials, but it would be just as concerning if it could be fed to American state officials, and still pretty concerning if only fed to corporate officials.
This strikes me as weaselly logic. It absolutely is an abortion, and it’s absolutely why it’s shamefully ridiculous to make simplistic claims about abortion as murder or to set up “zero abortions” as an ideal to be attained through legislation and jurisprudence.
link to ‘Anti-Abortion Leader Tells Congress a 10-Year-Old’s Abortion Wouldn’t Count’
I didn’t realize there’d been so much right-wing pushback against this awful, awful story. There’s always room for good faith critical appraisals of the news, but what critics seem to me to miss here is that even if it weren’t true, the mere hypothetical possibility of something like this happening is shameful. That said, the emergence of more evidence supporting the claims is not a great look for those who called it into question.
This is such a dumb development. Why are we letting technology whittle away at ownership instead of increasing access to things?
link to ‘BMW’s Push To Make Heated Seats A $18 Per Month Subscription Portends A Dumb And Costly Future | Techdirt’
Just the idea that NYC feels like it needs to keep people educated about what to do in case of a nuclear attack is enough to add some existential dread to my Tuesday.
link to ‘Watch New York City’s new nuclear war PSA | Boing Boing’
Over the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mark Scherer’s three-volume The Journey of a People, the most recent quasi-official history of Community of Christ. The first volume was interesting, since it covered an era of Mormon history that I’m familiar with from a perspective that I’m not familiar with. I found the second volume a bit harder to get through—some individual sections were fascinating, but it seemed to lack an overall throughline or narrative.
I haven’t read Limón’s poetry (I don’t read much poetry at all), but I’ll have to change that. Happy for some Kentucky and Lexington representation in this way.
link to ‘Lexington, KY writer Ada Limón is the next US poet laureate | Lexington Herald Leader’
A deep dive on a worrying military technology. The U.S. has already done a lot of damage with drones, and as more countries start to use them, more damage is going to be done.
[link to ‘Bayraktar TB2 Drone Sales from Turkey Growing Despite Western Laws — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/bayraktar-tb2-drone-turkey-exports
Look, I’m not opposed to expanding computer science education, but if the motivation is to fill jobs and keep tech giants thriving, that seems to me to be a red flag. Education ought to focus on democracy above the economy; we need to be producing citizens, not employees. There are ways to teach tech in a way that supports democracy and produces citizens, but if I get grumpy about computer science educstion, it’s because we rarely talk about it that way.
This is why I’m trying to buy more physical copies of things—or at least DRM-free stuff. I have lots of regrets about the size of my Kindle library, for example.
link to ‘You Don’t Own What You’ve Bought: Sony Removes 100s Of Movies Bought Through PS Store | Techdirt’
I always appreciate Masnick’s going into the legal details that are above my head. Techdirt has proven to be one of the most helpful sources for understanding this fiasco.
link to ‘Musk’s Attempt To Get Out Of The Twitter Deal Proceeding Exactly As Predicted; What Happens Next? | Techdirt’
Best line: “Musk seemed to relish the ability to make wishful product plans about free speech and corporate independence more than he wanted to develop a coherent business plan for Twitter.”
link to ‘Elon Musk officially tries to bail on buying Twitter - The Verge’
Concern about privacy is good, but not when it’s Sinophobic posturing. Yes, what TikTok is doing is worrying and problematic, but Bode makes an important point here: If they aren’t willing to fix the broader infrastructure, stances like Rubio’s just come down to trying to score cheap political points.
link to ‘Marco Rubio Pretends To Be A TikTok Privacy Champion, Despite Years Of Undermining U.S. Consumer Privacy | Techdirt’
I went to high school post Columbine, so we could only use mesh or clear backpacks and were required to wear IDs at all times. Even at the time, that felt like security theater. Schools can’t solve this problem with decisions like these–we need to decide as a society to rethink our relationship with guns.
link to ‘Kentucky school district bans backpacks for older students | Lexington Herald Leader’
When I made the decision to join Community of Christ, it wasn’t (just) because this was a denomination that aligned with my current religious and social values, but because I knew it would be a denomination that pushed me to improve my current religious and social values. I know that I have room to grow in being a better person and in making the world a better place, and I felt that Community of Christ is a denomination that would not only show me grace for who I was but also walk with me as I tried to grow in these ways.
One recurring question that I’ve had while working on my “rereading the Book of Mormon” project is asking what should be understood by the common phrase “the Lord” in the text of this book of scripture. In Bible translations, this is a bit more straightforward: “the Lord” is often used as a euphemism for the divine name YHWH and could be read in that way. Before going any further with this discussion, I want to acknowledge that my writing out and speculating on the divine name here may (or will likely) be seen as disrespectful or offensive by many Jews (and even some Christians—I admire Wil Gafney’s approach to the divine name).
Fitting that I’m reading this the day after booking Acela tickets. Fits with what I’ve said in the past: Northeast Corridor is great, but lets bring trains elsewhere too.
link to ‘Amtrak Spent 11 Years and $450 Million to Save Acela Riders 100 Seconds’
A couple of weekends ago, I had my first experience with a Community of Christ Reunion camp. Kiddo and I only stayed for a long weekend rather than the whole week, but it was still a great experience. By far the best experience I had at Reunion was a Monday morning class for young adults and “90s kids” (which is not a label I’ve ever actively applied to myself, but it fit just fine.
Good writing here. Vague Sinophobia drives a lot of media and political concerns, and I appreciate Bode’s challenging of that here.
link to ‘The Myopic Focus On TikTok Privacy Issues Remains Kind Of Weird | Techdirt’
Heard a kid crying in the background of a company’s help line and realized it used one of those often-exploitative work-from-home customer service networks. That made me more mad than issue I was calling about.
