Very happy to see this op-ed emerge—especially from a BYU student. Fidesz is not a party Latter-day Saints should praise or look up to.
link to “Addison Graham: Latter-day Saints should not admire Hungary’s ‘family values’”
It baffles me when platforms think “oh, but we can help you see more relevant ads” is a selling point. Also, “not sharing data outside Reddit” doesn’t help either—it’s still an invasion of privacy.
link to “Reddit will no longer allow users to opt out of ad personalization - The Verge”
Look, I don’t know much about Hungarian politics, but it seems to me that it would take a hell of a lot of self-confidence to brag about an ally of Viktor Orbán visiting BYU. This feels like wading into the culture wars in a way that the LDS Church usually tries to avoid.
link to “President of Hungary Discusses Faith and Family Values at BYU”
I love this interview so much and for so many reasons. I haven’t been a member of Community of Christ long enough to have personal connection with Wallace B. Smith, but I have a lot of respect for him.
link to “629 | Open Topics | Wallace B. Smith | Re-Post – Project Zion Podcast”
I’m pretty sure I remember exactly where I was when I realized that Esther 100% slept with the king before he chose her as his queen. I was sitting in a top-floor office in one of two villas on Chemin William Barbey in Chambésy, Switzerland. I lived on the bottom floor of the villa with some other office staff of the Switzerland Geneva Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this office was where I did my religious studies every morning before heading out into a larger office where I helped with legal, vehicle, and other assorted logistical issues for the mission.
Pete and Sarah were mainstays of my Mormon experience growing up. Their oldest—a famously rowdy boy with several rowdy younger brothers—was present on the Sunday when I was introduced in children’s classes as a newcomer to the congregation. When I outgrew children’s classes and made my way to youth Sunday School, Pete was our teacher for a while—the kind of teacher who tried to suppress a giggle (and usually unsuccessfully) whenever the word “ass” (especially “dumb ass”) appeared in the KJV.
One of the more awkward passages in the Book of Mormon (at least from an ecumenical perspective—there’s much worse in there) is in I Nephi 3:220-222, where an angel has this to say with Nephi, the current narrator of the book:
“Behold, there are save two churches only: the one is the church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil. Wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
Roth’s perspective is valuable here. Scary stuff. [link to ‘Opinion | I Was Attacked by Donald Trump and Elon Musk. I Believe It Was a Strategy To Change What You See Online. - The New York Times’](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/18/opinion/trump-elon-musk-twitter.html?unlocked_article_code=4tdIbFuKLW42ISeaU4acN26WTieKQcsLEoCyhJt1DC8dcAq9yCnJjyrbKLCEWm2hVWmWh-x94MKiw-I_OrqJ8JIYpDsdvQ4BFioWZ_RXCQ4ftJfFamVymL4ZnoK5RUQIhDdY-ZuJck3JBMeNXn5VYxEZ-tp8__DgJ_29osLV2tNCx4SZkrQrNtAyYPdzMK4asGiGrshlttyZF4arTjYH7ObwQo2-GSiVT3z3QovPSQ8Q4L9ggP7frVv1zKmIi4yukMwCGcqmRYnUy8pmnGPw0wWV3c9FMTUKuc6VM7kGy9gMnz_OUsQCiX8LR3v5Ls40VVkp1tb_c7PD4BiQ6lFP2Aw
I love a movie that leans into being bizarre because it knows exactly what it is and commits to it. I love a movie that uses metaphor to make important points. I love a movie that is self-aware and even self-critical. This was as good as I expected it to be.
preface A quick preface: This is a post that I originally wrote nearly two years ago for By Common Consent. Lately, it’s been bugging me that I don’t have a version of it up on my own site, and since I haven’t had a lot of time this week to write anything original, I’m going to repost this here.
This post elaborates on one of my favorite close readings of the Book of Mormon.
It’s weird to rate this so highly given how much anxiety it gives me to read it. Reading it four years ago is what forced me to confront how much baggage I had from my own Mormon missionary experience, but I know the author has her own complicated feelings about the book, and that helps some. At any rate, the book is so well done that I can’t help but rate it highly.
I’ll admit that I’ve been wary of Masnick’s hostility to KOSA, but Blackburn’s comments justify his stance. This ought to kill support for KOSA. link to ‘Marsha Blackburn Makes It Clear: KOSA Is Designed To Silence Trans People | Techdirt’
Well, this sucks. [link to ‘*privacy not included | Shop smart and safe | Mozilla Foundation’](https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/articles/what-data-does-my-car-collect-about-me-and-where-does-it-go/
C’est bien stupide, une telle interdiction. Je suis pour un état séparé de la religion mais contre un état qui essaie de supprimer une religion minoritaire. link to ‘En France, près de 300 élèves se sont présentées en abaya à l’école, malgré l’interdiction - rts.ch - Monde’
One of this week’s lectionary passages includes Matthew 18:18-20, which David Bentley Hart renders:
Amen, I tell you, whatever things you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you unbind on the earth will have been unbound in heaven. Again, [amen,] I tell you that if two among you agree on earth concerning everything they request, whatever it is, it shall come to pass for them, coming from my Father in the heavens.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy church, but what really fed my soul today was a family trip to some beloved indie bookstores. And some listening to a radio adaptation of Les Misérables. And, okay, yes, the smores cookies and cream ice cream I snitched from spouse’s cone.
Today, I’m remembering the family friend from a Latter-day Saint congregation I grew up in who heard me in a church settng quote some scripture on the need for the rich to give to the poor and then took me aside to ask how liberal my school friends were and give me some cautionary advice.
Solid post. I think it’s often helpful to ask whether Latter-day Saint logic applies to things that don’t get Latter-day Saint approval. link to ‘Persecution, Truth and the Trans Agenda – Wheat & Tares’
It’s been less than a month since I read the English translation of this, which I already gave full marks. Yet, the original French version was even better. Delisle captures this city and its conflicts in a comic book better than any news story ever could.
