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The Science Fictional Singularity is when Artificial Intelligence begins to create new ideas, and Science begins to advance faster than conventional biological humans can conceive.

The Political Singularity is when a Great Orange Artificial (lack of) Intelligence begins to create new scandals, faster than conventional media can conceive.

This commentary brought to you by both Amy Siskind and Jon Oliver remarking on a week incomprehensibly chock-full of scandals, any one of which would have undone a conventional President...

Staffing

May. 19th, 2017 08:12 am
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I am impressed by Rod Rosenstein, who is clearly managing to just do his freaking job, as honestly and transparently as possible, while the rest of Washington is collapsing in chaos. He has gone from Unknown to Important in a bit over a week.

And there's an amusing lesson here. While we have a long ways to go before this saga plays out, history may well decide that Trump's biggest mistake was his failure to deal with staffing. Everyone remarks on it -- the way that so few of the important seats in the federal government have been filled yet. It isn't at all clear whether this is due to a knee-jerk Bannon-esque dislike of the bureaucracy, or (more likely) simple incompetence, but the result is that Trump still has relatively few allies in the administration he notionally heads. As many have remarked, he could have fired Comey on Day 1 and only gotten a little grumbling -- this crisis is specifically because Trump waited to fire him only after it become publicly clear that Comey wasn't going to be a loyal yes-man.

That may (God willing) prove a fatal mistake. Because the thing is, if you want to set yourself up as a strongman dictator (and I no longer think it's controversial to say Trump does want that, given his outspoken admiration for people like Putin, Erdogan and Duterte), you need to fill the government with your own placemen. Fascism depends on everyone at the center following your orders. It's not easy to make that happen in the US, but Trump has barely even tried. And hopefully he's already spent so much political capital that it's just going to get harder from here.

We'll see where it goes. But it may well turn out that, in a year where it is hard to respect any of the elected politicians in Washington, it might yet be the civil servants who save the day...

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The Guardian is continuing to impress the heck out of me with their investigative journalism. Here is their followup story, this one considerably shorter and more comprehensible. It continues to point to evidence that Brexit happened because of a literal conspiracy -- and that it may well have been a deliberate dry run for the election of Trump.

I'm immensely curious about how this plays out. I hope that this starts a real drumbeat for proper investigations into the Brexit vote, and the apparently illegal financing behind it. And the really interesting question is, if it turns out that the Leave campaign did break the law, allowing an American billionaire to illegally spend a lot of money to subvert British democracy -- what then? Everyone's been assuming that the referendum happened, and that the results must be adhered to, but if illegal means were used, that reasoning becomes a tad shaky.


As an entertaining counterpoint to all that, I'll add this delicious article-cum-memoir about Brexit from Dominic Cummings, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign. (Thanks to [personal profile] mindways for pointing me at it.) It's immensely long (I'm only halfway through), but a fun read if you enjoy politics. It's a (presumably enormously biased) account of what things were like inside the Leave campaign, redolent of the richest sour grapes -- this is the winner of the campaign describing in gory detail just what a fuckup the whole thing was, and how close they came to losing, not least because of just what a jackass Nigel Farage is.

But beyond that, it's a very readable treatise on practical politics, with a general thesis that anybody who says that anything in politics is certain is either lying or deluded. He repeatedly talks about "branching histories", to show just how essential both luck and a few key mistakes by David Cameron were to the victory of the Leave campaign.

Well worth reading, even if you just take it as a sort of primer in how on-the-ground campaigning really works. Regardless of the Guardian's reportage, and whether Cummings was in on this apparent conspiracy, he gives a good sense of what it takes to win in politics. It's not pretty, but it's kind of fascinating, and rather educational...

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Signal boost: the Republicans are once again trying to destroy Net Neutrality, with the new FCC Chair making the usual disingenuous BS arguments about it. And this time, they've made it ridiculously difficult to actually comment on it.

