Category Archives: Poetry

The Give and Take of Cake

I’m curious about a theory posted in a rhyming-slang encoding guide meant to demystify some fun yet secretive communication:

…no cake can be eaten that has not been given (by a shopkeeper) and taken…

“Give and Take”, which rhymes with cake, is thus said to mean cake.

However, cake can be eaten alone. Cake also can be baked and not given away, only eaten. Does nobody in the rhyming slang context bake a cake and eat it themselves?

And that brings to mind something more like a “cake and eat it too” explanation:

…to have or do two good things at the same time that are impossible to have or do at the same time…

It looks like there are interesting cultural clues in a key to decoding signals, although the current reference may actually be incorrect or misleading.

Why is Wikepedia So Racist?

I recently had to explain that someone edited the Wikipedia entry on Woodrow Wilson to falsely claim that the very man who called for a return of the KKK, restarted the KKK as President, and led its rise to humanitarian disasters across America… was somehow “personally opposed to the KKK”.

Click image to enlarge:

Source: Wikipedia

That’s crazy talk.

It would be like saying General Grant was personally opposed to destroying the KKK. Wrong. Grant destroyed it. Wilson restarted it. Those are facts.

A totally false sentence about Woodrow Wilson entered into a Wikipedia post makes literally no sense, is obviously counter-factual, yet there it is… without any citation or reference at all.

It’s like someone from the KKK dropped in and thought it would be really funny for people to read “water in the ocean isn’t wet [citation needed]”.

The cost to disrupt and confuse with these attacks on weakly-anti-racist (also known as racist) systems is very low, the cost to defend (without proper anti-racist measures for prevention of racism) is high.

I presented something about this problem way back in 2016 at KiwiconX

I’m finding this class of attack all over Wikipedia. Here’s another example from the very racist history of voucher schools, fraudulently trying to minimize their impact and use by white insecurity hate groups in America.

Click image to enlarge and see the crazy counter-factual statement that “all modern voucher programs prohibit racial discrimination” with [citation needed] right next to it:

That is just so factually wrong it’s amazing. Anyone apparently can get garbage to stick immediately on Wikipedia with a very tedious and long process to get it removed or corrected.

Actual analysis of failure to prohibit discrimination in modern voucher programs would be more like the following:

  • 2016: “Dollars to Discriminate: The (Un)intended Consequences of School Vouchers… legislators appear to have neglected to construct policies that safeguard student access and ensure that public funds do not support discriminatory practices…”
  • 2017: “Studies on charter schools in Indianapolis, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas, among other places, show that charter schools can lead to greater racial stratification.”
  • 2017: “…as private school voucher programs grow to scale – statewide and even nationally in other countries – they can actually increase segregation…”
  • 2020: “Century Foundation also proved that voucher programs across the country benefit the most advantaged students … continue the long-residual effects of racism.”

Wikipedia clearly has widespread integrity issues, weak editing/deployment pipeline process and quality is very low.

We Wear the Mask

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

…born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872. His parents, Joshua Dunbar and Matilda Murphy Dunbar, were married six months earlier, on December 24, 1871. Both slaves prior to the Civil War, Joshua Dunbar escaped and served in both the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment before coming to Dayton…. Many of their experiences of slave and plantation life influenced Dunbar’s later writings.

A poem about authenticity and power in America:

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

White History Month

Brilliant history/comedy by The Amber Ruffin Show explaining why Americans desperately need a White History Month:

I do feel the need to point out her citation of Lincoln, while true, evades the important context of his speech.

First, after being repeatedly fraudulently bashed by his political opponents as someone who would dare to marry blacks to whites (narratives about protecting white women from black men is a long-time propaganda method), Lincoln said he was racist enough to not do the things he was being accused. It wasn’t his best moment to be sure and there’s no excusing it, but you have to understand he was saying in his experience he didn’t see whites and blacks as equals. He still was an abolitionist, just a racist one.

Second, this attitude changed dramatically after he became President. Like President Grant, who often reflected on where he had made mistakes and who worked to overcome and amend them, Lincoln came to regard blacks as equals. So the context is really a terrible defense he used in the heat of contest to prove he was worthy of votes even by racist Americans, which reverses completely into a story of him emancipating slaves and (through new experiences) finally describing blacks as equal to whites.

