CSotD: Directions and Misdirections

Joy of Tech comments on the decline of the Internet, and they’re not alone, though this detailed takedown of Facebook’s flurry of AI spam requires free registration. But the gist of it is that much of what you see on Facebook is spam being commented on by bots, and that click farms have essentially taken over the place and Facebook doesn’t care.

Most Facebook (and other platform) users don’t recognize that they are not the customers. The common metaphor is that the users are the monkeys in the zoo and the customers are the advertisers who pay to visit the monkeys.

That’s always been true of commercial media. TV and radio produce attractive content to bring in viewers and then sell advertising to companies that want to reach those viewers. Facebook, Twitter and the other social media do the same thing, except that they count on other people to produce the content and build the supply of monkeys.

But TV ratings are nearly entirely tracked through diaries kept by a sample of viewers. Having sold advertising with ratings books, I know their numbers are inexact, because people forget to fill in everything they watched and who was in the room.

Social media can track usage far better, and I suspect they could also track the difference between bots and real users if they wanted to.

Which leads us back to Joy of Tech’s cartoon, because technologies not only permit click-farmers to generate attractive but fake AI images but to fill the comment section with artificial praise that will lead real users to think other people are accepting the stuff.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Matt Davies

Cathy Wilcox

Davies notes that adults are just as prone to accept the fakery and deception as their kids, but fake themselves out by thinking they are able to spot the garbage and work their way through it.

Australia is in the midst of discussing domestic violence, and Wilcox targets that specific problem here, but she echoes the concept that parents have no idea what their children are ingesting.

Case in point: When I was in local TV in the mid-70s, every kid in America knew Big Bird and Oscar, and stores were full of Sesame Street clothing and toys. But the program barely showed up in the ratings books, because five-year-olds didn’t fill out diaries and their parents weren’t tracking what the kids were watching.

And that was back when only a handful of kids had TVs in their rooms. In fact, a decade and a half later, the advice to parents was to install the computer in a common area of the house so they could monitor what the kids were getting into.

There’s your laugh for the day.

Chris Madden celebrates the obvious, because, as Joy of Tech points out, if you ask whether something is true, you’ll be told that it is.

It’s not like the old logic puzzle of two tribes, one that always lies and one that always speaks the truth, because there’s no correct way to ask the question and find out who’s who.

It’s more like the old vaudeville routine about the farmer who suspects a thief in his hen house but is assured “Ain’t nobody in here but us chickens!”

Chickens, monkeys, whatever.

Meanwhile, back on campus

Rob Rogers (Tinyview) lays out part of the current chaos. Biden’s military support of Israel has drawn criticism from throughout the world, but international relations are complex and there are likely things happening behind the scenes that we can’t see.

But however well he’s playing that hand, he’s botching the situation with protesting students and, for better or worse, he’s the guy taking most of the heat.

Yesterday’s statement was a lot of same-old-same-old and did him no favors. The only vandalism I’ve seen was students at Columbia breaking into a building that under normal conditions would have been unlocked.

Worse, the violence on campuses across the country seems to have been ordered by administrators and initiated by police, not by demonstrators.

Yesterday, I was recalling a police riot in Chicago in April, 1968, to a friend. Daley’s police attacked a peace march, beating unarmed college kids for the crime of not supporting the Vietnam War. I’d never seen anyone bashed in the face with a truncheon before and it’s an incredibly ugly sight.

As it happens, it fit Guy Venables’ cartoon in the reverse, because it happened roughly at noon and a lot of businessmen were coming or going to lunch. Some executives from Kansas City rescued a friend of mine who had a broken collar bone and other injuries, taking him up to their hotel room and phoning for a doctor.

There were furious letters in the Sun-Times the following week from “straight people” who had witnessed the bloodshed, but perhaps more to the point, this little pre-season scrimmage set up the more violent events of the Democratic Convention, because local peace freaks recognized the folly of coming back with a kumbaya attitude.

On this Press Freedom Day, it’s worth noting that Mauldin wasn’t exaggerating. The Pulitzer Board has commended the student press for their coverage of the current events, but I hope they keep their heads on a swivel, because they’re seen as enemies, too.

Following the Convention, Hizzonner — whose goons attacked Dan Rather on the floor of the Convention — spoke an unintentional truth.

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

Kal Kallaugher

Matt Davies

Kal makes a good point, because, as I’ve noted before, there were plenty of loudmouths, show-offs and play actors among the throngs back then and I’m sure there are once more today. It would be lovely if the cooler heads could gain center stage, but disciplined demonstrations died with MLK.

And as Davies points out, a nuanced explanation of intent won’t attract much attention anyway.

Juxtaposition of Whataboutism

Paul Fell

Pat Bagley

And then there’s the argument that you should stop demonstrating about what you care about and demonstrate about what I care about.

We managed to protest the war and also support the farm workers, and I’ll bet most of the kids demonstrating about Gaza have also been active about climate change, gun control, gender identity and abortion rights.