Fortunately, Jon Oliver and Last Week Tonight have jumped in to make life easier. If you go to GoFCCYourself.com, it cuts through most of the hoops -- just look for the "+ Express" link on the right-hand side, click on that, and you can enter your commentary.

This is important stuff: the big ISPs have shown themselves to be pretty untrustworthy, and willing to take undue advantage of their position. We need to stand up for Net Neutrality in force, immediately, if we're to have any hope of keeping it...

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Thanks to [personal profile] cvirtue for pointing me at this impressive piece of reportage from The Guardian, published a few days ago.

I won't kid you: this is long, dense, and hard to quite absorb. But it's one of the most important articles I've seen this year. In it, they dug into the details of why Britain voted to leave the EU, when all the polling had indicated a narrow win for the Remain side.

Slightly to my surprise, this story is not primarily about Russia, although there are hints of their involvement. Rather, this is the story of a couple of rather shadowy military-tied companies named Cambridge Analytica and Aggregate IQ, and an American billionaire named Robert Mercer, doing what appear to be some pragmatic experiments in just how far you can sway a populace simply by crunching the data and manipulating them directly. And yes, Steve Bannon is right at the heart of the whole thing, as the sometime VP of Cambridge Analytica.

This is a story about Brexit rather than Trump, but they don't shy away from drawing the connections there: indeed, this is one of the first times I've seen direct connections between those stories, rather than claims that they reflected some sort of zeitgeist.

I can't say I've digested all of it yet, but the general takeaway seems to be that this is an example of weaponized propaganda, being driven by the American corporate world as much as anywhere. And the evidence of last year is that, yes, it can tilt the playing field at least a few critical percent.

Of course, last week also had the comforting news of the French election, where these tactics (deployed late in the game) seem to have entirely failed. That suggests that this stuff can't entirely swing the game -- Le Pen was losing badly, and she still lost badly. But in a close election (which describes damned near everything at the national level in the US nowadays), it can be solidly effective.

Bookmark it, read it, and stick it in the back of your mind. We can't let it distract too much from the Russiagate scandal, but this is a strong indication that the Kremlin are by no means the only bad guys here. If we're going to be effective in fixing things, we need to understand the full scope of the battlefield...

Stance

Apr. 30th, 2017 10:57 am
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Signal boost from Jen Hofmann's Action Checklist (another of those useful weekly reminder lists to help stay aware of useful little things you can do) -- there's an interesting little app out now called Stance, which is specifically there to make it a little easier to call your congressional rep. It's nothing more than a smart message-forwarder, but that's still useful: you use the app to record a message for your rep, and Stance will, once a day, transfer those messages to the rep's voicemail system.

Pros:

  • If you're shy (as many of us are), you don't risk talking directly to a person on the phone.
  • No risk of busy signals, and Stance itself does retrying if the voicemail box is full.
  • You don't have to remember phone numbers.

Cons:

  • No chance of talking directly to a person, if you do like that. (I have mixed feelings, personally.)
  • Your phone calls are explicitly public: not personally identified as you, but they do put a selection of calls on their website.
  • The app is essentially advertising the phone-mail services of a little startup. (But seems to be a tasteful way for them to do so.)

Overall, not a world-shaker, but seems like a potentially useful tool, especially for the phone-shy. As Jen points out, calling your reps is one of the more useful things you can do, even if it is just an occasional "keep up the good fight, rah-rah-rah" so they don't feel drowned under all the negative calls...

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This week's been an interesting one. Not happy-making, by any means, but slightly less ulcer-inducing, not least for the omnipresent leaks that Steve Bannon may be out of favor with His Imperial Orangeness. So I shouldn't be surprised that Trump's core supporters are apparently beginning to freak out. From the sound of things, they are beginning to believe that -- the terrible truth dawns -- Donald Trump might not have been entirely honest with them!

The situation still sucks, and we need to keep the pressure up. But for now, I'm quietly enjoying the view of these assholes panicking because they aren't getting to destroy the country as efficiently as they want...

