Old publishers of “facts” like map makers and encyclopedias gave up inserting fake data after the US Supreme Court ruled their facts can’t be copyrighted, as a New Yorker article from 2005 explained.
If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles, that is because she never existed. “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,” Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day. “If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.”
The clever habit of sprinkling fake facts among the real ones declined when money couldn’t be made from proving someone copied facts.
It kind of makes sense that they lost the copyright.
Stealing a fact seems absurd, made only more absurd by polluting a fact to prove it was stolen (an act essentially proving it impossible to steal a fact), and then made even more absurd by trying to prove the decoy (deepfake) is NOT a fact.
“Its inherent fakeitude is fairly obvious,” she said. “We wanted something highly improbable. We were trying to make a word that could not arise in nature.”
They had to make the fake obvious, yet hidden, because they wanted to prosecute people for copying facts that couldn’t be distinguished from fakes. Uh-huh.
In the end there were better ways to create uniqueness (such as very specific distances) versus these silly falsifications. Money for copyright violation seems like such a low bar though, in terms of why someone would insert fakes into a map.
Food for thought when you look at your next map and wonder if you can detect a deepfake. As I wrote in 2020, maps are inherently political and about power.
A while ago I wrote a long-form history of the NRA, in which I pointed out how it was started by Union Generals in the 1870s to arm Black Americans against white militias.
Now it seems a historian is making the case that a 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was designed to keep Black Americans from having any power against white militias.
Carol Anderson was interviewed by CNN about her book “The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America”.
Protecting the militia means that they are protecting slavery. One of the things that many previous historians have not linked up was the role of the militia in putting down slave revolts, in buttressing slave patrols and keeping enslaved Black people, and free Blacks, under the boot of White supremacy.
Another useful angle on this was how President Jackson enlisted Black freemen to win an 1815 battle (and obviously took all credit for himself) then stripped the American veterans of their guns and other rights.
A simple good/bad binary is like an empty premise, not food for thought; doesn’t come anywhere close to reflecting the messy and hard decisions of the real world.
On that note, here’s an interesting essay that says Robin Hood was transfigured into a moral tale to excite political resistance:
As part of this new nationalist consciousness, other authors started changing the old stories to make a moral distinction between, for example, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Before Joseph Ritson’s 1795 retelling of these legends, earlier written stories about the outlaw mostly showed him carousing in the forest with his merry men. He didn’t rob from the rich to give to the poor until Ritson’s version – written to inspire a British populist uprising after the French Revolution. Ritson’s rendering was so popular that modern retellings of Robin Hood, such as Disney’s 1973 cartoon or the film Prince of Thieves (1991) are more centrally about outlaw moral obligations than outlaw hijinks. The Sheriff of Nottingham was transformed from a simple antagonist to someone who symbolised the abuses of power against the powerless. Even within a single nation (Robin Hood), or a single household (Cinderella), every scale of conflict was restaged as a conflict of values.
My immediate thought is that this presents a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Were old stories changed only after nationalist consciousness, or did they create it?
I mean these narratives may have changed as a reflection of nationalist consciousness, but that doesn’t preclude narratives from having moral spin. Nor does it preclude moral stories from being messy and complex to stimulate thought instead of obedience.
Overall the essay lacks a lot of oral traditions and mostly centers around Greek literature. It makes no mention of Native American or African stories at all, for example, so I am unconvinced it has a fully researched view.
One clear danger is how a good/bad narrative is a terrible way to practice intelligence, let alone threat detection and mitigation. Some people broadly apply a very precise term like “terrorism”, for example, to be a generic classifier of “bad”:
The terrorism label, for them, is a way of distinguishing who is in the wrong. Brian Jenkins, a leading scholar of terrorism, observed in 1981: ‘Terrorism is what the bad guys do.’
Sunn M’Cheaux of Harvard explains — in a brief history lesson on accents within a longer video — that American slaveholders tried to force learning English to surveil and thereby prevent rebellion of their slaves.
As he lays out in the video, there were many native languages among the Blacks kidnapped and forced into American concentration camps. Slaveholders worked hard to mismatch and divide people to prevent any two slaves from speaking with each other except using English (so they could be surveilled and freedom quashed).
Such a plan for racist dominance and control over Blacks (surveillance capitalism as a symptom) ultimately backfired, however. Diverse languages among the slaves evolved into a whole new “creole” that their oppressors struggled to understand.
This common example shows how a Gullah phrase would look versus an English equivalent:
De buckruh dey duh ‘ood duh hunt tuckrey.
The white man is in the woods hunting turkeys.
