Saturday, March 31, 2018

Feeling and Imagination Is No Match For Thinking and Working

WaPo |  The scenario in “Ready Player One” seems extreme, but it’s not so different from the fundamental dynamics at work between fans and corporations in the entertainment industry today. Wade and his friends, including Aech (Lena Waithe), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki), don’t love the Oasis not because it represents some ideal of independent artistry — in fact, it’s flooded with licensed versions of video game, superhero and anime characters. They love it because the game gives them the opportunity to live inside their fantasies, whether that means dressing in Buckaroo Banzai’s suit to go to a club or wandering around the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining.” And Sorrento and his fellow IOI honchos differ from contemporary entertainment executives mostly in that they aren’t very good at disguising their eagerness to monetize fans’ passions.

Though the conflict between Wade and Sorrento is meant to seem epic, there’s something strangely small-scale about the core of their disagreement. As BuzzFeed critic Alison Willmore put it on Twitter, “Ready Player One” is “a super dark story about how the world is a disaster but all its main character cares about is keeping ads out of his [massively multiplayer online role-playing game].” It’s as if “Ready Player One” were an epic movie about whether it’s okay for the streaming service Hulu to charge a few extra dollars a month to let viewers skip the 30-second spots that air a few times per episode.

While Cline’s novel and Spielberg’s adaptation both suggest that it’s probably good for people to spend some time outside of the Oasis developing their real-world relationships, neither is capable of grappling with the idea that, whoever owns it, preserving the Oasis means preserving the status quo.
If IOI wins control of the environment, spending time there may be more expensive and irritating, given the ad placements IOI hopes to sell. If Wade and his diverse group of friends win control of the Oasis, they intend to preserve it as a purer experience and run it without the abuses routinely practiced by IOI, including encouraging people to rack up debt they can’t pay off, purchasing those debts and moving the debtors into IOI labor camps.

But as bad as debt peonage is, the biggest problem with the world of “Ready Player One” isn’t that IOI is press-ganging people into spending their time in the Oasis. It’s that reality is such a hopeless mess that everyone would rather escape it. Closing the Oasis for a couple of days to force people to spend time with their actual friends and family doesn’t actually make a country defined by savage economic inequality, environmental degradation and social unrest a more appealing place to live. If Wade and his friends make the Oasis a more appealing place to spend time, saving it from becoming an ad-cluttered wasteland, they may make escape even more enticing, sapping energy from making the world habitable and enjoyable again. Tweaking the exact organic composition of a drug doesn’t make it something other than a narcotic.

(It’s also true that “Ready Player One” quietly rebukes the idea that giving women and people of color the opportunity to tell their own stories would automatically result in very different stories getting told. Aech’s race and gender don’t mean that she plays as a version of Audre Lorde; rather, her avatar is a formidable, orc-like brawler and engineer, and Wade spends much of the movie assuming she’s a man. Art3mis isn’t just a woman; her avatar is the Oasis’s version of a Cool Girl, an expert gamer who looks equally good in leather motorcycle gear or a ballgown, drives a motorcycle and is lethal with a gun.)

On a smaller scale, this dynamic is also at play in conversations about the contemporary American entertainment industry. None of this is to say that fighting to get power and opportunities in Hollywood for women, people of color, people with disabilities and members of other underrepresented communities is a worthless task. Money is valuable. Chances to decide who gets employed on a project are valuable. The ability to tell your story is valuable. But it’s possible to acknowledge all of this and to recognize that putting Kathleen Kennedy in charge of Lucasfilm or tapping Ava DuVernay to direct a $100 million adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time” is proof that the corporate entertainment industry is very good at adapting just enough to endure in its present form. Developments such as these are preemptive reforms made by savvy companies aimed at heading off a revolt, not proof that some revolution is underway in Hollywood, much less the wider world.

Black Panther: Keeping Negroes Broke But Feeling Fabulous

CounterPunch |  Whereas the fictional rulers of Wakanda preserve their wealth by pretending to be poor, using advanced to technology to mask their vast fortune, the real Studio City tycoons behind the film have conjured their own bit of subterfuge in order to receive corporate handouts. Hence the main reason why the principal shooting for Black Panther took place in Atlanta, Georgia: tax breaks.  Over the last decade, in fact, Georgia has become known to producers as the Hollywood of the South thanks to the state government doling out more than $1 billion in tax credits to industry behemoths like Disney and Sony.  In return Georgia has become the leading runaway-production site for Hollywood films, despite few if any economic benefits.