In a way, I’m not in a great position to evaluate this book, because I’ve read shamefully little about indigenous populations in the Americas. That learning experience here, though, was a good one. Treuer doesn’t sugarcoat the past, but he celebrates the indigenous present and is even hopeful about the future. I have a lot more to read and learn, but this was a solid start.
A friend of mine recently asked whether I had a list of books “that have been particularly impactful or interesting,” especially in the realm of spirituality and religion—and suggested that if I didn’t already have such a list, I could put one together for one of my next blog posts. It took me a while to actually put the list together, but it’s ended up being a really interesting exercise. Of the forty books that I’ve picked, some have been more influential than others.
Fascinating subject matter, great acting, beautiful visuals, and lots to keep you thinking after you watch it.
This is an admittedly fuzzy memory, but I was thinking today about the time some unit at BYU brought in a French thinker to speak on the importance of “the family,” but instead of the conservative religious arguments I was expecting, the guy’s talk had monarchist vibes.
I hadn’t thought about this before, but of course the same General Assembly complaining about the JCPS bus crisis is responsible for underfunding their bus system. link to ‘The Legislature’s Transportation Budget Cuts Contributed to the JCPS Bus Debacle - Kentucky Center for Economic Policy’
I don’t remember how I discovered this book, but when ordering some books from France early in the pandemic, I couldn’t pass up the chance to read a Lebanese scholar’s treatment of the Three Nephites in the original French. That said, while there were interesting bits in here, I just don’t know that I follow academic French well enough to really get this. I have a PDF of the English translation that may be worth briefly revisiting.
Look, if an automated process could save human moderators from the awful work they have to do, I’d be all for it. I’m unconvinced that GPT-4 could do it, though. link to ‘OpenAI wants GPT-4 to solve the content moderation dilemma - The Verge’
I think this is two weeks in a row that I’ve shared Casey Newton’s Platformer column, but that’s because it’s two weeks in a row he’s written something important. link to ‘Elon Musk keeps getting creepier - The Verge’
Good coverage of a worrying development. I’m sympathetic to authors’ worries here, but I also think they’re wrong. If digital is different than the physical, copyright considerations need to be more generous, NOT stricter. The Internet Archive is an important service, and I’m worried about the future. link to ‘The Case of the Internet Archive vs. Book Publishers - The New York Times’
There’s so much inane blathering about free speech on the internet that it’s easy to sometimes forget that it can be a real concern. Here’s one such example. link to ‘The U.S. Government Wants To Control Online Speech to “Protect Kids” | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
In his closing sermon at the 2019 Community of Christ World Conference, prophet-president Steve Veazey asked a guiding question for the church:
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
It’s pretty clear from the formatting of this question—and even clearer from its translation into French and Spanish, the other working languages of Community of Christ—that Veazey’s phrase “the peaceful One” is meant to describe Jesus as a being who is inherently peaceful and who exemplifies peace for the whole world.
This… just keeps getting worse. All justices, regardless of political stripes, need to ensre they aren’t being influenced. link to ‘Clarence Thomas accepted even more gifts from billionaires, new report finds : NPR’
I bought this pamphlet over a decade ago, in the gift shop at the Mémorial de Caen. I’d heard that it had influenced the Occupy protests, and even though I wasn’t sure I liked the Occupy protests (in 2012, I was a right-leaning centrist who would eventually vote Romney), I figured I ought to better understand them. I wasn’t sure I liked this pamphlet either when I first read it, but it’s been a while and my political views have marched leftward, so it was time for a rereading.
I’m not thrilled about AI’s ability to do this, but let’s be clear: Amazon is as much to blame here, and I like them even less. link to ‘Author discovers AI-generated counterfeit books written in her name on Amazon | Ars Technica’
Yesterday, during my regular Community of Christ congregation’s services, we sang hymn #72 from our hymnal, entitled “Gather Us In,” which the Beyond the Walls Choir has beautifully interpreted in the video below:
As we sang, I was struck by the last half of the second verse, which reads:
Gather us in, the rich and the haughty;
gather us in, the proud and the strong,
give us a heart so meek and so lowly,
Zoom’s responses to this are meaningless, empty corporate speak. I’m not concerned about owning my content, I’m concerned about others using it while affirming my ownership. And yes, I “consent” to it in the sense that I use Zoom, but that is meaningless consent and Zoom knows it. What a garbage response. link to ‘Zoom says its new AI tools aren’t stealing ownership of your content - The Verge’
A friend of mine invited me to attend a Community of Christ worship service tonight, a brief reference during which got me thinking about what Community of Christ folks call Joseph Smith’s “grove experience” but that I grew up referring to as his “First Vision.” This got me thinking (and reading) about the different accounts of this experience, including Smith’s 1832 account, where he writes:
I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee.
Facial recognition software is gross. What a good—but terrible!—example that just because it comes from an algorithm doesn’t mean it’s right. When will we learn that the risks of wrong decisions outweigh the purported promise of the right ones? link to ‘Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested After False Facial Recognition Match - The New York Times’
This is dumb. Copyright is important, but this example shows how much we’ve made it overreach. link to ‘Academic Book About Emojis Can’t Include The Emojis It Talks About Because Of Copyright | Techdirt’
I have been a fan of Delisle’s for quite some time, but I’m still blown away by how good this is. The book isn’t political or polemical, but a slice-of-life comic done by a cartoonist living in East Jerusalem for a year brings walls, checkpoints, rockets, and attacks on Gaza to life in a subtle, compelling way. I used to follow this news a lot more, and Delisle made me feel like there was a lot I missed even then.
A friend recommended this book to me, and I’m very glad I tried it. It’s a broad consideration of how the Binding of Isaac has been interpreted, imagined, and portrayed over the centuries—combined with the author’s personal struggles with the story. It was difficult sometimes as an audiobook (while I appreciated its breadth, it sometimes felt repetitious), but I got a lot out of it.
