Leaving and locking down Twitter: 15 steps

Have shared this in posts in a few places, compiling in one place now.

*****

Here’s a relatively detailed process building out on the absolutely correct advice NOT to deactivate your account (your username would then become available in 30 days, and anyone could pick it up and impersonate you complete with blue verification check. You do not want that.) Try these 15 steps instead, best from a web browser and not the app.

    1. Archive your data. If you haven’t already, create download an archive of your data. Settings and Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Your Account > Download an archive of your data. This will give you a complete file of your tweets and replies, but not followers, following, or DMs.
    2.  Delete your tweets. After you’re satisfied with your archive, delete all of your tweets. A service like TweetDelete can do this in minutes depending on volume and how backed up they are. You will need to grant TweetDelete access to your account; when you’re done, remember to log out of TweetDelete.
    3. Notifications and Mentions are more difficult to clean up. From the main interface menu, choose Notifications then check the All and Mentions tabs. You can choose to leave conversations and/or block people you’ve interacted with. Won’t erase history entirely but will make it difficult to follow.
    4. Followers and following: there are no good solutions that I know of to archive followers and following, although I’m sure someone has built or is building a service to do it. I painstakingly went through and created new connective tissue to about 80% of the people and organizations I cared about most, via Substack, Medium, old school RSS, Mastodon and other fediverse tools, and, if nothing else was available, curated bookmarks. Whatever works for you for whatever you want to save. Also up to you if you want to delete all followers and following; this too would be a manual process.
    5. Account Information, part 1: delete as much as you can, especially your mobile phone number and if they somehow got it, your birth date. You may also want to reset your email address to the one you use for junk stuff. Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Your Account > Account Information.
    6. IMPORTANT Account information, part 2: While you’re in this area, make sure you set Protected Tweets to yes. This will lock down your account, and a lock icon will appear next to your username. Now only your followers know you exist and can see your stuff.
    7. Security and Account Safety: go through each and every page and shut everything down. Sever all connections with other apps and services, close any open session on other screens. Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Security and Account Access
    8.  Privacy and Safety: review all the settings, shutting down whatever allows the world to look in, but pay careful attention to Content you see: wipe out any and all data points they have on you under the Topics and Interests sections, and remove the geo permission under Explore settings. Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Privacy and Safety
    9. Messages: delete all of your DMs from the Messages tab on the main menu. This will likely be a manual process. There may be a service that will do it for you, but not recommended if you have any sensitive information in those threads.
    10. Bookmarks: access from the main menu tab, clear all bookmarks with the button on the top of the page.
    11. Lists: access from the main menu tab, delete all of your lists one by one.
    12.  Profile: access from the main menu tab, edit to remove any information you don’t want to remain. You may want to add a Fediverse addess if you’d like to leave bread crumbs for your followers. You may want to gray out or black out your profile and background photos to indicate you’re no long present.
    13. Change your password and make it a good strong one. Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Your Account > Change Your Password
    14. Log out.
    15. Wipe out: Finally, remove Twitter apps from all phones, tablets, computers. If you have the patience, clear Twitter cookies (x.twitter.com, ads-twitter.com) from all web browsers. Audit the rest of your Internet presence and eliminate all links to or mentions of your Twitter account; this includes link menus on your blog, email signatures, LinkedIn accounts, etc. If your browser provides the option for social media blocking, disallow Twitter embedded tweets.
As we all know, the Internet is forever and there will be ghosts and shadows and remnants left behind on Twitter servers and others. But if you do all of these things, you’ll have done everything you can to keep your identity safe and to lock down your data. Now breathe.

If I’ve overlooked anything, please feel free to add.

Coda: really want to get serious about leaving Twitter behind, use your browser to block embedded tweets in any content. Native to Brave, plugins for others.

The Messenger

Valentyn Sylvestrov is a living Ukrainian classical composer, born in Kyiv in 1937. This lovely piece, The Messenger, was written in 1996, five years after Ukraine declared independence from the former Soviet Union, in memory of his wife, Larysa, who had passed away unexpectedly.
Sylvestrov said it is about loss, and return. In bearing witness to what is happening in his country this winter, may we all be thankful for what we have, for what we’ve lost, from where we’ve returned.
As with all of her work, the pianist, Hélène Grimaud, plays stunningly.