Of course proponents say that hundreds of millions given to Hollywood studios will eventually trickle down to the population, but there’s no way of knowing since the state hasn’t developed a mechanism for evaluating its impact.  Furthermore, because these incentives typically go to productions that shoot on-location, they require little in the way of long-term investment and produce mostly temporary employment.  Even when they do beget jobs, they’re not great: after ten years of tax subsidies, for example, Georgia has added only 4,209 film jobs, just under 2 percent of the industry total, and those jobs don’t pay well: on average film-industry workers in Georgia are the lowest waged.

This is why Vicki Mayer and Tanya Goldman (following Thomas Guback) call such movie production incentives “welfare for the wealthy:” because they function “like every other bloated financial system in the U.S., moving capital between elites while workers live with exaggerated job insecurity, declining market value, and uncertain futures that make up the rest of the workforce.”
Of course revenue lost from tax credits means lower government spending in other areas like education.  And indeed since 2003, Georgia has ranked among the nation’s austerity leaders in cuts to public school funding.  As of the 2018 state budget plan, the state’s schools will have been slashed by a cumulative total of $9.2 billion.  Those cuts in turn play out in places like Atlanta, a city that currently ranks first in the US for income inequality, and where 80 percent of black school students live in areas of high poverty and 75 percent qualify for meal assistance.  Not coincidentally, it’s also a place where local rap stars like T.I.—“The King of the South”—have teamed up with corporate sponsors like Walmart to make sure those same kids who can’t eat still get to go see Black Panther.
Is it any wonder, then, why this city, located in the same state which has lost millions in tax revenues to one the most profitable industries in the US, is now obliged to its pop culture “royalty” for taking its kids to the movies?

Certainly this scenario is not out of step with a blockbuster about monarchical superheroes doing good under the specious cloak of poverty.  Nor is it out of step with a Hollywood system that delivers such high-priced spectacles on the basis of an overall political economy of regressive wealth redistribution, neoliberal governance and precarious labor.

That a billion dollar industry might capitalize on such conditions and still be considered a champion of black empowerment is telling.  Indeed it’s agreeable with a hegemonic model of identitarian wokeness that considers films about mega-rich superheroes to be progressive insofar as those superheroes (and the stars that play them) aren’t all white and male.  The fact that those same heroes emerge at a time when intensifying economic inequality is acutely affecting black communities is enough to recall Theodor Adorno’s dictum about the false promises of the Culture Industry: wherein “the idea of ‘exploiting’ the given technical possibilities, of fully utilizing the capacities for aesthetic mass consumption, is part of an economic system which refuses to utilize those same capacities when it is a question of abolishing hunger.”

Obviously, that’s not the way the film’s promoters would have it. For them, Black Panther affords “positive images” that take the form of African nobility—something most welcome at time of Trump and other noxious emitters of anti-black bigotry.  But to classify such images as racial uplift is to confuse the symbolic value of highborn black superheroes with the ostensible communities they represent.  Indeed it clouds the way we might think about the inequalities that prevent such communities from seeing the film in the first place.  As Joseph told the Wall Street Journal in the successful wake of #BlackPantherChallenge: “I understand that there are other struggles that these children have, whether housing, food or education. [But] it’s not just any movie. It’s a symbol that you can transcend in this turbulent era.”  By this logic, which assumes “representation and inclusion are essential to creating dreams for yourself,” the main thing poor black kids need is inspiration, not money.

Friday, March 30, 2018

When Feeling Fabulous Seems More Important Than Your Fixed Position...,

Guardian  |  RuPaul likes to speak in deeply heartfelt but somewhat opaque rhetorical flourishes, so I ask if he means that Drag Race has a political message about humanity.

“Yes! It doesn’t have a political agenda in terms of policies in Washington. But it has a position on identity, which is really the most political you can get. It has politics at its core, because it deals with: how do you see yourself on this planet? That’s highly political. It’s about recognising that you are God dressing up in humanity, and you could do whatever you want. That’s what us little boys who were maligned and who were ostracised figured out. It’s a totem, a constant touchstone to say, ‘Don’t take any of this shit seriously.’ It’s a big f-you. So the idea of sticking to one identity – it’s like I don’t care, I’m a shapeshifter, I’m going to fly around and use all the colours, and not brand myself with just one colour.”

