ascii's recent activity

  1. Comment on US Attorney General and officials from UK and Australia will ask Facebook to halt plans for end-to-end encryption in its messaging apps in ~tech

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    The DOJ is intentionally mixing up policy with pathos, and it's very difficult to make good decisions when these two things get conflated. Certainly, if I had to choose between my child getting...

    While the letter acknowledges that Facebook — which owns Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram — captures 99% of child exploitation and terrorism-related content through its own systems, it also notes that "mere numbers cannot capture the significance of the harm to children."

    The DOJ is intentionally mixing up policy with pathos, and it's very difficult to make good decisions when these two things get conflated.

    Certainly, if I had to choose between my child getting abused and political surveillance and oppression of a billion people, I'd trade the billion people for my child. But good policy can't be designed like that.

    This kind of deception should tell us everything we need to know about their true motives.

    1 vote
  2. Comment on Bernie Sanders hospitalized for blocked artery, had two stents inserted; campaign events canceled until further notice in ~news

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    stint a person's fixed or allotted period of work stent a tubular support placed temporarily inside a blood vessel, canal, or duct to aid healing or relieve an obstruction

    stint a person's fixed or allotted period of work

    stent a tubular support placed temporarily inside a blood vessel, canal, or duct to aid healing or relieve an obstruction

  3. Comment on Information operations directed at Hong Kong in ~tech

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    Sure, cleaning up state-sponsored disinformation makes for healthier conversations, which is good for users, but that's not necessarily good for Twitter's P&L. Controversy, drama, emotion and hate...

    because it makes business sense

    Sure, cleaning up state-sponsored disinformation makes for healthier conversations, which is good for users, but that's not necessarily good for Twitter's P&L.

    Controversy, drama, emotion and hate drive engagement and ad impressions for Twitter and Facebook. They make more money when there's greater division and conflict.

    It's not clear to me that "political points" convert to dollars in the bank. Maybe disclosing this just adds to the drumbeat that social media is a virus that needs to be regulated by the state.

    3 votes
  4. Comment on WeWork files for IPO in ~tech

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    Counterpoint: What if WeWork actually does elevate the world’s consciousness through personal growth and shared experiences? What if the way WeWork builds communities both at work and at home is...

    Counterpoint:

    What if WeWork actually does elevate the world’s consciousness through personal growth and shared experiences?

    What if the way WeWork builds communities both at work and at home is genuinely and objectively different than just "renting offices"? Wouldn't that be worth something?

    People want something more from work than just a paycheck, and people want something more from home than just shelter.

    The old way of work is alienating, and changing family and social norms mean home life is lonely and dismal for a lot of people. If the WeWork way can bring more meaning and satisfaction to both work and home, that could be huge.

    5 votes
  5. Comment on Yield curves invert in US, UK as ‘doom and gloom’ spreads in ~finance

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    Corporate and political leaders don't like to say the "D" word because even talking about a shift to a deflationary economy could make it come true. But we could be witnessing the beginning of...

    Corporate and political leaders don't like to say the "D" word because even talking about a shift to a deflationary economy could make it come true.

    But we could be witnessing the beginning of that transition. That's terrifying because there are few tools in the policymaker's toolbox to combat deflation.

    Typically, the Federal Reserve reduces interest rates and buys bonds when the economy is weak (and the opposite when the economy is strong). Since interest rates are already at record lows, even going negative in Europe and Japan, there's not much more they can cut.

    And the Federal Reserve already owns $4 trillion of bonds it bought after the last crisis, but the economy never recovered enough to unload them. Will they now start buying even more?

    One advantage for ordinary people is that these big transitions don't happen overnight. If you're paying attention, you can see the trend build over months and years. You don't need to be a finance professional to see it happening and act on it.

    5 votes
  6. Comment on Jeffrey Epstein commits suicide at Manhattan jail in ~news

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    When the killer is unknown, the first questions are about means, motive and opportunity. There are many extraordinarily powerful men with the motive, and men that powerful can acquire the means...

    When the killer is unknown, the first questions are about means, motive and opportunity.

    There are many extraordinarily powerful men with the motive, and men that powerful can acquire the means and opportunity without casting suspicion on themselves.