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A minor but amusing signal boost: The Daily WTF (one of those useful news sources I mentioned the other day) has just gotten its own Alexa skill. So you can apparently install this, ask "Alexa, WTF Just Happened?", and she'll read off the day's craziness.

(Not that I have any particular intention of installing Alexa, but for my friends who have done so...)

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It's been a hell of a week in national events. Some thoughts about how all the pieces fit together.

I will admit, even I didn't expect Trump to play the Wag the Dog strategy (Wag the Dog = start a war to distract everybody) quite this soon, although I was certainly expecting it sooner or later. In this particular case, I have to say that it was actually a bit clever.

Trump's core problem at the moment is that a narrative has been brewing, that he is actively a pawn of Putin. Distractions entirely aside, I suspect that's the real motivation for the Syrian strikes: they're not just starting a war, they are starting a war with Russia on the other side. Memetically, this is all about showing that he is his own man, and thereby defusing the Russiagate controversy. The message is essentially, "So they got me elected. So what? I don't work for them." That's a fairly smart message for him to be sending to his wavering supporters right now, and plays cleverly into the general understanding that he's a changeable crook.

It might even be true. Let's assume for the moment that this isn't a truly Machiavellian plan on Putin's part, sacrificing the pawn of Assad in the name of broader strategic objectives. (I think it is entirely possible that that is what's going on, but a bit beside my point.)

There's an interesting question that not enough people are asking: what is the game here? What are Putin's strategic objectives?

I mean, sure -- you can assume that he's just a villain out of a Bond movie, sitting in the back and twirling his invisible Stalin mustache. But I suspect that's too simplistic.

My guess is that controlling the US would be a fine goodie for Putin (why not?), but his primary aim is to neutralize the US. To that extent, the goal of backing Trump was only secondarily getting him elected -- the primary objective was to hurt Hilary as much as possible, throw the US into chaos, and make it ineffectual on the international stage. Which, note -- Mission (largely) Accomplished.

What Putin mainly wants, I figure, is to be able to secure his borders, in the sense of turning everybody around Russia into client states again, as in the Good Old Days. And of course, for his murderous kleptocracy to be able to do what they want, with minimal interference.

To that end, we should be clear that it is quite possible that Trump is just a Useful Idiot, not actually being controlled by the Kremlin. It's possible that he is, of course, but don't delude yourself that it's a clear certainty. Even if that was true at the beginning, he's not a complete moron, and it's clear that he has figured out that that's a bad image for him. So he's going to focus for now on making clear that he's not a puppet. Which is good -- aside from raising the likelihood of Stupid Nuclear Holocaust a step higher.

But the other thing to keep in mind (and the cause of the title here) is, we shouldn't feel too comfortable in our own certainties. I was starting to think about this essay last week, and then hit the latest episode of Full Frontal -- with the interviews claiming that Sanders supporters were also being manipulated by the Russian alternative-media machine.

Which is entirely what I would expect: if their goal was to cause chaos and discredit American democracy, just manipulating one side is silly. Instead, you should be playing all of the sides against each other. I lack evidence, but would guess that they were trying to stir up the Clinton camp as well, simply because it fits the goals.

The point is, alternative narrative is a tool, and can be used in any and all directions. This crap is not just effective on the uneducated and credulous -- it works precisely because the world is complicated, and humans prefer to seek easier answers. (Heaven knows there is plenty of similarly silly nonsense that is believed by many wealthy, well-educated left-wingers.)

It's easy to get paranoid, and I'm not advocating that -- melting down into a puddle of helplessness is kind of what the Putinites want you to do. But it does mean that serious critical thinking is a necessity if you're not going to be easily manipulated. Facts aren't true or false simply because they come from the mass media, or the Internet, or your neighbor: you have to keep a well-balanced diet of information sources, always examining what their agendas are (because everybody has their own agendas -- that's just human) and keeping an open mind to the possibility that you're being misled.