Everyone excited about generative AI needs to account for this kind of thing. We don’t pay enough attention to digital labor and the dehumanizing aspects of content moderation. link to ‘Cleaning Up ChatGPT’s Language Takes Heavy Toll on Human Workers - WSJ’
On a friend’s recommendation, I’m currently reading (well, listening to) James Goodman’s But Where is the Lamb?, an interesting volume taking a look at the story of Abraham and the Binding of Isaac. This passage stood out to me yesterday:
To say that you prefer your church and its stories to another church and its stories is one thing. But to say that your church annuls another church (completes it, voids it, supersedes it) is quite another.
I’m a fan of Dan McClellan’s YouTube channel—he posts a lot there (nearly everything is a repost from TikTok), and I watch most of what he posts. Yesterday, he posted an interesting video on the “Lucifer” name and character in the Bible, describing how traditional Christian ideas about the figure are all post-biblical innovations that don’t neceessarily line up with the text. In particular, the name “Lucifer” is an artifact of the Vulgate, and even in the Vulgate, the name itself is a reference to a Babylonian king, not to a fallen angel who became the devil.
Yet another wild story in the wild history of Twitter. link to ‘Elon Starts Bribing His Biggest Fans As He Admits The Company Is Still Burning Cash (Despite His Earlier Claims To The Contrary) | Techdirt’
It took me six months to finally read this book, but it’s exactly what I hoped for, so it was worth the wait. Some of Merton’s essays are more compelling than others, but his fierce condemnation of war and advocacy for peace is moving. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this.
Growing up Latter-day Saint, I knew that polygamy was part of our past, but I was so defensive about it not being part of our present that I often failed to understand just how important it was to my ancestors (both literal and figurative). About a month ago, I stumbled on a passage in RLDS missionary Charles Derry’s autobiography (which I recently finished) that reminded me that polygamy was a huge prority for 19th century Latter-day Saints:
One of the biggest perks of working in academia is access to an academic library. Don’t get me wrong: I deeply appreciate and regularly visit my local public libraries, and kiddo and I have made a couple of visits to her school’s summer library hours (which is an amazing idea). There’s something about the breadth of an academic library, though, that can really come in handy sometimes. For example, I was recently reading an article by Dan McClellan on Bible translation in Latter-day Saint contexts and noticed with interest his reference to David Bentley Hart’s translation of the New Testament.
I really want to like this book. I am sympathetic to pirate politics, and I’m impressed with its sudden surge to power in Sweden and elsewhere. I even think many of the ideas in here are compelling and will probably come back to it despite my relatively negative review. The thing, though, is that I struggled through it, so it took me so long to read it that I probably don’t even remember enough to give it a fair review—except that that is itself kind of damning.
I’ve seen some reviews describe the new Mission Impossible movie (apparently featuring a malicious AI) as perfectly suited for our time of ChatGPT. I’m more worried about things like this: content farming, model collapse, etc. link to ‘AI Junk Is Starting to Pollute the Internet - WSJ’
As I wrote earlier in the week, I gave today’s sermon for the Toronto Congregation’s inclusive online worship service. The service was recorded and can be found at the YouTube link below:
I really enjoyed participating with Beyond the Walls. I had some idea of how much work they put into making this look like a professional production, but getting to peek behind the scenes and see how much work they put into juggling different cameras, testing and managing audio, and everything else made me really appreciate what they do all the more.
I read that “chronological order of Star Wars” media piece mentioned here in io9 and I was baffled by how poorly done it was (not realizing it was done by AI and wondering how an io9 writer could get things so wrong). Using AI to content farm is a terrible idea. link to ‘Gizmodo’s staff isn’t happy about G/O Media’s AI-generated content - The Verge’
As I’ve written before, one of my favorite things about the Day One journaling app is the “On this Day” feature that lets me remember moments from my past—often moments I might have forgotten if I hadn’t journaleda bout them.
This morning, Day One reminded me of a hymn service my local Community of Christ congregation held a couple of years ago. I had been invited to share a memory of a favorite hymn.
I get that it’s straightforward language that everyone will get, but I think “uncensored” is the wrong word here. Content moderation is not (necessarily) censorship, and content moderation is good and helpful for tools like generative AI. link to ‘ChatGPT users drop for the first time as people turn to uncensored chatbots | Ars Technica’
I finally read this book weeks after picking it up from a local library and knowing I’d enjoy it. Viloria’s life story (like so many others’ stories) casually destroys sex and gender binaries. Reading about the experiences of intersex people was an important part of my beginning to reject those binaries several years ago, and I think anyone clinging to those binaries ought to hear from voices like Viloria’s. That’s not to say that other queerings of that binary are any less valid than being intersex, of course!
I appreciate Masnick’s thinking, and I’m a big Doctorow fan, so it’s always neat to see them come together. link to ‘It Turns Out Elon Is Speedrunning The Enshittification Learning Curve, Not The Content Moderation One | Techdirt’
This is very exciting! I’m far too locked into Apple’s ecosystem to seriously consider this right now (even this post is being composed thanks to Siri Shortcuts), but I hope this does well, because I’d love to own a Fairphone one day. link to ‘The environmentally conscious Fairphone 4 is finally coming to the US - The Verge’
Next Sunday, I’ll be giving the sermon for the Community of Christ Toronto Congregation’s Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation, speaking on the Parable of the Samaritan (more often called the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but my sermon will explain why I’m going for that name instead). I had been planning to post about the sermon after the fact, but the links for the YouTube live events went up today, so I thought I might share them ahead of time.
This is a fascinating bit of history. Derry was an early convert to Mormonism who emigrated from England to Utah, became disgusted with polygamy and what he saw as an abusive system of tithing and church governance, and returned to the American Midwest, where he joined the RLDS church and became a leader and missionary in that denomination. Like The Giant Joshua, it’s odd to read something that is so clearly “a pioneer story” but isn’t uniformly positive.