Pinning him down on precisely what all of this means can be tricky, in part I think because he doesn’t want to offend anyone by explicitly acknowledging the contradiction between his playfully elastic sensibility and the militant earnestness of the transgender movement. The two couldn’t be further apart, I suggest.

“Ye-es, that’s always been the dichotomy of the trans movement versus the drag movement, you know,” he agrees carefully. “I liken it to having a currency of money, say English pounds as opposed to American dollars. I think identities are like value systems or currencies; there’s not just one. Understand the value of different currencies, and what you could do with them. That’s the place you want to be.” But to a transgender woman it’s critically important that the world recognises her fixed identity as a female. RuPaul nods uneasily. “That’s right, that’s right.”

What I can’t understand is how transgender women can enter a drag contest. Last year RuPaul’s Drag Race was widely acclaimed for featuring its first openly transgender contestant, called Peppermint – but if transgender women must be identified as female, how can they also be “men dressing up as women”?

“Well, I don’t like to call drag ‘wearing women’s clothes’. If you look around this room,” and he gestures around the hotel lobby, “she’s wearing a shirt with jeans, that one’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt, right? So women don’t really dress like us. We are wearing clothes that are hyperfeminine, that represent our culture’s synthetic idea of femininity.”

In the subculture of drag you do occasionally find what are known as “bio queens” – biological women who mimic the exaggerated femininity of drag. Would RuPaul allow a biological woman to compete on the show? He hesitates. “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”

So how can a transgender woman be a drag queen? “Mmmm. It’s an interesting area. Peppermint didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned.” Would he accept a contestant who had? He hesitates again. “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.”

There’s something very touching about RuPaul’s concern to stay abreast of subcultural developments and find a way to embrace even those he finds confronting. “There are certain words,” for example, “that the kids would use, that I’d be like, ‘Wait a minute, hold up now.’ But I’ve had to accept it because I understand where it comes from.” Such as? “Well, one of the things that the kids do now is they’ll say, referring to another drag queen, ‘Oh that bitch is cunt, she is pure cunt’, which means she is serving realness,” by which he means presenting herself as realistic or honest. “They say it knowing it’s shocking, knowing it’s taboo, and it’s the same way that black people use the N-word.”

Negroes in Drag...,

NewYorker |  The sixty-eight-year-old style legend Lana Turner doesn’t own a cell phone. If you wish to reach her at her home, in Hamilton Heights, you must call in the morning, when she is near her landline. For the rest of the day she is out and about, swanning around town in one of the five hundred vintage hats that she keeps in neatly stacked towers, filling her foyer and library.

It was when Turner was out, moving through the city, that the photographer Dario Calmese first saw her—they were both at church, on a Sunday. Calmese, whose father was a pastor, was immediately drawn to Turner’s radiant self-presentation, spotting her bright organza gown and jaunty felted chapeau across the pews of Abyssinian Baptist. At the time, Calmese was a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts and thought he might ask to photograph Turner’s hats for a class project. Instead, once the two met inside her brownstone, which is a living museum to her sartorial collection—she keeps her gowns and gloves encoffined in velvety tissue paper, alongside notes to herself about where she was, and who she was, when she procured each item—Calmese knew immediately that it was Turner who should be his main subject. It was only when she stepped into a strapless, pleated silk Mignon dress or a pastel-pink suit with black velvet buttons by Cosi Belle that the items in her wardrobe began to sing and reveal their stories.

Turner, who was born at Women’s Hospital, on West 110th Street, never formally worked in fashion, but said in one interview that she learned to dress by taking after her parents, who “worked as a chauffeur and a chambermaid, but by evening they would put on those formal clothes, gowns, and gloves, and, like so many other people in Harlem, would go out and socialize and define themselves by who they really were.” By day, Turner worked in real estate and in the art world, where she defined herself by her ornate attire, never leaving her apartment without a statement toque. People took notice—she was a favorite muse of the late street-fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the chef Marcus Samuelsson put several of Turner’s hats on display at his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster, in 2016.