‘I just know in my heart’ is terrible and terrifying reasoning for posing this level of a threat to democracy.
link to ‘Trump team didn’t have the evidence and 4 other takeaways from Jan. 6 hearing : NPR’
Good example here of how content moderation can absolutely overreach. Arguments that platforms shouldn’t moderate are nonsense, but I appreciate Masnick’s emphasis on the need to be very careful about how we moderate.
link to ‘Impossibility Theorem Strikes Again: YouTube Deletes January 6th Committee Video | Techdirt’
I get that some of this is bluster and posturing, but that doesn’t make it any less worrying. This is the same state GOP that leaned into Gab a year or two ago.
link to ‘Texas GOP’s new platform says Biden didn’t really win the 2020 election : NPR’
I have never understood the panic about burkinis. It’s one of many examples where French laïcité goes further than appropriate and desirable secularism.
link to ‘There’s a legal battle over burkinis in France : NPR’
All of this is worrying, but not as worrying as the possibility that it won’t make a difference in the minds of people who should be outraged.
link to ‘Trump Attorney Eastman Admitted His Jan. 6 Plot Was Illegal—and Asked for a Pardon’
I mean, there’s still plenty to be worried about when it comes to targeted advertising and smart TVs, but this is a good reminder to take a step back.
link to ‘$1-2 Billion In Streaming Ads A Year Aren’t Being Watched Because The TV Is Off | Techdirt’
So, so many wild things in this article. I grew up loving this hymn and had no idea it had roots in blackface minstrelsy. Hope the Church will take it out of its next hymnbook, but I’m not holding my breath. The real kicker is Brigham Young’s concern about blackface—not because it’s racist but because it’s degrading to white people.
link to ‘What the Latter-day Saint hymn ‘Love at Home’ has to do with blackface’
Doctorow is spot on here. Apple may be the most benevolent of the big tech companies, but it still has far too much power over its users.
link to ‘Facebook Says Apple is Too Powerful. They’re Right. | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
A few weeks ago, John Hamer (from the Toronto-based Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation of Community of Christ) reached out to ask if I would be interested in contributing a pre-recorded prayer to a June 12th “millennial prayer service” focused on Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles. The denomination describes its Enduring Principles as follows:
Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.
Given the aggressively queerphobic language I’ve read on Gab, events like this are worrying but not surprising. More worrying is the way that this queerphobic language is increasingly used in the mainstream GOP. How do Republican politicians and voters feel about these events?
link to ‘A far-right plan to riot near an Idaho LGBTQ event heightens safety concerns at Pride : NPR’
I’ve been plenty spooked by Ring’s video capabilities, but apparently I haven’t been worried enough about its audio surveillance.
link to ‘Senator Declares Amazon Ring’s Audio Surveillance Capabilities ‘Threaten the Public’ | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
The only thing worse than the already-bad reality of powerful, private data brokers is public agencies buying what they have to sell.
link to ‘How the Federal Government Buys Our Cell Phone Location Data | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
This is a peak example of what performative concerns about “free speech” boil down to.
link to ‘Trump’s ‘Free Speech’ Social Network, Truth Social, Is Banning People For Truthing The Truth About January 6 Hearings | Techdirt’
I haven’t read much about this bill, but it’s worrying that powerful entities have such an advantage in the debate about limiting their power.
link to ‘Big Tech Has Spent $36 Million on Ads to Torpedo Antitrust Bill - WSJ’
Depressing read, though I’ll freely admit I haven’t been paying enough attention here myself.
link to ‘Telecom Lobbyists Are About To Scuttle The Nomination Of A Popular Reformer To The FCC And Nobody Much Seems To Care | Techdirt’
Very, very interesting read on how the purported objectivity of big data is influencing how (conservative) judges use corpus linguistics.
link to ‘The linguistics search engine that overturned the federal mask mandate - The Verge’
A few weeks ago, I posted about Book of Mormon dependence on the King James Version and the way that that sometimes raises interesting questions about how the text should be understood. As I continue my project of what a modern-language version of the Book of Mormon might look like, I’ve run into another example.
1 Corinthians 15:55 is referenced three times in the Book of Mormon, including in Mosiah 8 (Mosiah 16 LDS), where I’m currently working my way through the text.
What’s the point in having an ethics board if you’re going to so flagrantly ignore them? Good on members for responding with resignations, and thank goodness Axon woke up to how dunb their decision was.
link to ‘Axon Halts Plans to Sell Flying Taser Drones to Schools’
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of work into adjusting my online presence, a project that I expect to last through most of the summer. In dividing my website into distinct subareas and pivoting from a single Twitter account to a number of Mastodon accounts, I’m trying to do something about the context collapse that’s been keeping me from sharing some of the big things going on in my life lately.
Thanks to a recommendation from BoingBoing, I just finished reading a Business Insider article describing a recent video in which Marjorie Taylor Greene:
predicted that identifying as heterosexual will be a thing of the past within a period of less than 200 years thanks to LGBTQ-inclusive sex educators, who she called “trans terrorists.”
More specifically, Greene was quoted as saying that heterosexual extinction would come about “probably in about four or five generations.
Content moderation is a good thing, and ‘free speech’ should not be our primary concern when it comes to social media platforms.
link to ‘Racist and Violent Ideas Jump From Web’s Fringes to Mainstream Sites - The New York Times’
Listening to The Aquabats tonight and remembering how I pegged the Mormon connection when I was first listening to them because of subtle allusions to food storage and pioneer hymns.
This is difficult but important to read. As gut wrenching as these shootings are, I am still distant enough from them that they don’t always stick with me. It’s helpful if depressing to read about what sticks with others who are closer to them.