    So the next question is "Qui bono?" or "Who benefits?"

    Assassins this powerful could have made the cause of death look natural. Instead they chose a method that would instantly trigger one of the oldest and most widely known conspiracy theories in the US.

    They made it blatantly obvious for a reason.

    4 votes
  7. Comment on Jeffrey Epstein commits suicide at Manhattan jail in ~news

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    If it's a simple fuckup, then it's the fuckup of the year. (Not the fuckup of the century, or the fuckup of the decade, I can think of bigger abject failures in those timeframes.) But if it's not...

    If it's a simple fuckup, then it's the fuckup of the year. (Not the fuckup of the century, or the fuckup of the decade, I can think of bigger abject failures in those timeframes.)

    But if it's not a simple fuckup, then it's an obvious conspiracy.

    The real question that follows is not "Who are the conspirators?" because there are dozens of powerful men with strong incentive to keep him quiet.

    Instead the question is "Why did they make it so obvious?"

    When Russians use polonium or novichok, they want it known that they did it while maintaining official deniability.

    If Epstein was murdered, the conspirators could have poisoned him or induced cardiac arrest to make it look like a natural cause.

    Instead, they intentionally used an implausible method to cast suspicion in one particular direction.

    3 votes
  8. Comment on The El Paso shooting and the gamification of terror in ~news

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    Just because there's no military-style hierarchy or chain of command doesn't mean there's no organization. A lot of white supremacist literature (nsfw.hate) describes how to build leaderless...

    Organisation implies an organiser

    Just because there's no military-style hierarchy or chain of command doesn't mean there's no organization.

    A lot of white supremacist literature (nsfw.hate) describes how to build leaderless organizations that aren't vulnerable to decapitation attacks.

    They coordinate indirectly by studying the details of previous attacks and then "innovating" to produce larger body counts and more spectacular media extravaganzas.

    They coordinate directly online, sharing ideology, radicalizing each other, and iterating on manifestoes.

    They used Discord to orchestrate the Charlottesville violence and media strategy.

    And they recruit openly with marches, public speeches, and their own social networks. By articulating a vision, they guide their followers to the Schelling point without traditional command and control.

    This is why deplatforming is so important, to deny them legitimacy and reach, and to disrupt their organizing and recruiting apparatus.

    6 votes
  9. Comment on The El Paso shooting and the gamification of terror in ~news

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    The article buries the lede: The threat has changed, but we're still thinking about this in terms of "gun violence". Stochastic or not, this is organized terrorism -- violence against civilians...

    The article buries the lede:

    Until law enforcement, and the media, treat these shooters as part of a terrorist movement no less organized, or deadly, than ISIS or Al Qaeda, the violence will continue.

    The threat has changed, but we're still thinking about this in terms of "gun violence".

    Stochastic or not, this is organized terrorism -- violence against civilians with a political objective.

    The political objective is to subvert liberal democracy in favor of right-wing authoritarian white nationalism.

    It's difficult to see how government and law enforcement can effectively counter this threat when so many leaders, officers and citizens tacitly or even overtly support that political objective.

    35 votes
  10. Comment on What is your favorite thought experiment? in ~talk

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    It's not quite the same, but I'm intrigued by "idea viruses" and "social contagion". Malcolm Gladwell describes an idea virus that spread through a community of teenagers, causing them to commit...

    It's not quite the same, but I'm intrigued by "idea viruses" and "social contagion".

    Malcolm Gladwell describes an idea virus that spread through a community of teenagers, causing them to commit suicide at 10 times the typical rate.

    Once you see this, you start seeing it everywhere, amplified and accelerated by social networks. Simple concepts spread like a contagious disease through populations, infecting people 3 or 4 hops away on the social graph.

    From benign health trends like gluten-free foods or the keto diet, to serious illnesses like eating disorders, self-mutilation and opioid addiction, you can watch the contagion spread over months and years.

    Now PhD psychologists and sociologists employed by corporations and governments use sophisticated techniques to design idea virus weapons and target them to the most susceptible in order to manipulate entire populations.

    I see the results of social contagion every day in my neighborhood, with flags on houses and bumper stickers on cars proliferating with cryptic symbols and double entendres of hate and authoritarianism. It's surreal and terrifying to witness the disease propagate.