It's a tricky game, and easier to just avoid altogether. But if you really care about civics and doing the best thing, it's going to be a part of modern daily life, I suspect...

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For those who are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing clusterf**k in Washington and elsewhere, here's how I'm doing it:

First, on a daily basis, there is The Daily WTF. This is an irreverent but relatively straightforward summary of the major US political news stories. I've signed up for the mailing list, which sends out an update each afternoon. There's no in-depth perspective here, but it's a good way to stay up-to-date.

On a slower beat, there is Amy Siskind's Weekly Authoritarian News Watch. Siskind is a more-serious-than-average reporter, and her weekly braindumps are relatively long -- she typically covers 50 to 75 bullet points each week, keeping it all pretty factual, but organizing the news nicely and letting you draw your own conclusions. Her column is one of the reasons I've decided to bite the bullet and buy a Medium membership.

Then there is Kara Hurvitz' National News Roundup. Kara is more openly opinionated, and also more fun to read: she organizes each week into The Weird, The Bad and The Good, poking a little more humor into just how strange this nonsense is, and remembering to point out the wins when we get them.

And finally, there is The Economist. Yes, it costs real money to read the whole thing, but it provides a less navel-gazing perspective, and reminds you that there is a world out there beyond our borders. I read it for the wider view, and for analysis-after-the-fact of what's been happening. It's the most sensible news source I'm aware of, and well worth a subscription if you're willing to pay for quality.

All of the above are highly recommended. If you have the time and stomach for it, it's worth reading all of them, but any one or two will help keep track of the rapidly-mutating timeline we've found ourselves stuck in...
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Thanks to [personal profile] drwex for pointing out this fascinating and remarkably disturbing little article from a couple of months ago, titled Weaponized Narrative is the New Battlespace. It examines the current situation from essentially a military POV, and carries forward the previously-discussed logic: not only are we in a literal propaganda war, but the weapon being used is Narrative itself.

The article isn't very long, and it's a must-read -- it lays out the situation quite bluntly. It is, mind, not optimistic: the contention of the article is that there are assumptions about individual mental capacity built into the ideals of the Enlightenment and the democratic institutions that grew from it, and that Weaponized Narrative is all about overwhelming that capacity.

Note that there are some considerable differences from the traditional fears of propaganda-for-oppression that we're used to from 1984 and its ilk. First of all, in this discussion it's not just being used for internal oppression, it's being applied as a tool of conquest -- propaganda not just in support of a military advance, but as the military advance itself. Second, it's not about restricting the subject's available information to a single approved viewpoint; quite to the contrary, it's about overwhelming the subjects with so much contradictory information that they flee to a created narrative that is simpler and more comfortable than the complex reality. In the modern world, where information overload is a constant problem, that's a damned good tactic.

Seriously, read it. Thoughts welcomed...

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When I dubbed my current politics posts with the tag "wartime thoughts", that was not originally intended as a general statement about the political arena. I've wound up using it more generally, but it was originally planned (before the gush of events distracted me) to be a series of posts on a specific topic, to make a specific point: we are already at war, a propaganda war. And the enemy are way the bloody hell ahead of us.

This was inspired by a moment on the WBUR call-in show "On Point", shortly before the election. One caller started matter-of-factly talking about how the show was of course being controlled by Project Mockingbird, and Tom Ashbrook, the host, completely lost his shit -- it was the only time I've ever heard him out-of-control angry. Which made me curious, so I Googled "Project Mockingbird", and quickly found myself in this weird parallel dimension of websites parroting all sorts of insanity. It was the moment when I finally realized where the bloody hell the Trump phenomenon had come from: in this parallel universe, Trump is right. (Or at least, not so obviously crazy.)

I'm reminded of that original inspiration by this brilliant article by Kate Starbird, a professor at the University of Washington. It's long, but you should find the time to read it in detail, because it is describing one of the primary causes of what's going right now. It outlines how her lab originally set out to do some analysis of the way that "alternative narrative" rumors spread after crises, and wound up consequently delving into the structure of what I think of as the "alt-net" -- the collection of websites and feeds that are the backbone of the alt-right movement.