Kumbaya, as I’ve written about before in terms of American surveillance history, is alleged to be a Gullah phrase for “come by here” — an encoded expression of Black liberation theology.
The Gullah Geechie people are descendants of people from the rice-growing region of West Africa, who were forced into the rice plantations (concentration camps) of South Carolina and Georgia. Those who could escape tyrannical American abuses headed across the border at that time, towards the freedoms given to them under Spanish or French monarchy (even British monarchy by 1800s was abolishing slavery, so life in America was unquestionably the worst).
While Florida was still part of the Spanish empire the Gullah who arrived there built their own settlements and began to prosper, away from the white nationalist extremists running America. A series of wars were even fought to preserve these Black freedoms, which had the effect of further scattering the Gullah across North America.
More precisely General Andrew Jackson in 1818, a long-time white insecurity leader with the life-long objective to steal and destroy Black prosperity in America (e.g. note his abuse of Black American veterans in 1815), illegally invaded Florida to murder the non-white population there.
The video above lays out some of the important Gullah achievements against American tyranny, and the outsized role of John Horse:
They created the largest haven in the U.S. South for runaway slaves
They led the largest slave revolt in U.S. history
They secured the only emancipation of rebellious slaves prior to the U.S. Civil War
The formed the largest mass exodus of slaves across the United States and, ultimately, to Mexico
Since Mexico figures prominently here, crucial to understanding the “Remember the Alamo” phrase popular in America is that it had always been a racist white insecurity response to Black liberation and freedom… in Mexico.
The slave rebellions of the early 1830s thus were when white immigrants (like the assault by Andrew Jackson into Florida two decades prior) pushed white militancy upon Mexico (state of Tejas). White settlers were trying to replace existing freedom with a tyranny, ultimately with the aim to expand slavery.
So when a white militia occupied the Mission San Antonio de Valero (a ruin called “the Alamo” because Spanish for cottonwood) it was precisely to violently force a white nationalist state into being against the rising Gullah freedom movement (the foundation story for white police state of Texas).
It’s shocking that today most Americans are more familiar with the gross disinformation spread about the Alamo and Texas as a whole, while few if any are taught about the Gullah Wars of the exact same period that show what was actually at stake.
That probably has something to do with the fact that American children are spoon-fed very North-Korean sounding “underdog” missives about the bogus heroism of white slaveholders fighting to expand slavery. The Civil War, like the Gullah Wars that preceded it, was to stop tyranny spreading.
…no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens…
And, just like any tyrant would be expected to do, a Texas state representative has introduced legislation to censor the mention of slavery being one of the causes of the Texas Revolution (it was the primary cause).
Thus, Gullah history is interesting to consider when people talk about surveillance technology and oppression even today. It almost seems that soon the only safe way to teach real facts about places like Texas, Florida or Georgia (states where Blacks were free until they joined America) might be to return to roots and practice Gullah.
Update May 20, 2021:
Whit Diffie says in a preview for the RSA Conference Cryptographer’s Panel that increasing communication decreases freedoms, and we’re only a decade away from total freedom loss.
I would argue this is a false choice fallacy, and the Gullah history above hopefully shows why. Could the Gullah communicate securely while also being free? Indeed, by increasing their communication they realized greater freedoms than before.
Physically, [the human] is a sad case. His teeth are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet [the human] owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.
Gullah Atlantic Creole is a superpower? Now that’s an American history story I would love to see kids learn.
…informers provided [Eduard Hempel, German Minister to Dublin from 1937 to 1945] with technical information. One, claiming to be a follower of the English Nazi, Oswald Mosely, said a Swedish firm was making 7-inch by 6-inch tin cylinders, each with tightly rolled strands of eight or nine wires, which were to be shot from cannon at planes. The exploding cylinders would open, throwing the wires out for gradual descent to the ground and, it was hoped, to be entangled in the aircraft propellers.
It doesn’t name the firm, but I wonder if it was related to the workplace of Victor Hammar (chief of Bofors design engineering after 1921).
Speaking of Bofors, an Australian recount of WWII mentions them right before describing a deployment of cannons that fired long strands of wire.
…12 static 40-mm Bofors guns of the 40th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, which were disposed singly around the harbor. In mid-August the Royal Navy provided three 20-barrel parachute rocket projectors whose missiles contained a parachute which opened above the vulnerable area and trailed long strands of wire — like an octopus with long tentacles; at the end of the tentacles was a small bomb. The rockets were first used on 18th August and achieved great success…
Cordite was used to ignite (“Project”) a 3-inch (7.62 cm) rocket motor which propelled a fin-stabilized 7-inch (17.8 cm) diameter Parachute and Cable (PAC) rocket which carried a 8.4 oz (238 g) mine. When the rocket reached approximately 1,000 feet (330 m), it exploded and put out the mine which was attached to three parachutes by 400 feet (122 m) of wire. The design concept was that if a plane hit the parachutes or the wire, it would then pull the mine into itself.