As Calmese began to style Turner for these photographs, he realized that they were collaboratively creating a work about “Sunday presentation,” or about the ways in which churchgoers—particularly black women churchgoers—consistently infuse glamour and imagination into the realm of faith. As Andre Leon Talley, the editor-at-large for Vogue, writes in the catalogue that accompanies an exhibition of Calmese’s photos this month, at the Projects + Gallery, in St. Louis, Calmese’s photos capture how the black woman “who intersects her faith, her religion, and her personal style” is “reborn every single Sunday through the rituals and universal codes of deportment, carriage, and dress.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mercer/Thiel vs Kochtopus? Finance/Geopolitics/Data Science/Livestock Management

GregPalast |  There are two dangers in the media howl over Trump’s computer gurus Cambridge Analytica, the data-driven psy-ops company founded by billionaire brown-shirts, the Mercer Family.
The story is that Cambridge Analytica, once directed by Steve Bannon, by shoplifting Facebook profiles to bend your brain, is some unique "bad apple" of the cyber world.

That's a dangerously narrow view. In fact, the dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Trump, but by i360 Themis, the operation founded by… no points for guessing… the Brothers Koch.

Mark Swedlund, himself an expert in these tools, explained in the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, that i360 dynamically tracks you on 1800 behaviors, or as Swedlund graphically puts it [see clip above],
"They know the last time you downloaded porn and
whether you ordered Chinese food before you voted."
Swedlund adds his expert conclusion: "I think that’s creepy."

The Koch operation and its competitor, DataTrust, use your credit card purchases, cable TV choices and other personal info — which is far more revealing about your inner life than the BS you put on your Facebook profile. Don’t trust DataTrust: This cyber-monster is operated by Karl Rove, "Bush’s Brain," who is principally funded by Paul Singer, the far Right financier better known as The Vulture.
Way too much is made of the importance of Cambridge Analytica stealing data through a phony app. If you’ve ever filled out an online survey, Swedlund told me, they’ve got you — legally.

The second danger is to forget that the GOP has been using computer power to erase the voting rights of Black and Hispanic voters for years — by "caging," "Crosscheck," citizenship challenges based on last name (Garcia? Not American!!), the list goes on — a far more effective use of cyberpower than manipulating your behavior through Facebook ads.

Just last week, Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas and Trump's chief voting law advisor, defended his method of hunting alleged "aliens" on voter rolls against a legal challenge by the ALCU. Kobach's expert, Jessie Richman, uses a computer algorithm that can locate "foreign" names on voter rolls. He identified, for example, one "Carlos Murguia" as a potential alien voter. Murguia is a Kansas-born judge who presides in a nearby courtroom.

It would be a joke, except that Kobach's "alien" hunt has blocked one in seven new (i.e. young) voters from registering in the state. If Kobach wins, it will, like his Crosscheck purge program and voter ID laws, almost certainly spread to other GOP controlled states. This could ultimately block one million new voters, exactly what Trump had in mind by pushing the alien-voter hysteria.

Koch Bros. Old School Voter Control Schemes

kcur |  That trial wrapped up Monday. Kobach stands accused of violating federal law by refusing to register more than 30,000 legitimate voters who signed up to vote through driver's license offices.
"It's an election year, your honor, and there's no more time for games," ACLU lawyer Dale Ho told Robinson.

Kobach, who hopes to be Kansas' next governor, asked the judge not to find him in contempt. The Republican candidate argued he doesn't control the county officials who carry out logistics such as sending postcards to voters to let them know where their polling stations are.

"We ask them to do things. We plead with them to do things," he said. "If the counties did fail, it was their mistake."

That's one of the things the ACLU said has been a problem: Not all the voters protected by Robinson's 2016 preliminary injunction have been receiving the postcards.

Robinson, at times sounding livid with the secretary, gave him a dressing-down.

"These people are not second-class registered voters," she told him. "You assured me that they had or they would get the postcards."

She questioned why Kobach had had no problem getting Kansas' 105 counties to require birth certificates and similar documents from voters in recent years, yet denied he could make them mail postcards or comply with other aspects of her orders.

Kobach is a key backer of President Donald Trump's claim that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote because of millions of illegal ballots. He led Trump's now defunct election integrity commission.