This is seriously scary shit: while she keeps things carefully factual, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that what looks like an agglomeration of kooks are in fact a very principled and organized project to undermine Americans' collective sense of reality. On the surface it all appears to be authentic and independent opinion and reportage, but the cross-links are too deep to put much credence into that. There's a lot of very clever psychology at work here, focused on convincing readers that there is a gigantic conspiracy composed of the mainstream media, conventional government, the Jews, and so on, and that these plucky little websites are the good guys who are just trying to expose the truth.

(And while she never quite comes out and says it, the connections to Russia are kind of screamingly obvious. It is likely over-simplistic to say that this is just a Russian plot, but they are almost certainly deeply involved.)

This stuff is dreadfully important background, because it goes a long ways towards explaining the apparently-incomprehensible mindset of many core Trump voters. It isn't that they are stupid or insane, it's that they have been very carefully converted to a view of reality that is deliberately at odds with everything you and I know to be true. Their reality has been hand-crafted by some talented artists to be at least moderately self-consistent, and provides easy answers to many problems that, in reality, are just plain complicated. It's a reality view that is comforting, and therefore easy to believe, not least in that it provides for nice clear Enemies.

And through all of it, I'm left horribly curious about one key question: I honestly can't tell if Donald Trump is in on the joke. I mean, this is being run by a bunch of master manipulators. And I have a nasty feeling, based on his outbursts, that Trump is the Manipulatee-in-Chief...

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If you're not already following Yonaton Zunger, you might want to consider doing so -- his Medium blog has been one of the more consistently interesting ones out there.

Particularly interesting is his post yesterday, From Russia With Oil, which provides a nicely clear summary of what is currently known about the Trump/Russia connection, spelling out explicitly what we have reasonably strong evidence of, and what is merely circumstantial but compelling.

I confess, I especially like the title of the post, which calls out just how much the whole mess feels like a James Bond story -- without Bond around to stop things before Spectre puts its fiendish plan into motion.

Part of me still feels like it's too outlandish to be true, that the Kremlin *literally* bought the US President -- but the story is compelling enough that I'm starting to feel that demanding an independent investigation may be the single highest priority right now. We can't take our eyes off all the other issues that need attending to, but this could yet prove to be the block that takes down the entire Jenga tower of corruption in this Administration...
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It occurs to me that not everyone has yet come across the Twitter feed of Donaeld the Unready and associated accounts. There is a growing collection of these, all interlinked from different viewpoints, and they are particularly perfect for the SCAdian -- of-the-moment political satire, all framed in terms of Anglo-Saxon England. I think my current faves are the political tapestries of Wulfgar the Bard. Check it out...

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Laurie Penny is a journalist who has, in recent months, been following the Milo Yiannopoulos National Crassness Tour. It's made for delicious reading: she is utterly unsympathetic to Milo, but as far as I can tell he's enjoyed having her around as a sparring partner, so she's gotten to see what the whole shit-show looks like from the inside.

Her most recent post (which I suspect may be the last in this particular series) is especially fascinating, and well worth a read. It follows the Milo story over the past few weeks -- from the Berkeley riot to Milo suddenly becoming a Conservative un-person due to finally crossing a bridge too far -- and reflects on it.

The bulk of the article is not about Milo, and that's part of what makes it so interesting. Rather, it focuses primarily on the idiot children who have been following him around -- the GamerGate-type alt-right groupies who've been treating him as some sort of prankster-god -- and how completely incapable they are of coping with a world in which their side has, for now, won. She gives a sense of who they are as people, without even slightly forgiving them for what they have done.

Along with that, she makes a point we should be remembering and echoing: that the sudden crushing of Milo lays bare the hypocrisy underneath the right wing's cloak of First Amendment rights.

