Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

I'm sick and so might be the person on the other side of the screen

I am sick.

Having a fever, runny nose, coughing, getting nosebleeds every time I sneeze sick.

I mention this as a reminder that what you see of someone online isn't really them.  It might be a close approximation of them (I do my best to keep them congruent), but it's not the same.

Maybe I can write a blog post or share a funny meme or the like when I'm sick.  Or I could have a bunch of stuff already set up in the pipe using services like Buffer or

And maybe I look like I'm online because I have chat clients that stay online, so it just looks like I'm "away" instead of "head pounding like a drum" or "asleep".

So remember that of the people you're interacting with online.  You only get a facade, not the whole story.

The Writing's On the Wall: How the *IDEA* of Fake News can hurt democracy

In our rush to decry the problems with "fake news" (and there are many problems with it), we solved one problem... but created another.

And in his fumbling supervillain way, Trump is already trying to make that new problem happen right away.
@PresVillain is a treasure.
We're setting up a system where all our information is in the hands of a very, very few people.

If you've managed to avoid all news from Standing Rock, here's some links to what's going on right now (as I type this) from the NY Daily News, The Guardian, and Reuters.  They range from just two to six hours earlier today.

I ran across a post on Facebook being spread that alleged worse things were happening, but that major media was being kept away.

Seeing the coverage that I could find, it seemed possibly true1. (I come from West Virginia; I remember the coal wars, even if most of the people in my state apparently don't.) I decided to cut-and-paste it after adding my own header:

Does anyone know of ANY other media out at Standing Rock that can confirm/deny this? This report is, given past events and behavior of govt. entities, entirely too probable.

And then I hit post, and saw that my post had been truncated so that only the last line, "Send love & support by reposting if you will" showed. I tried to edit it and re-copy and paste.

Pulling it up to edit
Just before I hit "Save". The part I can't verify is blurred out by me after the fact here.

Just after I hit save (and replied to my own post)
The screenshots above were from try #3.  I eventually tried six different times, on four different browsers.

To quote Ian Fleming's aptly-named "Moscow Rules"...
Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.
Given that I used multiple browsers, it's difficult to chalk this up to me simply having "a bad Facebook day" or a technological issue on my side.  All evidence appears to indicate that I ran across a server-side example of Facebook's attempts to curb "fake news".

Let's be clear - we don't need misinformation and made up stories flying around.  With almost two thirds of Americans getting their news from social media, and almost half from Facebook in 2016, and analysis showing that fake news got more engagement than real news,  the possibility of lies being accepted as truth is worrying.2

But with the current Administration peddling lies (Politifact has Trump's statements as "Mostly False", "False", or "Pants on Fire" 69% of the time) and other "alternative truths", it kind of inherently means that our government is going to be peddling "fake news"... but presumably not going to be restricted by Facebook.

While the example is so obvious as to be insane when talking about Trump, this is a horrible standard to set.

While Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler's take on covering Trump "the Reuters Way" is laudable, it provides a choke-point for those who wish to control information, especially when the information is both time-sensitive and physically remote.  Especially when government agencies have shut down cell and wireless signals in the past to disrupt protests - something that's difficult to prove unless you're the FCC, but has been reported at Standing Rock since November by multiple sources

While we're going to have to continue doing self-monitoring (I've had a few articles I passed along called out by others, thank you!), both as private citizens and as movements, we cannot rely on any single source of communication or information.   (Yes, I'm looking at you, all those groups that only exist on Facebook.)

And that's harder than you think.

The problem isn't that free speech isn't protected. It's that you don't have a right to use someone else's press.  Shout all you want from your front yard, but your reach is going to be severely limited.

That is worrisome enough when you realize that 90% of US media (or so) is really just a few big companies:

But at least we could take comfort in snarky memes like this one, right?

Yeah, not anymore.

But with so many people mistaking "Facebook" for "The Internet" and Trump's hollering about "Fake News" having a chilling effect on even the left's independent news... the possibility is all too obvious and all too chilling.

If we don't diversify both how we consume, transmit, and create information, the writing is on the wall.

Or rather, it won't be for long.

1It's worth noting that after digging around some more, what I was trying to post was probably hyperbolic.  Probably.  Again, the history of strikes (and the violence used to suppress them) has a nasty history of being downplayed and left out of "official" accounts.

2Though a study from researchers at Stanford and NY University indicated that fake news didn't impact the 2016 election, and I really have to wonder if Facebook is going to clamp down on anti-vaxx lies anytime soon, though I suppose we could start reporting them as fake news...

In Which The GOP Leaders Point Out How Much They Love Trump, And Don't You Too, We All Do, Really, Honest.

Hi, and welcome!