Big Tech Insider’s Guide: Silicon Valley Bus History

This also could be titled “quick intro to Silicon Valley ethics”:

  • 1617 rent-able carriages (shared ride) by order of monarch
  • 1662 fixed routes for shared ride by order of monarch
  • 1823 Stanislas Baudry’s Omnés Omnibus (for everyone)
  • 1853 Impériale omnibus (upper deck cheaper)
  • 2008 Google bus (no poor people allowed)
  • 2017 Lyft shuttle (no poor people allowed, for profit)

The last step was perfectly captured by many critics who can write better than me:

And the latest piece of truly visionary invention has come courtesy of transport company and Uber rival Lyft. The company has created what they’re calling the ‘Lyft Shuttle’, which allows users to “ride for a low, fixed fare along convenient routes with no surprise stops”. All you have to do, the company says, is “walk to the stop. Hop in. Hop out. Walk to destination”.

It’s a bus. They’ve invented the bus.

It’s not the first time a disruptive ride-sharing app has accidentally invented the bus, either. Uber has also been guilty of the same thing.

Despite the fact that THIS IS VERY OBVIOUSLY JUST A FUCKING BUS AND EVERYBODY KNOWS HOW BUSES WORK, some Twitter users have found the whole concept kind of difficult to get their heads around.

But hey, maybe we’re being too harsh on Lyft. Yes, they may have just invented the bus, the first example of which was created in 1823, but their version has loads of disruptive new elements. Case in point:

Lyft Shuttle: buses without the poor people. What an innovation.

I made some jokes about this in my KiwiconX presentation, all from personal experience hacking the Silicon Valley bus systems, and I wrote up the curious history of the apartheid “lift system“, but nothing as funny as the above.

James Bond Movies Are “Fascist Pig” Glorification

I don’t think anyone marketing James Bond movies has properly described them for what they really are.

Look at this awful release poster for example, from “Diamonds are Forever”

Then tell me this narrative has been anything more than misogynist garbage.

Do my words sound too harsh?

Ok, look at how the creator of James Bond describes his own man in an Irish Times article:

“He’s got his vices and very few perceptible virtues except patriotism and courage, which are probably not virtues anyway.” Read that again. He has vices. He doesn’t have any real virtues. If you think James Bond is a fascist pig then Fleming seems largely on your side.

No virtues. Fleming would agree with you if you called Bond a fascist pig.

Just to reiterate here, it should never have been news to anyone that James Bond is an awful persona. His stories are meant as stark warnings about an asset-fueled self-centered toxic world we should never want.

Alas, we see recently that an actor has been making waves by saying little more than what always has been true.

In a new interview with The Red Bulletin, the actor dryly shuts down Bond’s purported chivalry. What can audiences learn from 007 and apply to their day-to-day lives? Nothing, according to Craig. “Let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist,” Craig said.

Chivalry what? He’s a villain.

Thank you Craig. But to be frank Craig should be ensuring he doesn’t take that role unless it’s portrayed the way he wants it to be seen. Integrity, no?

So who calls a villain chivalrous?

It’s like saying General Lee was a successful leader in the Civil War (don’t laugh too hard yet, as the US Army just published a podcast… which I won’t link here because it’s really that awful).

Anyway, “Diamonds are Forever” is a movie about assets and the underworld use of them.

It’s basically foreshadowing of the “crypto-bros” who today are messaging all over the place that they’ve figured out how to get to some “better” future world… without realizing they’re painting a 1960s-era James Bond poster and taking themselves far too seriously.

When people come at me with bubbling “bitcoin” this and “blockchain” that to describe their future fantasy I have to wonder if they will ever accept 007 is lame misogynist fiction garbage and diamonds are not precious.

Nobody with any sense of reality or humanity really wants such visions of future.

Perhaps if people watched more of “OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d’espions” instead we could laugh about all this instead of cry (foul)?

Finding and Filtering Nazi Assaults on Language

A very popular post here has been my examination of white nationalism messaging through T-Shirt designs, followed by the use of Q in modern communications.

Nothing I’ve written so far, however, can hold a candle to this new article (How subtle changes in language helped erode U.S. democracy — and mirrored the Nazi era) that explains how Trump repeatedly used language with the intention it would encourage others to commit a terrorist act:

Klemperer used his training in language and literature to listen to those around him. Initially he focused on the core falsehood of the Nazi regime, that victory in World War I had been stolen from Germany by leftist (read: democratic) politicians. He also observed the proliferation of right-wing groups such as the Storm Troopers (SA), each with its own symbol and slogan, flooding the language with new acronyms.

Gradually, he realized that the Nazi assault on language went much deeper. He noticed that the Nazis had cunningly borrowed from Christianity, above all the term “belief.” Detaching the word from its religious meaning, they demanded “blind belief” in their conspiracy theories and the lie of the stolen victory. Taking things on faith suddenly was seen as a virtue.

He also saw that the Nazis disguised their most violent acts by using misleading words, such as “concentration camp,” a word borrowed from South Africa, instead of calling them what they were — “death camps.”

But Klemperer’s well-trained ear also detected subtler changes, including a sudden rise in superlatives such as “gigantic,” “great” and “huge.” He even thought the Nazis overused exclamation marks to signal that they held questions in contempt. Klemperer called it “the language of the Third Reich.”

One could argue that Trump was carrying on a long tradition in the GOP (Nixon, Goldwater, Reagan) of using encoded violent racist speeches and “white cap” (KKK) tactics to fly by undetected, given examples above like saying “concentration camp” instead of saying “death camp”.

After all, Trump was allowed to campaign as an obvious Nazi by using its “America First” brand, while people still freely reference things like “Shining City on a Hill” (cunningly misappropriated from Christianity) when they want to openly promote white nationalism.

However Trump was very ignorantly facilitated by big tech to abuse social media in ways even 15 year old boys are banned from doing in places like the UK:

…the teenagers were part of a Telegram chat group that was found to contain images of Adolf Hitler and the white extremist involved in the 2019 Christchurch massacre. Telegram is a messaging app with the option of end-to-end encryption. One of the boys, a 16-year-old from Kent, is accused of providing an electronic link that allowed others to access a terrorist publication – the “white resistance manual”. He did so with the intention it would encourage others to commit a terrorist act, it’s alleged.

It all begs the question of bad code and quality control in big data technology as a measure of scientific thought, as I’ve presented here for over a decade now.

Another new study suggests a sinister sense of white supremacy lurks behind “tech elitism” in America.

Many don’t recognize what they’re facilitating because they encode their beliefs with words like “meritocracy” (libertarian/anarchist) to express why they believe white men must rule and operate above any law. This is information warfare by white men, taking as much money as quickly possible from government and stuffing it in their own pockets.

In terms of kinetic war it was perhaps best expressed recently in Iraq as…

[Don’t] let that moron talk about how courageous I was. I’m not here for this mission. Screw these people. I’m here for me. For the money. […] I have no ethical obligation to the people… I’m on my own. I’m a number on a government contract. A nearly empty single-serve coffee cup ready to be discarded and sent to a landfill.

I hear this also will be the new recruitment pitch for Peter Thiel’s latest venture Anduril (“fire from the west” or an “unbreakable” sword in fiction terms, as in Aragorn always yelled “ANDURIL” before battle).

It launched itself a year ago as modern “border wall technology” and is allegedly soaking up a lot of taxpayer money led by a CEO who made his name “shitposting” democracy and getting a pardon for a man who committed “the biggest trade secret crime [his sentencing judges] have ever seen”.

Now we just need cartoonists like this to specify which side of the wall that Thiel is on after it is built by his sprawling private firms…

When rich depths of research exist in linguistics, with scientists dedicating themselves to finding and filtering Nazi assault on language, you really have to wonder. Why do modern technology “experts” say they can’t easily see poison in carefully curated bottles they package and ship? Are they in fact just peddling anti-science (snake oil) products for ill-gotten profit?

Allowing Nazi assault on language surely should carry some culpability, like allowing a company to run without firewalls (e.g. CardSystems was shutdown for gross security incompetence, in a way that Facebook perhaps should be examined since at least 2015).

One could imagine that a partnership with SPLC and FCC (presuming a Nazi-sympathizer like Ajit Pai has diminished influence) would go a long way for any American technology company that really wanted to stop Nazis and KKK from having such an unfettered impact on the country. Again, I have to reiterate that pro-Nazism emanating from within the agencies created in America to stop Nazism is peak irony and does make this whole process a lot more complicated.

Line in Taiwan gives a good example of how technologists outside of America are using public-private collaborations to address disinformation attacks (and for gains measured beyond just private profit)

This collaborative bot model, although in its early stages, has substantial benefits. First, Line does not have to interfere directly with conversations and potentially infringe on free speech rights. While this approach may limit its reach, it also prevents the company from becoming an “arbiter of truth,” something social media platforms have shied away from. Second, it doesn’t make users leave the app to verify information—something that’s beneficial both to users’ real-time ability to discern disinformation and for Line’s bottom line, a rare win-win. Third, because the bot can aggregate submissions and verifications from millions of users and multiple platforms, the fact-checking service gets stronger each time it’s used. In this vein, Line can also collect valuable data previously unavailable to it, such as popular topics exploited by disinformation campaigns and language similarities across posts.

And on that note, Twitter today has announced “Birdwatch” as a “community-based approach to misinformation”.

Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.

A consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors is often called an election. Making notes visible is often called accountability.

Imagine that, Twitter has invented accountable elections in 2021! Come on everyone let’s try out this new concept of having an election.

I mean I might tell them let’s look at lessons from how the FCC was created by Roosevelt 1934 to fight Nazi communications in modern communications, or how the DOJ was created by Grant 1870 to fight KKK communications.

Clearly both need a fresh look in terms of current technology as well as how well they’ve resisted infiltration by insider threats. Call them early-bird-watch if you will.

Anyway none of this should be news to anyone if they have seen anything like this 2016 program on the political science of authoritarianism:

Encoded Tyranny: Was Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill” Intolerance for Dissent?

A while ago I wrote about Reagan’s use of racism to win elections. Even longer ago I wrote about his cold hubris. He was undeniably more racist than even Nixon, which is a remarkable achievement for a “popular” American President.

Reagan simultaneously used “dog-whistle” methods to trigger fears and also deny he was being racist. His under-recognized under-emphasized racism is an American tragedy; we are fools if we do not talk about it for what it really was. We must speak about it honestly if we hope to stop its harm to America, let alone democracy elsewhere.

Also I have written about Reagan’s attachment to dictatorships, such as his mass human rights violations in Guatemala and El Salvador (creating a refugee flow toward the United States, which he then inhumanely turned away), not to mention Chad and even the coup in Seychelles.

Lately I see people citing a “Shining City on a Hill” speech as evidence of positive vision for America (i.e. Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National League of Cities in Los Angeles, California, November 29, 1982):

“Standing on the tiny deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said, “We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.” Well, we have not dealt falsely with our God, even if He is temporarily suspended from the classroom. … We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.”

Like his racism, however, this phrase somehow has evaded real scrutiny.

“Shining City on a Hill” was surrounded with signs all pointing to the kind of racism that would exclude non-white Americans (e.g. a city known as a Sundown Town).

Detroit, Michigan. Source: America’s Black Holocaust Museum

To be fair, a lot of politicians fall into the lazy camp of citing the same excerpt from Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity“; it’s treated as some kind of stepping stone to emphasize how someone is on board (pun not intended) with America’s “chosen” exceptionalism.

Fun historical fact: archivists tell us Winthrop probably didn’t say what people think he did.

[Winthrop used a] biblical reference from Matthew 5:14 “that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill.”

Closely associated with this ascent into the canon of foundational American texts is the ongoing misuse of that quote as an embryonic statement of American exceptionalism. In contrast, Winthrop was merely admonishing his fellow Puritans that failure would be apparent to all…

Yet, for purposes of this blog post, I think it fair to say nobody has gone so far in their usage, nor used Winthrop’s alleged words with such impact, as Reagan.

Reagan lifted the phrase intact from his readings of a Winthrop sermon several times, including both a bid for his second term and his farewell address.

With that in mind, here are some important problems with use of the phrase (aside from it not meaning what people think).

Winthrop hated democracy

First, John Winthrop hated democracy with religious fervor. He literally said it was the worst:

A democracy is, amongst civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government…and histories record that it hath always been of least continuance and fullest of troubles.

Guido Palazzo, a professor of business ethics in Lausanne, has pointed out Charles Taylor wrote a book called “Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity” that explains on page 230 what Winthrop was talking about.

Their theology of predestination told them that the elect were a few rescued from the mass of the ungodly. Thus, they could feel like a people beleaguered and embattled, just as ancient Israel had been They could find inspiration, hope, and promise of ultimate triumph in the Old Testament. The sombre side of this is that they could also be unfeeling and unmerciful to those defined as standing without.

That sounds almost identical to what Mussolini was writing in the 1930s to describe his fanatically narrative to excuse fascism, although he tied this false elitist victim mentality to a toxic “strong man” mythology instead of the Old Testament.