This is disgusting and reprehensible. I refuse to watch the video myself, but it sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on the Gab groups I’ve looked at for research projects. link to ‘DeSantis slammed over Trump attack ad over LGBTQ rights : NPR’
Good focus on the digital labor aspects of this whole thing. I sympathize with Reddit for not wanting to provide free value for generative AI (this is one of the trickiest parts of that conversation), but Reddit’s users are right to balk at providing free value for the platform. link to ‘Reddit Won’t Be the Same. Neither Will the Internet | WIRED’
Almost immediately after finishing yesterday’s post, an idea occurred to me that I wanted to chase a little further. I’ve mentioned before my admiration for Thomas Römer, a Germano-Swiss Bible scholar who teaches at the Collège de France and whose lectures are freely available in podcast form. I’ve listened to a lot of those lectures, and I remembered that Römer had made some comments about the rhetorical purposes of the Abraham story that seemed relevant to my wrestling with the story of the Binding of Isaac.
I’ve alluded to the binding of Isaac in previous posts, and I hope that what I’ve written before makes it clear how uncomfortable I am with this story. Nonetheless, it’s one of the readings in this week’s Lectionary scriptures, and there is a part of Robert Alter’s translation of this story that does stick out to me. Here’s how Alter renders Genesis 22:2:
And He said, “Take, pray, your son, your only one, whom you love, Isaac, and go forth to the Land of Moriah and offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall say to you.
One of kiddo’s favorite podcasts is the delightful Forever Ago, each episode of which dives into the history of something specific, such as the weekend, Black cowboys, etc. Kiddo often listens to podcasts in the morning while waiting for (or eating) breakfast, and on Saturday morning, knowing that we were visiting Lexington Pride later that day, she pulled up the episode on the history of the rainbow Pride flag.
With that history fresh in our minds, I noticed something different about the rainbow flags that fly in downtown Lexington during hte month of June: Lexington does not fly the common six-stripe rainbow flag.
Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about an important part of RLDS history that I mostly love but also get slightly annoyed by. In short, Wallace Smith, who was then prophet-president of the RLDS Church, was put on the spot by a local seminary professor, who asked the following question:
If our mutual studies of Christianity and the RLDS Church were to discovere that there was a discrepancy between what Jesus taught and what Joseph Smith taught, which would you accept?
Perhaps most interesting thing here is official comment from Reddit. It’s not quite “auto-reply with a poop emoji territory,” but it might actually be worse? link to ‘Reddit pressures mods to end the blackout as they find new ways to protest - The Verge’
I’ve linkblogged a lot of stuff on Reddit lately, but this is a good summary and reaction, so I’m adding it to the list. link to ‘Reddit Tells Mods That Protesting By Changing Sub To NSFW Violates The Rules | Techdirt’
Wil Gafney and her *Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church° continue to be a source of inspiration for me. For the past two weeks, her readings for the relevant Sundays of the season of Ordinary Time in the Christian liturgical year have begun with Samuel’s miraculous birth to Hannah. I’ve just now completed the reading for Proper 6 reading, in which Hannah’s pleas for a child despite her seeming infertility are answered.
I had never heard about this story before. It’s tempting to think of World War II as “a good war,” but stories like this complicate it. How is this blatant racism compatible with fighting against the Nazis? link to ‘In WWII, a segregated U.S. Army deployed to fight Hitler — and brought Jim Crow : NPR’
I’m glad this article points out how much unpaid work mods do to make Reddit a place people want to go. They arguably add more value to the platform than employees do, and this strikes me as a bad move. link to ‘Reddit starts removing moderators behind the latest protests - The Verge’
Here’s Masnick saying some of my thoughts but better—and adding some observations I would not have come to on my own. link to ‘Reddit CEO Triples Down, Insults Protesters, Whines About Not Making Enough Money From Reddit Users | Techdirt’
What I appreciate about coverage of this from The Verge and Techdirt is the way that it draws attention to questions of digital labor. link to ‘Reddit communities with millions of followers plan to extend the blackout indefinitely - The Verge’
This just makes me like Andy more. Shame on Cameron and everyone else using queerphobia to influence an election. link to ‘Critics of KY Gov. Andy Beshear recirculate drag queens photo | Lexington Herald Leader’
Look, this is the kind of book that I bought knowing already that I’d agree with its thesis, so maybe you shouldn’t read my review of it. Nonetheless, I think Caine does an excellent job of bringing together many of the arguments against Amazon. This company is bad news, and while it’s hard to escape it entirely, I think the world would be a better place if more of us did less to support it.
Really loving this (six year old) podcast episode. I don’t care much about the Trinity except when it’s understood in the ways that Karin Peter and Susan Ocley describe here. link to ‘78 | Common Grounds | Trinity Sunday – Project Zion Podcast’
Last paragraph here is an important one: I’ve seen a lot of headlines about OpenAI calling for regulation, but it’s noteworthy that it’s hypothetical future regulation. link to ‘OpenAI says it could ‘cease operating’ in the EU if it can’t comply with future regulation - The Verge’
Masnick makes a good point here. I’m sympathetic to “for the kids” motivations, but I’m increasingly convinced that Masnick is right, that it’s meant to make bad policy sound impossible to argue against. link to ‘Heritage Foundation Says That Of Course GOP Will Use KOSA To Censor LGBTQ Content | Techdirt’
Bookmarking this for later. Community of Christ isn’t very big in Kentucky, and I wonder how digital technologies could help connect us and provide people easier ways to visit us. This seems like an interesting model. link to ‘584 | What’s Brewing | A Path Forward for Chicago – Project Zion Podcast’
I picked up a copy of this book at the 2023 World Conference of Community of Christ, after it being on my wishlist for some time. It does an excellent job of examining the subjectivity of Restoration scripture by tracing its evolution over time. I remarked to a friend earlier this week that it’s a shame it was written in the 90s (and originally, the 60s) rather than now, when there’s so much more available to do this kind of work.
