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Messages - AgelessDrifter

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General Discussion / Re: Free speech continues to be attacked.
« on: February 03, 2017, 01:59:38 AM »
Milo was going to go on stage with a list of undocumented students and professors and read it and try to encourage a similar witch-hunt at other universities.

It's easy to say ignore him and he'll go away, but I don't think that's true in this political climate.

The event was already shut down before the huge fire got started--I imagine it was ether the usual bath of entitled manarchists that came in and started trashing shit for no real reason, if it wasn't just agent provocateurs in black bloc trying to help create a justification for pulling funds to colleges for "belligerently suppressing free speech".

Czer's god a good point. I just hope that if they do fillinuster they do a good job of publicizing their motivation and don't let the right frame it as just petty retaliation

General Discussion / Re: New Dune Movie?
« on: February 01, 2017, 07:34:13 PM »
Happiness was a good flick but it's hard to judge from that whether the guy could direct a scifi epic. I haven't seen any of the other stuff he's done. Sounds like people disliked Arrival mostly because it was slow, so that sounds like it could go either way for me.

I still think Frank Hebert was a great world builder and a sort of cruddy storyteller (based on reading only the first Dune book)

General Discussion / Re: Thank You President Trump!!! You are the best!!!
« on: February 01, 2017, 06:08:15 PM »
I'm convinced it's the sauces that give people the bubble-guts after eating Taco Bell. I don't usually eat them (and very little verde if I do) and I've never had a bad reaction to it, even when I still ate their meat (which was before they caught shot for using the real low quality suff)

But once the candidates were selected, Bernie is no longer part of the equation.  I don't think "lesser-of-two-evils" is the shameful voting practice people make it out to be.  Not every candidate is going to be everyone's wet dream, that doesn't mean people shouldn't select who they think is better out of the remaining options.

Plus the farther we journey into Trump's swamp, the better President Hillary Clinton is looking.

Hillary should've looked better from the get-go then, because there is really very little about where we're at and where we look to be heading that wasn't an obvious outcome of a Trump presidency.

well lets be fair, its a complete joke that merrick garland isnt there.  your country is so fucking broken you held up a SC nominee just cause "well this guy is leaving soon" and you let it happen

ha fucking ha.

It's true. This really deserved a lot more of our outrage when it was going down. The seemingly foregone prospect of a Clinton administration made it seem like it would fix itself but it was a clear and absurd violation of the constitution and if we'd've made more noise about it we might've gotten it fixed while it was still fixable. Hindisght's 20/20 I suppose

I can agree that both articles paint a picture that reasonable people could argue is more dark than what will probably end up being the reality. I don't think we're liable to turn into Turkey any time soon, either, but it wouldn't surprise me if we turned into Russia (and I mean that in the metaphorical sense--not having anything at all to do with the notion of Trump being a puppet for Putin or whatever.)

However, the trend that's being described, if accurate, is deeply alarming regardless. And I think when the stakes are as high as they are, it pays to err on the side of suspicious (but not, I agree, hysterical). The reason I keep saying "what do we *do*?" is because I don't think going out and making a bunch of noise in large groups and stirring up a media story and spending up the left's energy is the answer to that question. On the contrary, I think--as the article suggests--that it could be feeding into Bannon and Trump's strategy. It's exactly the sort of politics that Putin is said to have been using in Russia for years.

But on the other hand I think just sitting here and scratching our chins thoughtfully and coming up with reasons it might not be so bad has a good chance of leaving us fucked in the long haul.

The issue is that Trump and Bannon have a strategy (maybe it's as grim as the one outlined in that article and maybe it isn't. But at best there is every reason to believe that Bannon wants to do a lot of shitty things to the country and that he's perfectly happy to use misinformation to accomplish it) and the left doesn't. It has *tactics* (protest, sue, write snarky editorials), but if we're not looking at the long game we're gonna lose.

Yeah I hate to say it but I actually agree w/Ssalam and Kanmuk on this one to a large degree.  It's more important than ever to pick the right battles and I'm not at all confident this was the right one.

This article sums my concerns up pretty well:

That is literally the exact picture being painted in the "coup" thread that you guys said was unhelpful/hysterical/conspiracy theory

Gotta look out for all those legions of scrappy start up garage based pharmaceutical research and manufacturing organizations

They'll back us, especially after what happened with the whole Taiwan incident.

China military official: War with US under Donald Trump 'becoming practical reality'

War with the US under Donald Trump is “not just a slogan” and becoming a “practical reality”, a senior Chinese military official has said.

The remarks were published on the People’s Liberation Army website, apparently in response to the aggressive rhetoric towards China from America's new administration.

They communicated a view from inside the Central Military Commission, which has overall authority of China’s armed forces.

Quoted in the South China Morning Post, the official from the Commission’s Defence Mobilisation Department wrote: “A war ‘within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality.”

The official also called for military deployments in the tense South and East China Seas and for a missile defence system to guard the Korean peninsula, another regional hotspot, the Post reported.

The US should also reconsider its strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, the official wrote.

Mr Trump and members of his administration have consistently voiced a hard line against China. Mr Trump has branded the country a “currency manipulator” and accusing the country of underhand trading and economic tactics.

But more significantly in security terms, Mr Trump has also ignored the US’s longstanding ‘One China’ policy, publicly engaging with the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, in a move that was hugely antagonising for Beijing.