The world needs more pie, yes it does

One of the best expressions of thankfulness and gratitude I can share this holiday season is an introduction to my friend Beth Howard and her amazing and inspiring mission to help heal through the making and sharing of pie. Magnificent in its simplicity, powerful in impact. Lots to explore on her website, from the books which make great gifts to exploring pieces of her story. Enjoy and pass along.

Beyond information warfare

When I suggest to people they should be more careful about their online behaviors, like posting for fake National Daughters and Sons Days, and answering random questions on random Facebook accounts, and including having Chinese-government-owned apps like TikTok on their phones, this is why. Not a joke and not a drill.
tl;dr “Chinese theorists…believe that the development of information technology has reached its limits, and that future wars will occur in the cognitive domain. … Influencing human cognition requires a large amount of detailed personal information to identify influential individuals or to conduct influential operations according to the characteristics of subgroups of people. China has already collected a massive amount of personal information on government officials and ordinary U.S. citizens, ensuring a foundation for influencing people’s cognition. … The Chinese government has then allowed Chinese IT giants to process this large amount of data, making it useful for intelligence activities. In this way, China has accumulated an enormous amount of data over the years which could be weaponized in the future.”

Gun violence rooted in misogyny

Absolutely on the mark. Hatred and resentment of women is behind an amazing amount of right-wing aggressiveness. Guns, education, healthcare, child care, reproductive rights, right down the line. So clear and easy to see. Harder to deal with, but we must.

[from Elle]

American agriculture is a lie

The romance of the American farmer is a total myth–straight out propaganda–in today’s America, representing only 2-3% of food production. The rest is from food factories that are destroying the planet, backed by the most powerful lobbying groups in DC.

[from The New York Times]

Concentric circles of gun violence trauma

Not many things–nothing, in fact–gets to me the way this issue does. Now, because of what happened to them, their children have to undergo active shooter drills, expanding the concentric circles of trauma.

 

Another self-inflicted existential threat to humanity

In addition to overheating the planet, we have chemically altered its makeup.

“The rate at which novel entities are being developed and produced by industry exceeds governments’ ability to assess risk and monitor impacts.”

[from Mongabay]

The Ultimate Doomscroll

Essentially my Twitter feed, beautifully compiled. 

“I understand climate change as doing something similar to what Dr. Johnson said the hangman’s noose did for focusing the mind. It’s not words that I’m worried about wasting, but experiences. What’s needed is an aesthetic imperative that we somehow live in each moment as if it’s eternal and also as if it’s our last. Our ethical imperative is similar: to do everything as if it might save the world, even if it’s unlikely that it will. Tending one’s own garden need not be selfish, though if everyone does so, well, that’s something then, right? “

Networked interpretive communities of resentment

Fascinating study about how conservatives see media, and, really, the entire world around them.

[from Columbia Journalism Review]

Plant-based or vegan?

I’ve taken to calling myself plant-based. This is a helpful and empathetic discussion of terms, definitions, and what they mean in practical life.

Divest

Decarbonize the grid.

“Endowments, portfolios and pension funds worth just shy of $40 trillion have now committed to full or partial abstinence from coal, gas and oil stocks…that’s larger than the gross domestic product of the United States and China combined.”

Murmurations

Come for the science, stay for the incredible photos.

[from Nautilus]

Next up

Having been at a couple of dying companies, and a dying industry, I can say with some authority that it’s exactly as described.

What I’m talking about is a kind of slow, steady decline that anyone who has ever seen a dying company up close can recognize. It’s a cloud of existential dread that hangs over an organization whose best days are behind it, influencing every managerial priority and product decision and leading to increasingly desperate attempts to find a way out. This kind of decline is not necessarily visible from the outside, but insiders see a hundred small, disquieting signs of it every day — user-hostile growth hacks, frenetic pivots, executive paranoia, the gradual attrition of talented colleagues.

Beyond smart cities

Fascinating review. Made me think about Singapore, and what Amazon has done to Seattle, and Hudson Yards in New York, and the new smart neighborhoods planned for Chicago. Ordering the book.

