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Reading: Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

From Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

John Gruber has become my favorite tech critic – speaking truth to less-than-legitimate power.

This is Facebook’s political/PR strategy on this issue: (1) to ask everyone to ignore the plain truth that Apple’s changes to IDFA tracking are for exactly the reason Apple states: to give users control over their own privacy; and (2) to claim that Apple’s actions aren’t hurting Facebook but instead are hurting “small businesses”. Small businesses are taking advantage of privacy invasive user-tracking ad placement, but if their ads are less effective without privacy invasive user-tracking, then so be it, they’re less effective. The idea that we don’t dare do anything good for privacy that might reduce the efficacy of user-tracking ads because “pity the poor small businesses” is sophistry.

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Reading: Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

From Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

I usually don’t want to be flip about trump’s waste of time, but this one begs for it. The wording of this directive reveals that the training is needed – even to understand the directive.

“All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

“Structural” is not “inherent.” Discuss.

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Reading: Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

From Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

Ars reports on Georgia Gov Kemp’s mandate that undercuts local mandates to wear masks:

Kemp also went on a tour of various cities to encourage mask wearing, but he has said, “we don’t need a government mandate to do the right thing.”

Kemp’s executive order attempts to void rules that “at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks,” the Associated Press wrote. Kemp has declined to impose a statewide mandate for Georgia,

A mandate that declares we don’t need a mandate, used to undercut a mandate to do The Right Thing. ‘Pataphysics thrives in the time of chaos.

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Reading: US hits 40K COVID-19 cases in a day, experts brace for rise in deaths, Pence delivers an encomium to a virus

From US hits 40K COVID-19 cases in a day, experts brace for rise in deaths, Pence delivers an encomium to a virus

As Ars reports it, Pence’s encomium for a virus stirs up some deep deception.

“As we see the new cases rising—and we’re tracking them very carefully—there may be a tendency among the American people to think that we are back to that place that we were two months ago, that we’re in a time of great losses and great hardship on the American people,” Pence said. “The reality is we’re in a much better place.”

How so?

Pence also noted that though cases are increasing, deaths are decreasing. He noted that treatment and care have improved for severely ill patients and many new cases are seen in people under 35—who are at less risk of developing severe disease and dying.

There’s something both irresponsible and reality-denying about this. It certainly smacks of Trump’s trope, “just lay back and enjoy the ride.” But put a mask on, ok?

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Reading: Trump rally sign-up includes disclaimer about potential COVID-19 exposure | TheHill

From Trump rally sign-up includes disclaimer about potential COVID-19 exposure | TheHill

I have attend caucuses and primaries and city and county meetings and labor strikes and sit-down protests and anti-war and CND and anti-fascist demonstrations w/o a request for a liability release. These rallies must be risky.

Bah. Rally at your own risk. Admission of contagious situation.

The page for guests to sign up for free tickets to the event includes a disclaimer related to the virus.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the statement reads.

“By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

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Reading: trump failing be an actual authoritarian

From trump failing be an actual authoritarian

Not exactly reassuring but this observation strikes a note that’s been subtonal for a while: he’s about looking big, and we’re his toys. A feckless, flailing president.

Trump has never been shy about his authoritarian impulses. He regularly voices admiration for dictators and has expressed his belief that Article II of the Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want.” Yet that authoritarianism has not manifested with as much force as some might have feared (or desired). Trump has exerted power aggressively in the realms where he is least restrained, most notably immigration enforcement, but he has not pushed far beyond that: There have been no jackboots deployed against dissidents, no shipping off of presidential enemies to Guantánamo Bay. And in some instances, such as the ongoing pandemic, Trump has largely declined to exert federal power at all—instead shrugging his shoulders and leaving the work of actually governing to the states.

All of which makes this past week an important cautionary tale for the election itself if Trump does, in fact, lose. The authoritarian instinct will still be there, of course. So will the flailing weakness, we suspect, and the effort to get his administration to take wildly inappropriate, even illegal steps. His degree of panic will presumably be even higher then than it is now, as will the stakes—which will be nothing less than the peaceful transition of power. We can only hope that, once again, the weakness will overwhelm the authoritarianism, the ineffectuality will triumph over the menace, and the president will emerge as a figure of contempt and ridicule, rather than of fear and consolidated power.

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Reading: The fall of Colston’s statue: ‘It didn’t take long – about four tugs of the ropes’

From The fall of Colston’s statue: ‘It didn’t take long – about four tugs of the ropes’

Rees said on Monday that Colston’s vexed legacy would be noted instead by placing his statue in a museum, along with some of the banners and signs left behind by those who tore it down. Meanwhile, with calls for similar monuments in Oxford, Cardiff, Derbyshire and London to face a reckoning of their own, the implications of the statue’s removal may spread far beyond Bristol itself.

What connects where I was born and raised with where my wife was born and raised? Teleology. Ha.

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Reading: The Science and Politics of Masks in the Covid-19 Pandemic

From The Science and Politics of Masks in the Covid-19 Pandemic

It’s for you, not for me.

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Reading: White House: Trump to use ‘federal assets’ in response to violent protests | TheHill

From White House: Trump to use ‘federal assets’ in response to violent protests | TheHill

An appeal to studies when the General’s authority as a military advisor should be enough?

What studies have shown, as Gen. Milley noted — he was in the governor’s call, his points all pertained to the National Guard — and he noted that there are several studies that when there’s an overwhelming National Guard presence it actually deescalates the situation and causes less civil unrest,” McEnany said.

Oh, and Milley: Miley Cyrus = virus.

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Reading: How Facebook’s Ad Technology Helps Trump Win – The Atlantic

From How Facebook’s Ad Technology Helps Trump Win – The Atlantic

Bogost and Madrigal in The Atlantic, from 18 April 2020. A digital rhetorician looks at how Facebook’s AI handles trump’s branding. A look at how the FB algorithm operates meets and the changes in Advertising and Marketing 101. Rhetoric mechanized.

His campaign did so via pure, blunt constancy, using Facebook in exactly the way the tech giant intended: pouring heaps of money and data into Facebook’s automated advertising system.

This is tech used as it was designed: to make pots of money by offering constant exposure.

A “Facebook ad” is less an ad and more a machine for producing ads. Instead of paying to put particular media in front of a specific audience, an advertiser now pays Facebook to deliver a selected outcome from a certain stripe of people.

Trump’s interest in FB is the same as any other advertiser on FB. He’s in the FB ad-machine. His ads feed into the algorithm that targets viewers: and once your’e in, you can’t get out.

This is a look at both how the FB ad machine works, and how trump’s campaign interacts with it. As in

People have marveled that Trump never stopped running Facebook-ad campaigns. And the reason is, he couldn’t. The whole point is that the campaign has to keep fresh data flowing through the system. Most of the time, it can optimize for the cost of acquisitions, hoovering up money and data from the Facebook users it targets. Then, at strategic moments, the team reverses the machine, spending whatever money is required to get the highest penetration and the widest reach among their people.

It’s a matter of a campaign ceding control to the FB AI. On both ends.

Users—who are also citizens—similarly have no way out. Letting Facebook do its thing has become a requirement for electoral politics, and democracy’s future is entwined with the results.

The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.