[link to ‘A Reporter Reflects on Covering Seven Mass Shootings — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/shooting-news-msm-reporter-essay
Disappointing but unsurprising. I wish McConnell would show as much willingness to call out Republicans on guns as he does for Ukraine.
link to ‘McConnell mum on guns as U.S. Senate recesses for a week – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
It makes me sick and angry to read all of this. We have so badly failed the children of this country.
link to ‘‘It Was the Wrong Decision’: Uvalde Cops Waited in Hallway as Kids Called 911 Begging to Be Saved From Gunman’
Imagine thinking that this is the price we pay for American exceptionalism. Imagine thinking that mourning these children and wanting to do something about it is a partisan agenda.
link to ‘Ted Cruz walks away after reporter asks him why mass shootings keep happening : NPR’
I suspect that there is nothing as damning in Mormon history as Mormons’ failure to own up to that history, and Jana’s writing here captures that nicely.
link to ‘‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ raises the question: Are Mormons dangerous?’
I don’t think I want a Pence presidency any more than another Trump one, but I do want to see the GOP wrestle with what it’s going to be going forward.
link to ‘Pence, Tiptoeing Away From Trump, Lays Groundwork for ’24 Run - The New York Times’
Glad that there hasn’t been much conversation about this in Kentucky, but it’s still really worrying stuff.
link to ‘How Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Have Gripped State Legislatures - The New York Times’
It’s a bit of a truism to say that the Book of Mormon is dependent on Biblical language, but one thing that’s been on my mind for the past few years (especially since reading Thomas Wayment’s excellent The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints) is how specifically dependent it is on the particular language of the King James Version of the Bible.
Over the past year or so, as a personal project, I’ve been toying around with what a modern-language version of the Book of Mormon would look like.
Pretty upset about these results from the primary. I voted for the other candidate and was shocked to find Young won. At least I have a few months to figure out who to write in.
link to ‘Beshear, KDP will not back Democratic candidate for U.S. House seat’
Last night, I had a bizarre dream that I was telling Ted Cruz that he was a jerk but that I didn’t mind when it was directed at Madison Cawthorn. Don’t know if that fully reflects my waking views, and don’t know anything about the victor here, but I am glad to see Cawthorn lose.
link to ‘Madison Cawthorn is beaten in North Carolina’s GOP primary : NPR’
What a troll. Even if the deal falls through, the way in which a sole rich dude can mess around with Twitter is souring me on the platform.
link to ‘Elon Musk Says Twitter Deal ‘Cannot Move Forward’ in Current State - The New York Times’
If QAnon is excited, the rest of us should be worried—though I think there is a possibility that Musk realizes just how bad his ideas re: limiting moderation are and fails to deliver.
link to ‘QAnon Thinks Elon Musk Is Going to Let Them Back On Twitter’
The quotes in here underline how often ‘free speech’ is used to mean ‘problematic right-wing talking points.’
link to ‘Trump says he won’t leave Truth Social, despite Musk’s Twitter takeover - The Verge’
EFF cares about and actually understands free speech and content moderation, so their voice is especially important today.
link to ‘Twitter Has a New Owner. Here’s What He Should Do. | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Not excited about this, but the good news is that I’ve already been thinking about revamping my web presence, and this is a push to do something about it.
link to ‘Twitter accepts buyout, giving Elon Musk total control of the company - The Verge’
Disappointing that G.O.P. leaders so quickly did an about face. January 6th was a terrible event, and it’s cynical and irresponsible to pretend anything otherwise.
link to ‘McConnell and McCarthy’s Jan. 6 Fury at Trump Faded by February - The New York Times’
Most of this budget sounds great, but why are we budgeting for 75 more ALPRs when we haven’t even finished the trial of the current ones yet? Not to mention that the trial is unlikely to evaluate ethics, only “effectiveness.”
link to ‘Gorton unveils $460 million Lexington budget | Lexington Herald Leader’
There are a few yellow flags in this article for me. Quick and efficient sounds good, but are those the most important values in policing? What values do they stand in tension with? It’s great that there are policies against using a ALPR database for personal reasons, but these policies regularly get violated. No, these aren’t videosurveillance cameras, but that doesn’t make them harmless.
link to ‘New Flock security cameras being installed in Lexington by end of May | Lexington Herald Leader’
Very interesting read. I have never been a Republican, but I frequently voted GOP prior to 2016. Because my personal political views have shifted since then, it’s hard to say whether I would vote for a GOP that throws off the Trump baggage, but I do hope such a party one day re-emerges. I may not agree with it, but we certainly need it.
link to ‘Trump as a Modern-Day Party Boss: Hoarding Cash and Doling Out Favors - The New York Times’
Bad faith edits were the main reason why I’ve never jumped on the “edit button” train, so I think this is a good way to handle this.
link to ‘Twitter’s upcoming edit feature may keep track of tweet history - The Verge’
Fascinated by this article for so many reasons. First, it’s a great example of meaningful practices in online spaces; second, it brings it back to the need for more, smaller platforms.
link to ‘Of ‘Algospeak’ and the Crudeness of Automated Moderation | by Clive Thompson | Apr, 2022 | OneZero’
Reading about Mike Lee’s attempts to interfere with the election reminds me of the missionary companion who dreamed of rising high enough in the FBI to be ready to help Salt Lake carry out a coup if needed.
