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Reading: Opinion | The Arrogance of Trump’s Enablers – The New York Times

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Another lesson taught in 9th grade Civics: citizens of a democracy act responsibly to defend that democracy. Eg: the draft. There is more than a little tension in this responsibility – eg, the draft – but taking responsibility is not optional.

Mr. Bolton’s statement Monday claims that he is trying to “resolve the serious competing issues” between his obligations as a citizen and a former national security official. In fact, those obligations point in the same direction. Like jury duty or paying taxes, testifying under oath about facts we know is not optional; it is a fundamental obligation of citizenship. As a government official, Mr. Bolton held high office under an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” Testifying at a Senate impeachment trial fulfills that constitutional oath.

The action is clearer once you’ve taken the oath of office – even though it’s not easier. Eg: the draft, Vietnam:

Unlike Nixon, Mr. Trump has now actually been impeached, for abuse of power and obstructing congressional investigation. If official witnesses don’t testify about these acts, the very subordinates who may have helped Mr. Trump commit them can aid and abet his continuing obstruction. If so, on what conceivable basis can such officials as Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney continue to hold high office under an oath to support and defend the Constitution? And recent history only repeats itself if former officials can enrich themselves through memoirs based on what they learned in public office about Mr. Trump’s abuse of a public position for private gain.

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Reading: How To (Hypothetically) Hack Your School’s Surveillance System | Gizmodo

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Tracking pitched to students – and parents – as Keys to Success. Students aren’t naive: they know admin is tracking them for retention and sales – not security. Tracking via D2L is prevalent, too. They know when you are reading; they know when you are late. On D2L, that creepy prof can see your exchanges with other students – and administrators can see when that creepy prof is checking in and out.

Balan listed off several easily foreseeable scenarios in which relatively untested school-wide surveillance systems put data in the hands of faculty. An evildoer can carry out a man-in-the-middle attack on any network, injecting downloads with malicious code. An impersonation attacker could spoof a Bluetooth identifier. A bad teacher with access to location data could stalk a student; a good teacher with a dumb password could be easily hacked. “Say I’m a teacher, and my password is Whitney123,” Balan postulated. “Arguably, out of ten thousand students, someone is going to try that password.”

If school surveillance looks anything like school security, he says, a “password123” blunder ranks high on the list of probabilities; Balan calls the present state of security tech in public spaces like hospitals and university campuses “a disaster.” “The software and operating systems are outdated, and passwords are leaked,” he said. “Surveillance cameras are on the same network as other computers, and the access to that network would be the word ‘password.’ And by no means was this an isolated case.”

It’s an opportunity for guerrilla theatre. How about hacking a classroom to show all students present all the time. How about sitting down at all entrances to an admin building – blocking them in or out. How about spamming the D2L message system with Wham! lyrics.

Vick countered with an offer to students:

If you are at one of these schools asking you to install apps on your phone to track you, hit me up for some totally hypothetical academic ideas on how one might dismantle such a system.

We’re always up for hacker class, so Vick supplied Gizmodo with a few theories for inquiring minds.

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Reading: So

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Making semiotic sense of an annoying stylistic tic: So says more than you might want it to.

This is apparently is an example of semantic bleaching, similar to the process that turned very and really (and more recently literally) into intensifiers. The OED lists so as an “adv. and conj.” glossed as “In the way or manner described, indicated, or suggested; in that style or fashion”, with examples going back to the 9th century. Over the centuries, if the bleaching theory is correct, a sense emerged that’s something more like “in relation to the issue described, suggested, or presupposed”.

“So” also seems to indicate a connection between the interviewer and interviewed, a suggestion that the answer really is going to address the question. But often, the interviewed answers a different question, snd the particle becomes a rhetorical backhander. Compare it to using “Well …” in the same context. “So” indicates that the response is canned, being delivered by rote – which also appears in the general tone of voice and cadence. “Well” can suggest the response is more thoughtful and tailored for the context.

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Reading: Republican rush to defend Trump reveals a party in thrall to its leader

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Arguments get buried. They need to be brought to light.

Trump, Republican politicians insisted, embodies everyone who once voted for him, while the Democratic House majority – installed just one year ago in an election with record turnout – stood for no one, or at best for a disembodied elite, or politically irrelevant classes who live in parts of the country that somehow don’t count.

The anxiety of the Republican position was palpable during the impeachment investigation in their efforts to present their minority case as the majority case, and in their strenuous sales pitch of untouchable executive power as a form of populism.

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Reading: the_hypertext_reader_explores [Slate]

Where most of my work has been going this year, and more of it in 2020: Slate, a wiki.  Semiotics, reading, rhetoric, hypertext, textual materiality, narrative discourse, analytical discourse, note taking, epistemology in text and diagram … the usual.