Not a short article, but highly recommended. She's a fine writer and analyst, and this is a great corrective to our tendency to see the right wing as some monolithic and impregnable fortress of evil -- quite to the contrary, she shows just how fragile some of them are, and in the most terribly practical sense that's worth understanding from a tactical perspective...

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On the scarier side of things, here's an essay that nicely puts all the pieces together -- essentially arguing that the blizzard of chaos coming from the White House is largely a distraction while they set up far more dangerous plans. Once again, I can't say for certain that this *is* what's happening -- but it's very consistent with what we can see so far.

Read it, and pass it around: seriously, it's important for as many people as possible to be alert to the signs. With any luck, this will be a Y2K moment -- a disaster that never happens. But as with Y2K, I suspect the only reason it might not happen is because enough people know about it, are prepared for it, and are preventing it.

I also concur with the implication here, that the Problem increasingly appears to be Bannon. Trump still appears to be a chaotic moron, but he's likely being manipulated by someone with a far more coherent and dangerous agenda. Getting Trump out of the White House isn't as immediately critical as getting Bannon out. So the question becomes: how do we, the people, get the point across to Trump that he is being *manipulated* by Bannon? That seems like the most effective way to neutralize Bannon -- Trump's ego is a mighty force, and convincing him that he is perceived as *weak* because of Bannon seems like a potentially good tactic...
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Lots of people are terribly worried about "Resistance Fatigue", and there's some basis for that -- spending all day, every day for years worrying about the fight is a good way to mess with your head and just fall into eventual despair.  You have to learn your own capacity, and pace yourself accordingly, because this one's going to be a marathon.

But it occurs to me: we do know one person who famously has no patience and precious little discipline, sitting at the top of his gold-plated tower.

Can we help induce Presidency Fatigue in Trump?

Seriously: it's pretty clear that he didn't really understand what he was getting into, and I suspect it's all more of a pain in the ass than he expected.  He's used to being CEO of a company that he *owns*, not working with other people and making sensible compromises.  As far as I can tell, he's a bit overwhelmed and cranky already.  Tiredness and anger cause people to make stupid mistakes.

I'm being a bit flippant here, but only a bit.  I suspect that he isn't mentally prepared for ongoing resistance to everything he does, every day, for years.

So the details of each individual fight aside, the ongoing *act* of resistance may well be helpful.  We need to keep it non-violent, and not play into their damned "all those protesters are destroying the country" narrative.  But keeping up the pressure may well gradually break a man who is, I suspect, really fairly weak to begin with...
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I've been mulling over the "punching Nazis" incident a couple of weeks ago, to understand how I think and feel about it.

Really, it's not a simple one. On the one hand, I can totally understand the visceral satisfaction of pasting one to the smarmy bad guys. OTOH, as many folks have pointed out, that doesn't make it right: the Nazi preaching his subtle hatred on the street is almost the textbook definition of why *really* believing in freedom of speech is challenging. That latter argument is pretty compelling to me.

But as I contemplated the rioting over Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, I realized that there's a much simpler and in some ways more important argument here: at this stage of the game, letting yourself get provoked into violence is incredibly *stupid*, and wildly counter-productive.

Look -- Trump and his cronies are attempting to build a fascist state.  Their *primary* mechanism for doing so is preying upon the fears of Middle America: convincing them that Those Evil Liberals are selling out the country, are out to get them, and are full of Those Awful Terrorist Immigrants.  They have brilliantly built a narrative that Normal White People are *victims*.  Yes, it's bullshit -- but to people who in fear for their jobs, and have spent many years with the news telling them about every awful thing that might happen, it's compelling bullshit.  The Dangerous Other is *always* the go-to tool of the fascist dictator.

And when they can show scenes of terrible violence caused by "the Left", against Trump's talking heads, that is *gold* -- it plays directly into that "we're the victims and must protect ourselves" narrative.  Guaranteed, they'll be spinning that to explain why they just need to crack down a *little* bit.