You may have been holding out some hope that the GOP leadership wasn't fully in line with Donald J. Trump's policies and positions as President.

You may have been thinking that you're a Republican, but not that kind of Republican.

Or maybe you're a Democrat (or Independent) who thought that while the Donald is a festering ****-show, surely the Republican party (the party of Lincoln!) wasn't that bad overall, and maybe we should think about understanding.

Yeah, look. I'm sorry to break this to you.

The GOP as a political party is fully and completely in bed with Donald Trump.

Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee

The "Mainstream Media Accountability Survey" (if you decide to answer, try using Guerrilla Mail to provide a fake e-mail address) is yet another survey-as-fundraising tool that starts out with reasonable-sounding questions...
Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?

...and quickly gets into laughable questions...
Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?

...and then into oblivious ironic propaganda questions...

Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?

...'cause it's not like people of an Abrahamic faith are going to be unfairly characterized by this very survey two questions earlier...
Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?


Anyway, this fundraising tool ... er, "survey"... tells us two very, very important things.

First, as the footer above points out, the GOP has gotten over any misgivings about The Donald, and is fully in bed with him. If you consider yourself a Republican but not in favor of Trump, Pence's homophobia, or Steve Bannon's neo-Nazi leanings, then your party has deliberately decided to leave you behind.

Second, the people in charge of the GOP are very, very afraid that Trumpism is losing the support of mainstream Republicans.  Consider, if you will, questions #19 & #20:

Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats?

Do you believe that the media creates false feuds within our Party in order to make us seem divided?
See, here's the thing - and I say this mostly to Republicans who might be reading this:  Donald J. Trump (and Mike Pence, and Steve Bannon) do not represent what most Republicans stand for.  There's an extensive list of Republicans who opposed Trump during his runTrump's Russian ties are concerning to a great number of Republicans who believe in our countryThe public as a whole loathes the guy.

So the GOP leadership is trying to both stay firmly in bed with The Donald while simultaneously convince you that Republicans as a whole are all right there in line with him.

That's an "alternative truth". 

Or as we call it, a fucking lie.

Republicans of conscience and Republicans of faith know that Trumpism is mocking everything they have stood for. That Trumpism is corrupting our country, our businesses, and even capitalism itself.

Know your morals.  Know your ideals.  Know the ideals our country - however imperfectly - strives for.

And damn these opportunists trying to tarnish our bright beacon of democracy.

Punk For Our Times: BLXPLTN

I've been trying to come up with a good way to get the sound of BLXPLTN across in words since Anton Cancre introduced them to me on Facebook... and I think I've got it.

Take one part Big Black - pick your album of choice.  Add some of The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy.  Add in a the politics and dark humor of the Dead  Kennedys, flavor with some The Land of Rape and Honey era Ministry and some Pretty Hate Machine, and, depending on the track, a bit of a hip-hop album that I'm not familiar enough with the genre to pick... and you'll be close.  Probably.

Okay, so I totally dated myself with that description. Screw it.

BLXPLTN call themselves electro-punk or politically-charged futurepunk, and that's as good a genre as any.  This band has got me excited about punk in a way that I haven't in quite some time.

They've got two full-length albums out that you can get via Bandcamp - Black Cop Down and New York Fascist Week.

Black Cop Down is much more noise/punk oriented, as exemplified by these two tracks - "Start Fires" and "Pressure".

New York Fascist Week is a somewhat more "produced" album, but still keeps a hard edge throughout, as exemplified by the title track and "Auf Wiedersehen"

And finally, the official video for "Blood on the Sand", which is what drew me in and instantly made me a fan. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

I won't be striking on Friday - but I support it all the same.

There is (or is supposed to be, depending on who you ask) a national strike against Trump this Friday.

There are naysayers - the LA Progressive sums up the arguments against (at least this particular) general strike.  On the other hand, In These Times illustrates when (at least local) general strikes have been a force for change.

While I support a general strike, I won't be striking on Friday.

I thought about it, but came to this simple conclusion: My day job is at a hospital. With our current staffing levels, my absence would have a significant negative effect on how well my department could care for patients. Not being there could lead to an avoidable delay of care with negative outcomes for the patient.

I don't think this reason holds for most people in most sectors. Most people work in an area where being closed for a day randomly won't mean life or death; it just means inconvenience. This reason doesn't even hold for all medical workers (someone's carpal tunnel surgery being delayed a day is an inconvenience, not a life-threatening ailment).

But the dilemma of those people who work in areas where a strike or slowdown could actually lead to someone's death is poorly addressed at best, and actively ignored at worst.

Regardless, I do support the idea of a general strike. I do support (and will participate) in the buy-nothing aspect of the day. I hope you will as well.