I have only been reading Techdirt for a short amount of time, but I increasingly appreciate Masnick’s perspectives on issues like this.
link to ‘Elon Musk Demonstrates How Little He Understands About Content Moderation | Techdirt’
Seems to me that folks truly concerned about the integrity of women’s sports would have more to say about this.
link to ‘Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia: What it says about basketball’s pay gap : NPR’
This matches rhetoric I’m reading while doing research on Gab. We need respectable conservative movements in the U.S., but our contemporary mainstream right is flirting with these ideas instead of denouncing them. It’s troubling
link to ‘The Far-Right Is Doxxing School Officials They Think Are “Groomers”’
Faut pas oublier ces liens quand-même.
[link to ‘Présidentielle 2022 : le ralliement d’Eric Zemmour gêne la stratégie de camouflage de Marine Le Pen’](https://www.francetvinfo.fr/replay-radio/l-edito-politique/presidentielle-2022-le-ralliement-d-eric-zemmour-gene-la-strategie-de-camouflage-de-marine-le-pen_5052049.html
Wish that I’d been paying better attention to this legislation. Libraries are pillars of our communities and ought to retain partisan independence.
link to ‘KY libraries worried by bill giving politicians control over them | Lexington Herald Leader’
I think today demonstrates both the superority of France’s two-round presidential elections to U.S. first-past-the-post BUT ALSO the inferiority of both compared to ranked-choice voting.
Worries about this picking up. General Assembly took steps in a bad direction this session, but they could go further next time.
link to ‘LGBTQ biases led to uproar after board message, KY teacher says | Lexington Herald Leader’
Nooooo thank you. Don’t like this about Grammarly, don’t like this about Word, won’t like this about Google Docs. I am very skeptical of giving algorithms authority over style.
link to ‘Google Docs will start nudging some users to write less dumbly - The Verge’
TikTok should not be protected from criticism, but it should not be subjected to this garbage either.
link to ‘Facebook-Hired PR Firm Coordinated Anti-TikTok Campaign To Spread Bogus Moral Panics | Techdirt’
Indefensible for a student to be treated this way. The settlement is good news, but I still worry about the larger issue. Thinking about how to teach my kid about the Pledge and the right not to participate.
link to ‘Houston area student wins $90,000 settlement after being bullied by teacher for not standing for Pledge of Allegiance’
I have spent a few hours this week reading violently anti-trans posts as part of a research project. My patience for queerphobic dog whistles disguised as feigned concerns about girls’ sports is at zero. So disappointed in the Kentucky legislature.
link to ‘LGBTQ advocates raise alarm against trans attacks in Ky. legislature – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
Really appreciate Masnick’s perspective here—especially the point that EVERYONE believes in content moderation even if there are disagreements on how to do it. It’s irresponsible for so many (on the right) to describe moderation as censorship.
link to ‘Why Moderating Content Actually Does More To Support The Principles Of Free Speech | Techdirt’
Very uncomfortable with this. Tweet wasn’t great, but not sure if it’s criminal. I’m sympathetic to the idea that we underpolice social media, but this is a fantastic example of why so many (including me) are worried about attempts to police it more.
link to ‘Twitter user sentenced to 150 hours of community service in UK for posting ‘offensive’ tweet - The Verge’
Do not be fooled by the headline, the article’s best contribution is its indictment of U.S. politicians and companies for their complicity in this sort of thing.
link to ‘Nokia Busted Helping Russia’s FSB Spy On Citizens, Activists, Journalists | Techdirt’
Speaking of the non-neutrality of platforms… Granted, Google has a difficult line to walk here, but this is still disappointing.
link to ‘Google Ordered Translators to Replace References to Ukraine “War”’
Glad to see reporting on Rumble, but disappointed to see uncritical repeating of claims about “free speech,” “neutrality,” and “censorship.” There are no neutral platforms, and content moderation is the real key idea here.
link to ‘Rumble, the Right’s Go-To Video Site, Has Much Bigger Ambitions - The New York Times’
Seems to me that not using proctoring software is the best response to these concerns, but glad to see the EFF sponsoring efforts to regulate its inevitable use.
link to ‘Stop Invasive Remote Proctoring: Pass California’s Student Test Taker Privacy Protection Act | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
I bike past this house and its flags every day; seeing them is always a boost. How upsetting that people would want to burn one.
link to ‘Pride flag displayed at Lexington KY man’s house gets burned | Lexington Herald Leader’
I have been waiting for days to see what Techdirt would have to say on this, and it doesn’t disappoint.
link to ‘The ‘Culture Of Free Speech’ Includes Criticism Of Others’ Speech; Get Over It | Techdirt’
Intellectual property is a social justice issue.
link to ‘Now That White Musicians Are Getting Sued For Copyright, Lawyers Say Copyright Needs To Change | Techdirt’
Latest guest post on official blog of far right Gab platform could have been a Latter-day Saint General Conference sermon. Sure, rejecting truth and embracing evil sounds bad, but there are a lot of assumptions that need to be surfaced and interrogated about what both terms mean.
I do not always have praise for the local Republican supermajority, but I’m glad to see this goes beyond Ukraine to provide support for all kinds of refugees. Tentative optimism here.
link to ‘Kentucky lawmakers advance bill to resettle war refugees | Lexington Herald Leader’
Yemen has been on my mind a lot since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but mostly because I’m belatedly realizing I haven’t been paying attention. It’s not that Ukraine doesn’t deserve our attention, it’s that Yemen has long deserved just as much. There, we’re the ones complicit in civilian deaths, and we need to own up to that.
link to ‘Yemen Crisis Has Only Worsened, Despite Biden Pledge’
I missed most of this yesterday, but Masnick sums up my thoughts so much better than I could.
link to ‘Performative Conservatives Are Mad That A Search Engine Wants To Downrank Disinformation | Techdirt’
I will only accept complaints about gas prices from people who also bemoan our failure to invest in public and alternative transportation.