He urged the Kansas legislature to adopt a law that required would-be voters, starting in 2013, to show passports, military papers, birth certificates, or other documents proving they are citizens. That prompted a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters, saying it decimated voter registration drives, and by Kansans who say they were blocked from voting because they lacked such papers.

The ACLU is representing them. It says Kobach can't enforce his law on voters who register while getting or renewing their driver's licenses because they are protected by the 1993 Motor Voter Act.
That law created the streamlined process for registering to vote at driver's license offices, where around 40 percent of Kansans put themselves on the voter rolls.

Robert Mercer Money Launderer for Vladimir Putin?

medium |  Renaissance Technologies (RENTEC) is the second largest hedge fund in the US, managing $45 billion in assets. It has a reputation for being the most successful hedge fund in history, for using quantitative trading strategies designed by top scientists, and for being extremely secretive.
Publicly available information on RENTEC implies that the firm is a massive money laundering tool disguised as a hedge fund, operating on behalf of Vladimir PUTIN.

Money laundering involves a transaction where illicit money is spent by one party, producing a seemingly legitimate profit for another party. Ostensibly the two parties are unrelated, but in reality, both parties are closely connected.

The money laundering process can be summarized in three steps:
• SOURCE Secure illegally sourced funds.
• TRANSACT Illegal money is used in a transaction, resulting in profits for another party.
• COVER UP The true nature of the transaction is visible only to insiders.

Evidence suggests money laundering via financial markets works like this:

• SOURCE Criminal organization invests in a hedge fund (Fund A) operating in a market with a high degree of corruption (for example Russia).
• TRANSACT On behalf of Fund A, an international bank purchases a security in the corrupted market. The bank then sells(i.e. shorts) the same security in a second developed market (for example the UK), and forwards the proceeds to Fund B. Both funds are owned by the same criminal organization.
• COVER UP The nature of the transactions are obfuscated with advanced financial techniques and the inner workings of the fund are kept secret.
A significant degree of sophistication is required to launder money in plain sight via financial markets. Due to this sophistication, it’s unlikely direct evidence will come to light without access to internal records. However, by using other cases as a guide, the following mosaic of indirect evidence will likely be found:

• SOURCE Key people are connected to criminal organizations via one or more intermediaries.
• TRANSACT An abnormally high rate of return that allows significant amounts of money to be laundered in a short amount of time. Evidence of buying and selling the same securities in different markets.
• COVER UP History of using financial engineering to hide the nature of transactions and a reputation for extreme secrecy.

US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines?

medium |  A US Army document concedes the real interests driving US military strategy toward Russia: dominating oil pipeline routes, accessing the vast natural resources of Central Asia, and enforcing the expansion of American capitalism worldwide.

The Russians are coming. They hacked our elections. They are lurking behind numerous alternative political movements and news outlets. Such is the overwhelming chorus from traditional reporting on Russia, which sees the United States as being under threat from fanatical Russian expansionism — expansionism which has gone so far as to interfere dramatically in the 2016 Presidential elections.

Russia is certainly an authoritarian regime with its own regional imperial ambitions. President Vladimir Putin and his cronies are responsible for massive deaths and human rights violations against populations at home and abroad (the latter in war theaters like Syria and elsewhere). Putin has strengthened a system of oligarchical state-dominated predatory capitalism which has widened extreme inequality and concentrated elite wealth. And we will no doubt learn more about what shenanigans Russia did, or did not, get up to in relation to US elections. 

For the most part, these are not especially dangerous things to report on from the comfort of the West. Somewhat lacking from conventional reporting, on the other hand, is serious reflection on whether US policies toward Russia have contributed directly to the deterioration of US-Russia relations.

While the bulk of the Western pundit class are busy bravely obsessing over the innumerable evils of Putin, it turns out that the upper echelons of the US military are asking some uncomfortable questions about how we got to where we are.

A study by the US Army’s Command and General Staff College Press of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth reveals that US strategy toward Russia has been heavily motivated by the goal of dominating Central Asian oil and gas resources, and associated pipeline routes.