Two interesting ideas from down a ways in the essay:

One: “At the turn of the 20th century, the twin infectious disease threats of tuberculosis and the Spanish flu combined with faddish ideas on wellness among people rich enough to afford their own architects, and led to something new. As the architectural historian Biatriz Colomina has written, that was Modernism, with its clean lines, honest materials, porous relationship between the indoors and outdoors, more sunlight, more ventilation, and solid surfaces that were easy to clean. It was more than an aesthetic. It was disease control.”

Two: “Humans build cities as fortresses against failure: economic collapse, natural catastrophe, human venality and cowardice. The city walls keep those things out, when they work. If houses are, as the architect Mies van de Rohe said, “machines for living,” then cities are places where those machines get daisy-chained into a society. Cities are machines for cooperation, and survival.”

[from Wired]

Also reminded of a companion piece about the work of an acquaintance from college, an architect who has turned to imaging what truly inclusive, pandemic-resistant buildings might look like.

“Through the front door, in a vestibule, one-way entry and exit routes were mediated by a planter. Each side had a hand-sanitizing station along the wall. A second, interior door separated this transition zone from the rest of the building. Once inside, a visitor encountered a wide lobby. Across it, directly ahead, an information desk was positioned back-to-back with a bank of lockers. Behind that partition were multigender restroom stalls; rooms, with showers, that could be used by caregivers, nursing mothers and even bike commuters; and prayer rooms and foot-washing stations for religious practices. Motion-activated sinks abutted the walkway. The space is more of a “wellness hub” now than a “bathroom,” Sanders said — so they decided to put it front and center rather than hide it.”

Sovereign American freedom as the freedom to enslave others

Astonishingly insightful essay. We have a real problem here.

“The defense of white freedom in U.S. history might more accurately be thought of as racialized anti-statism, in which the federal government is understood as a usurper of individual and states’ rights.”

Propaganda and misinformation don’t spread themselves

Excellent and powerful analysis of the digital world we’ve built over the last 20 years and the underlying, and perhaps catastrophic, problems that are at its foundation. Not only is the Internet we imagined in 1995 better than the Internet we have today, it wasn’t nearly as harmful.

Beyond disinformation: smokescreen trolling

Straight from the gamer trolling wars to the main line of American politics

Cruelty as a service

Absolutely spot on.

“In this environment, cruelty — in the form of demonizing religious and ethnic minorities as terroristscriminals and invaders — is an effective political tool for crushing one’s enemies as well as for cultivating a community that conceives of fellow citizens as a threat, resident foreigners attempting to supplant “real” Americans. For those who believe this, it is no violation of American or democratic principles to disenfranchise, marginalize and dispossess those who never should have had such rights to begin with, people you are convinced want to destroy you.”

 

 

The Fifth Crime

International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.

 

 

The machined exoskeleton of legitimacy and validation in platform politics

The call is coming from inside the house, and the house next door, and the house down the street. Or maybe it’s the voices of the miniature parents in Mulholland Drive. Or maybe the only way to win against machine-enabled synchronized and synthesized human revolt, as in War Games, is not to play.

While online behavior is certainly shaped by platform mechanisms, the fear today is less of the mechanisms themselves than of whom they’re enticing. Prior emphasis on the machine threat warned of the unpredictability of automated behavior and the need for humans to develop policies to control it. Today’s emphasis on the social media terror inverts this, warning of the danger posed by unchecked digital mobs, who must be controlled. The risk comes not from the machines but from ourselves: our vulnerability to deception and manipulation, our need to band together with others to hunt down and accost our adversaries online, our tendency to incite and be incited by violent rhetoric to act out in the physical world, and our collective habit of spiraling down into correlated webs of delusion, insanity, and hatred.

While amenable in theory to fears of machine malevolence, there is no real mechanical equivalent in this picture to the central role played by the runaway machine of old. Actually, the roles of humans and machines have switched: The machines must now restrain the dangerous humans.

 

Related:

“We are incentivized, by the coded logic of the social media platforms where public engagement now takes place, to find reasons to hate each other…The conflicts taking place over freedom, justice, and other noble ideas are captive performances in the most technologically advanced human cockfighting enterprise ever designed—one that has converted the essence of human struggle into a sure-win bet for the tech platforms who play the house.