Winthrop hated dissent

Second, from that perspective Winthrop took the Gospel of Matthew (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16 “A city set on a hill cannot be hid…”) and derived an intolerance that he framed with the extremist narrative of being exposed/vulnerable thus having no room for dissent

…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for Gods sake…

Honestly this reminds me of a “Kansas God and Country Rally with U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo” where he says things about being a “Christian warrior” like “we shot abortionists and called it justifiable” and refers to multiculturalism or diversity of views as an intolerable “worshiping other gods”.

In early America a politician such as Pompeo probably would have written laws like we see in actual early texts (e.g. Capitol Laws of Massachusetts where Winthrop opposed democracy):

Deut. 13. 6, 10., Deut. 17. 2, 6., Ex. 22. 20: If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the lord god, he shall be put to death.

We’re a City on a Hill that shoots to death anyone who dissents from our righteous view so we don’t look bad… is probably the more accurate way of stating Winthrop’s actual meaning.

Do you see the problem yet with calling these intolerance screeds some sort of great future vision of America instead of a troubled and awful past that needs to be called out for being anti-democratic?

It’s a subtle step from the idea of illumination being helpful, which kind of makes sense, into calling darkness something villainous and evil that must be stamped out by a religious elite.

Winthrop hated women, especially women who dissented to establish democracy

Third, Winthrop’s formulation of intolerance meant he referred to women as an “agent of the devil” when they dared to have a dissenting voice. The life of Anne Hutchinson is a crucial insight for anyone talking about City on a Hill as presented by Winthrop.

Page 959 of Great Lives from History probably says it best:

Winthrop believed that the disunity in the colony was the result of evil, and evil was associated with women. Therefore, he concluded, Hutchinson must be an agent of the devil.

US Embassy pamphlet “About America” with important women such as Hutchinson, credited with foundational democratic thinking
Is Hutchinson an unknown figure in American history? No, quite the opposite.

US embassies around the world hand out “Women of Influence” pamphlets that detail the life of a “woman of influence” that Winthrop banished from the colony calling her an agent of the devil.

America literally presents her to the world as a hero of democracy because she fought an exceptional battle to establish democracy against Reagan’s beloved City on the Hill inspiration.

…“Courageous Exponent of Civil Liberty and Religious Toleration” says the inscription at the bottom of a statue raised in her honor in Boston. But the most fitting tribute to Anne Hutchinson’s influence — proof that her ideals ultimately prevailed over her opponents’ — is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Hopefully you see how if we carry on saying that Hutchinson is a founding member of democratic thinking in American history, then Winthrop (and Reagan) come across as the exact opposite. Why do you suppose Reagan was so attached to Winthrop (intolerant, hateful of democracy) and overlooked or omitted the significance of Hutchinson (foundational American courage with ideals like freedom of speech)?

Reagan did not dissent from Winthrop

The counter to all these points I’m bringing up, of course, has been that Reagan was crafting his own unique meaning when he used the phrase and just cited Winthrop as a sort of starting point.

Reagan gave us his best attempt at re-framing meaning and asserting his own interpretation in a Farewell Address:

I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. … In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.’

Sounds nice but it doesn’t get rid of the problems I pointed out already.

Saying “all kinds living in harmony and peace” doesn’t in any way remove Winthrop-themed intolerance campaign to destroy dissent; it could mean “just shut up and take the abuse“.

Reagan indeed emphasizes “free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity”, which doesn’t get anywhere close to Hutchinson-level ideals of freedom from oppression or liberty from tyranny. Again, Reagan never mentions Hutchinson who fought against Winthrop. Only Winthrop is cited and for all the wrong reasons.

Reagan’s creation and support of tyranny spoke even louder than his words

What I mean by this slight of hand is Reagan in reality willfully created humanitarian disasters around the world like in Guatemala and Chad while promoting it as good for unity and commerce.

As a country committed to the respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice, this is also an opportunity for the United States to reflect on, and learn from, our own connection with past events in Chad,” [Secretary of State Kerry] said, apparently referring to [Reagan] support for Habre in the 1980s…

“Don’t worry about transport my tyrannical friend Habre, we’re flying Toyotas in tonight on our C-130”

Reagan in 1981 pushed a tyrant into control of Chad with a one party regime despite evidence of widespread atrocities including targeting ethnic groups. The awful results of this were easily predictable.

To be precise June 19, 1987 Reagan was giving speeches that emphasized Habre had “laudatory goals” for Chad and could count on Reagan’s support.