The remarkable document, prepared by the US Army’s Culture, Regional Expertise and Language Management Office (CRELMO), concedes that expansionist NATO policies played a key role in provoking Russian militarism. It also contemplates how current US and Russian antagonisms could spark a global nuclear conflict between the two superpowers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bone-in-the-Nose Medicine "Discovers" System That Taoist Chi-Kung Develops...,

universal-tao | An introduction to the ancient Kung Fu practice designed to unify physical, mental, and spiritual health:
  • Describes the unique Iron Shirt air-packing techniques that protect vital organs from injuries
  • Explains the rooting practice exercises necessary to stabilize and center oneself
  • Includes guidelines for building an Iron Shirt Chi Kung daily practice
Long before the advent of firearms, Iron Shirt Chi Kung, a form of Kung Fu, built powerful bodies able to withstand hand-to-hand combat. Even then, however, martial use was only one aspect of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, and today its other aspects remain vitally significant for anyone seeking better health, a sound mind, and spiritual growth.

In Iron Shirt Chi Kung Master Mantak Chia introduces this ancient practice that strengthens the internal organs, establishes roots to the earth’s energy, and unifies physical, mental, and spiritual health. Through a unique system of breathing exercises, he demonstrates how to permanently pack concentrated air into the connective tissues (the fasciae) surrounding vital organs, making them nearly impervious to injuries--a great benefit to athletes and other performers. He shows readers how once they root themselves in the earth they can direct its gravitational and healing power throughout their bone structure. Additionally, Master Chia presents postural forms, muscle-tendon meridians, and guidelines for developing a daily practice routine. After becoming rooted and responsive, practitioners of Iron Shirt Chi Kung can then focus on higher spiritual work.  Full Text. 

DopamineHegemony |  The team behind the discovery suggest the compartments may act as “shock absorbers” that protect body tissues from damage.
Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center medics Dr David Carr-Locke and Dr Petros Benias came across the interstitium while investigating a patient’s bile duct, searching for signs of cancer.
They noticed cavities that did not match any previously known human anatomy, and approached New York University pathologist Dr Neil Theise to ask for his expertise.
The researchers realised traditional methods for examining body tissues had missed the interstitium because the “fixing” method for assembling medical microscope slides involves draining away fluid – therefore destroying the organ’s structure.  
Instead of their true identity as bodywide, fluid-filled shock absorbers, the squashed cells had been overlooked and considered a simple layer of connective tissue.
Having arrived at this conclusion, the scientists realised this structure was found not only in the bile duct, but surrounding many crucial internal organs.
“This fixation artefact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,” said Dr Theise.

Have 99.999% Missed The Real Revolutionary Possibilities of Crypto?

hackernoon |  Money is power.

Nobody knew this better than the kings of the ancient world. That’s why they gave themselves an absolute monopoly on minting moolah.

They turned shiny metal into coins, paid their soldiers and their soldiers bought things at local stores. 

The king then sent their soldiers to the merchants with a simple message:

“Pay your taxes in this coin or we’ll kill you.”

That’s almost the entire history of money in one paragraph. Coercion and control of the supply with violence, aka the “violence hack.” The one hack to rule them all.

When power passed from monarchs to nation-states, distributing power from one strongman to a small group of strongmen, the power to print money passed to the state. Anyone who tried to create their own money got crushed.

The reason is simple:

Centralized enemies are easy to destroy with a “decapitation attack.” Cut off the head of the snake and that’s the end of anyone who would dare challenge the power of the state and its divine right to create coins.

Kings and nation states know the real golden rule: Control the money and you control the world.

And so it’s gone for thousands and thousands of years. The very first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (260–210 BC), abolished all other forms of local currency and introduced a uniform copper coin. That’s been the blueprint ever since. Eradicate alternative coins, create one coin to rule them all and use brutality and blood to keep that power at all costs.

In the end, every system is vulnerable to violence.

Well, almost every one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Governance Threat Is Not Russians, Cambridge Analytica, Etc, But Surveillance Capitalism Itself...,

newstatesman |  It’s been said in some more breathless quarters of the internet that this is the “data breach” that could have “caused Brexit”. Given it was a US-focused bit of harvesting, that would be the most astonishing piece of political advertising success in history – especially as among the big players in the political and broader online advertising world, Cambridge Analytica are not well regarded: some of the people who are best at this regard them as little more than “snake oil salesmen”. 

One of the key things this kind of data would be useful for – and what the original academic study it came from looked into – is finding what Facebook Likes correlate with personality traits, or other Facebook likes. 