 

Also related:

The heightened scrutiny of the political uses to which social media has been put is necessary and important. But it tends to miss a critical aspect of our situation. Much of the analysis tacitly assumes that our underlying political structures and values have remained relatively stable, that they will not fundamentally change — even if they must be defended against the usual illiberal suspects, who deploy digital media in their efforts to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. If only Zuck would take more aggressive measures to purge Facebook of fake news, and if only Jack would ban all the Nazis from Twitter, then all would be well and we could proceed with business as usual. Much like the proverbial generals who always fight the last war, however, we will be undone in our efforts to make sense of our moment and to respond productively if we don’t recognize that digital media is reconfiguring our politics at a more fundamental level.

 

Who will write the digital update to Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power? Where he excavated primal cultures and orthodox religions, the dynamics of our political world are enabled in a digital layer of meta-activities.

The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ Sung in the Indigenous Mi’kmaq Language

One of the nicer things you’ll see online today.

America as Attica, 2021

In Tom Wicker’s A Time to Die, his personal account from being an observer during the Attica prison uprising in 1971, he described the unfolding dynamic of the scene when he first arrived and had to pass through camps of heavily-armed State Troopers:

… so many guns must sooner or later become a force in themselves, an imperative acting upon the men who supposedly control them. If the weapons are in hand, the question of those who have them ultimately becomes, “Why not use them?”  The more weapons, the more insistent the question; and the burden of explaining why not to use them falls on those who have no guns. But those who have no guns have little credence with those who do. 

[p.32, Haymarket Books edition]

And in this, we have a description of the state of America today.

 

An elegy in advance for our shorelines

Just finished Elizabeth Rush’s amazing book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore. A climate change book but not laden with scientific explanations—it’s more of an elegy for places we’ve lost and places we’re about to lose in this next Meltwater Pulse.

We’re already far down that road in Louisiana, in Florida, in the New York City area, in the San Francisco Bay area, and the human cost of the inevitable organized retreat the the will be not only inimpact the loss of property and the relocation of infrastructure, but in the mourning of those places we know and love and will not be able to take care of: beaches and wetlands, towns and cities, and for tens of millions of Americans, home.

We tend to think in human periods of the five generations we know (grandparents, parents, us, children, grandchildren) or in financial terms (30 years mortgages) or political cycles (4 year presidential terms, 6 years Senate terms); the earth has a different ebb and flow, and we’re about to be flooded out not with gradual rise over centuries as we’ve been telling ourselves, but in a short pulse of melting ice. The world has been here before and scientists know exactly what’s coming, and coming quickly. While we’re in the phase of desperately trying to buy some time, this book is well worth reading so we can start to make peace with the future we have cast for ourselves and our children. Highly recommended.

Suggested reading for Black History Month

More than suggestions, really. Highly recommended for every American, and for every white American, very necessary. Even the best-intentioned whites don’t know what they don’t know, about the history and foundations of the country;  about the institutionalized conventions of race and caste embedded throughout our society, our language, our behaviors; about what is still walking the streets and the halls of power trying to return to a dark time most of us thought was long past; about the sheer terror of that past, and how it still plays out and plagues us all today.

Reading does not and cannot replace experience, and understanding only goes so far, but we can start. Everyone in America lives in one house, whether we built it or not. Knowing how we are defined by our surroundings and our relationships, knowing that the truth is not always the one we have been taught or choose to hold on to, those are the first steps to being able to repair that house and to make the reality of our country after the vision which, in this century at least, so many of us claim we share.

These are my personal recommendations, non-fiction edition. (Next time I may address fiction and film.)

Nota bene: these are life-altering books. You will be challenged, especially if you are white. You will cry. You will come out different on the other side.

If I could name only two, I would start with these two masterpieces by Isabel Wilkerson. Absolutely magnificent. Neither are tremendously long, but they do require a commitment; both can be easily read within the month. The first tells the story of the Great Migration using a narrative non-fiction convention tracing the lives of three real people, one who migrated from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1930s, another from Florida to New York in the 1940s, and a third from Louisiana to Los Angeles in the 1950s. Absolutely riveting and illuminating, and one of the best books of any kind I have ever read. The second is an examination of America today, recent history through the pandemic, and why it became that way, calling out parallels to the Indian caste system and America’s contribution to the Nazis, who modeled the Jim Crow era to advance their own drive towards white supremacy.

  • Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010)
  • Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents (2020)

These next are much shorter reads, and in their condensation, very intense personal accounts of what it is like to be a person of color within our lifetimes. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes his story as a letter to his teenage son. I was so moved by this book that I gave a copy to my own son, who will soon be a first-time father, as a reminder to him that fathers of one are fathers to all, and that we all have accountability and responsibility to a larger good. James Baldwin wrote several autobiographical books, none more powerful than The Fire Next Time, which is a great companion piece to Between the World and Me. Each can be read over a couple of nights, Baldwin in one sitting.

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)

 

I read Taylor Branch‘s series America in the King Years over ten years ago, before the most recent wave of racial tension. These histories are what most white Americans think of when they think of Black History: the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. And this is an excellent and thorough accounting over thousands of pages. Well worth the time. The limitation is that it is written by a white man, and once you read Isabel Wilkerson’s books, you can easily see that this kind of reporting is only part of the story, and not necessarily the main part. Necessary and valuable but don’t stop here.

  • Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (1988)
  • Taylor Branch, Pillars of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965 (1998)
  • Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968 (2006)

 

What’s on my list for this February? I’m continuing to make peace with Toni Morrison after that unfortunate personal incident 40+ years ago (will write a separate post about that soon). Have been long overdue on Michelle Alexander‘s book, and have too wide of a knowledge gap on Malcolm X and his influence. 

  • Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others (2017) 
  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010; new edition 2020)
  • Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
  • Les Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X (2020)

 

Also, already purchased, and on the reading stack for later in the year:

  • W.E.B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction (1935)
  • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
  • Chancellor Williams, Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. (1992)
  • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2016)

    Obviously this list of recommendations is not complete, and there are so many others to add — certainly much more Toni Morrison and James Baldwin, Angela Davis’ Women Race & Class, Joshua Bloom’s Black Against Empire, many others. I can say with some confidence that none of the books I mentioned here should be left off. Good reading, and please let me know what you think.

Top 100 Movies (well, 95 at least)

 Supporting a discussion elsewhere on social media, here are my top 100 films of all time, highly subjective of course, arranged alphabetically.  Cut it at 95 to leave some room for films I’ve probably forgotten about or which are on a near-term watchlist that have a chance to make it. Admittedly there’s a fair amount of junk and pop culture on here as I’m a product of my time, and I wouldn’t change the channel on any one of these. Sorry, no Citizen Kane. Documentaries would be a separate list.

      • After Hours
      • Alien
      • All the Presidents Men
      • Animal House
      • Annie Hall
      • Amarcord
      • Amadeus
      • Apocalypse Now
      • Armageddon
      • Badlands
      • Bacurau
      • Belle de Jour
      • The Bicycle Thief
      • Blow Up
      • Body Heat
      • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
      • Breathless
      • Boondock Saints
      • Brokeback Mountain
      • Casablanca
      • Claire’s Knee
      • Cleo from 5 to 7
      • Close-up
      • Coco
      • La Collectionneuse
      • Contempt
      • The Dark Knight
      • Day for Night
      • Day of the Jackal
      • Dead Poets Society
      • The Deer Hunter
      • Deliverance
      • The Departed
      • Do the Right Thing
      • Die Hard
      • Dr. Strangelove
      • Dog Day Afternoon
      • Easy Rider
      • Fargo
      • Field of Dreams
      • Forrest Gump
      • Gladiator
      • The Godfather (Part 1)
      • The Godfather (Part 2)
      • Goodfellas
      • The Graduate
      • The Great Escape
      • Hiroshima Mon Amour
      • House of Games
      • In the Heat of the Night
      • Lion King
      • Local Hero
      • Jaws
      • Jules and Jim
      • Jurassic Park
      • Kill Bill 1 & 2
      • Last Year at Marienbad
      • A Man for All Seasons
      • A Married Woman
      • The Matrix
      • Mean Streets
      • Memento
      • Moneyball
      • Mulholland Drive
      • No Country for Old Men
      • Ocean’s 11
      • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
      • Pirates of the Caribbean
      • Platoon
      • Pretty Woman
      • The Professional
      • Psycho
      • Pulp Fiction
      • Raging Bull
      • Raiders of the Lost Ark
      • Ran
      • Renoir
      • The Right Stuff
      • Rio Bravo
      • Rome: Open City
      • Scarface (1983)
      • Se7en
      • Shakespeare in Love
      • Silence of the Lambs
      • Swept Away
      • Taxi Driver
      • The Taking of Pelham 123 (original)
      • Toy Story
      • True Romance
      • Variety
      • Viridiana
      • Vivre sa vie
      • Without Limits
      • Working Girl
      • Z

Whiteness vs. the common good

Outstanding new essay by Gregory Rodriguez on where the partisan divide in American is and has always been–race, of course, but with the added dimension of assimilated “whiteness”–with a nuanced discussion of how Puritanical religious themes, and not the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are used to reinforce white supremacy, deny not only race but ethnicity, and detour the abstract political idea of American patriotism into the fracture of self-interest we are experiencing today, manifested in the response to the pandemic. This is a serious and very worthwhile read.

“Once the glue to an imperfect type of social cohesion, whiteness now threatens to undermine the social contract altogether. The reluctance that we have witnessed over the past months of both millions of individuals to wear masks and for state and local governments to mandate it were just the most glaring examples of a trend that’s been building for decades. The massive loss of human life will do nothing to change this. The meaning of America, the role of race in it, and a peculiar brand of nation building have allowed the emptiness of whiteness to even pass as nationalism. And once again, as whites continue to shed any semblance of communal tradition, they grab onto patriotic symbols and ideology in an attempt to anchor themselves. But neither symbolism nor the constant attempt to reignite white cohesion by demonizing nonwhites both at home and abroad will make unhyphenated whites feel more secure in the world. The usual talismans will do nothing to keep them from falling through the latticework that is America. Meanwhile, they’re pushing the entire nation ever closer to the void.”

 

Rodriguez’ famous essay from 2003, Mongrel America, is still timely and also worth a re-read.

Before there is a final solution

Starting to make my peace with Toni Morrison after that unfortunate encounter in the ’70s, now best forgotten after her passing (about which, regrettably, I may have said some not nice things).

Picked up a release of her essays which included a portion of her speech on Racism and Fascism, delivered at Howard University in 1995. It’s the passage that famously starts…

“Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.”

…and builds to this magnificent peroration:

“It changes citizens into taxpayers…it changes neighbors into consumers…it changes parenting into panicking…we find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly unintelligible to ourselves except for what we see through a screen darkly.”

Okay, I’m with her. Here’s the original video of the speech; she altered it slightly for publication (book below). After I’m done with that, may even have to pick up my copy of Song of Solomon again, which has been frozen in time since 1977 with a bookmark on page 109.

[from C-SPAN]

 

The book is currently widely available in paperback:

Our votes are not enough

Important essay. Our problems are huge and cannot be fixed with one vote.

“Viewing the solution to these problems as simply electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both underestimates the depth of the problems and trivializes the remedies necessary to undo the damage.”

[from The New Yorker]

Progress beyond politics

Very thoughtful piece by climate change activist Bill McKibben on how we can make progress the next few years.
First, take care of everyone during the shift: “Any plan needs to focus on making sure that workers currently building oil pipelines have something else to build instead.”

And second, realize that movements are stronger than politics, and with that strength politicians can be moved:
“The Sunrise Movement, in the wake of a tough primary loss for their guy Bernie Sanders, didn’t walk away. They partnered effectively with the Biden campaign, helping reach a shared policy platform and then delivering millions of phone-banking calls. They are, in other words, a power — probably the most important electoral force in the environmental movement at this point.”

[from YaleEnvironment360]

White supremacy, expanded and rebranded

“He also gave our unique brand of ugliness — rooted in racism, exceptionalism, recklessness, arrogance and a tendency to bully our way to power — a name. Trumpism is now rooted in the lexicon, and although white supremacy may be the better, more clinical term for what ails America, Trumpism is a useful, colloquial alternative. It encompasses an even wider category of people that includes not just avowed racists who have publicly supported the president but also those who downplay the problem, or align with it for personal gain, or are simply unwilling to acknowledge its history and persistence.”

The grandest illusion of them all

We can’t understand what we refuse to see. And America refuses to see beyond its front porch. Essay of the week.
“…merely adding a few unfamiliar names to the curriculum, something already fiercely resisted by the conservative and reactionary right, won’t advance global thinking, as distinct from the institutional aims of “inclusivity” and “diversity.” Something more radical and arduous will be required to avoid the total conceptual loss suffered by the Crow Indians: the interrogation of an intellectual tradition that distorts our sense of reality, and the relearning of world history, with the recognition that fundamental assumptions about the inferiority of nonwhite peoples have tainted much of our previous knowledge and analysis.”

Like it was yesterday

Because it was yesterday. Bleeding into today.
ESQ: How can we get the black people to cool it?
JAMES BALDWIN: It is not for us to cool it.
ESQ: But aren’t you the ones who are getting hurt the most?
JAMES BALDWIN: No, we are only the ones who are dying fastest.

[from Esquire]

 

Related, and later, and mostly about writing.

“I knew what it meant to be white and I knew what it meant to be a nigger, and I knew what was going to happen to me. My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed.” 

[from The Paris Review]

What’s at stake

Excellent 4-part blogchain about “What’s at Stake” for women of color in this election.

[from ZORA]

 

The fragile social order, about to explode

These aren’t the only guys who predicted our current situation, but they have pretty much nailed it. History repeats in cycles.
“Our model is based on the fact that across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites, who all too often react to long-term increases in population by committing three cardinal sins.
  • First, faced with a surge of labor that dampens growth in wages and productivity, elites seek to take a larger portion of economic gains for themselves, driving up inequality.
  • Second, facing greater competition for elite wealth and status, they tighten up the path to mobility to favor themselves and their progeny. …
  • Third, anxious to hold on to their rising fortunes, they do all they can to resist taxation of their wealth and profits, even if that means starving the government of needed revenues, leading to decaying infrastructure, declining public services and fast-rising government debts.
Such selfish elites lead the way to revolutions.”

[from NOEMA]

“Asylum is dead. The myth of American decency died with it.”

The headline on the page reads: “Asylum Is Dead. The Myth of American Decency Died With It.”
And it is true. First we constructed an asylum system to accommodate white Europeans as a means to embarrass Communist regimes. We never wanted to accommodate people of color from Central America that we put at risk through our (let’s be honest) criminal political activities, and through climate change–so then we just turned out backs, shut the door and left them to die.
‘In his book Other People’s Blood, Robert S. Kahn tells the unfathomable story of a Salvadoran woman who “had seen her daughter raped by Salvadoran soldiers after they forced her to execute her husband. To prevent her from applying for asylum, US immigration agents pushed Valium down her throat, then guided her hand to force her signature on form I-274, waiving her right to seek asylum.”’
[from

Mother Jones

]

“We celebrate a diversity of tactics”

Interesting education on where antifa fits in the American political ecosystem.

[from The New Yorker]

The colloboration between nature, humanity, and…algorithms

To help understand the underlying mechanisms of surveillance capitalism in general and the topical antitrust lawsuit against Google filed today:

For years I recommended this 2011 TedTalk by mathematician Kevin Slavin about how algorithms shape our world, to graduate students at Northwestern University, when I was invited to be a guest lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism. This may be the most informative and interesting 15 minutes you spend this week in understanding how the world around us works and why The quickest way to find out what the boundaries of reality are is to figure where they break.

The information world war

‘This shift from targeting infrastructure to targeting the minds of civilians was predictable. Theorists  like Edward Bernays, Hannah Arendt, and Marshall McLuhan saw it coming decades ago. As early as 1970, McLuhan wrote, in Culture is our Business, “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ‘

That piece was actually part 3 of a 4 part blogchain called “The Feed” on RibbonFarm.

Part Four:

Part Two: 

Part One:

Crowds and Technology

Being better consumers of news on Election Day

If we want journalists to do much better during election coverage–and we do–then we have to do much better as consumers of news. Sharing this guide because what’s right for them is right for us. Either of us fall down, the consequences will be tragic and lasting.

The greatest perception hack of all

Very much starting to appreciate Biden and the effect he’s going to have on the country.