RealWeekendWarrior – March 23rd, 2023
NASA research has led me here.
RealWeekendWarrior – March 23rd, 2023
NASA research has led me here.
thecrowhouse – January 13th, 2023
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I find “culture” to be one of the most contested, discussed, yet ill-defined, concepts out there.
It is a notoriously difficult concept to define with any precision. I think a good place to start is: shared human practices and habits which are not enforced or induced by laws.
In light of this definition, the so-called culture war is really a contest between relatively small sub-cultures. Each sub-culture, by which I mean a minority defined by common practices and habits not shared by the wider majority, wishes to see their minority practices and habits adopted by, or enforced upon, everyone else.
Related to this is a shared fear by both combatant sub-cultures in the culture war that their shared minority practices and habits are at risk of restriction, suppression or elimination.
There is obviously more to the culture war than rivalrous sub-cultures, and clearly much more to culture than shared practices and habits which are not the result of laws and their enforcement.
The virtue, however, of thinking about culture in this way, and the culture war specifically, is that it draws our attention to the habits and practices which are truly universal (or practically so), and which thus constitute our “culture” in the widest and most meaningful sense.
These, when you think about it, are things like social media, smartphones, streaming services, email, the internet and, increasingly, algorithms. These have formed, and continue to form, many new human practices and habits shared very widely, including by both camps of warriors waging war over a rather limited set of cultural practices and habits in what we have come to know as the “culture war.”
I mean, the aforementioned technological innovations have utterly changed the way families communicate and spend time with each other, the way we work, the way we play, the way we love, the way we meet, the way we buy and sell, the way we learn, the way we share and consume information and the list goes on. These habits and practices have formed so quickly that we have scarcely paused to contemplate their meaning, let alone their long-term consequences.
The point is not that the “culture war” is unimportant and irrelevant. Although I hate the metaphor (“war” is what is happening in Ukraine), the issues are of substance and worth fighting for and against (depending on the issue).
Rather, it is to recognise that the matters in dispute in the culture war form only a very small slice of what constitutes culture, and therefore we perhaps could afford to spend just a little more time thinking about the massive, and I mean massive epochal shift in collective human practices and habits that have arisen as a consequence of placing our shared destiny in the hands of a new pantheon of technological gods.
Originally published on Dr Jonathan Cole’s page.
Subscribe to his podcast, The Political Animals, for more insights.
By now everyone is familiar with Big Tech control mechanisms like blocking, shadow banning, downgrading and throttling.
Essentially, these are methods within the technology space that are designed to influence opinion and block access to information and communication adverse to the ideology of the provider(s).
Most often we associate those terms with social media platforms; however, within the infrastructure of the internet itself the same intent is also carried in various forms you might not be familiar with. I am seeing a lot of deployed control systems triggered recently, it is worth mentioning in case you notice something different.
Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) are increasingly directing your background internet travels and blocking you from access to content they define as against their interest. Major players in the field of providing online access (comcast, Xfinity, AT&T, etc.) as well as regional operators also have a vested ideological stake. If you find yourself having difficulty navigating the internet, especially during this election season, be aware the ISP provider could be in control.
Cell phone communication networks also have the ability to control data transmitted through their systems. Text messages containing links to unapproved or dissident websites can be blocked by code and algorithms assigned to monitor traffic. Phone browsers and portable internet hot spots may also be controlled by the provider. You may not be aware, but your agreement with your cell phone provider gives them the ability to filter data on your device according to their individual standard.
Again, just be aware.
Browsers are also major players in the field of filtering information and controlling user behavior. It could be as subtle as an image or link not appearing for you, or it could be total blocking of traffic to website destinations they have defined as adverse to their interests. Large activist organizations provide lists of websites and content to feed into the filtration system. Just be aware your browser may indeed be controlling your content and as a result controlling your perspective.
The obvious issues with internet search engines (google, duck-duck etc.) are well documented, however increasingly Apps and authorized software additions to your devices come with mechanisms to control what information may be visible to you. This is where the terms “disinformation”, “misinformation” and “malinformation” become useful tools to justify the interception and blocking of your activity.
Sometimes the network may provide a warning or pop-up in their effort to stop you from reaching the information they want to control, but increasingly it just happens in the background, and you have no idea. This is one of the unspoken benefits in the “cookie” system. In addition to providing direct advertising experiences based on your browsing history, you as a user, may be identified as a dissident voice and assigned a label within the same cookie identification process.
Most people who use the internet have no idea a unique label has been assigned to them in the virtual space. Those labels can be grouped together and contained within the control systems of cyberspace.
Increasingly the techfiltration process has become a Staziesque public-private partnership. You can well imagine what happens when the people in control of technological systems have an ideological mission to shape public opinion, simultaneous with the government people who define dis-mis-and malinformation delivering requests from the FBI and DHS to the technological partners who control the techfiltration process.
The bottom line, just be aware that information you may choose to access, research or share, is heavily controlled by the providers you select to facilitate your online information and communication networks. You are likely right now blocked from accessing information and have no idea it’s happening.
If you cannot reach a website, see an image, view a page, or navigate a system, it’s likely not anything you are doing wrong; most often it’s the result of a tech control system designed to keep you away from the data. Additionally, valid information like emails or text messages are increasingly identified as spam or blocked completely by the email or cell phone service you have subscribed to.
All of this is just an fyi, because I happen to notice these types of curious conversations taking place with increased frequency right now. Lots of people are wondering why they cannot access or see things. These are likely not ‘glitches.’
All the best,
Comrade & Dissident, Sundance
President Joe Biden lamented the decline of mainstream newspapers having the ability to control the political narrative around the world.
“The ability of newspapers to have much impact is de minimis,” he said, using a Latin phrase that means “lacking significance or importance.”
“They’ve been overtaken by the internet,” he continued.
Biden spoke about the internet and newspapers during a fundraiser in Los Angeles on Thursday, appearing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to help fund Democrats in the midterm elections.
He appeared bewildered by the new media culture allowing everyone to see information for themselves.
“Look what’s happened now. Everything is changing because technology has changed,” he said. “There are no editors anymore. There are no editors anymore.”
He seemed concerned that the Internet did not have “a single editor” to help citizens understand what was happening in the world.
“How do people know the truth?” He asked. “What do they — how do they make — make a distinction between fact and fiction? There’s so much — so much going on. And we’re in the middle of this.”
The president recalled how inventions like the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, and the television changed history because of the growing spread of information.
“It changed the politics of the world,” he explained. “And it goes all the way straight through to everything from the electronic changes.”
I matched with a guy online last month who asked me for my Instagram handle 30 minutes before our first date when I was already on my way out the door. After a brief back-and-forth where we almost pivoted to just drinks, the date, which had already been on the calendar for a week, was canceled because he was “kind of tired.” The restaurant was only a 10-minute drive from his neighborhood or a 15-minute scooter ride since it’s downtown Denver.
There’s an 87 percent chance he stayed home and watched porn, a nearly 20 percent chance he smoked weed, and a safe bet he did both at the same time.
Conventional wisdom suggests the proliferation of dating apps has made us more connected than ever. Now I wonder if most Americans can see through the cliché.
Tinder, the nation’s most popular dating app, has now been on the market for a decade with its debut in 2012. Singles seem no closer to long-term romance, however, with the number of U.S. adults living without a spouse or partner rising ever since, according to the Pew Research Center.
Marriage in the United States is at an all-time low, and remains in such steep decline that married people will soon be in the minority if not already. Less than 50 percent of heterosexual adults are married, and only 1 in 10 gays have tied the knot seven years after Obergefell, according to Gallup.
The ineffectiveness of dating apps reflects the cynicism of our addiction to tech. Rather than bring the marriage rate up, these platforms, which have fundamentally changed the dating game, have instead have been effective at accomplishing the very opposite. They keep Americans single.
Today the internet is the most popular forum for couples to meet, with more Americans partnering up online than through friends or colleagues. More than 44 million Americans report dating online, yet just 3 in 4 have ever successfully made it to the dinner table or a coffee shop while fewer and fewer see marriage on the horizon. More and more Americans might find companionship on the internet, but the mode of introduction is bringing down broad chances of success.
Instant gratification on a smartphone from a person’s bedroom takes comparatively a lot less time and effort than a 10-minute drive for an evening of small talk and potential awkwardness, especially when the next best match is always just one swipe away. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans say dating is harder today than it was a decade ago.
That being said, I can’t help but notice our modern way of dating has seeped into the rest of our relationships. Our online conditioning to scan through certain traits we desire in our romantic partners seems to have bled into how we vet our friends.
When I became one of nearly 30,000 people to move to Colorado in the summer of 2020, I knew no one in Denver, let alone the entire state, and just about everything was closed. I used the Meetup app at first to find new people and sometimes snag a sought-after camping permit. It felt like I was dating for friends, which in every practical sense I was, whether I found them online, at church, or in the gym. People came and went, flaking felt routine, and ghosting was just as common. When there are so many people to choose from, decision paralysis ensues, just like dating. For a while, I thought I was just bad at making friends. And then I realized, no, my generation is just as terrible at making friends as it is dating (albeit some of my neighbors decided to disassociate over my controversial conviction that there are only two sexes, no kidding).