Chad now knows it can count on its friends. For our part, the United States is committed to maintaining an appropriate level of security assistance to Chad. In our meetings, President Habre and I also looked to his country’s future economic and development needs.

This 1987 talk about economic development was a full six years after Reagan had covertly installed Habre to rule Chad despite widespread objections from experts that he was genocidal.

In early 1981, President Reagan issued a still-secret presidential finding authorizing covert operations to bring Hissène Habré to power. Members of the Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives opposed the decision.

Habre was deposed two years after Reagan’s “laudatory goals…count on friends” speech (as Reagan left office in 1989) and eventually was tried for crimes against humanity, convicted for having a direct role in torture, rape and deaths in tens of thousands.

…a former senior U.S. official said. “[Habre] was also a bloodthirsty tyrant and torturer. It is fair to say we knew who and what he was and chose to turn a blind eye.” …a veritable genocide…

Insert New Yorker-style cartoon here where a dictator on trial complains to the judge “sure it was genocide, but how else is my city on the hill supposed to achieve harmonious unity?”

Case closed. Reagan’s encoded tyranny in speeches manifested in tyranny

What should jump out here is how Reagan gave speeches with freedom-sounding words (e.g. a city with open doors, free ports that hummed with commerce), yet in reality he went out of his way to impose despotic intolerance and purposefully slam (previously open) doors shut on people who were legitimately seeking asylum from the hell he was creating in their countries.

Like President Trump, Reagan systematically denied asylum to people from El Salvador and Guatemala by refusing to consider those fleeing violence and arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border as refugees.

So Reagan turned a blind eye to violent human rights violations by men he put into power yet he blocked refugees they created… he talked about a city of open doors while denying entry to those he forced to flee their own cities.

Where’s that light coming from again and who is watching?

For another great perspective on Reagan’s failed use of metaphor, consider the new “Hill We Climb” poem from the 2021 Presidential inauguration.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Did Reagan want to share his Shining City on the Hill? Everything I’ve found says no, he only would share it with a small cadre of people like himself.

The Hill We Climb admits we’re not there yet as a country, very much the opposite of Reagan saying he’s hanging out on top holding a door “open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here” as if arrogantly watching from above and judging others’ attempts to get in as not good enough for him.

The City on a Hill linked to Winthrop’s hands may in fact signal that if you happen to disturb the harmony and peace (or come with “wrong” attributes, such as seeking refugee status, being “too liberal”, having dark skin, floating like a duck, or having a carrot covering your nose…) then like “woman of influence” Hutchinson you will be classified agent of the devil and treated as such.


Related:

Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection: It’s time to combat the right’s enabling lies.

To Deepfake the Dead Can Be Very Right

Hamilton is a famous American musical. I would think it encourages people to innovate around how to deepfake the dead because it not only is not wrong, it can be very right.

Visit Grant’s Tomb, meet actors in real life who play him and bring his amazing story to light to get rid of decades of disinformation.

To deepfake the dead can be very right.

The big question is who owns a content control/consent role for someone in our past. If you can’t decide that, there’s a much bigger problem at hand than the presentation layer.

I write this in response to a long blog post by You the Data asking “is it ever ok”, which wanders around this topic yet doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.

…for others to warp, manipulate, and supplement it with inauthentic sentiment or action does seem to wreak damage. This damage — a dilution of the truth — is what critics are responding to. Now, as we begin to figure out what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable in this strange new world, we should undoubtedly be considering whether we’re content to be reimagined as a scripted bot, avatar, or deepfake after our death.

Begin to figure out what is right and wrong? What?

Don’t dilute the truth, sure. And don’t blame that on deepfakes.

The presentation layer isn’t as significant here as the need for measuring integrity of any message (e.g. ask any historian if the Hamilton musical is damaging).

The only case to be made here is that people believe in novel platforms more (overlooking obvious errors) because of novelty, but that itself is an ages old problem not unique to deepfakes.

Google’s driverless car for example failed it’s driving test three times (revealed via FOIA) yet was given a license by the state of Nevada anyway because someone stupidly said “let’s give robots a chance”. That’s base human corruption, not really to do with risk from the technology itself.

To deepfake the dead can be very right.

Do I need to say it again?

Now go visit Grant’s Tomb and meet the actors who deepfake Grant and help end the rampant problem of disinformation about him. In fact, finding human actors to deepfake Grant is so costly, using technology to do it inexpensively may be an imperative.