    1 vote
  11. Comment on What's a question you genuinely don't know the answer to? in ~talk

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    The question I genuinely don't know the answer to is: "Chemical imbalances" is the universally accepted answer, but it's remarkably difficult to find evidence for that claim. Does an imbalance of...

    The question I genuinely don't know the answer to is:

    What causes depression?

    "Chemical imbalances" is the universally accepted answer, but it's remarkably difficult to find evidence for that claim.

    Does an imbalance of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or serotonin cause depression, or does depression cause a shift in neurotransmitters?

    Certainly many people have benefitted from mood-altering pharmaceuticals, but are the drugs treating the cause or just alleviating some symptoms?

    I suspect there's a deeper root cause for the epidemic of depression and other mental disorders in society. Maybe it's the modern understanding that life has no inherent purpose.

    Or maybe the modern "freedom" for every individual to figure out their own beliefs, their own religion, their own occupation, morality and purpose, free from traditions or institutions, is too much for many of us.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on Inside the secret Border Patrol Facebook group where agents joke about migrant deaths and post sexist memes in ~tech

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    See also: To protect and slur: Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia, The Plain View Project is a database of public Facebook...

    See also:

    1. To protect and slur: Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia,

    2. The Plain View Project is a database of public Facebook posts and comments made by current and former police officers from several jurisdictions across the United States.

    3. Auditors say Facebook’s policy on white supremacy is still “too narrow.” That’s because it solely prohibits explicit praise, support or representation of the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism,” but does not technically prohibit references to those terms and ideologies. “The narrow scope of the policy leaves up content that expressly espouses white nationalist ideology without using the term ‘white nationalist,'” the report states. “As a result, content that would cause the same harm is permitted to remain on the platform.”

    4. A. C. Thompson, the author of the ProPublica piece, has a remarkable body of work exposing organized organized hate groups and the complicity of "law enforcement".

    Sometimes it feels like the word "fascism" is overused or hyperbolic, but then we see how public agencies are increasingly aligned and realize we've actually been far too trusting and complacent.

    8 votes
  13. Comment on What is your favorite thought experiment? in ~talk

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    Be careful, some thought experiments could be hazardous to your physical or mental health. Probably the most famous of these is Roko's basilisk, which I'll only link to here. Before you click...

    Be careful, some thought experiments could be hazardous to your physical or mental health.

    Probably the most famous of these is Roko's basilisk, which I'll only link to here.

    Before you click through, you should know that some people consider this to be an information hazard whereby even reading the argument could put you at risk.

    9 votes
  14. Comment on What is a scam that people should know about? in ~life

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    Brilliant people fall for this every day in a subtler form. Year 1 - 1000 hedge fund managers choose high-risk investments for their funds. 100 are wildly successful (purely by luck), doubling...

    One needs to be a little foolish to fall for such a con

    Brilliant people fall for this every day in a subtler form.

    Year 1 - 1000 hedge fund managers choose high-risk investments for their funds. 100 are wildly successful (purely by luck), doubling their investors' money, while 500 suffer hideous losses.

    Year 2 - Investors withdraw from the 500 losers and deposit with the 100 winners. Of those, 10 are wildly successful two years in a row (again, purely by luck) and double their investors' money again.

    Year 3 - Hundreds of millions of dollars flood in to the 10 lucky hedge fund managers out of 1000 because of their "proven performance". This is the year their luck runs out.

    19 votes
  15. Comment on What is a scam that people should know about? in ~life

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    This scam works without a sim swap. My mom got a call that went something like this: Old people are so gullible. My Mom totally fell for this, and went to several stores buying gift cards. She...

    This scam works without a sim swap.

    My mom got a call that went something like this:

    Mom: Hello?

    Caller: Hi grandma, it's me.

    Mom: Trevor? Is that you? Is everything OK?

    Caller: Yes grandma, it's me, Trevor. I got in some trouble and I'm really scared.

    Mom: Oh, honey, what's happening? It'll be alright.

    Caller: I went to Florida with some friends and got arrested, and I'm really embarrassed, so please don't tell my Mom and Dad.

    Mom: You're in jail? Where are you? How can I help?

