How Researchers Learned to Use Facebook ‘Likes’ to Sway Your Thinking

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/technology/facebook-cambridge-behavior-model.html

By and hGabriel J.X. Dance
March 20, 2018

Perhaps at some point in the past few years you’ve told Facebook that you like, say, Kim Kardashian West. When you hit the thumbs-up button on her page, you probably did it because you wanted to see the reality TV star’s posts in your news feed. Maybe you realized that marketers could target advertisements to you based on your interest in her.

What you probably missed is that researchers had figured out how to tie your interest in Ms. Kardashian West to certain personality traits, such as how extroverted you are (very), how conscientious (more than most) and how open-minded (only somewhat). And when your fondness for Ms. Kardashian West is combined with other interests you’ve indicated on Facebook, researchers believe their algorithms can predict the nuances of your political views with better accuracy than your loved ones.

As The New York Times reported on Saturday, that is what motivated the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to collect data from more than 50 million Facebook users, without their consent, to build its own behavioral models to target potential voters in various political campaigns. The company has worked for a political action committee started by John R. Bolton, who served in the George W. Bush administration, as well as for President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. “We find your voters and move them to action,” the firm boasts on its website.

Cambridge Analytica now says it has destroyed the user data it collected on Facebook. Raw data reviewed by The Times suggests the information, or copies of it, may still exist. In either case, specific user information was merely a means to an end, a building block in a far more ambitious construction: a behavioral model powerful enough to manipulate people’s activity and, potentially, sway elections.

The firm adapted its approach to personality modeling from studies conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the Psychometrics Center at the University of Cambridge. The studies relied on data collected by a Facebook app called myPersonality, a 100-question quiz developed by the Psychometrics Center that assessed a person’s openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, traits commonly referred to in the academic community by the acronym Ocean.

Many respondents who took the quiz through the myPersonality app authorized it to gain access to their Facebook profile data, and information about their friend network — access that was allowed by the social network at the time. That allowed researchers to cross-reference the results of the quiz — numeric Ocean scores — with the users’ Facebook “likes,” and build a model from the correlations they found between the two. With that model, the researchers could often make precise guesses about subsequent users’ personalities using only a list of their likes, no 100-question quiz necessary.

One of the studies the Psychometrics Center produced, published in 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was built on the “likes” and Ocean scores of more than 70,000 respondents who took the myPersonality quiz on Facebook. It found that a person who liked the movie “Fight Club,” for example, was far more likely to be open to new experiences than a person who liked “American Idol,” according to a review of data provided to The Times by Michal Kosinski, an author of the 2015 study and a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/technology/facebook-cambridge-behavior-model.html

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Divorcing the Transgender Community

When we first started the idea of WBT (Women Born Transsexual) back at the end of 2000 we were denounced as traitors to “The Community” for daring to propose a few simple ideas:  1. Transsexual was something you were born with, a medical condition amenable to medical treatment.  2. That after transition we were women, not trans-women.  3. That there was never A Trans-community but rather many different trans-communities. 4. We did not accept the “Transgender Identity” and saw it as a trap that kept us from assimilating into post-op lives as ordinary women or men in the case of F to M people.

In short nearly 20 years ago we divorced ourselves from the “Transgender Community”.  Not from from caring about friends and or strangers who see the “Transgender Community” as a path to liberation but rather from the on-line political games of purity and proper thinking.

It has been one year shy of 50 years since I first started hormones and began transition.  It took only a couple of years after SRS to start leaving the community and moving to the lesbian feminist community.

People are surprised when they discover the same thing happening in their own lives, many of the most vocal activists of even ten years ago have found that life has given them new priorities.

The following article is by yet another woman who has discovered a life post-trans.

From Tablet Magazine:  http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/257446/divorcing-the-transgender-community

I thought I’d found a warm and supportive home, but being Jewish made that difficult

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond
March 13, 2018

“You’re a fucking kike!”

It was not a single thought expelled in one, rapid sentence, and the tone was so much more than mere hatred. It was maniacal rage that curled around each word and threw it down the speaker of my phone before pausing to pick up another. The last sharpened piece of flint was aimed directly at my head with relish.