The dream scenario for this would be to find that every woman in your sample who liked “The Republican Party” also liked “Chick-Fil-A”, “Taylor Swift” and “Nascar racing”. That way, you could target ads at people who liked the latter three – but not the former – knowing you had a good chance of reaching people likely to appreciate the message you’ve got. This is a pretty widely used, but crude, bit of Facebook advertising. 

When people talk about it being possible Cambridge Analytica used this information to build algorithms which could still be useful after all the original data was deleted, this is what they’re talking about – and that’s possible, but missing a much, much bigger bit of the picture.

So, everything’s OK then?

No. Look at it this way: the data we’re all getting excited about here is a sample of public profile information from 50 million users, harvested from 270,000 people. 

Facebook itself, daily, has access to all of that public information, and much more, from a sample of two billion people – a sample around 7,000 times larger than the Cambridge Analytica one, and one much deeper and richer thanks to its real-time updating status. 

If Facebook wants to offer sales based on correlations – for advertisers looking for an audience open to their message, its data would be infinitely more powerful and useful than a small (in big data terms) four-year-out-of-date bit of Cambridge Analytica data. 

Facebook aren’t anywhere near alone in this world: every day your personal information is bought and sold, bundled and retraded. You won’t know the name of the brands, but the actual giants in this company don’t deal in the tens of millions with data, they deal with hundreds of millions, or even billions of records – one advert I saw today referred to a company which claimed real-world identification of 340 million people. 

This is how lots of real advertising targeting works: people can buy up databases of thousands or millions of users, from all sorts of sources, and turn them into the ultimate custom audience – match the IDs of these people and show them this advert. Or they can do the tricks Cambridge Analytica did, but refined and with much more data behind them (there’s never been much evidence Cambridge Analytica’s model worked very well, despite their sales pitch boasts). 

The media has a model when reporting on “hacks” or on “breaches” – and on reporting on when companies in the spotlight have given evidence to public authorities, and most places have been following those well-trod routes. 

But doing so is like doing forensics on the burning of a twig, in the middle of a raging forest fire. You might get some answers – but they’ll do you no good. We need to think bigger. 