The Onion speaks uncomfortable truth. Americans must hold Putin accountable, but we meed to turn our attention inward, too.
link to ‘U.S. Condemns Russian Bombing Of Hospital As Horrific Act That Any World Power Could Theoretically Commit’
KONY 2012 has been on my mind a lot lately, and this is a good read. It doesn’t bring up why I’ve had it on the mind, though. I’m afraid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could turn into a sequel of sorts: Something important and meaningful that people glom onto because they see something oversimplified on social media.
link to ‘How KONY 2012 Trained the Audience— and YouTube — to Love Reactionary Media | by Jamie Cohen | Mar, 2022 | OneZero’
Interesting if disconcerting story. The idea of whataboutism as misinformation is particularly disturbing, and it’s important to remember that misinformation is a non-partisan phenomenon (even if the GOP is particularly keen on it). The worst part from a personal angle is how this relates to my own struggling to balance calling out the invasion of Ukraine with knowing that I haven’t been as attentive to other conflicts that deserve my brainspace.
Textbook example of why it is never enough to say you didn’t mean any harm. This is shameful and gross.
link to ‘Ky. lawmaker apologizes for comments about Jewish women during abortion debate | Lexington Herald Leader’
On one hand, this is actual social media censorship, not what bad actors in the U.S. complain about. On the other, it is a reminder that even the best intentioned laws against misinformation, etc. could have unintended effects. We need to tread carefully when figuring out legal responses to social media problems.
link to ‘Russia Can Now Jail People for 15 Years for Tweeting About the War on Ukraine’
Lots of thoughts about this. As someone with an education PhD who teaches and researches outside traditionally education topics, I want to emphasize that the prevalence of education PhDs is a symptom, not the actual problem. In my teaching and research outside my home discipline, I work hard to learn the content and communities that I’m branching into. The disdain for those content and communities at BYU Religious Education is the real problem here and therefore what I’m really worried about.
We can support Ukraine generally and still be concerned about the integration of the far-right into their armed forces.
link to ‘Ukraine’s ‘Neo-Nazi’ Battalion Is Greasing Bullets in Pig Fat for Russia’s Muslim Soldiers’
So very gross. What’s happening in Ukraine is terrible, but terrible things are happening all over the world, and we shouldn’t make Ukraine more terrible out of some kind of chauvinism.
link to ‘Critics Call Out ‘Racist’ Western Coverage of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine’
Proud of Lexington for hosting this. Also wondering if I should check the Lexington groups on Gab to see if the local far-right is cranky about it.
link to ‘Lexington KY peace vigil for Ukraine set for Wednesday | Lexington Herald Leader’
Tremendously worrying stuff. Taxes are the price we pay for democratic society.
link to ‘House Introduces Tax Bill that Would Devastate Kentucky’s Budget for a Giveaway to the Wealthy - Kentucky Center for Economic Policy’
Eurovision is not supposed to be political, but it always sneaks in. My money is on a lot of sympathy votes for Ukraine’s entry, and a very low score for Russia.
link to ‘Russia’s still eligible for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest : NPR’
Lots of important reminders in here. I also feel ashamed that I have not protested my country’s wars in the way these Russians are doing so now.
link to ‘How liberal Russians are reacting to Putin’s war with Ukraine.’
Putin has outwitted every U.S. President since W, not necessarily because he’s smarter, but because he doesn’t operate with the same constraints U.S. presidents do. To blame this on Biden is moronic. We obviously shouldn’t let this episode of the culture war overshadow the more important crisis happening in Ukraine itself, but this appropriation of the crisis really worries me in the context of U.S. politics. These stances are largely indefensible.
Remembering the time that the only person at church who understood my dissertation research was the one who worked for the state of Michigan doing social media surveillance of social justice movements.
Bellingcat does good work. It gives me hope to see people using the internet to fight back against disinformation spread by the internet, but I’m also glad the article touches on the dangers involved.
link to ‘The Internet Is Debunking Russian War Propaganda in Real Time’
The students in my fundamentals of computers class have repeatedly heard me bring up this story to explain that technology is never just technical.
link to ‘This Is the ‘Hacking’ Investigation Into Journalist Who Clicked ‘View Source’ on Government Website’
This has been around long enough that I used to show it to my FREN 102 students, but very glad to see it cross my radar again via Boing Boing. The whole show is fantastic, but this bet might be the best. Great, nerdy deployment of mostly-right French.
[link to ‘Comedian Bill Bailey reimagines the Doctor Who theme as Belgian jazz | Boing Boing’](https://boingboing.net/2022/02/22/comedian-bill-bailey-reimagines-the-doctor-who-theme-as-belgian-jazz.html?utm_source=rss
City council member responded to my concerned email by basically telling me I should have spoken up before the vote happened. Feels harsh but fair—want to do better about showing up and speaking up.
This is terrifying on so many levels. Besides the possibility of war, the thing I’m most spooked by is the sheer cynicism of Russian efforts here. It doesn’t matter how bad the disinformation is if you can count on enough people to believe it. Trumpian, but turned up to 14.
link to ‘Russia’s ‘Idiotic’ Disinformation Campaign Could Still Lead to War in Ukraine’
Doing transcription yourself sucks. It’s long and tedious, and the final product never feels worth all the effort you put into it. For all that, though, this is exactly why services like Otter have never sat well with me.
link to ‘This journalist’s Otter.ai scare is a reminder that cloud transcription isn’t completely private - The Verge’
Quite enjoyed this read. Appreciated Spiegelman’s take that Maus got pushback because there’s not a satisfying ending. It’s true of Maus, but maybe that’s a feature, not a bug. Hat tip to Boing Boing for pointing me to this.