Can’t believe it’s been ten years; can’t believe we’re not collectively furious about this. link to ‘10 Years After Snowden: Some Things Are Better, Some We’re Still Fighting For | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
I have been furious with Intuit since ProPublica did their great reporting on this, but I’ve continued to use TurboTax because the system is broken. Very excited for this news, and I appreciate Doctorow’s passionnate take. link to ‘Pluralistic: The IRS will do your taxes for you (if that’s what you prefer) (17 May 2023) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow’
Good podcast episode; what stands out the most is the authors’ comments at the end that merely researching the book gave them nightmares. link to ‘Stream episode Mountain Meadows Massacre — What did Brigham Young know and when did he know it? | Episode 286 by Mormon Land podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud’
My alarm woke me from a dream in which I was trying to recruit Latter-day Saint missionaries as pilots for the Rebel Alliance, and I have a lot of questions about that worldbuilding.
Some good comments in here—especially on how AI enforces and normalizes certain kinds of writing instead of allowing us to determine what writing should look like. link to ‘Google’s AI pitch is a recipe for email hell - The Verge’
A great column from Jana. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years—or that I’ve changed so much in my own Mormonism over that time. link to ‘The ‘Mormon Moment’ 10 years later: Why Joanna Brooks and Mitch Mayne left the public eye’
This sounds worrying to me. Surveillance can and will be abused, and we should be wary about embracing it on this scale. link to ‘Neighborhood Watch Out: Cops Are Incorporating Private Cameras Into Their Real-Time Surveillance Networks | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
One of this week’s lectionary readings in Community of Christ (and presumably elsewhere) is in 1 Peter 3. As I was reading the NRSVUE rendering of this passage this morning, verses 13-17 stood out to me:
13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.
This is indefensible, and no amount of spin from a comms director can change how harmful this is. link to ‘Kelly Craft escalates anti-trans rhetoric, calls for excluding ‘transgenders’ from Ky. schools’
Content moderation is hard, and it’s especially hard at scale. Because AI makes doing things at scale easier, it necessarily makes content moderation harder. link to ‘Spotify ejects thousands of AI-made songs in purge of fake streams | Ars Technica’
I feel like I say this whenever I post a link to a Twitter story, but I honestly can’t believe how dumb this stuff gets sometimes. Also, is Musk going to give someone else control of @ldschurch? link to ‘Elon Musk threatens to re-assign @NPR on Twitter to ‘another company’ : NPR’
One of the more interesting passages of scripture produced by Joseph Smith Jr. is in Section 36 of the Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants (or the Book of Moses in the Latter-day Saint Pearl of Great Price):
And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residee of the people, and he wept, and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it the heavens weeps and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
I read a passage in Wil Gafney’s A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church this morning that really stood out to me—especially as it related to two things I’ve recently written. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Easter hope, acknowledging that
[a literal] resurrection is something that’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but I figure that if I can try to muster the belief in the impossibility of the resurrection, I can have the belief that we can overcome racism, fix poverty, and solve other seemingly impossible tasks facing us.
I was disappointed this morning to see this article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The article reports that BYU professor Sarah Coyne “became the target of online bullying and hostile emails” after discussing “her child’s years of wrestling with gender dysphoria, including suicidal thoughts and agonizing mental health issues” in a class she was teaching. According to the article, this is something that she has done for several semesters, but this time, her action “made it into a critical article in a conservative off-campus newspaper… which was retweeted by Utah Sen[ator] Mike Lee on his personal Twitter account.
I’m a couple of days late on writing this post: I started listening to the audiobook within hours of Doctorow sending out Kickstarter rewards on Monday and had it finished within a day. I often introduce Doctorow to others by saying that his books sometimes read like op-eds—but that that’s a good thing. I found that to be true in this book. I don’t know that I liked it as much as Walkaway (though I never expected to like that one!
There’s no such thing as dressing according to one’s biological sex. Gender-based dress expectations are perhaps the best possible example of the social construction of gender. What inanity. link to ‘Texas agriculture department’s new dress code based on ‘biological gender’ : NPR’
I have enjoyed going through this book. It’s the kind of book that invites personal action instead of just letting you read it, and that’s felt overwhelming at times (particularly as my life has gotten busier in recent weeks), but it’s a good invitation, and I know I’ll need to revisit this slowly and deliberately to get the most out of it.
I’m tired of reading Twitter news, but I’m professionally obligated to do so, no matter how dumb it gets. link to ‘Twitter Suspends Reporter For Reporting On Twitter Hack, Using Same Policy Old Twitter Used To Block NY Post Hunter Biden Story | Techdirt’
Over the past five years, my belief in a literal resurrection has gone down, but (perhaps unexpectedly) my love for Easter has gone up. For my congregation’s 2022 Easter service, I was invited to say contribute during a certain part of the service. I shared with the congregation that the resurrection is something that’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but I figure that if I can try to muster the belief in the impossibility of the resurrection, I can have the belief that we can overcome racism, fix poverty, and solve other seemingly impossible tasks facing us.
A week from tomorrow, I’m heading to Independence, Missouri to attend a few days of the 2023 World Conference of Community of Christ—and to act as a voting delegate in any of the legislative sessions that take place during my short time there. This is the first time since my confirmation into Community of Christ that a World Conference has taken place (the last one was in 2019), so I’ve been thinking about this for several months as “my first World Conference experience.
To paraphrase Mike Masnick, the defining motto of the Musk era seems to be ‘it can always get more stupid.’ link to ‘Elon Musk tweets, then deletes DMs from Matt Taibbi over his Substack snit - The Verge’
Made sure to take some CBD oil before leaving for Easter services, just as the good Lord intended.
This is another dumb move by Musk. Masnick is excellent at calling him out on hypocrisy. link to ‘NPR Was Twitter’s Example Of What Should NOT Be Labeled ‘State-Affiliated Media.’ Then Musk Added The Label And Retconned The Policy | Techdirt’
In my journey with Community of Christ, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what it means to pursue peace. I appreciate Pyle’s thoughts (and Star Trek references) here as he warns against allowing “peace and understanding” to neuter our opposition to evil. To be clear, that’s not what Community of Christ—or even maybe Nelson—is calling for, and I know my own opposition efforts risk denying the humanity and dignity of those I oppose.
I want to start this post by saying that it’s more about me working out some thoughts than telling anyone else how to think—or even saying what I think about the subject. I’ve written a number of times already that I’m reading through Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving as part of a non-credit bearing class on peace and justice that I’m taking through Community of Christ Seminary. In the reading I completed for last night’s class session, I was impressed by the following passage from the elder Tutu:
I’ve only read two Mormon missionary memoirs (plus one compilation of Mormon missionary comics), but both have been helpful for me in thinking about my own missionary experience. Brittany Long Olsen’s Dendo: One Year and One Half in Tokyo is a remarkable graphic novel memoir of her missionary service in Japan. The art is great, the ambition is fantastic, and it absolutely deserves the 2015 award it won from the Association of Mormon Letters.
I am not an AI expert, and my concerns aren’t on the existential scale. However, I do think it’s important to avoid moving fast and breaking things with these powerful technologies. That isn’t necessarily to say that more powerful AI shouldn’t be released (though I’m already disinterested by the current stuff), just that racing to improve them for commercial benefit and as technological flourish doesn’t strike me as socially responsible. link to ‘In Sudden Alarm, Tech Doyens Call for a Pause on ChatGPT | WIRED’
Even if the Kentucky GOP is right and this is what loses Beshear the election, it it was clearly the right thing to do. I want Beshear to stay in office, but I don’t know if I could vote for him if he didn’t resist the queerphobia coming out of the General Assembly. Shame on our legislature for passing this bill—and for so clearly acknowledging here that it’s to score political points at the expense of Kentucky children.
I’ve felt a lot of appreciation for Wil Wheaton recently, but for him to come to Kentucky to praise our libraries and speak against dumb laws passed by our legislature makes me just love the guy. link to ‘“The library is a safe place.” – WIL WHEATON dot NET’
I write a lot about Mormonism on this blog, and even though I’m not shy about being critical, I think I’ve also made clear that in relative terms, I’m on pretty good terms with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not on such good terms that I’m still an active member of that church, of course, but I still feel a lot of fondness for it, and I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an “ex-Mormon”—the great thing about the word “Mormon” no longer being officially approved is that it makes it all the more appropriate for describing my own religious identity.
One of the lectionary readings for tomorrow’s service is Ezekiel 37:1-14, which I read in Robert Alter’s beautiful translation. In this passage, Ezekiel famously prophesies:
“O dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD, Thus said the Master, the LORD, to the dry bones: I am about to bring breath into you and you shall live. And I will lay sinews over you and bring up flesh over you and stretch over you skin.
Good for Andy. One thing I personally appreciate about Governor Beshear is that he so often invokes his faith as a Democrat. Granted, it’s probably a calculated decision in such a red state, and I’m still uncomfortable with how faith and politics are intertwined in the U.S., but it shows that faith doesn’t have to be queerphobic. link to ‘Kentucky governor vetoes sweeping GOP transgender measure | Lexington Herald Leader’
I grew up in a faith tradition that put a huge amount of emphasis on the King James Version of the Bible. It was only four years ago (in the early phases of my faith transition), that I deliberately picked up another translation to read instead. Even then, I picked a relatively “safe” transition to venture into: Thomas Wayment’s The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints. Since it was co-published by Deseret Book and BYU, it had some tacit approval from Latter-day Saint institutions, even if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself still identifies the KJV as its official English language text.
A few months ago, I began listening to the Radio Télévision Suisse show Babel again; I have an off and on relationship with the show and decided it was time for another on. I was impressed with an interview Siegwalt gave discussing this book and put it on my list. It turned out I could buy it from the Swiss publisher, which offered a flat 5€ shipping fee, even to have it sent here to Kentucky.
My spouse and I watched all four seasons of this show more or less as they came out. The past few months have seen some pretty big changes to our family schedule, and we haven’t has as much time to watch TV together, so we recently decided to rewatch The Good Place (since episodes are short). It’s a very rewatchable show; you can get a lot out of it once you know what’s yet to come.
On January 24, 2023, Elder Kevin S. Hamilton of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a speech at BYU where he made the following comments:
As I visit with members across the Church, I sometimes hear things like “I don’t support the Church’s policy on (you fill in the blank).” Or “I don’t agree with the way the Church does (this or that).”
Could I suggest an alternative approach?
[Mit einem Glasdach überdachter Vorplatz des Staßburger Bahnhofs, by Dr.-Ing. S.Wetzel, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0]
I don’t remember exactly where we were, but I’m pretty sure it was near the Strasbourg train station. Maybe we were in the station, or maybe we were somewhere nearby. We must have come to Strasbourg from Colmar, where we spent most of our time. It was a shop of some kind: Were we buying breakfast?
This is dumb and worrying. The CEO of Gab has been promising to develop “based AI,” but he’s a bit player. Musk has the resources and influence to make this a bigger problem. link to ‘Elon Musk Is Reportedly Building ‘Based AI’ Because ChatGPT Is Too Woke’
I don’t know enough about OpenAI to evaluate these concerns, but I think these questions are important. The power of AI means that the companies that control them are also in a position of power, and it’s important that we treat them critically. That said, while I do think making LLM code open source is probably better in the aggregate, it isn’t without concerning drawbacks: The minute it was released under an open license, I’m sure Gab’s Andrew Torba would be considering how to make a homebrew version that can’t be content moderated.
Earlier today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement announcing that:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its affiliated investment manager, Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., have settled a matter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Unsuprisingly, the Salt Lake Tribune describes the context surrounding the settlement in more detail:
In a settlement announced Tuesday with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Utah-based faith and its investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, have agreed to pay $5 million in penalties for failing to properly disclose past stock holdings and going to “great lengths” to deliberately “obscure” the church’s investment portfolio.
Content moderation is hard, and moderating AI content definitely seems harder to me. However, so long as OpenAI has control over ChatGPT (and benefits from others’ use of it), I do think it has a responsibility to shape what it can produce. That said, there remains a deeper, legitimate question about how much influence a single company should have over LLM output. link to ‘As conservatives criticize ‘woke AI,’ here are ChatGPT’s rules for answering culture war queries - The Verge’
A few weeks ago, while walking through Julietta Market at Lexington’s Greyline Station, I stopped for a few minutes at a used bookstore at one of the stalls and walked away with a copy of Thomas Merton: Passion for Peace. I haven’t gotten far into it yet—later that week, a book by a French theologian that I’d ordered arrived in the mail, and that’s taken up most of my reading attention since.
If I were a better person, I’d be as rattled by any shooting as I am by the one on my alma mater’s campus. If we were a better country, that wouldn’t feel like such an overwhelming idea.
I put off watching this movie for a while, despite a number of recommendations. I think it’s fitting that I finally watched it so soon after listening to the audiobook of Walkaway, a very weird Cory Doctorow novel about finding hope despite things going very badly. This movie is far, far weirder than Walkaway, and yet it also does a much, much better job of getting that same message across. I feel like it spoke to many of my current anxieties, but in a healing and helpful way.
To my own surprise, I’ve been getting into audiobooks recently, and having listened to Doctorow’s “Walkaway,” I decided to revisit his Little Brother series in audio form. Parts of the first book haven’t aged well (including some language that was bad enough to be edited out of the print version I have), and while I enjoy Doctorow’s opinions, they sometimes overwhelm the story here. That said, to quote TVTropes, some anvils are worth dropping, and the messages about privacy, surveillance, and civil liberties are as relevant as ever, I don’t know if I enjoyed the book as much as I did my first time through, but I still like it enough to give it four hearts.
Every time I think this acquisition can’t get dumber, it does. link to ‘Elon Musk’s reach on Twitter is dropping — he just fired a top engineer over it - The Verge’
I know Kirby Heyborne as the star of several Mormon B movies, so I was taken aback when he turned out to be the narrator for the audiobook of Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother.” Weirdest Venn diagram overlap of my interests I’ve seen in a while.
Why… why don’t we better anticipate better misuses like this? Are technological “progress” and market opportunities more important than these side effects? link to ‘4chan users embrace AI voice clone tool to generate celebrity hatespeech - The Verge’
I bounced pretty hard off of Walkaway a year or so ago, but I recently decided to give it another try. I felt like I needed a boost of hopeful thinking, and I’d seen Doctorow post about the book as being hopeful. Did it ever deliver! Walkaway is hopeful on a nearly religious level, and it was exactly what I needed. The book is not naïvely optimistic but rather tenacious in its belief that we can still make this a better workd.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I am currently giving Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway another try after bouncing off of it a while ago. Because I bounced off of it so hard the last time, I’m surprised by how much it’s resonating off of me as I give it another go. This past week, I’ve been listening to a lot of Walkaway on top of doing a lot of religious reading: assignments for the Ministry of the Disciple class I’m taking through the Community of Christ Seminary’s Center for Innovation in Ministry and Missino, Gérard Siegwalt’s Reinventing God’s name [La réinvention du nom de Dieu], and various scriptures for today’s liturgical readings.
Tonight, I suddenly remembered my sister’s BYU roommate who insisted on calling ketchup and mustard “toppings” because saying “condiment” would require her to say “condom” along the way.
Is there any way to complete a CAPTCHA without providing free labor for ML/AI developers? Makes me angrier every time I have to do it.
Glad this story is still getting attention, because it so neatly demonstrates why facial recognition is scary. We shouldn’t tolerate this level of surveillance—by private or public actors. link to ‘Madison Square Garden’s facial recognition policy ignites debate over the tech : NPR’
Here, as with autocorrect and citation managers, my personal opinion is that any human who knows enough to use the tool critically knows enough to do the job themself. Maybe slower, sure, but slower isn’t always bad. link to ‘CNET Defends Use of AI Blogger After Embarrassing 163-Word Correction: ‘Humans Make Mistakes, Too’’
As I’ve blogged about a couple of times recently, I’m currently reading R. Sikoryak’s Terms and Conditions, a graphic novel adaptation of the 2015 iTunes Terms and Conditions document, which no one ever reads.
I was struck (if not surprised) by something stated explicitly in the document, which appears on p. 59 of Sikoryak’s volume:
The software products made available through the Mac App Store and App Store (collectively, the “App Store Products”) are licensed, not sold, to you.
Ashamed to admit that until this week, I ’d never really thought about the origins of this name. This seems like a pretty straightforward argument, though, and I can’t think of any compelling reason not to change the name. link to ‘Indigenous tech group asks Apache Foundation to change its name | Ars Technica’
I’m skeptical of many technologies, most of which I can concede have some real value. In contrast, I have a lot of trouble seeing any value in facial recognition that outweighs the obvious, large-scale harms that can come from it.
link to ‘Iran to use facial recognition to identify women without hijabs | Ars Technica’
It’s a long interview, so I didn’t read the whole thing, but what I did read made me want to read this book even more. I have a copy, I just need to open it up. link to ‘Chokepoint Capitalism can break you free from big tech and big content - The Verge’
A good reminder that analog is often better. Digital often benefits others (including bad actors) more than ourselves. link to ‘Researchers Could Track the GPS Location of All of California’s New Digital License Plates’
What a weird, profound, and beautiful book. This is a very Mormon novel, and in all the best ways. It takes Mormonism seriously—even literally—but not uncritically. I’d wager that Peck has read Grant Hardy, and my favorite bit in an amazing book is a throwaway joke about farewell expressions in French in a way that only someone who knows and loves the Book of Mormon would do. More than all of that, it is a profound and optimistic (but never naïve) story about redemption knowing no bounds.
