Most of the cities serviced by the bus line below are in the top 10 counties for agricultural production in California.
Most of the cities serviced by the bus line below are in the top 10 counties for agricultural production in California.
The unconscious in Edward Albee’s writing process by Larissa MacFarquhar:
When the idea presents itself to him, he will turn it over in his mind once or twice, and think, Isn’t that interesting; and then he will push it back down whence it came, to let it grow and ripen. He will not make a note of it. This process can go on for years. Often, it is two or three years before he will write anything down.
If Albee feels that an idea is approaching maturity, he will test it: he will go for a long walk, often on the beach, and introduce his characters to a situation that is not part of the play. If they behave easily and naturally—if he is able to improvise dialogue for them without effort—then he will decide that he and they know each other well enough, and he will start to write.
the victim becomes the victimizer. human contact – the very thing that makes us human – kills us. it’s a total and absolute threat to the human condition. without each other, we are no longer human. that’s what the threat of infection is about. it’s not the infected – they’re the signifier. the signified is that the survivors cease to be human. if we can’t come together, we are worse than dead. we are no longer human.
A lyrical, precise monologue by Alex Garland, excerpted:
It started as rioting, and right from
the beginning you knew this was different.
Because it was happening
in small villages, market towns.
And then it wasn’t on the TV any more.
It was in the street outside.
It was coming through your windows.
It was a virus.
You didn’t need a doctor to tell you that.
It was the blood.
There was something in the blood.
As the two shook hands on stage, the microphone picked up Pence telling Trump, “You’re amazing.”
amazing (adj.) early 15c., “stupefactive;” 1590s, “dreadful;” present participle adjective from amaze. Sense of “wonderful” is recorded from 1704. Related: Amazingly.
amaze (v.) early 13c., amasian “stupefy, make crazy,” from a-, probably used here as an intensive prefix, + -masian, related to maze (q.v.). Sense of “overwhelm with wonder” is from 1580s.
june 25, 2017
Matt Yglesias: “Trump has taught Republicans that even unsubtle, clearly false lies can be sound political strategy.”
What all forms of fascism have in common is the glorification of the nation, and the exaggeration of its humiliations, with violence promised to its enemies, at home and abroad; the worship of power wherever it appears and whoever holds it; contempt for the rule of law and for reason; unashamed employment of repeated lies as a rhetorical strategy; and a promise of vengeance for those who feel themselves disempowered by history. It promises to turn back time and take no prisoners. That it can appeal to those who do not understand its consequences is doubtless true. But the first job of those who do understand is to state what those consequences invariably are. Those who think that the underlying institutions of American government are immunized against it fail to understand history. In every historical situation where a leader of Trump’s kind comes to power, normal safeguards collapse. Ours are older and therefore stronger? Watching the rapid collapse of the Republican Party is not an encouraging rehearsal. Donald Trump has a chance to seize power.
American institutions have preserved political order and domestic peace for going on a quarter of a millennium with the very notable and brutal exception of four years of civil war 150 years ago. Those institutions can in all likelihood weather four years of his mental instability and toxic incitement. But not necessarily. Britain’s exit from Europe, Scotland’s exit from the United Kingdom, the increasingly militarized border between ‘Europe’ and Russia can likely all be managed. But maybe not. Violence and instability can build quickly on themselves…
Trump represents something quite different. And the kind of menace he represents is amplified by the rise of complacent instability and reckless behavior we see today in Europe, in the conflagration in the Middle East and the still distant but rising specter of great power confrontation on the borders of Russia and in East Asia. The belief that we can roll the dice with no consequences, that we can provoke and act out with no consequences is a dangerous illusion. We are indulging that illusion along with many other peoples across the globe. But there are consequences. And they can multiply and spin out of control quickly.
magic tricks work when the audience is not fully aware of what they are seeing.
movies are the same.