Facebook "Privacy"...,

Sent it to the kids... 
Heard back from the 54yo Chemist Son
This was in the email he received:
What info is available?What is it?Where can I find it?
About MeInformation you added to the About section of your Timeline like relationships, work, education, where you live and more. It includes any updates or changes you made in the past and what is currently in the About section of your Timeline.Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Account Status HistoryThe dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted.Downloaded Info
Active SessionsAll stored active sessions, including date, time, device, IP address, machine cookie and browser information.Downloaded Info
Ads ClickedDates, times and titles of ads clicked (limited retention period).Downloaded Info
AddressYour current address or any past addresses you had on your account.Downloaded Info
Ad TopicsA list of topics that you may be targeted against based on your stated likes, interests and other data you put in your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Alternate NameAny alternate names you have on your account (ex: a maiden name or a nickname).Downloaded Info
AppsAll of the apps you have added.Downloaded Info
Birthday VisibilityHow your birthday appears on your Timeline.Downloaded Info
ChatA history of the conversations you’ve had on Facebook Chat (a complete history is available directly from your messages inbox).Downloaded Info
Check-insThe places you’ve checked into.Activity Log 
Downloaded Info 
ConnectionsThe people who have liked your Page or Place, RSVPed to your event, installed your app or checked in to your advertised place within 24 hours of viewing or clicking on an ad or Sponsored Story.Activity Log
Credit CardsIf you make purchases on Facebook (ex: in apps) and have given Facebook your credit card number.Account Settings
CurrencyYour preferred currency on Facebook. If you use Facebook Payments, this will be used to display prices and charge your credit cards.Downloaded Info
Current CityThe city you added to the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Date of BirthThe date you added to Birthday in the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Deleted FriendsPeople you’ve removed as friends.Downloaded Info
EducationAny information you added to Education field in the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
EmailsEmail addresses added to your account (even those you may have removed).Downloaded Info
EventsEvents you’ve joined or been invited to.Activity Log 
Downloaded Info
Facial Recognition DataA unique number based on a comparison of the photos you're tagged in. We use this data to help others tag you in photos.Downloaded Info
FamilyFriends you’ve indicated are family members.Downloaded Info
Favorite QuotesInformation you’ve added to the Favorite Quotes section of the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
FollowersA list of people who follow you.Downloaded Info
FollowingA list of people you follow.Activity Log
Friend RequestsPending sent and received friend requests.Downloaded Info
FriendsA list of your friends.Downloaded Info
GenderThe gender you added to the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
GroupsA list of groups you belong to on Facebook.Downloaded Info
Hidden from News FeedAny friends, apps or pages you’ve hidden from your News Feed.Downloaded Info
HometownThe place you added to hometown in the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
IP AddressesA list of IP addresses where you’ve logged into your Facebook account (won’t include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule).Downloaded Info
Last LocationThe last location associated with an update.Activity Log
Likes on Others' PostsPosts, photos or other content you’ve liked.Activity Log
Likes on Your Posts from othersLikes on your own posts, photos or other content.Activity Log
Likes on Other SitesLikes you’ve made on sites off of Facebook.Activity Log
Linked AccountsA list of the accounts you've linked to your Facebook accountAccount Settings
LocaleThe language you've selected to use Facebook in.Downloaded Info
LoginsIP address, date and time associated with logins to your Facebook account.Downloaded Info
LogoutsIP address, date and time associated with logouts from your Facebook account.Downloaded Info
MessagesMessages you’ve sent and received on Facebook. Note, if you've deleted a message it won't be included in your download as it has been deleted from your account.Downloaded Info
NameThe name on your Facebook account.Downloaded Info
Name ChangesAny changes you’ve made to the original name you used when you signed up for Facebook.Downloaded Info
NetworksNetworks (affiliations with schools or workplaces) that you belong to on Facebook.Downloaded Info
NotesAny notes you’ve written and published to your account.Activity Log
Notification SettingsA list of all your notification preferences and whether you have email and text enabled or disabled for each.Downloaded Info
Pages You AdminA list of pages you admin.Downloaded Info
Pending Friend RequestsPending sent and received friend requests.Downloaded Info
Phone NumbersMobile phone numbers you’ve added to your account, including verified mobile numbers you've added for security purposes.Downloaded Info
PhotosPhotos you’ve uploaded to your account.Downloaded Info
Photos MetadataAny metadata that is transmitted with your uploaded photos.Downloaded Info
Physical TokensBadges you’ve added to your account.Downloaded Info
PokesA list of who’s poked you and who you’ve poked. Poke content from our mobile poke app is not included because it's only available for a brief period of time. After the recipient has viewed the content it's permanently deleted from our systems.Downloaded Info
Political ViewsAny information you added to Political Views in the About section of Timeline.Downloaded Info
Posts by YouAnything you posted to your own Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates.Activity Log
Posts by OthersAnything posted to your Timeline by someone else, like wall posts or links shared on your Timeline by friends.Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Posts to OthersAnything you posted to someone else’s Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates.Activity Log
Privacy SettingsYour privacy settings.Privacy SettingsDownloaded Info
Recent ActivitiesActions you’ve taken and interactions you’ve recently had.Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Registration DateThe date you joined Facebook.Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Religious ViewsThe current information you added to Religious Views in the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Removed FriendsPeople you’ve removed as friends.Activity Log 
Downloaded Info
Screen NamesThe screen names you’ve added to your account, and the service they’re associated with. You can also see if they’re hidden or visible on your account.Downloaded Info
SearchesSearches you’ve made on Facebook.Activity Log
SharesContent (ex: a news article) you've shared with others on Facebook using the Share button or link.Activity Log
Spoken LanguagesThe languages you added to Spoken Languages in the Aboutsection of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Status UpdatesAny status updates you’ve posted.Activity Log 
Downloaded Info
WorkAny current information you’ve added to Work in the About section of your Timeline.Downloaded Info
Vanity URLYour Facebook URL (ex: username or vanity for your account).Visible in your Timeline URL
VideosVideos you’ve posted to your Timeline.Activity Log
Downloaded Info
After he had read some of the 305mb provided,he responded:
It's fucking horrifying!! I've looked at about 2% of it, and it makes me grateful that I have used discretion out there for the most part. Even the "private messages" are in the files....

I Didn't Think This Would Happen Until Tomorrow...,

Live Updates: Biden Drops Out of Presidential Race, Endorses Harris President Biden wrote on social media that he was ending his campaign f...