Things fell into place when I 1) stopped trying to pick my friends with a certain precision, and 2) actually spent time with people. Those lessons seemed to come awfully late at 24, but also somehow early.
I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had since moving across the country in which people about my age complain of an unfulfilling social life before they tout a list of character preferences down to income level and blow off game nights, parties, and road trips. Weed, video games, and door dash might fill the void, but the data suggests otherwise.
According to a Harvard University survey published in February last year, 36 percent of Americans reported “seriously loneliness.” Sixty-one percent of those in prime dating age, 18-25, said the same.
The results are based on a survey conducted in October 2020 when lockdowns remained coast to coast ahead of an election, but the numbers are not far off from pre-pandemic surveys. According to an NPR report on a poll from the health insurer Cigna in January 2020, “more than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship.” And loneliness left unchecked can be even worse for people than obesity.
But time alone doesn’t always correlate to loneliness, the latter of which is the result of not knowing how to be alone well — a problem the internet has exacerbated. This summer became especially enriching when I swapped my extra time online for literature and a dedication to the mountains. After all, I make my living on the internet.
My greatest lessons this year came from someone who lived 2,000 years ago, and not from Jesus, though church on Sunday has become a mandatory ritual. Coming across “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, who was the last great Roman emperor, forced me to entirely recalibrate my online habits. Studying the ancient classic has now motivated me to seek out a place to rent in the mountains once my lease is up next summer, where I can read, write, and run all in a routine that’s up with the sun and down with the sun. Any more time streaming Netflix in a crowded city where you don’t even know your neighbors feels like a waste of a life.
Americans appear to be lonelier than ever, especially my own generation. At the same time, we’re also online more than ever, with about 1 in 3 adults reporting a “constant” presence on the internet. That number is up to nearly half for 18- to 29-year-olds.
Is it really a surprise then, that there’s such a mental health crisis when so many have fallen into the fallacy of the internet? That the internet, accessible on our palms 24 hours a day, can be the source of total fulfillment? Is living in the Metaverse, where developers want to integrate virtual sex, really the key to a life well lived? The answer is an absolute no.
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes”alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Brave Technologies, a company seen as a privacy-respecting alternative to Big Tech, has recently had its search engine pass 2.5 billion queries. As of last year, the company had over 50 million monthly users.
In a recent press release, Brave Technologies announced that its search engine (a totally independent alternative to Google) has passed 2.5 billion queries in its first year of Beta. The company’s powerful combination of tools — its search engine, browser, and video conferencing functionality–are increasingly popular with users seeking to avoid the growing power of Big Tech.
For comparison’s sake, Google took more than a year — and DuckDuckGo took over four years — to reach the level of traffic that Brave enjoys.
So, why are people switching to Brave?
Brave has as its “core principles” the following five points:
Brave pitches itself as a serious alternative to Big Tech, particularly Google, which dominates the search market — over 85% of users surf the web via the tech giant’s search engine, and around 60% of browsers are run by Google.
In their own words, Brave was created “to give everyone online a real choice over Big Tech: a privacy-protecting, unbiased alternative to Google and Bing, and a truly independent alternative to providers — such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage — that rely on Big Tech to run.”
Joseph M. Pujol, the Chief of Search at Brave, had the following to say:
“Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve. The Web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first.”
In true Brave form, Brave finished its recent press release with the following quip:
“Ever hear the phrase “Let me Google that for you?” How about letting Brave de-Google that for you instead?”
And, thanks to the phenomenal growth Brave has enjoyed, they are delivering on that promise.
Another reason users have stuck with Brave is the engine’s ability to not only compete with Big Tech but to innovate beyond it.
For example, Brave Browser automatically blocks adverts and trackers as you browse the web. This is a win, win situation for the user. It means a nicer browsing experience as well as a faster one.
Brave has also harnessed functionality to seamlessly integrate private “fallback mixing” into its search results, allowing it to anonymously check Google in some situations where its own web index is still incomplete.
The search engine provides “independence scores” to show users what percentage of their search results are from Brave’s own index and what percentage are from their fallback mixing feature. One year ago, the search results were 87% independent; that number is now 92%.
To top it all off, Brave Browser actually pays you (in cryptocurrency) to view privacy-respecting ads as you browse.
Brave finishes their release with the following words:
“Coupled with our privacy browser, Brave now provides the first truly viable, private browser+search alternative to the Big Tech platforms. We’re making it seamless for users to browse and search with guaranteed privacy, all while fighting the censorship and overreach of Big Tech companies.”
Now that is something I can get on board with.