link to ‘Talking to Art Spiegelman As the Latest ‘Maus’ Fight Erupts’
This story is so, so much to take in. I saw it from the Massachusetts Pirate Party with a comment about implants needing to be open sourced. I agree, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
link to ‘Their Bionic Eyes Are Now Obsolete and Unsupported - IEEE Spectrum’
The first line is a powerful one. Libraries ought to be a constant reference point (and beneficiary) when liberalizing IP.
link to ‘Penguin Random House Demands Removal Of Maus From Digital Library Because The Book Is Popular Again | Techdirt’
I strongly believe in nuclear disarmament, but it’s still hard not to have some sympathy for this point of view.
link to ‘Ukraine Gave Up Nuclear Weapons 30 Years Ago. Today There Are Regrets. - The New York Times’
Intellectual property is important, but overreach is a real problem. We should be liberalizing IP, not cracking down on it.
link to ‘SHOP SAFE Will Stomp Out Online Sales of Used and Homemade Goods | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Even if Spotify could demonstrate it isn’t a publisher here, platforms don’t get a free pass on content. Also, podcast platforms run counter to podcasting, so Spotify’s trying to be successful there is just as troublesome as the costs it’s willing to pay to do so.
link to ‘Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defends Joe Rogan deal in tense company town hall - The Verge’
Dark but funny, and a great imitation of the original art.
[link to ‘The Tennessee School Board-Approved Maus | Boing Boing’](https://boingboing.net/2022/02/01/the-tennessee-school-board-approved-maus.html?utm_source=rss
We should all be concerned about this. Describing this as “high tech” in the first line of the story fetishizes surveillance. It’s gross.
link to ‘Lexington KY police test license plate cameras to solve crime | Lexington Herald Leader’
I have not (and do not care to) read a lot about the Spotify thing, but podcasts are meant to be a platformless, open medium—one of the few left on the web. If you’re going to make one exclusive, you absolutely take responsibility for content moderation.
Maus is one of the most important graphic novels that has ever existed—on one of the most important subjects for our students to learn about. This is a mind-bogglingly dumb decision.
link to ‘Tennessee school board bans Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust novel, Maus | Holocaust | The Guardian’
Do not like the sound of this. Will likely bring it up when teaching DNS this semester. I’ve been reading up on it for research, and it’s hard to overstate how important DNS is.
link to ‘The EU Wants Its Own DNS Resolver that Can Block ‘Unlawful’ Traffic * TorrentFreak’
We do not value child care—including unpaid child care—in this country. It is shameful, especially considering how many of us proclaim to value children.
link to ‘Parents and child care providers of unvaccinate kids say they’ve hit rock bottom : NPR’
I absolutely support the work of this committee, which makes it all the more important I carefully consider the means that they are using.
[link to ‘Dear January 6 Committee: Curb Your Appetite - Center for Democracy and Technology’](https://cdt.org/insights/dear-january-6-committee-curb-your-appetite/?utm_source=rss
Podcasts are one of the last bastions of the open internet, but that evidently comes at a cost. So long as Apple and Spotify are trying to corner the podcast market, they should be moderating their content.
link to ‘Election Falsehoods Surged on Podcasts Before Capitol Riots, Researchers Find - The New York Times’
There are clear cases where platforms need to be moderating more content, but let’s not forget the seemingly-well-intentioned but overreaching cases either.
link to ‘Tumblr goes overboard censoring tags on iOS to comply with Apple’s guidelines - The Verge’
Stingrays are bad news, and so is the ability to buy them without public scrutiny.
[link to ‘Boston Police Bought Spy Tech With a Pot of Money Hidden From the Public — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/boston-police-bought-spy-tech-with-a-pot-of-money-hidden-from-the-public
Easy to forget that YouTube is functionally the only game in town… and that there are big consequences for that.
link to ‘YouTube’s New Copyright Transparency Report Leaves a Lot Out | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Very worrying. Underlines the importance of local politics.
link to ‘Proud Boys Regroup Locally to Add to Ranks Before 2022 Midterms - The New York Times’
I have a professional interest in the far right, follow the news pretty well, and still sometimes forget how bad Jan. 6 was just because life is crazy. Shame on those actively encouraging us to forget out of cynicism and self-interest.
I am glad someone is doing this reporting, and I’m even more glad it’s from here in Kentucky instead of folks from outside.
link to ‘Mayfield candle factory’s labor practices under scrutiny in wake of deadly tornado – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville’
A sign of scary things to come. I haven’t taught my department’s information literacy class for several semesters; I hope it’s up to the task of combatting this sort of thing.
link to ‘How Trump and the 2020 race is weighing on Georgia Gov. Kemp in 2022 : NPR’
This report sounds terrifying. Even the Capitol rioters deserve some freedom from this kind of surveillance.
link to ‘Report - Legal Loopholes and Data for Dollars: How Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies Are Buying Your Data from Brokers - Center for Democracy and Technology’
Wish I had commuted earlier today to see this; when I biked past, there were only KU folks, no protestors. ALSO: “protesters might be abetting murderers by taking up police time” is not a good look.
link to ‘KU reaches compromise with Lexington tree-cutting protesters | Lexington Herald Leader’
School buses are the most common form of public transit around here, and we still can’t do that right.
link to ‘Fayette schools considers spending $440,00 for outside drivers | Lexington Herald Leader’
Another reason to be wary of automated ad exchanges.
[link to ‘How Steve Bannon Has Exploited Google Ads to Monetize Extremism — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/how-steve-bannon-has-exploited-google-ads-to-monetize-extremism
The problem with facial recognition isn’t (just) accuracy—it’s the underlying values of such a project.
link to ‘Clearview AI does well in another round of facial recognition accuracy tests. - The New York Times’
Terrifying stuff. I know “Orwellian” gets overused these days, but TVs that watch us are straight out of 1984.
link to ‘Vizio’s profit on ads, subscriptions, and data is double the money it makes selling TVs - The Verge’
Glad local reporters are looking into this; when the measures were announced, I was wondering what responses would be.
link to ‘24 UK employees placed on leave for breaking COVID policy | Lexington Herald Leader’
Interesting argument. I will say that having a running Keybase chat with distant friends has been terribly helpful during the pandemic.
link to ‘The Secret to a Better Internet? Post Less, Chat More. - The New York Times’
Du Mez is the perfect person to respond to this. Fwiw, Gab is giving some serious Jesus & John Wayne vibes right now, for all the same reasons Hawley is.
link to ‘Sen. Josh Hawley claims without evidence that liberals are attacking masculinity : NPR’
The whole point of far right meme culture is plausible deniability. Telling people to relax and that it’s just a joke is not only ridiculous but further plays into the parallels.
link to ‘Rep. Gosar anime video highlights ties to the online right - The Verge’
We have a magnet from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum reminding us (and everyone else who walks past our fridge) to keep an eye out for modern day hate, injustice, and genocide.
link to ‘U.S. Holocaust Museum Says China ‘May Be Committing Genocide’ Against Uyghurs - The New York Times’
Religious freedom only counts as such when it’s applied across the board and not just for conservative talking points.
link to ‘Supreme Court conservatives are skeptical on spiritual advisers in death chamber : NPR’
By this logic, macOS is malware’s best friend by allowing users to install software outside the App Store. It’s a dumb argument.
link to ‘‘Sideloading is a cyber criminal’s best friend,’ according to Apple’s software chief - The Verge’
To paraphrase George Smiley, you can learn a lot about how those in power will treat people by the way they treat books.
link to ‘Texas’ governor wants ‘pornographic’ school library books removed : NPR’
Public transit forever. Lexington is considering BRT, and I’m really hoping it comes through. Would give me some more commuting options.
link to ‘Public transportation can save the world — if we let it’
The weirdest part of this article to me is how you have Frances Haugen talking to the UK Parliament in one paragraph and then Nick Clegg—former deputy PM—defending “Meta” as their employee not long after.
link to ‘Facebook Changes Corporate Name to Meta - The New York Times’
If viewing the source code of a web page is hacking, my black hat skills just went up a thousandfold.
link to ‘Missouri governor threatens reporter who discovered state site spilling private info - The Verge’
This is worrying. There’s a long tradition of open far right movements in France, and if the U.S has something to teach them, it should make us think twice about what’s happening here.
link to ‘U.S. Antigovernment Groups Are Influencing the French Far Right - The New York Times’
Interesting article. I’m particularly interested in the idea of focusing on algorithms rather than content.
link to ‘Facebook whistleblower hearing: France Haugen finally got Republicans to stop yapping about anti-conservative bias.’
This is maybe the best example I’ve seen of app stores being a problematic model. Is there an Android app that could be sideloaded? Definitely isn’t for Apple, and that’s shameful.
link to ‘Apple and Google Remove ‘Navalny’ Voting App in Russia - The New York Times’
A very powerful read. I was not politically confident as a teenager, but I remember already feeing uneasy with how the attacks were being evoked within a couple of years. A couple of decades later, I think we all need to be asking the hard questions.
link to ‘Opinion | Which Victims of 9/11 Get Remembered? - The New York Times’
Nope nope nope nope. If plate readers are going to become more common, I’ve got to start biking more places. Not that that will protect against Ring. 🤮🤮🤮
link to ‘Surveillance Startup Brings Police Tech to Neighborhoods - Bloomberg’
I am only peripherally aware of Joe Rogan and don’t get great vibes from what I see, so I don’t really have any investment in how his podcast is doing. That said, this does speak to my concerns that Spotify’s attempts to land exclusive podcasts are threatening one of the last (and best) parts of the open web we’ve managed to hold onto. Also, very interesting use of digital methods here!
I have been thinking recently about streaming as a compromise in internet-era IP disputes, but this shows one reason that it’s not good enough a compromise.
link to ‘A Thumbs Down for Streaming Privacy - The New York Times’
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of money at my local bookstore and bikeshop, and it kills me that Amazon is threatening both. Granted, I haven’t been able to completely cut the Amazon cord (and I have friends who have only survived the past 18 months because of the company), but there has to be a better way.
link to ‘As demand for bikes surged, Amazon got in the way - The Verge’
I agree that it’s difficult to define misinformation in cases like this, but “cleaning house before inviting company” is absolutely a problem if the mess is what we’re coming to evaluate. Even a fact-based article can be used to misinformative ends, and it’s important that we know things like that are happening.
link to ‘Facebook’s Most Viewed Article In Early 2021 Raised Doubt About COVID Vaccine : NPR’
Every time I read a story like this, I think of how much we need ranked-choice voting in the US. I’m not inclined to vote for any Republican right now, but there are plenty I’d rank above these two if given the chance. I also wish I could have ranked Charles Booker AND Amy McGrath above Mitch McConnell back in November.
link to ‘In Iowa, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz Take Trump’s Baton - The New York Times’
Gotta admit that I’d never thought about what we should do about algorithms trained on data that’s subject to a deletion request. Interesting article.
link to ‘Now that machines can learn, can they unlearn? | Ars Technica’
This is the sort of thing that Gab will decry if they’re serious and consistent about their supposed pro-free speech, anti-deplatformization stand. My bet, though, is that Torba writes a blog post in the next week arguing that porn isn’t free speech and good on banks for cracking down on OnlyFans.
link to ‘OnlyFans Says It Is Banning Sexually Explicit Content - The New York Times’
Cory Doctorow has THOUGHTS about data. I may use this in my data science class this semester.