    Caller: Yes, they said I'll be in jail for two months until the court date unless I can come up with $2500 in bail money ...

    Old people are so gullible. My Mom totally fell for this, and went to several stores buying gift cards. She felt guilty about not telling me, so she gave me a call right before calling the "bondsman" with the gift card numbers.

    7 votes
  16. Comment on Chennai water crisis: City's reservoirs run dry in ~news

  17. Comment on Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week in ~news

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    It's adorable how the discussion immediately focuses on immigration policy, whether immigration is good or bad, whether citizens will do farm labor, people voting against their own interests, the...
    • Exemplary

    If this administration really wanted to curb illegal immigration ...

    It's adorable how the discussion immediately focuses on immigration policy, whether immigration is good or bad, whether citizens will do farm labor, people voting against their own interests, the rank hypocrisy, etc.

    I think all of these policy arguments are utterly irrelevant and completely miss the point.

    The point is that an authoritarian regime identified a vulnerable and peaceful minority to take the blame for the nation's problems.

    The regime uses sophisticated propaganda techniques to fuel public hatred against this group, which strengthens the regime's grip on power.

    And now the regime is mobilizing a massive system of police, paramilitary forces and private corporations to arrest and concentrate this group into internment camps.

    Folks, we've seen this pattern of behavior before, and the result is darkness and evil every fucking time.

    Does anyone believe that after they've built this apparatus of paramilitaries and camps, that it's just temporary? Will they ever finish arresting people and tear the whole thing down? Or will they just keep identifying new enemies to arrest?

    This shit takes on a life of its own. The camps, the police, the propaganda, the fear and public outrage all reinforce each other to keep it going and to keep the regime in power. It's symbiotic.

    Maybe, eventually, someone stronger puts a stop to it in a war.

    None of this has anything to do with immigration policy.

    15 votes
  18. Comment on Man who shared mosque shooting livestream sentenced to twenty-one months in prison in ~news

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    The "objectionable material" in question is for terrorist recruiting and incitement to violence, and the defendant is a literal Nazi with a history of hate crimes. It's not just New Zealand, that...

    objectionable material is being treated more harshly than most crimes

    The "objectionable material" in question is for terrorist recruiting and incitement to violence, and the defendant is a literal Nazi with a history of hate crimes.

    It's not just New Zealand, that shit is illegal everywhere.

    Ten years is lenient. The US considers promoting terrorism and recruiting terrorists to be punishable by drone strike (see Anwar al-Awlaki).

    11 votes
  19. Comment on Facebook’s cryptocurrency to debut next week backed by Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and others in ~finance

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    I can't argue that FBcoin will fail, who knows, it might be a wildly successful payment system. But we can be confident that it won't displace Bitcoin, because it cannot do what Bitcoin does....

    I can't argue that FBcoin will fail, who knows, it might be a wildly successful payment system.

    But we can be confident that it won't displace Bitcoin, because it cannot do what Bitcoin does. Andreas Antonopoulos described the essence of Bitcoin as five pillars:

    Open, Borderless, Neutral, Censorship-Resistant, and Public.

    By design, FBcoin cannot have any of these qualities.

    Presumably FBcoin will support higher transaction volumes, with lower fees, and a more predictable exchange rate. Those are good things! Maybe it's an improvement on credit and debit cards, maybe it's better than PayPal and Venmo.

    But it's a cryptocurrency in name only. Its raison d'être is very different from Bitcoin's.

    2 votes
  20. Comment on <deleted topic> in ~news

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    Purely for the sake of argument, let's be charitable and give Kushuv the maximum benefit of the doubt. Let's assume he isn't just slinging insincere ghostwritten bullshit to get un-rescinded, or...

    Purely for the sake of argument, let's be charitable and give Kushuv the maximum benefit of the doubt.

    Let's assume he isn't just slinging insincere ghostwritten bullshit to get un-rescinded, or to fuel a right-wing social media victimhood shitstorm.

    Maybe he really did learn a lesson. Maybe he really has reinvented himself into a thoughtful, generous, accepting, non-hateful, unbigoted renaissance man.

    So what?

    There are thousands of equally qualified students who weren't racist shitheads when they were 16, and they deserve his slot more than he does.

    Snowflake.

    18 votes