I’m usually very good at come-backs. I am a movie fanatic. Rather than the occasional piece of annoyingly catchy music which shows up like a mosquito on a summer evening to persistently circle around one’s ear, my days tend to recall random pieces of screenplay that match how I’m feeling. Thus, I have a library of borrowed quotes for every occasion.

The caller did not immediately hang up. They were waiting for a response. Maybe something from Eric Bogosian?

“Tell me something. I’m curious. How do you dial a phone with a straitjacket on?”

Or Bob Clark?

“You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot!”

Either would have done. Anything would have done. Instead of just sitting there in thunder-stuck, ineffectual silence.

It was June 28, 2017, and I was an adult, but I might as well have been my 11-year-old, effeminate, half-Indian school-kid self again, reliving the day in 1981 when at least a half-dozen of my classmates at North Cestrian Grammar School in Manchester, England telegraphed their latest attack with “Paki Puff!”

It was their invitation for me to run. They liked it when I ran because it marked the beginning of the hunt and I was always the easiest prey to catch.

That morning, I didn’t manage to get out of my chair fast enough. So, they picked me up and sandwiched me between the wall and the heavy wooden classroom door. With their collective weight, they pressed against it until I could not move and then could not breath. I grew increasingly more faint; unaware of the blood streaming from my nose which bore the brunt of the first assault. If their look-out hadn’t suddenly yelled the name of an oncoming teacher, they would have killed me.

You would think, in 36 years, I might have learned something about fighting back.

But as I gripped the phone, my breath stopped in my throat. Any physical or mental defenses were useless.

I recognized the voice of my attacker—a transgender person who participated in a transgender liberation rally in Chicago that I had covered earlier in the year in my capacity as a reporter for the city’s LGBTQ newspaper.

Members of the transgender community filled the frozen streets of the Chicago loop that night to demand their civil rights and fight back against society’s bullies; something that had become a life goal since my school-days.

Now that I was the focus of their rancor, ‘paki’ had become ‘kike.’ The boys behind the door were members of my own community, and I didn’t know what the hell to do or feel about it.

For four years, I had watched the transgender community eat its own to the point where becoming dinner was accepted as an inherent risk of belonging to it. As the call continued, I didn’t feel like dinner so much as the scraps thrown down the garbage disposal.

“What did you say?” I finally whispered.

The invitation was accepted for the door to be pressed harder.

“Oh, you fuckin’ heard me. Your story was a lie and your bitch ass is finished as a reporter.”

“Why are you doing this?” I was beginning to shake. “It wasn’t a lie….and I know you…I….”

The voice was gone.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/257446/divorcing-the-transgender-community

His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/technology/his-2020-campaign-message-the-robots-are-coming.html

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Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/12/climate-change-is-a-disaster-foretold-just-like-the-first-world-war

The warnings about an unfolding climate catastrophe are getting more desperate, yet the march to destruction continues

Jeff_Sparrow
Sun 11 Mar 2018

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

The mournful remark supposedly made by foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey at dusk on 3 August 1914 referred to Britain’s imminent entry into the first world war. But the sentiment captures something of our own moment, in the midst of an intensifying campaign against nature.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, over the last four decades the international animal population was reduced by nearly 60%. More than a billion fewer birds inhabit North America today compared to 40 years ago. In Britain, certain iconic species (grey partridges, tree sparrows, etc) have fallen by 90%. In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% over the past 27 years. Almost half of Borneo’s orangutans died or were removed between 1999 and 2015. Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% in a decade, with on average one adult killed by poachers every 15 minutes.

We inherited a planet of beauty and wonders – and we’re saying goodbye to all that.

The cultural historian Paul Fussell once identified the catastrophe of the first world war with the distinctive sensibility of modernity, noting how 20th century history had “domesticate[d] the fantastic and normalize[d] the unspeakable.”

Consider, then, the work of climate change.

In February, for instance, scientists recorded temperatures 35 degrees above the historical average in Siberia, a phenomenon that apparently corresponded with the unprecedented cold snap across Europe.

As concentrated CO2 intensifies extreme events, a new and diabolical weather will, we’re told, become the norm for a generation already accustomising itself to such everyday atrocities as about eight million tons of plastics are washed into the ocean each year.

It may seem impossible to imagine, that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we’re now in the process of doing.”

This passage from the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert concluded a piece on global warming, which was published way back in 2005. Over the 13 years since, the warnings from scientists have grown both more specific and desperate – and yet the march to destruction has only redoubled its pace.

The extraordinary – almost absurd – contrast between what we should be doing and what’s actually taking place fosters low-level climate denialism. Coral experts might publicise, again and again and again, the dire state of the Great Barrier Reef but the ongoing political inaction inevitably blunts their message.

It can’t be so bad, we think: if a natural wonder were truly under threat, our politicians wouldn’t simply stand aside and watch.

The first world war killed 20 million people and maimed 21 million others. It shattered the economy of Europe, displaced entire populations, and set in train events that culminated, scarcely two decades later, with another, even more apocalyptic slaughter

And it, too, was a disaster foretold, a widely-anticipated cataclysm that proceeded more-on-less schedule despite regular warnings about what was to come.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/12/climate-change-is-a-disaster-foretold-just-like-the-first-world-war

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Kate Manne: The Shock Collar That Is Misogyny

From Guernica:  https://www.guernicamag.com/kate-manne-why-misogyny-isnt-really-about-hating-women/

A philosopher rethinks what’s keeping women down.

By Regan Penaluna
February 7, 2018

What Elliot Rodger did on the evening of Friday, May 23, 2014, isn’t contested, but the reason he did it is. That night Rodger knocked on the door of a sorority house near the University of California, Santa Barbara, and when the women inside didn’t let him in, he left and shot three women who were on the sidewalk, and then continued the rampage, ultimately killing six people and injuring fourteen. He then shot and killed himself.

Before the attacks, Rodger posted a video of himself online, declaring that he intended to punish women for not giving him the attention he felt he deserved—and the men whom he perceived as receiving that attention and therefore envied. In light of the evidence, a number of feminist commentators called the killing spree an act of misogyny, part of a pattern of gender-based rampages. But others in the media and the academy argued differently. They claimed the cause was mental illness.

It was then that Kate Manne, an assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell University, started to write. What was missing from the debate, Manne thought, was a clear account of the nature of misogyny, and so she set out to develop one. The result is her new book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, a carefully argued work aimed at a broad audience, which proposes that misogyny is the act of correcting women who fail to give men what men believe they’re due.

Manne tosses out the common thinking that misogyny is equivalent to despising all women, and instead offers that it’s a way to keep women in their place. Misogyny, she writes, is “the system that operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women’s subordination and to uphold male dominance.” Like a shock collar used to keep dogs behind an invisible fence, misogyny, she argues, aims to keep women—those who are well trained as well as those who are unruly—in line. The power of Manne’s definition comes from its ability to bring together various behaviors and events under one umbrella. If misogyny is anything that enforces women’s subordination, then it turns out that lots of phenomena fit the profile.

I spoke with Manne over the phone in an attempt to shed some light on this past year, during which so many brave women have come forward to share their experiences of sexual trauma and have actually been taken seriously. The moment is ripe for a reckoning, and Manne offers the language and theory I’ve found myself grasping for. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she combines the hyper-articulateness of a philosopher and the energy and humor of a down-to-earth millennial, which is electrifying; I imagine she’s a popular professor. At one point during our call, her corgi happily barked in the background, and she pointed out that her dog “couldn’t be silenced” by the patriarchy.

More than anything, I could feel an urgency on the line. Manne is restlessly driven by a sense that things are not right, a sense that this world is a very unjust place for women. She doesn’t think she can fix it. “I’m much more a clarity person than a solutions person,” she says. But she does believe that philosophy can help us understand what’s at stake in the broader fight to overcome patriarchy. “It’s so far from cessation,” she says, “but I’m not despairing.”

Regan Penaluna for Guernica

Guernica: Why did you write a book about misogyny?

Kate Manne: “Misogyny” wasn’t on my radar until October 2012, when the prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, used it in a speech before parliament to call out Tony Abbott, the then opposition party leader, for his sexist and misogynist behavior. Although Gillard’s speech went viral, the occasion for her anger was lost on many people. Abbott had originally demanded Gillard call for the resignation of one of her ministers, who had sent text messages leaked to the media likening women’s genitals to mussels—shucked, he specified—and calling a female colleague an “ignorant botch,” thanks to the Freudian intervention of auto-correct. But Gillard did not want to have to call on Slipper [the minister] to resign; to her mind, he was still a serviceable minister. And she was not sanguine about being “lectured,” as she put it, by Abbott on fitting conduct with regards to gender.