when it works, the audience says: “i didn’t see that coming”
when it doesn’t, the audience says: “that came out of nowhere”
what you don’t see is as important (or more important) as what you do. the most impactful reveal is what was already hiding in plain sight.
this appears to be their default offering for an English speaker in Los Angeles.
we have two poltically neutral stories that will lead the user to the conservative Fox News site, a third from the conservative Daily Mail, a fourth from a conservative blog, a fifth devoted to the opinion of a conservative celebrity. this makes 50% of the options links to a conservative worldview.
there are no options for liberal commentary nor any blurbs that point to politically liberal news sites; e.g., the times, the guardian, talkingpointsmemo, msnbc, etc.
i’m certain that Google’s algorithms chose these offerings because they have a higher clickthrough rate (engagement rate). i’m fairly certain that this CRT is based on conservative sites being more effective at evoking the feelings of the demographic that still gets its news from TV and newspaper sites.
computers are like slot machines. people click, swipe, tap until their brains release chemicals that make them feel. anger and fear are strong feelings. they are exciting. by contrast, problem-solving is energy-intensive; it’s literally hard on the brain and not exciting.
most people get their “news” from facebook and google. while alphabet (google) has recently funded news innovation in europe, it’s because the EU has repeatedly fined them. to the best of my knowledge, facebook has funded no such effort – if anything, they’ve taken a rather different stance towards journalism.
some people in silicon valley believe that a coming techno-utopian society will make work obsolete and guaranteed minimum income will provide humans with the time to spend all day clicking, swiping and tapping.
i don’t know the odds for that scenario coming true but, based on the 100% failure rate of the Marxist techno-utopia, i’m going to guess there’s a better than 0% chance our future will not be so pleasant.
instead, it’s possible that a society of clickbait-heads will increasingly make bad decisions that feel good in the short-term but feel very bad in the long-term. this cause and effect has been studied under the rubric of impulse control. the result is that our current networks abet groupthink and it’s bad news for all involved.
our history suggests that human survival is “hard”. it stands to reason that “hard news” is essential for survival.
hard news is difficult to consume. it requires that the recipient understand a problem that does not have an easy solution – otherwise, it would have been solved.
hard news is also difficult to produce. someone has to identify which facts are relevant, gather them, test them for their veracity and then present them in an easy-to-understand narrative – let alone one that is exciting.
facebook in particular has done quite well with its slot machine / “mousetrap.” it might improve its long term fortunes (i.e., keeping the mice alive) if it learns how to funnel the neurochemicals it so effectively elicits towards problem-solving. in the forseeable future, such innovation will require that it spend money on people. specifically, on journalists.
postscript july 15, 2016
unrelated / related:
postscript august 27, 2016
On July 31, a Facebook page called Make America Great posted its final story of the day…
Readers who clicked through to the story were led to an external website, called Make America Great Today, where they were presented with a brief write-up blended almost seamlessly into a solid wall of fleshy ads. Khan, the story said — between ads for “(1) Odd Trick to ‘Kill’ Herpes Virus for Good” and “22 Tank Tops That Aren’t Covering Anything” — is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood and a “promoter of Islamic Shariah law.” His late son, the story suggests, could have been a “Muslim martyr” working as a double agent. A credit link beneath the story led to a similar-looking site called Conservative Post, from which the story’s text was pulled verbatim. Conservative Post had apparently sourced its story from a longer post on a right-wing site called Shoebat.com.
…Then, of course, there’s the content, which, at a few dozen posts a day, Nicoloff is far too busy to produce himself. “I have two people in the Philippines who post for me,” Nicoloff said, “a husband-and-wife combo.” From 9 a.m. Eastern time to midnight, the contractors scour the internet for viral political stories, many explicitly pro-Trump. If something seems to be going viral elsewhere, it is copied to their site and promoted with an urgent headline.
postcript august 29, 2016
postscript october 20, 2016
postscript november 11, 2016
[edit: internal documents contradict this claim as of sep 6, 2018: “Facebook knew about the Russian disinfo campaign DURING the 2016 election, but didn’t take action because of organizational dysfunction.”]
postscript november 13, 2016
postscript january 11, 2017
postscript february 17, 2017
postscript april 17, 2017
postscript may 25, 2017
Morning Media has learned that Apple has given the job — a new position at the Cupertino-based company — to Lauren Kern, one of New York magazine’s most high-ranking editors and a former deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. It’s unclear what exactly the role will entail, and Kern declined to comment.
postscript oct 6, 2017
Ex-Google strategist: “The dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will.”
All of which, Williams says, is not only distorting the way we view politics but, over time, may be changing the way we think, making us less rational and more impulsive. “We’ve habituated ourselves into a perpetual cognitive style of outrage, by internalising the dynamics of the medium,” he says.
It is against this political backdrop that Williams argues the fixation in recent years with the surveillance state fictionalised by George Orwell may have been misplaced. It was another English science fiction writer, Aldous Huxley, who provided the more prescient observation when he warned that Orwellian-style coercion was less of a threat to democracy than the more subtle power of psychological manipulation, and “man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”.
postscript #this-is-fine-everything-is-fine sep 6, 2018
Six months after FB re-engineered news feed to promote “broadly trusted” news sources, the top 10 stories on the network include an aggregated Daily Caller story, a Snopes-debunked Nike hoax, and 3 Ladbible posts.
postscript sep 10, 2018
somehow, i missed this when it came out, approx. 15 months after this post was first published. former Facebook executive: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”
postscript nov 18, 2018
“As content gets closer to the line of what is prohibited by our community standards, we see people tend to engage with it more,” – FACEBOOK MOVES TO LIMIT TOXIC CONTENT AS SCANDAL SWIRLS, Wired
Eli Saslow, Washington Post:
“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases, spreading onto Macedonian and Russian fake news sites, amassing an audience of as many 6 million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. “No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page. “Where is the edge? Is there ever a point where people realize they’re being fed garbage and decide to return to reality?”
postscript dec 11, 2018
After Sundar Pichai’s day of Q&A with members of the US Congress, what Ben Collins said:
“Algorithms are predisposed to surfacing combativeness, feel-good vitriol and provincialism. It’s fixable but complicated, and it’ll make you no money.”
postscript jan 15, 2019
postscript mar 15, 2019
One user’s experience:
Today I opened my first YouTube video on my brand new work computer. I have no stored browsing history. Look at the videos the “algorithm” recommended. This is the second time I’ve seen this happen. I’m disgusted and horrified
postscript mar 16, 2019
A year after the big algorithm change that Zuck said would focus on “time well spent,” Facebook’s dominated by the “angry” reaction (?), Fox News, and stories designed to scare people or work them up… More than a third of the most-engaged stories on the platform are false but hey engagement is up 50% so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
postscript mar 25, 2019
I’m sure Apple News+ will be fine, but man is it weird to hear a tech company describing “human-curated news” as some high-concept innovation, and not the way news was selected and distributed for 400 years before the sorted feed era.
postscript may 11, 2020
“The digital platforms need media generally, but not any particular media company, so there is an acute bargaining imbalance in favor of the platforms. This creates a significant market failure which harms journalism and so, society.”
postscript and counterpoint may 15, 2020
when you see what’s coming before everyone else does:
from the excellent Attack the Block
To get people to turn out and vote in your favor, you also have to give them something positive to rally behind. The Leave campaign, for all its lies and disinformation, provided just such a lure. It claimed that liberating Britain from the shackles of the E.U. would enable it to reclaim its former glory. The Remain side argued, in effect, that while the E.U. isn’t great, Britain would be even worse off without it. That turned out to be a losing story.
Just get back to that time where you were just tripping out in college and wondering what else is out there, before you buttoned up. Because our late-night sessions on the internet do not look rational. Look at those autofill Google searches. It’s like, “Why am I so lonely?” “Does God hate me.” The questions are not, like, “How tall is the Empire State Building?”
The ideal bedtime story, according to Nitun Verma, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is one that “doesn’t build upon itself,” like a movie “with a lot of parallel stories that don’t connect at the end.”
A game: the more distance you keep from other cars on the freeway while adhering to the speed limits, the more points you earn. With networked vehicles reporting data, you can compete against your friends, anonymous neighbors, etc. Higher points (less breaking) could equal rewards at businesses from drive-through restaurants to gas stations.
A hypothesis: if this game became popular, freeway traffic would flow more smoothly, average speeds would increase and there would be less crashes as well as the resulting jams; all without the need of self-driving vehicles.
As Clinton and her team certainly anticipated, hitting him hard as mentally unstable and unfit for the presidency has placed Trump in a sort of Chinese finger puzzle of his own creation. The only mode of response he knows – an escalating and bellicose round of personal attacks with increasingly hyperbolic accusations – only confirms Clinton’s diagnosis. The harder he fights the tighter the charge sticks.
postscript november 13
The charge is a detriment in front of some audiences and a badge of honor among others.
This election isn’t just a fight over tax plans and health care; it’s a contest—a brawl, even—over questions of national identity. Just who is the United States for? Just whom do we mean when we say “Americans?” On one side, we have immigrants, religious minorities, and the descendants of slaves, some disadvantaged, some on the upswing, but each committed to inclusion. On the other, we have an angry and frustrated white minority that’s perhaps still potent enough to win the White House.
A group of terrorists attempts to steal a weapon of mass destruction by driving a truck through the gates of a government compound in the capital city of an African nation.
The terrorists are stopped by a special forces team led by a legendary American soldier. The leader of the terrorists vows revenge against the American and detonates a suicide vest. But the explosion is deflected, becoming an airborne projectile which rips through a nearby office building, killing innocents.
In this opening sequence from “Captain America: Civil War”, the filmmakers evoke the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the rationale for the invasion of Iraq as well as the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001.
While “Civil War” may not be a great or lasting movie, it exploits our recent political history in an attempt to dramatize an important claim.
When Captain America was first created over 70 years ago, his first public act was to punch Adolf Hitler in the face. In “Civil War”, there are no Islamic mujahideen, no falsified evidence of WMD, no oil-rich monarchies nor power-hungry neocons.
Instead, the movie’s villain is a man who lost his wife, son and father as casualties of righteous American imperialism; an ordinary soldier from a failed state who is hell-bent on revenge. His motivation echoes the movie’s stated premise, presented convincingly by a grieving employee of the U.S. State Department: what is the difference between avenging and revenging? between violence in the service of justice and violence in the service of emotional satisifaction?
While the titular hero is proven right in defending unilateralism – by acting against the wishes of the United Nations, Captain America finds a cache of WMD – his is a hollow victory. The WMD have been “deactivated”; they were a ruse to turn the Americans against themselves.
In the end, “Civil War” is unwilling to state its case as clearly as the movie “War Games” did in 1983 – “the only winning move is not to play” – but that it questions our ability to fight terrorism is significant. Can America respond rationally in the face of an emotional provocation?
I hope its fans clamor for an answer.
Emily Yoshida makes a subtle argument for the changing political context of art:
Japanese audiences, unlike American audiences, don’t understand Motoko to be a Japanese character, just because she speaks Japanese and has a Japanese name. This speaks to the racial mystery zone that so much anime exists in…
Of course, it’s a different issue for Japanese Americans… For us, anime is something from our country, or our parents’ country, that was cool enough for white kids to get into just as fervently.
In summary: Japanese artists chose to draw protagonists with non-Japanese features. Said characters became popular in the U.S. where they are treated as Japanese characters. Should the actors chosen to portray those characters represent how they were received or how they were conceived? If both conditions cannot be satisfied, which audience is more important?