Full Article Via NBC (LINK)
Covid Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to smash the holiday gender binary
Even at holiday meals, the patriarchy places men atop a gender hierarchy that subordinates women
Full Article Via NBC (LINK)
Even at holiday meals, the patriarchy places men atop a gender hierarchy that subordinates women
Bonnie Kristian at 'The Week" sets out cogently and simply how those who are Internet/Twitter/Facebook addicted are so afflicted without their knowing their addiction and dopamine hits are algorithm manipulated. She gives guidance as to how one can break free and, as far as is possible in the new internet world, become a whole person again and in command of ones thought processes.
From my own experience of leaving Twitter, after several tries, I
have felt the most liberated in years with concomitant health and
wellbeing bonuses. Do I miss arguing with idiots, dogmatics,
defeatists and the utterly lazy-of course not. Was there any use
whatsoever in reading the comments on articles at ‘The Hill’ where juveniles attack each other back and forth? What great reward have I achieved by my great zinger 6 months ago to a complete stranger who simply moved on their next person to be attacked? It’s all foolishness.
The thousands of followers one may have are not, except for a tiny minority, your friends in real life and you will not be missed for more than a minute if you choose to get your own life back and leave whatever media is your poison (which it literally is.) For those who are active Twitter warriors Kristian’s article will pass them by but I hope time and reflection will bring them back to it and, if they choose, to liberation.
My college dorm was the first place I had reliable home internet access, and that was in part because my mom shared all the late 1990s and early 2000s parenting fears about the internet breaking our brains.
These worries were an extension of prior concerns about television: Don't sit so close! You'll hurt your eyes looking at a screen that long. How many hours today? That stuff rots your mind. You're getting manipulated by ads. Go outside. Go see your friends. No, you can't see an R-rated movie — those images will be in your brain forever. No, we're not watching that on a school night. No, you can't have one in your room!
With the internet, there was an extra element of suspicion: Don't use your real name or post a picture of yourself. Pedophiles could be literally anywhere! Don't go to sites you don't know. Porn could be literally anywhere! Don't believe everything you read, especially if it's not from a reputable source. Lies could be literally anywhere!
Two decades later, so many boomers that warned millennials to be careful on the internet seem to have forgotten all their own warnings. Their brains are broken, and that destruction is threatening to break our relationships, too.
The brain-breaking effects of the internet are by now well-documented. Author Nicholas Carr was a Pulitzer finalist in 2011 for his exploration of the subject in The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which remains a landmark work on this phenomenon. "Over the past few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory," Carr wrote in an Atlantic article that inspired the book. "My mind isn't going — so far as I can tell — but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think." The internet, Carr said, "is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation."
That article came out in 2008, when Twitter was just two years old, a silly place where you pointlessly announced your breakfast, and Instagram didn't exist. Facebook felt innocuous — Carr didn't even mention it in a story about the destructive mental effects of "the Net," an unthinkable choice today. The risks our brains faced then, real though they were, look laughably meager now.
The attention span degradation Carr described has massively accelerated in the dozen years since his Atlantic story published, time in which social media and smartphone use has become ubiquitous. Our habitual distraction is debilitating; "addiction" is often neither too strong a word nor entirely metaphorical.
But it's not only that: The brokenness I'm describing is more than distraction. Carr focused on the medium over the message. "[I]n the long run, a medium's content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act," he said in his book. I don't disagree, but what we're seeing now is that the content itself cannot be discounted as a potent force of mental disorder and relational discord.
There is so much content on the internet, and so much of it is bad. It is blasting in your face relentlessly. To navigate it well — to discern truth and lies, to parse one's own emotional and reflexive responses, to summon the mental energy to pay attention to credibility and incentives and the small, almost indescribable cues that might indicate whether a piece of content is to be trusted — is very difficult. It is especially difficult for those who have low digital literacy because they did not grow up using the internet.
Time and again I've had some variation of the following conversation with my mother, whom I am worried is drifting from garden-variety low-information folk libertarianism into whatever nonsense she happens upon in the weird dregs of YouTube.
Me: This is really sketchy; I don't think you should read it.
Her: What's sketchy about it?
Me: I can't even tell you if you can't see it. It's a bunch of little things. It's ... like look at that logo. You can't trust that.
Her: But why? Try to explain it to me.
Me: Just look at the logo! Look at the way it looks!
Then she sends the sketchy thing to another boomer, who immediately accepts it as gospel, and I know I've failed, but I don't know how I can better communicate what I see. I don't know how a few texts from me can compete, from hundreds of miles away, with YouTube video after YouTube video, each worse than the last, no matter how much YouTube claims to have fixed its algorithm. I don't know how 20 minutes on the phone a couple times a week can carry more weight than her daily grind of content consumption.
It's not just the logo. It's never just the logo. And it's all so obvious to me and invisible to her as to be ineffable for both of us. I don't know what to do.
This brain-breaking most often happens in connection to politics, particularly amid the sheer intensity of this year's political scene. There is "a type of person who has become a trope of sorts in our national discussion about politics and disinformation: baby boomers with an attachment to polarizing social media," Charlie Warzel wrote in a New York Times report Tuesday. Warzel focused on social media's role in brain breaking — he spent several weeks in the "information hellscape" of two such boomers' Facebook feeds — but the phenomenon isn't confined to social media. It's our entire media climate. That also includes cable news, which has perpetual motion and emotional manipulation in common with the internet. The brain brokenness this climate produces has become a trope with good reason.
Whenever I bring up the subject of broken boomer brains to my peers, the response is the same: My dad is just like that. My mom does that too. I'm begging my parents to stop watching Fox. I'm begging my parents to stop watching MSNBC. I would break their TV if I could. I would set up parental controls on their internet if I could. I tried to get my stepdad off Facebook — I ended up having to unfriend him on there instead. They're always on Twitter. They're always on YouTube. They're always posting memes. They're always texting links. We can't have a conversation about politics anymore. They're always dialed up to 11.
And then, the gutting conclusion, repeated to me four times just in the last 24 hours: Well, at least it's not only my parents? At least there's not something uniquely wrong with the people I love.
None of this is to suggest my generation's brains are immune to internet breaking. But there are some important distinctions here — three in my observation — that give this a generational dimension.
The first (and this is based in data) is that younger generations are less likely to dose themselves daily with the poison of cable news, so that's one less source of content blasting. For those who consume cable news on a regular basis, the immersion becomes nigh impossible to break. Consider this account from an unnamed reader to conservative writer Rod Dreher on the subject of boomers, like his father, who have made cable news consumption a structural component of their lives:
These guys get up at 6 a.m. and watch Fox & Friends until 8 a.m. They go to work and watch Outnumbered during their lunch break at 12 p.m. They get home from work at 6 p.m. and watch [Fox pundits] Tucker [Carlson], [Sean] Hannity, [Laura] Ingraham, etc. until 11 p.m. All the while, they're on their phones or their laptops sharing memes with their buddies and arguing with strangers on social media. [...] It's ruining my dad's life. He's estranged from one of his brothers because they can't stop talking about politics. His doctor said Fox was a major contributor to his heart attacks, but he won't stop! And he's not the only one. [via The American Conservative]
This story mentions Fox, but it happens with other channels, too — CNN and MSNBC on the left, and OANN for the fringier right. Brains don't break in a single partisan direction. The medium is the same across the political spectrum.
And that brings me to the second generational distinction: the degree of innate understanding of the medium. I do not think my older family members understand the extent to which the content they encounter is tailored by algorithms to set their lizard brains on fire. Like the majority of their peers, as a 2019 survey showed, they probably don't understand an algorithm is involved at all. They insist they do understand, but their behavior tells me they do not.
They drift with the algorithm. They're statistically more likely to share misinformation and fail to identify content designed to take their money. They get on YouTube to watch a home improvement guide or some little history video about World War II, and three videos later they're watching conspiracy theories about how COVID-19 is going to make us communists, and this transition apparently sets off no alarm bells in their heads. I sit them down and say you should never accept a recommendation from YouTube. Turn off auto-play. Only watch what you deliberately choose to watch. And they say, yes, yes, that's a wise idea — and then they painstakingly click over to the conspiracy video four deep in the recommendations sidebar and deliberately choose to watch it.
I thought my own parents would be safe from all this because — thank God — they are not on any of the big three social media sites; they don't have cable; and their tech skills are limited. As it turns out, that's irrelevant. The internet is so user-friendly now it can break anyone's brain! YouTube and a few political email lists are all it takes. And now that this content history is established, my mom's search results are tailored accordingly. The brokenness is self-reinforcing.
The third distinction is real-life social networks, a distinction that has been grossly exacerbated by the isolation of the pandemic. The digital communication my friends and I have used to stay close these past nine months has been far from ideal, but it is much better than nothing. We can still talk. We can still "gather" to play games online and share joys and troubles.
Our parents have generally not managed that pandemic-time connectivity to their friends — if indeed they had close friends in the first place. A common thread in my discussions of broken boomer brains is a lack of intimate friendships and hobbyist communities. In the absence of that emotional connection and healthy recreational time use, this media engagement can become a bad substitute. The memes become the hobby. The Facebook bickering supplants the relationships. And it's all moving so fast — tweet, video, meme, Tucker, tweet, video, meme, Maddow — the change goes unnoticed. The brain breaks.
I'll close by again reiterating I do not mean this as a generational broadside. Boomers are not the only ones whose brains the internet is breaking. Though I do think the generational trope is significantly correct, I'm aware daily that my brain is also broken.
I am working to keep it from breaking further. I don't have apps for email, Facebook, or Twitter on my phone. I try to stay off Twitter all weekend and eschew news and political content all day on Sunday. Each morning, I do my damnedest not to let looking at my phone be the first thing I do. I track my phone screen time and set caps on the time I can spend on political sites I frequent and social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat. I mute any friend whose Instagram story is political, because I know the tiny adrenaline rush it produces will help to train me to check Instagram more often than I should. I unsubscribe from everything I can. I am determined to use what I've learned about my broken brain to keep my children's brains from being broken, too.
I am obliged to be on the internet all the time for my work, and I love it, but I hate it. More days than not I ignore my own best-laid plans to keep my brain as unbroken as I can. In a real sense, I took those early internet warnings to heart. What worries me so much is that too many of the very people who warned me seem to have forgotten their warnings entirely. They're not fighting the break. It seems like they don't even feel it anymore.
"Our parents' generation, no less than ours, was totally unprepared for the advent of digital technology and mass media," wrote the reader with the Fox News dad. "They've been sucked into their screens like the rest of us." They weren't physically abducted, as they feared we could be by a chatroom catfisher in 1999. But it can still feel like the people we know and love are gone.
I count at least 15 pro-or neutral Trump articles on the Fox website (I won't watch Fox TV) today, about the same as yesterday-TOO LATE!
There is nothing Fox can do now to make up for their utter betrayal of their loyal audience with their anti-Trump messaging and especially their RINO commentators. They can go to hell.
Today's stupidest article in the stupidest of times
Alexander Sammon, American Prospect
In passing, via the great ACE, this is genius-I'm jealous;
After another full day in court Tuesday, proceedings in the judicial review of ballots in New York’s 22nd Congressional District have been put on pause as stumbling blocks with result tallies continue to plague the process.
State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte issued an injunction at the request of the legal team for Republican Claudia Tenney. Attorneys for U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi did not take a position on the motion.
DelConte’s injunction prevents counties from certifying the results in the hotly contested congressional race, but does not affect other races, such as the presidential election.
The review of ballots is on hold, and both campaigns have until 5 p.m. Monday to file motions in the case, which has brought to light issues with ballot documentation by county boards of election.
On election night, Tenney, a former congresswoman from New Hartford, built up a lead of more than 28,000 votes. Her lead in the rematch of the 2018 election dwindled to less than 300 as absentee and affidavit ballots have been counted.
The exact margins in the race were still a matter for debate in Oswego County Supreme Court on Tuesday, with DelConte ordering all eight counties contained in the district to provide current, complete voter tallies.
By the time court adjourned at 4:30 p.m., Cortland County had not provided results, Oneida County had to separate hand-counted ballots from its canvass totals amid a recanvass, and Chenango County, which suffered a ransomware attack before the election, was attempting to fax results again after the first set was unreadable.
The Oneida County Board of Elections again featured prominently in Tuesday’s proceedings, after missing sticky notes raised concerns about 39 absentee ballots on Monday.
A pair of Brindisi election observers were questioned by attorneys for both campaigns over two sets of notes they took about affidavit envelopes rejected by the Oneida County Board of Elections that the campaign objected to. One of the observers was Eva Brindisi-Pearlman, the congressman’s sister.
Questioning determined neither observer was asked for a specific objection, and the affidavit envelopes the campaign objected to were bundled with rubber bands and sticky notes denoting they were contested by the Brindisi campaign.
The envelopes were reviewed by the observers from both campaigns during the canvass in piles by election district or town, according to testimony. The affidavit envelopes rejected by the election commissioners were stored in a box in a secure room.
Oneida County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Rose Grimaldi said the contents of the box were transferred to Oswego County Supreme Court. When the candidate’s legal teams opened the boxes of affidavits Tuesday, they could not find the bundled affidavit envelopes with sticky notes amid the other submissions to the court.
Other differences in handling the review process were noted during Tuesday’s court session. Cortland County Board of Elections completed its review of affidavit ballots without representatives from either campaign present. Broome County Board of Elections said the campaigns reviewed contested ballots at different times, with its elections staff present.
The injunction puts the judicial review on hold after two long days in court, which revealed possible violations of state election law requiring a memo written in ink on the back of a contested ballot, including the nature of the objection, the challenger’s name and the signature of the inspector.
Hello? This looks somewhat familiar;
RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro seemed to be on a political suicide mission during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in Brazil.
As the daily death toll turned Brazil into one of the epicenters of the pandemic, he openly dismissed the loss of life as inevitable and lashed out against social distancing. A judge, a measure Mr. Bolsonaro was reluctant to follow, claiming that his “athletic background” would guarantee a prompt recovery.
His cavalier conduct generated talk of impeachment, of an institutional breakdown and even of an eventual prosecution at The Hague.
Now, with Brazil’s caseload and death toll down significantly since peaking in July, Mr. Bolsonaro’s popularity is starting to rise. Yet the easing of the pandemic came largely because Brazilians did not follow his lead.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s strengthened standing among the electorate stands in contrast to other leaders in the region who heeded the scientific consensus about lockdowns, social distancing and masks, and have seen their popularity decline.
Feeling emboldened, Mr. Bolsonaro chided the press last week for continuing to focus on the pandemic, which has killed more than 163,000 people in Brazil.
“I regret the deaths, but we need to be done with this thing,” an exasperated Mr. Bolsonaro saidduring a Nov. 10 event at the presidential palace. “We need to stop being a country of sissies.”
Far from facing impeachment, Mr. Bolsonaro — who has always been a deeply polarizing figure in Brazil — now has his highest approval rates since . While roughly a third of Brazil’s electorate sided with him back in May, that figure rose to 40 percent in September.
In neighboring Argentina, by comparison, President Alberto Fernández, who imposed among the strictest lockdowns in the world, saw his approval rate crash from 57 percent in March to 37 percent last month. President of Chile and of Colombia have also faced falling approval ratings after bumps of support early in the pandemic.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s rising political fortunes came as Brazilians adhered to mask wearing guidelines and quarantine measures — despite his open hostility to them — that eased the severity of the virus. Warmer weather, which allowed people to spend less time indoors, further reduced the contagion.
The effects of business shutdowns and quarantines were softened by a generous cash assistance program Congress had passed. Mr. Bolsonaro also has claimed credit for that outcome, even though he had initially favored significantly smaller handouts.
Jairo Nicolau, a political scientist who recently published a book about Brazil’s political rightward shift, said Mr. Bolsonaro appeared to be hopelessly isolated when the virus was ripping through the country starting in March.
But his political instincts and tactics have often been underestimated, Mr. Nicolau argued. And like President Trump, he said, Mr. Bolsonaro has managed to bypass mainstream press outlets to reach his base of supporters.
“Bolsonaro has a very loyal electorate, quite similar to Trump’s, and has forged a strong emotional bond with them,” he said. “I don’t think that Bolsonaro is a great strategic thinker, but he has demonstrated a kind of intelligence, an ability to capture people’s mood in any given moment, and play it right. He is no fool.”
As that quarantines would do more harm than good, as a miracle cure for the coronavirus and running around the capital without wearing a mask, lawmakers in Congress were debating the size of an emergency assistance package.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration initially took the position that the government should provide no more than about $37 per month in cash payments. Lawmakers across the political spectrum called that sum woefully insufficient for Brazilians who were dealing with business shutdowns amid quarantine measures imposed by governors.
Djamila Ribeiro, a political philosopher, said Mr. Bolsonaro did not deserve credit for the popular assistance program, which led to a significant reduction in poverty.
“Yet people think it was the president’s doing, not that it was the result of a fight that was waged in Congress,” she said. “Many people don’t understand who has prerogative over what.”
Mr. Bolsonaro’s office did not respond to questions for this article. In a recent interview, Vice President Hamilton Mourão said the government could have done a better job providing guidelines on prevention measures early in the pandemic. But he argued that much of the criticism the government received for its handling of the pandemic was “politicized” and that some of the most dire predictions did not come to pass.
“The health system was able to cope efficiently,” he said. “There were fears that people would end up dying in hospital hallways and that people would die on the streets and that never happened.”
Experts said Mr. Bolsonaro’s surprising political strength might be temporary. In municipal elections held Sunday, several of the candidates he backed did poorly. He faces formidable challenges, including targeting one of his sons and other relatives, the looming end of cash payments that have kept Brazilians afloat as the economy contracts, and the pandemic continues to kill hundreds of Brazilians per day.
Dr. Fátima Marinho,an epidemiologist at Vital Strategies, a global public health organization, said that while Brazil had so far avoided a new wave of cases, a smattering of upticks in certain states were cause for concern.
“All the models point to a reduction,” she said. “But we’re anticipating problems in certain cases as we start to see very concrete signs” of a resurgence.
Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas in the north, is among the regions where the virus appeared to be under control, but hospitals are seeing a new influx of patients.
Dr. Marinho said the trouble spots were in parts of the country where many people resumed their normal routines and began throwing weddings and birthday parties again.
“The virus began circulating again and that led to new hospitalizations,” she said.
Eager to change the subject, Mr. Bolsonaro this week turned his attention to the American presidential election. Mr. Bolsonaro, who openly rooted for Mr. Trump, whom he idolizes, is among the few leaders in the region that has not congratulated President-elect Joseph. R. Biden Jr. or even acknowledged his victory.
The Brazilian president and Mr. Biden have traded barbs over Brazil’s environmental policy and the future of the Amazon, which has experienced a rise in deforestation on Mr. Bolsonaro’s watch. During a debate, Mr. Biden warned that Brazil would face economic consequences if it doesn’t rein in the destruction of the rainforest. His on climate change promised to “name and shame global climate outlaws.”
Mr. Bolsonaro has signaled little interest in striking a more cordial tone with the incoming American president. During a speech, he said his country would give diplomacy a try to fend off American plans for the Amazon. But failing that, he said, Brazil would respond with “gunpowder.”
Amy Erica Smith, a political scientist at Iowa State University who studies Brazil, said that at first glance Mr. Bolsonaro’s saber rattling against Mr. Biden might seem ludicrous. But suspicion about foreign conspiracies to control the Amazon have deep roots in Brazil, and Mr. Bolsonaro’s call to arms may resonate with many of his countrymen, she said.
“Over time, he has managed to sway public opinion in his favor,” Ms Smith said. “His confrontation with Biden could work, especially if Biden manages it badly.”