But starting a second front has rarely worked out.

14 thoughts on “CSotD: Directions and Misdirections

  1. “We managed to protest the war and also support the farm workers, and I’ll bet most of the kids demonstrating about Gaza have also been active about climate change, gun control, gender identity and abortion rights.”

    What is of grave concern is the number of The Kids Today who threaten to run up the white flag on climate change, gun control, gender identity and abortion rights this November because they are focused on Gaza and Gaza alone.

    The Kids Yesterday refused to vote for Hubert Humphrey over another war, and we remember how that turned out.

    1. The Kids Yesterday weren’t old enough to vote in 1968, except for some college seniors. Note, too, that they had worked hard for Bobby and Gene and had a right to reject LBJ’s mini-me as a candidate. Also, the draft lottery came a year later and the draft itself continued until 1973, so, for the guys, the Vietnam War was not just something happening on the other side of the world. And while nobody believed Nixon’s nonsensical claim of a “secret plan” to end the war, nobody knew he had engaged in a secret plan to extend it.

      I, too, hope Gen Z looks beyond the single factor of Gaza in November, but I also hope the Gaza crisis is over by then and that, in the meantime, other messages will be getting through. They’re pretty bright kids. We’ll see.

      1. The year that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 was the year I turned 21. I felt like Charlie Brown.

      2. True, most of The Kids Yesterday were too young to vote. I had in mind the cohort of voters in their 20’s, several of whom had seen the war first hand or gone to (or extended their stay at) college wholly or partly to avoid it.

        I still maintain that the man who stood up at the 1948 Democratic convention to denounce segregation would have made a better president than the guy who made a name for himself attacking Alger Hiss.

      3. Yeah, I turned 21 in January, 1971 and the age change came in July, so I had plenty of time to gear up to vote. Still proud of the fact that, while I only voted for McGovern to stem the landslide (I was a Muskie man), I also got to vote Pat Schroeder into office. She remains one of my heroes.

    2. This, I think, is the point of the Bagley cartoon. HCR is definitely worth reading today.

  2. Your logic puzzle about the two tribes reminded me of that great old conundrum:

    How did the sadist torture the masochist? By REFUSING to spank them.

  3. Looking at the insanity at work in society – –
    Quotes that seem to indicate that rational thought completely eludes these people:
    – having children is literally free
    – Jewish space lasers
    – kill the misbehaving puppy
    – windmills kill whales
    – always trust your feelings
    – there’s no vaccine that is safe and effective
    It makes me wonder if the brains of some (most?) of these prominent people have been taken over by a defectively coded Artificial Intelligence

    Edwin Hawkins is still kicking around inside my head:
    “War, good god, Y’all, what is it good for – Absolutely Nothin'”

  4. And, as an extension of what Wiley Miller said:
    ‘The year that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 was the year I turned 21. I felt like Charlie Brown.’
    I remember other appropriate lyrics (Barry McGuire): “you’re old enough to kill, but not for votin'”

  5. You can say that only a few troublemakers are making these protests seem less than benign, I would suggest that call and response activities that include “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” is a a call for the elimination of the State and People of Israel. Moreover when they have formed human chains to ‘keep the Zionists out” can’t but have a chilling effect on Jews. Maybe you can’t see it. But we do.

    If the crowd was castigating Catholics as Papists that must be eliminated you might have a different opinion. I guess it’s just who gets caught in the horns of the dilemma.

    1. And of course nobody in the Israeli government, or in civilian groups encouraged and assisted by government members, have a policy of wanting to see Palestine eliminated, have they.

      As for seeing things, I know what I, as someone who if his grandparents hadn’t had the sense to get out of Poland and the Baltics in the 1930s wouldn’t be here, see when the Israeli Defence Minister calls Palestinians “human animals”.

      1. You’re not wrong, but this is not something that gets solved by making American Jews feel unsafe in their skins.

  6. Harley Liebenson expressed that: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” is a a call for the elimination of the State and People of Israel. Moreover when they have formed human chains to ‘keep the Zionists out” can’t but have a chilling effect on Jews.
    I reply: I understand and am sympathetic to concerns and wish that the corporate minded university administrators were more open to addressing the issue rather than being deaf to ALL the concerns of ALL the students and resorting to violent action in response to escalating protests. As I have commented previously, I strongly support the rights of both Israel and Palestine to exist in peace. I have read extensively, including articles by a rabbi, by Jewish university professors (some who put their safety on the line to protect students), Juan Cole (who is a professor and expert on the middle-east) and through out the media there are many widely differing interpretations of those two phrases. Many of the remarks are very heavily emotional rather than historically factual. I decry that things have escalated to violence. One thing that many have expressed (that seems to be ignored by the media) is that I and many others express that they care about the peaceful Jews and Palestinians caught in this war. But, I cannot support the militaristic war mongering of the leaders on either side. I am just one small voice and don’t know if my words are of any comfort to you, but I appreciate your comments and concerns.

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