…continual and violent advocacy of a fantastic scheme for dropping bombs hanging by wires, in the path of attacking aircraft…
The whole thing was considered top-secret so records are hard to come by but a rough guess is maybe Swedes helped to design and deliver what a socially awkward British professor demanded be built early in WWII.
An academic trawl of the corporation’s archives has revealed that while the Nazi regime used puppet broadcasters such as William Joyce – nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw – to spin messages of German invincibility, the BBC was choosing to broadcast detailed news of Britain’s military setbacks. The decision was part of a deliberate strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people, says Dr Vike Martina Plock of the department of English at Exeter University, who discovered memos from the time during research at the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham Park, Reading.
The strategy was simple.
If the Allies could openly admit defeats, it was believed [by Nazi listeners], they must be extremely confident, convinced of their eventual victory over Nazi Germany.
For instance, on 27 November 1942 the service reported on the bombing of Toulon by the Germans and the scuttling of the French fleet by Allied forces to avoid capture by the Nazis. The invasion of Norway was covered with similar attention to detail. On 6 April 1940, days before the invasion the BBC German Service accordingly told listeners that the German navy had sunk 52 Norwegian ships causing the death of 392 people.
Here’s the kind of honesty in British reporting the Germans reoriented themselves towards:
On the flip side of this story about truth telling, it also seems important to look at examples of the “spin” such as all the fiction about Rommel, who I’ve written about before.
A couple years after his failures in North Africa and Europe he was coerced into suicide by state threats to kill his entire family, covered up by propaganda claiming he died from battle wounds.
Hitler indeed demanded Rommel commit suicide or be forced to watch all his family and contacts be gunned down first before being executed; chief of staff and commanding officer already having been executed by Hitler.
Rommel’s reputation obviously was artificially inflated during and after his life. This despite massive failures and pathetically supporting Hitler all the way to taking a poison pill to prove he remained loyal to the lies of fascism. He literally said in his final days the coming occupation (anti-fascism truth-telling) wouldn’t suit him.
And in that context we must also not forget “Lord Haw-Haw” was in the end held responsible for his Nazi “spin” broadcasts.
4 January 1946: William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, who started his Nazi propaganda broadcasts with ‘Germany calling,’ is executed for treason.
It was a similar fate for another Nazi “spin” broadcaster, Paul Ferdonnet from France, also who I’ve written about before.
70 years after the battle of Hill 205, November 25, 1950; Ralph Puckett at 95 years old is to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
Yet I can’t help but notice an important side-story.
In “Witness to War” Puckett clearly is using his current platform to point out (in a gripping combat story) what a terrible leader General MacArthur was.
General MacArthur had seen Truman the 8th of October and told the President the Chinese are not coming into North Korea… he obviously was wrong about that […] I just couldn’t understand why things appeared to be easy to MacArthur.
…historians have reassessed Douglas MacArthur—not just his command style, but particular decisions he made, and particular episodes from his long and controversial career. In modern evaluations, more often than not, “Dugout Doug” comes up short. […]
How did MacArthur blunder so badly? How could he miss more than 300,000 Chinese soldiers? Once the intelligence finally came in loud and clear, he and his staff of sycophants continued to dismiss it, suppress it, or willfully misinterpret its import. In so doing, they recklessly put tens of thousands of American and other United Nations troops in mortal danger. The result was catastrophic: One of the worst defeats, and one of the most ignominious withdrawals, in American military history.
It was, in some senses, a repeat of his debacle at Bataan. Only in this case, MacArthur had been outwitted and outflanked by a guerrilla army with no air force, crude logistics, and primitive communications, an army with no tanks and precious little artillery. As David Halberstam put it, MacArthur had “lost face not just before the entire world, but before his own troops, and perhaps most important of all, before himself.”
All of this happened because MacArthur was almost criminally out of touch with reality.
I can feel the bitterness in tone when Puckett speaks to the camera about the 8th of October tension of 1950 between MacArthur and Truman, in an otherwise completely neutral and factual retelling of a near-death battle.
Here’s how it was reported to the public around the time Puckett was on the ground thinking MacArthur was dangerously clueless.
Truman fired MacArthur in April 1951 for disobeying orders. Truman surely regretted not firing him sooner.