Continue reading at:  https://www.guernicamag.com/kate-manne-why-misogyny-isnt-really-about-hating-women/

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Democrats Finally Begin Denouncing Louis Farrakhan for His Anti-Semitic Rants

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/democrats-finally-begin-denouncing-louis-farrakhan-his-anti-semitic-rants

The Nation of Islam leader was previously praised by one of the organizers of the Women’s March.

By Cody Fenwick
March 8, 2018

Democratic lawmakers are denouncing Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who has a long history of hateful rhetoric and recently came under fire after he made anti-Semitic remarks at a speech attended by one of the organizers of the Women’s March.

At the end of February, Farrakhan said so-called “power Jews” are his enemy, according to a CNN report.

Farrakhan continued: “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

This is far from the first time Farrakhan has made bigoted comments. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented his history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric, including his claim that “the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress.”

During the 2016 election, Farrakhan praised candidate Donald Trump for not accepting money from the “Jewish community.”

Now, Democrats who have previously met with or had ties to Farrakhan have begun denouncing him. While some, such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), directly criticized Farrakhan, others, including Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Andre Carson (D-IN), stuck to denouncing bigotry or hate speech more broadly.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), however, seemed irritated to be asked about the issue, saying his constituents care only about the issues.

Tamika Mallory, one of the founders of the Women’s March, has been under criticism for her ties to Farrakhan. She attended his February speech and once posted a picture with him on Instagram that referenced the religious figure as a “GOAT” (greatest of all time). In a column for News One, she continued to refuse to denounce him, instead saying: “It is impossible for me to agree with every statement or share every viewpoint of the many people who I have worked with or will work with in the future.”

Bigotry isn’t an issue with room for equivocation. The Democratic Party would help prove its worth to the country by taking a united stand against individuals like Farrakhan who espouse dangerous bigotry.

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Some millennials aren’t saving for retirement because they don’t think capitalism will exist by then

From Salon:  https://www.salon.com/2018/03/18/some-millennials-arent-saving-for-retirement-because-they-do-not-think-capitalism-will-exist-by-then/

Given poor economic prospects, many millennials can’t save anyway — but their hope for the future is social change

Keith A. Spencer
03.18.2018

CNN reported last week that 66 percent of millennials aged 21 to 32 have nothing saved for retirement. And while their writer chalks up this inequity to student loans, “stagnant wages” and “high unemployment,” there may yet be a deeper cause: many millennials honestly don’t see a future for our economic system.

The aforementioned CNN article about millennials’ (lack of) retirement savings went semi-viral, partly because many saw humor in how it missed how many truly felt. “RT if socialism is your retirement plan,” Holly Wood, 32, a political organizer, wrote on Twitter.

The idea that we millennials’ only hope for retirement is the end of capitalism or the end of the world is actually quite common sentiment among the millennial left. Jokes about being unable to retire or anticipating utter social change by retirement age were ricocheting around the internet long before CNN’s article was published.

czernobro

 

 

 

 

 

 

my investing style is i give five bucks to chapo in the hope that their dumb asses will create socialism by the time i retire
— Frank Furtschool ☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭☭ (@kulturalmarx) August 4, 2017

My retirement plan is death
— Swan Snow (@Wan_Eyed_King) March 10, 2018

My retirement plan is death at 55: a millennial love story
— Lucretia Boredgia (@KelseyChapstick) September 30, 2017

Older generations, and even millennials who are better off and who have managed to achieve a sort of petit-bourgeois freedom, might find this sentiment unimaginable, even abhorrent. And yet, in studying the reaction to the CNN piece and reaching out to millennials who had responded to it, I was astounded not only at how many young people shared Wood’s feelings, but how frequently our expectations for the future aligned. Many millennials expressed to me their interest in creating self-sustaining communities as their only hope for survival in old age; a lack of faith that capitalism as we know it would exist by retirement age; and that alternating climate crises, concentrations of wealth, and privatization of social welfare programs would doom their chance at survival.

Continue reading at:  https://www.salon.com/2018/03/18/some-millennials-arent-saving-for-retirement-because-they-do-not-think-capitalism-will-exist-by-then/

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