Lovely, illuminating explanation.
Great NYT column by Kara Swisher:
So, Fakebook it is.
This week, unlike YouTube, Facebook decided to keep up a video deliberately and maliciously doctored to make it appear as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi was drunk or perhaps crazy. She was not. She was instead the victim of an obvious dirty trick by a dubious outfit with a Facebook page called Politics WatchDog.
The social media giant deemed the video a hoax and demoted its distribution, but the half-measure clearly didn’t work. The video ran wild across the system.
Facebook’s product policy and counterterrorism executive, Monika Bickert, drew the short straw and had to try to come up with a cogent justification for why Facebook was helping spew ugly political propaganda.
“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.”
So was this faked video “accurate information”, then? Of course not. Or, as Swisher continues,
Would a broadcast network air this? Never. Would a newspaper publish it? Not without serious repercussions. Would a marketing campaign like this ever pass muster? False advertising.
No other media could get away with spreading anything like this because they lack the immunity protection that Facebook and other tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 was intended to spur innovation and encourage start-ups. Now it’s a shield to protect behemoths from any sensible rules.
In the end, we will have to get back to the Section 230 exemption.
Now here is something you could not make up:
The Netherlands’ Defense Safety Inspection Agency (Inspectie Veiligheid Defensie) is investigating an incident during a January military exercise in which a Dutch Air Force F-16 was damaged by live fire from a 20-millimeter cannon—its own 20-millimeter cannon. At least one round fired from the aircraft’s M61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun struck the aircraft as it fired at targets on the Dutch military’s Vliehors range on the island of Vlieland, according to a report from the Netherlands’ NOS news service.
Two F-16s were conducting firing exercises on January 21. It appears that the damaged aircraft actually caught up with the 20mm rounds it fired as it pulled out of its firing run. At least one of them struck the side of the F-16’s fuselage, and parts of a round were ingested by the aircraft’s engine. The F-16’s pilot managed to land the aircraft safely at Leeuwarden Air Base.
The incident reflects why guns on a high-performance jet are perhaps a less than ideal weapon. The Vulcan is capable of firing over 6,000 shots per minute, but its magazine carries only 511 rounds—just enough for five seconds of fury. The rounds have a muzzle velocity of 3,450 feet per second (1050 meters per second). That is speed boosted initially by the aircraft itself, but atmospheric drag slows the shells down eventually. And if a pilot accelerates and maneuvers in the wrong way after firing the cannon, the aircraft could be unexpectedly reunited with its recently departed rounds.
Lovely, isn’t it?
Well, well. This from the august pages of Foreign Policy:
While Brexit preppers have stirred headlines in recent months with their preemptive purchases of essential items, the stockpiling of large manufacturers—and the lack thereof—matters most. For goods with short shelf lives, such as medicine and fresh produce, the limitation is quality: Store an apple or an antibiotic for too long and it will go bad. For goods that are large and bulky, such as toilet paper, the problem is quantity. And in the case of the United Kingdom, where the average resident uses an unrivaled 110 rolls of toilet paper per year, the highest figure in Europe, any meaningful measure of forward planning would require more real estate than is currently available.
This is just one of the terrible challenges that the paper industry—and the public—may face in the coming months, said Andrew Large, the director general of the Confederation of Paper Industries, the leading trade association for the U.K.’s paper-based industries.
“It’s very bulky and light in weight for its volume, which means you need an awful lot of warehousing space in order to be able to put down meaningful stocks of the material,” he said. While there has been some stockpiling—several weeks of finished rolls and perhaps months of unfinished pulp, according to Large—the practical limitations to stockpiling leave a great deal of uncertainty. This uncertainty, more than anything, is most worrying for the industry. “The thing that will cause a crisis,” Large said, “is if people do panic and they empty the shelves preemptively, whereas if normal buying patterns are continued, there would have been enough supply in the system for everybody to be fine.
This might be good news for the British tabloids. I mean to say, if there’s no toilet paper we’ll have to resort to Leopold Bloom’s strategy of cutting up newspapers and hanging the pieces on a hook.
NPR headline: “Apple, Google Criticized For Carrying App That Lets Saudi Men Track Their Wives”.
An app that allows Saudi men to track the whereabouts of their wives and daughters is available in the Apple and Google app stores in Saudi Arabia.
But the U.S. tech giants are getting blowback from human rights activists and lawmakers for carrying the app.
The app, called Absher, was created by the National Information Center, which according to a Saudi government website is a project of the Saudi Ministry of Interior.
The description of the app in both stores says that with Absher, “you can safely browse your profile or your family members, or [laborers] working for you, and perform a wide range of eServices online.”
In Saudi Arabia, women’s lives are highly restricted. For example, according to Human Rights Watch, women have always needed permission from a male guardian, usually a father or husband, to leave the country. In the past, paper forms were required prior to travel.
So why is this noxious app freely available on the Apple App store in the UK? (This morning I checked to see if it was — and it is.)
This is truly extraordinary. A six-minute time-lapse video of how a single cell turns into a tadpole in three weeks. It’s a film of an organism running the code in its DNA. I’ve read about this but always had to imagine what was going on. To see it is awe-inspiring.
HT to Kottke
Fascinating but grim analysis by journalist Tom Stevenson of A Study of Assassination, an anonymously authored CIA handbook for covert political murder written in 1953 and declassified in 1997. The handbook was produced as a “training file” for operation PBSUCCESS, the codename of a CIA plot launched by the Eisenhower administration to topple the Guatemalan government.
It is, says Stevenson, “not only a practical guide. It is also a thorough exploration of assassination with a scholarly, if macabre, sensibility in which the author spends nineteen pages contemplating the finer points of murder.”
The figure of the lone assassin, it turns out, is not purely a creation of fiction.
Ideally an assassin ought to act alone to reduce the chances of the plot being uncovered. Different circumstances call for different kinds of assassin. They all require courage, determination and resourcefulness, but in cases where the killer won’t be slipping away to safety a fanatic is needed.
Stevenson reports that in 2007 the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a survey of assassination attempts on national leaders since 1875. The results suggest that assassination is not a terribly efficient business, which I suppose is good news.
In 298 cases it found only fifty-nine resulted in the target being killed. Firearms and explosives were overwhelmingly the most popular methods, used in more than 85 per cent of attempts. The firearms had a success rate of just 30 per cent and explosives a dismal 7 percent. After all, the CIA analyst says, “the obviously lethal machine gun failed to kill Trotsky where an item of sporting goods [an ice-axe] succeeded”.
Macabre, but fascinating.
From David Remnick, writing in the New Yorker:
Speaking to the Daily Caller, a right-wing Web site, Trump declared, without a crumb of proof, that the reason for the Republican losses in the election last week was people dressing up in disguises. Seriously. “The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes, which is what I’ve been saying for a long time,” Trump said. “I’ve had friends talk about it when people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.”
The headline over the piece is “The case for optimism”. Oh yeah?