“I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was,” Truman later said. “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect authority…”
The Medal of Honor for valor in the Korean War really gives us a chance to listen to a detailed retelling of American history from a soldier who by all accounts has the highest integrity, who is neutral in tone and ultimately who makes others perform better… and who is clearly pointing out MacArthur was a clueless disaster.
Reminds me of the Trump family repeatedly invoking MacArthur as their hero for being a “not nice guy”. I am pretty sure they mean the same sort of thing that historians might refer to as MacArthur’s extremist evangelical white supremacist beliefs.
As late as 1950 [MacArthur] commented to a visiting American churchman: “Please send ten missionaries for every one you now have in Japan. We must have ten thousand Christian missionaries and a million Bibles to complete the occupation of this land.” […] MacArthur’s conviction that democracy and Christianity were inseparable necessities for the rebirth of Japan was readily accepted by many chaplains.
Another fun history fact is — since we’re talking about MacArthur’s “not nice” evangelical views — that the Aryan Nations white supremacist domestic terrorist group was inspired by Colonel William Potter Gale (a close aide to MacArthur who also was a “Christian Identity” pastor).
Gale spent his time after WWII back in America to spread what the SPLC calls “a militia-type antigovernment movement that promoted racist and anti-Semitic views.”
Just to emphasize the point one more time… “MacArthur was almost criminally out of touch with reality” and his incompetence helped spawn veteran-led violent Christian domestic terrorist groups in America.
And that reminds me of a bunch of obviously clueless American flag officers who just published a completely tone-deaf fear-mongering disinformation letter (or as Steven Metz, professor at the US Army War College, called the letter: “unhinged, delusional and, frankly, stupid”).
Think carefully about all this in comparison to the typical caption of this photo…
Truman was right and probably should have fired MacArthur sooner.
I’m certain Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett would agree.
Though the Army had only been desegregated by President Harry Truman two years prior, Lt. Puckett selected two African Americans to serve in the 8th Army Ranger company. Why? Because they met the standards and to quote, ‘we were all Americans, the blood was the same color: red,’ Lock said on a call with reporters ahead of Friday’s ceremony, adding he later did the same for women.
Puckett was everything that General MacArthur was not, and America is hopefully at long last able and willing to recognize the significant differences. Puckett now becomes the oldest Medal of Honor Recipient, as Charles Coolidge (June 18, 1945 award) very recently passed away at 99.
Put these two things together and… color me surprised that the notoriously tyrannical College Station police within the backwards state of Texas were just caught on film being obvious thugs and bullies.
In Texas they simply don’t care.
Was the cyclist riding around where nobody was at risk somehow posing a risk? There’s no risk and the cyclist keeps asking “for what?”
If the police don’t care, they don’t care. Eventually the police said there was a minor traffic violation.
In other words, can you believe Texas police actually were concerned with anyone’s safety? The video shows police treating a cyclist as convenient punching bag and target for their itchy fingers… with no evidence of threat.
Even the wider context doesn’t help change this narrative. The police themselves say they just wanted to prove a point by hurting the cyclist because he didn’t “obey” them.
The Texas police literally crashed (dropped their bike) without justification and then claimed falsely that they were most concerned with stopping crashes.
Police said at 1:04 p.m. the bicyclist was seen running through a red light at University and Nagle Street.
In other words, a cyclist rode in a manner the police disliked and didn’t seem to take their anger seriously. To force him to respect their authority to continue enforcing pointless and racist laws, then they did the dumbest thing possible and perhaps lost all respect.
There are many rational SAFETY-BASED reasons for cyclists to both ride through red lights as well as “jaywalk”.
Logically (ethically) and historically the cyclist already was on more firm ground than the police, and then a pointless violent assault removed the moral standing police obviously thought they deserved.
On the 22nd of February 1943 a brave 21-year-old woman walked to a Nazi guillotine, displaying full conviction she “had done the best I could have done for my people”.
This is where her life ended. But how did it begin?
Today marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Sophie Scholl. On May 9th, 1921 her protestant liberal German parents had their fourth child, who grew interested in art and music.
Like all “eligible” German children she was forced to endure indoctrination from the “Hitler Youth” program. The Nazi system of hate was designed to stomp children into becoming obedient followers of a fascist regime of ruthless intolerance, and to rebel against their parents.
Sophie, as might be expected of such heavy propaganda, at first participated in regular programmed camaraderie and adventures. She became a squad leader of the Nazi Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), where they were trained to sing songs like this one.
