Contra Chrome

October 4, 2022

In Contra Chrome, Leah carefully charts this road and its terrain in a funny and easily accessible way. In webcomic form, she documents how over the last decade, Google’s browser has become a threat to user privacy and the democratic process itself.

With her meticulous rearrangement of Scott McCloud‘s Google-commissioned Chrome comic from 2008, she delivers what she calls „a much-needed update“. Laying bare the inner workings of the controversial browser, she creates the ultimate guide to one of the world‘s most widely used surveillance tools:

Contra Chrome – a webcomic – How Google’s browser became a threat to privacy and democracy

Daring Fireball: The Washington Post: ‘Facebook Paid Republican Strategy Firm to Malign TikTok’:

Facebook parent company Meta is paying one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in the country to orchestrate a nationwide campaign seeking to turn the public against TikTok.

Our Fundamental Right To Shame And Shun The New York Times:

I’m going to offer a working definition for the purposes of this essay: “cancel culture” is when speech is met with a response that, in my opinion, is very disproportionate. Perhaps that sounds cynical, and I could certainly give you a Justice-Breyer-seven-factor balancing test, but that’s what this discussion boils down to: just as we constantly debate norms of what speech is socially acceptable, we debate norms about what responses to speech are socially acceptable.

Missing from most definitions of “cancel culture” is the relationship to the target… A traditionally minority or under-served group using social-media amplification to “Punch Up” against someone who’s “Punching Down” from a position of authority based on celebrity, status, wealth or other source of power, to try for some degree of accountability, should be encouraged. Privileged people using their legions of followers to beat down those with less power, often already disenfranchised, not so much.

Let’s discuss some examples, because when I criticize sloppy use of “cancel culture” I’m accused of denying that there are ever any unfair, disproportionate, or evil responses to speech. I don’t deny that. What happened to Justine Sacco was, in my opinion, very disproportionate. What happened to David Shor was disproportionate and maddeningly stupid. What’s happening in the community of Young Adult Fiction seems like a complete shitshow that makes me want to avoid everyone there. What happened to Professor Greg Patton was disproportionate and anti-Asian bigotry to boot. Shouting invited speakers down so they can’t speak and attendees can’t listen is fascist and contemptible. I could go on, but you get the point.

The “YA Twitter” thing is harder, because YA lit very often is written for people of some vulnerable group, at an age where they really don’t have the emotional training to deal with intersectionality… But is also a part of the larger publishing social media wasteland where plenty of people are more interested in getting the “hot take” viewer numbers than any real conversation about the works themselves.

That broken tech/content culture cycle:

Double down on funding the worst voices on your platform. Call it “free speech”, and make sure that nobody internally points out that truly defending free speech would have entailed protecting those early marginalized creators who made your platform credible in the first place.
Definitely misuse “free speech” as a rhetorical bludgeon against people who are pointing out that you are both amplifying and sponsoring content, not merely making it available. Resolutely refuse to be intellectually honest about the difference between merely providing a platform to all, vs. making editorial decisions to promote and subsidize content that you have control over.

When asked about war in Ukraine, Trump launches into a bizarre anti-windmill rant | Boing Boing:

Even when he appears on an ass-kissing podcast and gets asked about the war in Ukraine, he launches into another anti-windmill rant instead of answering the question.

Lord Dampnut is stuck on this – His boss in Moscow doesn’t want people calling his invasion a war, but he can’t call it a special operation with Putin’s reasoning of defeating “nazis” in Ukraine without alienating his most stable base of US nazis.

(1) DIS on Twitter: “RT @deesnider: People are asking me why I endorsed the use of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” for the Ukrainian people and did not for the anti-m…” / Twitter:

People are asking me why I endorsed the use of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” for the Ukrainian people and did not for the anti-maskers. Well, one use is for a righteous battle against oppression; the other is a infantile feet stomping against an inconvenience.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer: Does the Edge Still Bleed? | Tor.com:

Fiction, even science fiction, is not about the future: I think everybody knows that. So what is the “future” that Gibson describes here? It’s a future that in some ways looks remarkably like the present: the US hegemony is fading, the poor have gotten even poorer than they were in 1984, and the truly rich have power that the rest of us can’t even imagine. Although often described as glorifying computer programmers as a cohort of romantically wild console cowboys, Neuromancer pushes back at the idea that technical advance always results in progress. This book is still surprising, still relevant, and it still deals with unanswered questions.

Elon Musk making unfunny Hitler jokes in support of the Canadian anti-vax trucker convoy | Boing Boing:

Elon “Pedo Guy” Musk keeps telling us who he is, but his fans refuse to listen. He is so mad that Canada is taking non-violent measures against the disruptive protest against commonsense, ie not letting them fund their action with crypto, that he is tossing around images of Hitler as favorable.

Bond villian in training.

Daring Fireball: Spotify Is Acquiring Two Major Podcast Surveillance Ad Tech Platforms:

Spotify isn’t just trying to become the biggest name in podcasting (which has heretofore been, but may no longer be, Apple). They’re trying to usurp podcasting as we know it — one of the last and brightest bastions of the open, simple, private, transparent internet — and turn it into a privately-owned, gated, complicated, invasive, utterly closed platform. Spotify is trying to do to podcasting what Facebook did to “having your own website”.

My Seatbelt Rule for Judgment

February 11, 2022

My Seatbelt Rule for Judgment:

One of my formative childhood lessons came when I was playing in the garage one day. I went into my mom’s car and put the seatbelt on (probably to pretend I was flying a plane). I realized at one point that I could still lean pretty far forward. Far enough that my head could touch the dashboard. How ridiculous! What’s the point of the seatbelt if it doesn’t actually stop me from going too far? I reveled in my discovery that seatbelts were useless.