[link to ‘Pluralistic: 19 Aug 2021 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow](https://pluralistic.net/2021/08/19/failure-cascades/
Amazon is just too big. This line stood out: “Amazon is now in the odd position of replacing stores that it helped kill off.”
link to Amazon reportedly plans to open its own department stores - The Verge
This blurb stood out to me: “Apple says, relentlessly, that privacy is the central feature of its iPhones. But as the photo scanning demonstrates, that’s true only until Apple changes its mind about its policies.” Seems to me we shouldn’t be dependent on tech companies’ decisions to ensure privacy.
link to Opinion | The Illusion of Privacy Is Getting Harder to Sell - The New York Times
Please also give me the confidence of an Apple exec explaining how scanning all your photos is “an advancement of the state of the art in privacy.”
Give me the confidence of a FB employee wringing hands about researchers’ allegedly “put[ting] people’s data or privacy at risk.”
Looking forward to the “speed limits are government overreach, we need to rely on drivers’ personal responsibility” phase of the culture wars.
Spent my morning commute today thinking about how U.S. Christian nationalism and French laïcité (secularism) sometimes end up serving similar functions.
Reading or listening to other countries’ coverage of U.S. news has long been helpful for me. For example, I like using what the Swiss deem important enough to report on in American politics to gauge what I should pay extra attention to.
Despite the underlying problems with the Barabbas story, this seems like a good Friday to remember that we shouldn’t prefer violent insurrectionists over those wrongfully killed by the state.
You cannot understand online Mormonism without understanding Mormon feminism. The more I read, the clearer that becomes.
First time I’ve read this much into Inauguration Day happening around the same time as my birthday.
I do not have any data to back this up, but it sure seems like Francophone news outlets have transitioned over the past two years from translating “impeachment” to just using it as a loanword.
Remembering Governor Andy Beshear’s comments from last May: “You cannot fan the flames and then condemn the fire.” I can think of lots of people who need to hear that this morning.
I had a friend in Michigan with whom I disagreed on a great deal but who was still an important and supportive mentor for me. On November 9, 2016, we had a very tense conversation where he told me that I would see: The candidate’s bluster might be worrying, but he wouldn’t actually act on any of it. I haven’t talked to him in a few years, but I’m wondering what’s going through his head today.
Pour le 6 janvier, Urban Federer, l’abbé d’Ensiedeln (Suisse), écrit au sujet de « la peur d’être perdant » de Hérode et Saül, qui a inspiré « une jalousie, laquelle les a poussés a la haine meurtrière ». C’est un message pour l’Épiphanie pour tous les temps et tous les lieux, mais ça fait bizarre de le lire en particulier aux États-Unis ce 6 janvier 2021.
First line of this morning’s France Inter news broadcast: “A phone call worthy of an American crime novel.”
The Georgia transcript reads like a student calling after I’ve submitted grades but before the registrar’s deadline has passed, arguing that he’s earned a perfect score but is willing to settle for my bumping him up a couple points to get an A.
I am not sure what I was expecting when I started looking for Mormon* content on Gab, but “we should get the missionaries on this platform” wasn’t it.
It amazes me that we all agree autocorrect spectacularly and regularly fails and yet believe that we can trust fundamentally the same tech to do harder work like grade homework, flag content, and suggest prison sentences.
Every day that goes by in this election cycle just makes me more frustrated that we don’t have ranked-choice voting.
The thing about getting in the habit of reading privacy policies is that it sometimes changes your behavior, but it ALWAYS ups your anxiety about the impossibility of ever changing your behavior sufficiently.
Maybe the Cylons were a prescient metaphor for all that is terrible about the Internet of Things, and we ought to be adopting the Colonies’ aversion to networked technologies.
Yet another Grammarly ad has me thinking… I think my skepticism about AI is not so much the mistakes it makes so much as it is the assumption that human experiences are so well-structured that they can be reduced to an algorithm.
I want to live in a world where I can travel by train from Cincinnati to Chicago without it being a 9-hour trip that leaves at 1am.
Today is the primary for the 2019 state elections here in KY, and I’m really missing Michigan’s open primaries. Not being able to vote today may be what finally pushes me to declare a party affiliation after more than a decade of not doing so.
A U.S. Rep from Kentucky recently criticized John Kerry for having a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; I’m afraid he’ll come for me soon when he finds out I’m teaching technology courses despite only having a Doctor of Philosophy.
Today I learned from first-hand experience that Latter-day Saint services aren’t the only ones with cringeworthy messages on Mother’s Day. 😤 Not sure whether that’s comforting or disappointing! 😜
Reading Cory Doctorow’s “radicalized,” and it’s great so far. Funny how a story like “Unauthorized Bread” can make me angry in a way that reading news stories and blog posts on the same subject just can’t compete with.
Il y a une cathédrale magnifique qui brûle, et le président américain se permet de donner des conseils aux sapeurs-pompiers. Je n’en peux plus.
I’m trying to succinctly describe a Latter-day Saint “solemn assembly” in an academic manuscript, and it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.
Emailed my Kentucky General Assembly representative this morning to express concern about a bill and got a personal answer back by afternoon. Way better than responses I get from US House/Senate.
Reading today’s edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader makes me glad I subscribe to a local paper. Lots of holding our state and federal officials accountable; plus, I’m starting to have some favorite local columnists.
Reading the news today, I am reminded of last month, when after finishing the fantastic “Believed” podcast, I angrily covered up John Engler’s signature on my diploma with a sticky note. It’s still there.