Läutet, daß blutig die Seile sich röten,
Rings lauter Brennen und Martern und Töten
(Ringing, until ropes run red with blood,
Ring louder with burning, torture and murder)
Then her loyalty and intelligence began to take effect. Major doubts arose: Why were her friends denied membership for being Jewish? Why were books mysteriously forbidden from any discussion with her own squad? Why were women being denied any future except “wife, mother, and homemaker”?
Her older brother Hans was arrested in 1936 when he crossed one of these invisible lines of secret police, accused of being in a forbidden youth movement (Deutsche Jungenschaft, Bündische Jugend — basically the Boy Scouts).
It was this arrest of her brother that turned Sophie as a 15 year old girl away from Nazism — she felt loyalty to her family and to human values more than the irrational hate programming.
Six years later in 1942 Sophie joined her brother Hans at Munich university, where he already had been active in a group called The White Rose that opposed German fascism.
Sophie then convinced her then fiancee — a 25-year-old law student and officer in the Nazi air force named Fritz Hartnagel — to also support this group.
On the 23rd January 1943, just a month before The White Rose was uncovered and Sophie would be executed, Hartnagel returned to Germany on the last military evacuation plane out of Stalingrad. Dutiful as a Nazi officer, yet supportive of Sophie in The White Rose, he survived the war and died in 2001 at age 84.
Today she is considered one of the most important Germans of all time.
UT-Austin released a report… that concluded there was ‘no racist intent’ behind the song, even as the song was written in a racist setting.
I totally get where that report is coming from. This is like UT-Austin saying its culinary school had no intent to poison its students when the food was prepared in a poisonous setting.
Being unconcerned about safety doesn’t prove intent to be unsafe, it’s a proof that safety wasn’t intended.
So the school is saying when its students are unsafe and harmed, that’s because the school didn’t intend to keep them safe and unharmed.
The key point is when UT-Austin fails to show it has anti-racist intent today, it has no intent for the abolition of racism, it is admitting to being racist.
However, if we find that no student is expected to get poisoned from their dining halls (or even from other students), then why should we be expected to put up with dangerous racism at all? That’s inconsistent and illogical.
Study may explain how racial discrimination raises the risks of disease among African Americans…
…Littlefield has long been known as one of UT’s earliest and most prolific donors, and all around campus, you can still see his influence: a cafe and residence hall are named after him, and two of the campus’s most prominent landmarks are the Littlefield Home and Littlefield Fountain. In their letter, student athletes are calling for his name to be removed from Littlefield Hall because, as Gordon teaches, Littlefield was a slave owner who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Late in his life, Littlefield poured money into making UT more Southern-centric and commissioned Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini to design statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, as well as his namesake fountain. The fountain’s inscription, which was removed in 2016, described how Confederates were “not dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule [and] builded [sic] from the ruins of a devastating war a greater South.” Interestingly, when he was completing the project, Coppini recommended to Littlefield that the monuments should honor Americans fighting in World War I. When Littlefield refused, Coppini replied: “As time goes by, they will look to the Civil War as a blot on the pages of American history, and the Littlefield Memorial will be resented as keeping up the hatred between the Northern and Southern states.”
Would you go to Goebbels Cafe? Why eat at Littlefield’s?
Nothing says “food isn’t safe here” like a cafe named after someone who was really into cutting corners and making money from harming others, like slavery and mass atrocity crimes.
If these Indonesians had named their cafe Littlefield’s instead and covered the walls with pictures of lynchings nobody would have complained, right?
A “greater South” obviously was Littlefield’s way of saying he was continuing Civil War by other means, as President Grant very openly warned American soldiers.
To be clear, when UT-Austin’s big donor poured his money from slavery into commemorations of discredited and defeated domestic terrorists who killed Americans, he was asked at that time to also at least honor some American soldiers.
He refused. His superstition, ambition and ignorance was on full display.
Such a failure of patriotism, refusing to honor American soldiers, was made even worse by instead erecting giant monuments to slavery that celebrate rape, torture and killing of Americans… it is clear that safety for UT-Austin students was never intended.
If they can’t commit to something so basic as anti-racism, then surely they aren’t capable of things like food safety either. Anyone caught poisoning others on campus now surely would be excused for lack of intent, and being just a natural outcome in such a poisonous setting.
Again, the key point is when UT-Austin fails to show anti-racist intent today, no abolition of racism, they are being racist.
UTA is giving a big FU to its own people.
Perhaps it’s past due time to change their song and their hand gestures? I mean why not just roll with “Longhorn Coach” protocol and tell students and fans they must learn now how to give a “Herman salute” (middle finger).
And now to lighten the mood, here’s a comedian telling jokes about racism and schools in America: