The weekly roundup.
The working theory among intelligence officials involved in the case is that the Russian approach—including hacking, propaganda, and contacts with Trump associates—was an improvisation rather than a long-standing plan. The official said, “After the election, there were a lot of Embassy communications”—to Moscow—“saying, stunned, ‘What we do now?’ ”
The Shallow State: Forget the conspiracy theories. Something much more dangerous is seeking to gut our government and change the character of our society.
The shallow state… is unsettling because not only are the signs of it ever more visible but because its influence is clearly growing. It is made scarier still because it not only actively eschews experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, tradition, and shared values but because it celebrates its ignorance of and disdain for those things.
One great mystery of Trumpism is how his movement—and now the government—was so swiftly colonized by people who wouldn’t have shaken the new president’s hand a year ago. There are at least nine self-described evangelicals on deck to be confirmed or already confirmed to powerful positions within the administration, and together they are in a position to shove their belief system—a minority view—down the throats of ordinary people and transform secular America.
…A long-term, deep strategy led the movement to this moment of power. It involved hundreds of millions of dollars, battalions of lawyers, alliances with corporate America and a consistent, pious Washington presence. Pence, DeVos and their compatriots now burrowing into the White House and federal agencies belong to a political movement aimed at degrading the American tradition of separating church and state.
- The rise and fall of Milo Yiannopoulos – how a shallow actor played the bad guy for money Like Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos grew out of a grotesque convergence of politics and the internet, and thrived by turning hate speech into showbusiness.
- On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right
…Yes, these are little boys playing games with the lives of others. That doesn’t excuse the horror of the game for one second. It makes it worse. Much worse, in fact. They are children who have the privilege of that particular innocence that involves never learning from their mistakes, never taking responsibility, never worrying that their sins will be unforgiven. In the Peter Pan stories, Peter and the Lost Boys remain children by deliberately forgetting all their adventures — including the ones where they hunted all those Indians. These boys will be allowed to forget everything but their own immediate feelings for as long as society allows them, and this society allows straight white boys to dodge personal and emotional responsibility until at least the age of 70.
- Everyone Who Enabled Milo Yiannopoulos Should’ve Seen This Coming
Free speech absolutism turns out not to be so absolute after all when those with power can imagine their white children being harmed by the man they lend a platform to.
To the deplorables, whose central complaint is one of masculine frailty, pride, and failure — to deny their identities as men is to deny their complaint. They are a group who define themselves by their powerlessness, by being trapped into defeat.
Outlets seeking to gain entry whose requests were denied included the Guardian, the New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Daily Mail and others. Conservative publications such as Breitbart News, the One America News Network and the Washington Times were allowed into the meeting, as well as TV networks CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC. The Associated Press and Time were invited but boycotted the briefing.
In my job I oversee about 250 enemies of the people. We have enemies of the people who make maps, cover high school baseball, send tweets about the Cowboys, assign book reviews, critique restaurants, track North Texas home prices and write profiles of tech entrepreneurs. One enemy of the people spends his days talking to grieving families and carefully crafting the stories of the dead.
Rebecca Solnit: Tyranny of the Minority
I used to take heart in the changing demographics of this country. Around half the children in the United States are not white, and the statistic made me think that the nation would someday soon resemble California, where I live. This is a state in which whites are in the minority, Democrats have a supermajority in both the upper and lower houses, and no Republican holds statewide office. I imagined that it was suicide for the G.O.P. to ignore the concerns of people of color, to craft a platform based on white grievance. Surely, I thought, John McCain and Mitt Romney lost their elections in part because a party run for and by white people had no future. But there was a fundamental flaw in my thinking: demographics matter only in a democracy, in a system in which every citizen has equal power and equal access to representation. That equality is threatened today, thanks to the Republican Party’s long campaign against those who are likely to vote against them. Today’s Republicans are democracy’s enemy, and it is theirs.
Counter-protest denounces demonstrators celebrating Islamophobia at two Toronto mosques. “Think Canadians don’t have to worry about the Donald Trump effect? Wake up.”
Climate change is species collapse by a thousand cuts. There will be no definite moment we can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked. Instead the fuckery increases incrementally year on year, until this is the way the world ends: not with a bang, not with a bonfire, but with the slow and savage confiscation of every little thing that made you human, starting with hope.
When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%. …On my last day at Uber, I calculated the percentage of women who were still in the org. Out of over 150 engineers in the SRE teams, only 3% were women.
As an industry, we need to take a hard look at ourselves right now. We have bragged about changing the world, and we have to accept that we have – and not all for the better. The fear of entitled white men does not just prioritize the fear of their litigation over that of the women they harass, it also drives this misunderstood argument of free speech – people can say what they like, you don’t have to give them a platform*. We’ve created things to allow people of similar interests to find each other, and the Nazis, well they have found each other, and they are stronger than ever. We have erased and hidden and diminished sexual harassment and assault until it has reached the highest office. We have encoded a white supremacist patriarchy in the platforms we have built and watched it thrive in the real world whilst disclaiming responsibility.
It started inside the office – not just of the company you hate – but the ones you like, the one you work or would work for. When these kind of things happened, and nothing was done.
Why had a man spent two days on a mission to tell the entire world that I was a journalism-destroying fascist? Because I deleted his comment on my personal Facebook page. If this shocks you, you are likely not a semi-prominent woman on the internet, because this happens, to greater or lesser severity, about once a week.
Racism and Diversity
A group of us formed the National Association of Black Journalists in 1976, with the aim of prodding our profession to thoroughly integrate its newsrooms as soon as possible. At the time, our enthusiasm was extremely high, we felt that we were on to something big and good, that we were on the right side of history. We felt empowered, on a righteous mission to lead America in the right direction, to egg it on to finally live up to its promise and principles. We were so naively optimistic back then.
What we see now is not the left “eating itself” and the destruction of the great coalitions that brought so much progress in decades past. What we are seeing is what we’ve always seen: privileged white liberals demanding that those of us on the bottom sacrifice ourselves on the altar of the greater good.
But Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.
Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent. After getting nowhere, he took his objections to the White House because he could not go forward without her consent. Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said, and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.
A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is the true story of a young girl in Hawaiʻi who dreams of leading the boys-only hula group at her school, and a teacher who empowers her through traditional culture.
Information and Privacy
Twenty minutes after Zoe Elder stopped at a Gateway Newstands location in downtown Toronto to buy a pack of cigarettes, an email showed up in her personal Hotmail inbox. “Buy one Nestlé single bar + get one free,” it began. The sender? Gateway Newstands. Though Elder, 30, didn’t know it at the time, she was being targeted by a Wi-Fi marketing campaign — anyone logged in to a store’s free Wi-Fi is sent advertisements and promotions.
…Shah said it feeds into a bigger phenomenon: jumping on free Wi-Fi networks without realizing the possible implications. Signing in using your Facebook log-in, phone number or email is akin to opening a possible floodgate, said Shah. “You’ve in many cases allowed the organization to market to you, to collect your data,” he said.
SCL’s main offering, first developed by its affiliated London think tank in 1989, involves gathering vast quantities of data about an audience’s values, attitudes and beliefs, identifying groups of “persuadables” and then targeting them with tailored messages. SCL began testing the technique on health and development campaigns in Britain in the early 1990s, then branched out into international political consulting and later defense contracting.
Emma Briant, who wrote about SCL’s work in her 2015 book “Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change,” said its approach can be used to manipulate the public, which is largely unaware how much of their personal information is available.
Salil Dudani: How jails extort the poor
Technical Majority: Technology and activism in partnership
Every day, more organizations and projects are launched to help people better use technology for the causes they care about. Technical Majority aims to be a catalog of what’s out there.
Tech Forward: Tech organizations & tools working for social progress.
What to Do When A Restaurant Puts a Minimum-Wage Service Charge on Your Bill: The Latest Anti-$15 Trick Is to Complain About the Cost of Doing Business. Here’s Why It’s Bogus.
Look: businesses raise their fees all the time. It’s why hamburgers don’t cost 15 cents anymore. They never advertise these increases—you don’t see signs on the front of a pancake house advertising “NOW WITH 1.7% HIGHER PRICES!”—but they happen on a regular basis. Rather than just raising prices naturally, these restaurant managers are making an overtly political statement when they add minimum wage surcharges to their menus. They are protesting the fact that they have to pay their workers a living wage.
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed.
Art + Design
The City of Vancouver has a new logo. As someone else pointed out, evidently competent kerning is not required with low bids.
- The letter designers wrote in response.
- Oh! But it really makes Vancouver’s brand stand out from its neighbour’s.
Kintsugi. I like this bowl. A lot.
Travelling alone as a woman was a way of owning my trauma.To be able to do this, of course, is an indication of a certain level of privilege.
As a society we no longer value the traditional idea of a rite of passage, but as I watched my friend hoiking her backpack on, it wasn’t lost on me that a need to feel brave and powerful whatever fears we face has a special resonance right now. My friend chose travel, but you don’t need to go to the other side of the world to create your own rite of passage, as anything that pushes you out of the comfort of normal life to find a stronger, braver version of yourself is a great thing.
Quote of the week
We live in troubled times. Hate and barbarity are always with us. But today they are being granted permission to act. Like the wink and a nod one gives to dissolute youth to help them along to do evil. It’s part of what I’ve called the ‘great disinhibition’. All of this can only be fought – mercilessly. It must also be understood, yes. But only in a pragmatic and instrumental fashion to fight it more effectively, more totally.
Accessible Gardening for People With Physical Disabilities. This looks very cool, and as I get older I expect it will get more and more relevant.
Just for fun
My dog and my bunny were playing in the back yard. This is SUCH a golden retriever.
Extreme Sheep LED Art “We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts.”