(Of course, it is *such* gold, and *so* convenient, that I'm deeply suspicious of it -- I'd give better-than-even odds that Trump's own surrogates instigated the Berkeley riot.  But unless proof comes out, that suspicion isn't going to get very far in the news.)

Anyway, it's just an example, but it's a telling one.  This is why non-violent protest is so deathly important in any struggle for hearts and minds -- and make no mistake, so long as the US is still an actual democracy, that's what the struggle is.  We *must* not feed into their narrative -- if we're going to win this thing, we have to be conspicuously better than they are.

That does *not* mean being meek or weak: we should be loud, we should be clear, we should have our message in front of the country every day and every way.  But we should refrain from punching the Nazis, and settle for just telling them off...
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[Slight spoilers for Rogue One]

Kieron Gillen (my current favorite comics writer) has started a rambling blog-like-entity in the form of emails that go out now and then, Kieron Gillen's Word Mail. Today's installment isn't up in the archive yet, and the relevant bit is from the middle anyway, so I'm going to quote from his discussion of Rogue One directly. Hopefully he'll forgive me:
To that end, the ballooning of viewpoint characters becomes the point, those pilots as real as anyone else, the actors commitment to those fragments of time meaningful. And as we pull away from our cast, we come to the final scenes, with those nameless Rebellion troops being cut down by Vader, one by one. Look at the details as Vader looms out the dark. The half-lowering of the gun as each consider just not doing this.. and then raising as they decide they have no choice.

Any of them didn't slow down Vader for a half second, the Death Star survives. Any of them.

Which leaves me aware that's all we can do when facing fascism in the dark. We have no idea if what we do make a difference. But it may. You have to believe it may.
Yes. This.

We live in a society that encourages egotism, wanting to believe that we are going to Matter in some big, important way. That's human nature in general, but modern celebrity culture in particular leads to an internalized belief that everything is either Important in some huge way, or it doesn't matter. I've been seeing this a lot when talking with folks about the rising struggle -- I've hit the comment, "Yeah, but I can't *do* anything" several times, with an implied "I can't do anything Significant".

But I think Gillen is exactly right above. Most of us *aren't* going to be Luke or Leia -- we're not going to be one of the heroes on the marquee. But those heroes only get the critical shot through the help of countless other people, each of them giving that half second of help.

We're facing a rising tide of fascism worldwide, and it's scary as hell. But it is not on any *one* of us to stop that -- it's on all of us, working together, each doing our tiny bit.

Don't worry about hitting the Death Star -- it's not your responsibility. Just look for your own half seconds, and remember that they *do* matter...
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h/t to [personal profile] drwex for pointing out this article.  (tl;dr: when taxi drivers held a strike to protest Trump's policies, Uber went and dropped their prices to fill in the void.)

On the one hand, I wouldn't necessarily condemn Uber if it was *just* this incident, and I'm enough of a businessman to sympathize with the desire to grab market share when there's an opportunity.  That said, Uber has shown an exceptional degree of anti-social bull-headedness even by the standards of corporate America -- they've consistently been assholes at the corporate level -- and their CEO joined one of Trump's advisory boards, which doesn't exactly endear them to me.

And on top of that, Lyft (their biggest competitor) is apparently responding by donating a million bucks to the ACLU.

It's time to start making clear to corporate America that we *are* paying attention, and we *are* going to punish them where it counts -- in the balance sheet.  The right wing has been using this tactic pretty effectively over the years, and we should be playing the game, hard.  So I think I'm likely to join the #deleteuber movement.

Which brings us to the question: I haven't used Lyft.  Is there *any* reason not to just delete the Uber app and switch?

(NB: I actually still use old-fashioned taxis a fair amount, in part because I sympathize with the poor bastards who spent a fortune on a medallion whose value has crashed.  Green/Yellow Cab is doing a fair job of being somewhat competitive, and I commend their app to folks who live in this neck of the woods.  But in some circumstances the modern ride-hailing services are just more convenient, as well as usually cheaper, and I don't really have any principled objection to them...)

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