I’ve been making a real effort to be less pessimistic about ChatGPT, and I imagine this makes a better headline than actual threat, but this is still the sort of thing that makes me wonder about AI. What is missing from our world that ChatGPT fills? And is it worth these increased risks?
link to ‘ChatGPT is enabling script kiddies to write functional malware | Ars Technica’
I grew up in a faith tradition that—with the exception of major holidays like Christmas and Easter—didn’t follow the Christian liturgical calendar. So, shortly after I began attending Community of Christ regularly (and, given the circumstances, virtually) in 2020, I decided I was going to learn more all of the seasons and holidays that I wasn’t familiar with. A few months earlier, I’d heard an interview with the Swiss abbot Urban Federer on the Babel podcast by Radio Télévision Suisse.
Two years later, and we’re still learning just how bad this event was. Only two years later, and large parts of the country are ready to sweep it all under the rug.
link to ‘January 6 Report: 11 Details You May Have Missed | WIRED’
Steve Shields does good work and has an interesting perspective on things. It’s fun to hear from him.
link to ‘531 | Cuppa Joe | Historic Sites Foundation | Divergent Paths of the Community of Christ: The Past One Hundred Years – Project Zion Podcast’
I’ve read this short novella at least four times already, but I received a physical copy for Christmas and couldn’t help but give it another read. Despite being existentially horrifying, it’s one of my favorite books of all time. The protagonist is a Mormon man who dies and wakes up to his surprise in hell. This hell is specifically promised to be finite, but it’s a vast kind of finite: It’s a Borges-inspired library that consists of every possible book (as if written by monkeys on typewriters), and once you find the book that tells your life story, you get out of hell.
A member of my Community of Christ congregation recently asked if I would lead the Disciples’ Generous Response portion of tomorrow’s worship service (where donations and tithes are collected). I’ve done this for previous services, but more than any other way I’ve contributed to a Community of Christ service, this is the one that takes the most practice. In Latter-day Saint services, there’s never this kind of collection, and this was honestly one of the hardest things to get used to as I began regularly attending Community of Christ services.
Steven Peck’s “A Short Stay in Hell” gets better each time I read it.
I’ve mentioned before that I support the Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast on Patreon, one of the perks of which is that I get access to the Tribune’s Mormon coverage without having to subscribe to the whole paper (which would be a lot of money for someone who doesn’t care about Jazz coverage or Utah politics).
Thanks to this Patreon perk, I read a lot of news about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and between that and over three decades that I spent as an active member of that church, you’d think that nothing would surprise me anymore.
I’ve been trying to put words to an idea in my head for a few weeks, and I think I finally have it: A secular Christmas is still definitely Christian in the same way that Homer Simpson is still definitely a white dude.
What a weird week it has been in Twitterland.
link to ‘Musk asks in poll if he should step down as Twitter CEO, users vote yes : NPR’
Skipping my congregation’s candelight service today. Can’t go in person because of family sickness, and they’ve made it clear that they aren’t going to make huge efforts to make it Zoom accessible. Bummed to miss it, but playing Mario Party with kiddo instead is pretty fun.
I was really hoping to make something special of Advent this year, but the past three weeks have just kind of sucked, and I don’t know if the next one will be any better. I don’t know that I have a takeaway from this, except that maybe it’s okay to have a sucky Advent.
Just when you thought this couldn’t get any worse. Will be really interested to see if Dorsey gets banned.
link to ‘Twitter abruptly bans all links to Instagram, Mastodon, and other competitors - The Verge’
I’ve posted a bunch of articles about this already, but Masnick’s take is super helpful.
link to ‘Elon Tries (Badly) To Defend The Banning Of Journalists As Twitter Starts Blocking Links & Mentions Of Mastodon | Techdirt’
Free speech is genuinely important, but it’s hard to take the ideal seriously when its advocates twist it to mean something specific and self-serving.
link to ‘Elon Musk Is Taking Aim at Journalists. I’m One of Them.’
I’ve been trying to avoid dire predictions for Twitter since Musk took over, but this seems more and more like a turning point in the identity and reputation of the platform.
link to ‘Twitter is blocking links to Mastodon - The Verge’
I mean, I’m willing to wait a bit and see what Twitter and Musk have to say about this, but this sure doesn’t seem like the approach that a free speech absolutist would take.
link to ‘Elon Musk starts banning critical journalists from Twitter - The Verge’
How does such an already bad story get so much worse over the course of a single day?
link to ‘Elon’s Promise Not To Ban Account Tracking His Jet Didn’t Last Very Long At All; Also Bans Guy’s Personal Account | Techdirt’
I think this headline captures one of the worst parts of all of this: Musk isn’t just dismissing concerns about behavior, he’s fueling that behavior.
link to ‘Twitter ditches Trust and Safety Council as Musk tweets fuel harassment | Ars Technica’
I haven’t been following Ken White as much as I used to, but this reminds me why I appreciate his perspective. This is someone who knows what free speech is and advocates for it, not someone who uses it as a buzzword justification for reprehensible behavior, à la Musk.
link to ‘Goodbye, Twitter - by Ken White - The Popehat Report’
If I could pick one story to demonstrate that Musk’s Twitter tenure has been blundering and inconsistent…
link to ‘Before Musk Riled Everyone Up With Misleading Twitter Files About ‘Shadowbanning,’ Musk Used The Tool To Hide Account Tracking His Plane | Techdirt’
Good thing engineers really anticipated and considered these consequences before developing this software, right?
link to ‘Thanks to AI, it’s probably time to take your photos off the Internet | Ars Technica’
I have to admit I was skeptical of the title, but this is a very interesting reading, and I’ll never read 4th Nephi the same again.
link to ‘The 4th Nephi Dystopia – Wheat & Tares’
I’m about to set up a Graceland University login because I’m registering for (non-credit-bearing) courses at Community of Christ Seminary. I know I’m not the first person in history to enroll at both BYU and Graceland during my lifetime, but it still tickles me to think about.
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.
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.