China strongly regards Taiwan as part of its territory and the US has tacitly respected this for decades, but Mr Trump signalled a departure from this policy.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also advocated a US naval blockade of artificial Chinese islands in the South China Sea – which Beijing could interpret as an act of war.

Further suggestions China is preparing for conflict emerged this week, with unconfirmed reports the military has moved long range missiles closer to the north east border in Heilongjiang province -- within firing range of the US.

Chinese social media has carried pictures claiming to show the Dongfeng-41 advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system near the Russian border.

Provocative state-run tabloid The Global Times suggested the People’s Liberation Army could have leaked the photos on social media as a warning to Mr Trump.

However, Chinese President Xi Jinping has also recently called for the reduction of nuclear weapons.

But at least the press is holding him accountable! Just think of the liberal backlash in 4 years!!

General Discussion / Re: Was the muslim ban a "trial balloon for a coup"?
« on: January 31, 2017, 03:31:39 AM »

General Discussion / Re: Was the muslim ban a "trial balloon for a coup"?
« on: January 31, 2017, 12:56:19 AM »
Asti will think he's the only person who "gets" it no matter what anyone says or does.

I should clarify that a coup, in the literal, immediate sense, is not exactly what worries me reading this article, and that it's not really even how I interpret the article. What worries me is that nine days into the administration we nearly faced a constitutional crisis (and violated an international treaty) over a-probably intentionally draconian executive order (intentionally draconian so that when it's scaled back from reprehensible to merely appalling the left can give itself a pat job and go home from the picket lines till the next thing comes up in three days and the cycle repeats), while in the background a guy who made his fortune selling column space to white nationalists and christian fundamentalists replaced the fucking joint chiefs of staff and the entire senior staff of the state department and now potentially has the power to fucking assassinate US citizens for sticking their necks out too far. Trump has already made it clear how he feels about BLM--how long till they become terrorists and go on the assassination list or start getting black-bagged by DHS?

This is day 10. What is shit gonna look like in two years--let alone four? Or god forbid eight? Is Bannon going to march into congress with a bunch of brown shirts and start arresting rogue senators? No. But you can bet your ass voter suppression is going to be worse by the midterns than it already was, that a lot of progressives are going to be in jail or worse, and that unless he's been impeached by then, Donald Trump will still be ruling by fiat and inundating us with openly petty, retaliatory decrees bearing no respect for the rule of law. And if people aren't organizing then we're basically leaving it to the courts (the highest of which will soon have at least one member appointed by Trump himself) and republican legislators to save us from it.

At least the media's holding him accountable!!

How is this not a fucking Onion headline?

Donald Trump declares that when the floor is lava, Donald Trump can still walk on it, but only Donald Trump

The joint cheifs' mass "resignation" was mentioned in a thread by Tulion, I think. I thought the fact that Bannon took over in their place was pointed out more explicitly in the coup thread, but I must've been conflating it with another article I read just before the one I posted there.

General Discussion / Re: Was the muslim ban a "trial balloon for a coup"?
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:43:10 PM »
It's getting press. People don't not know about it. If it's not showing up in your facebook feed then be the change you want to see in the world. But what do we *do* about it?

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:41:01 PM »
I'll be happy if there's an election in four years.

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:23:04 PM »
Overall, I don't think defeating Trump in 2020 is tactical rocket science.  The guy is fucking terrible.

By generating a near apocalyptic image of the US, and creating a bunch of threats (both external and internal) that don't really exist, his policies may not actually have to work in order to be judged as a success, especially if he can cherry-pick certain numbers that show he's turning things around and MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

bit of a change of tone here

General Discussion / Was the muslim ban a "trial balloon for a coup"?
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:06:54 PM »
The theme of this morning’s news updates from Washington is additional clarity emerging, rather than meaningful changes in the field. But this clarity is enough to give us a sense of what we just saw happen, and why it happened the way it did.

I’ll separate what’s below into the raw news reports and analysis; you may also find these two pieces from yesterday (heavily referenced below) to be useful.
From “The Day After Tomorrow.” I resisted the temptation to use the analogous shot from “Planet of the Apes.”
News Reports

(1) Priebus made two public statements today. One is that the ban on Muslims will no longer be applied to green card holders. Notably absent from his statement was anything about people with other types of visa (including long-term ones), or anything about the DHS’ power to unilaterally revoke green cards in bulk.

The other was that the omission of Jews from the statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day was deliberate and is not regretted.

A point of note here is that Priebus is the one making these statements, which is not normally the Chief of Staff’s job. I’ll come back to that below.

(2) Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the intent of yesterday’s order was very much a ban on Muslims, described in those words, and he was among the people Trump asked how they could find a way to do this legally.

(3) CNN has a detailed story (heavily sourced) about the process by which this ban was created and announced. Notable in this is that the DHS’ lawyers objected to the order, specifically its exclusion of green card holders, as illegal, and also pressed for there to be a grace period so that people currently out of the country wouldn’t be stranded — and they were personally overruled by Bannon and Stephen Miller. Also notable is that career DHS staff, up to and including the head of Customs & Border Patrol, were kept entirely out of the loop until the order was signed.

(4) The Guardian is reporting (heavily sourced) that the “mass resignations” of nearly all senior staff at the State Department on Thursday were not, in fact, resignations, but a purge ordered by the White House. As the diagram below (by Emily Roslin v Praze) shows, this leaves almost nobody in the entire senior staff of the State Department at this point.
The seniormost staff of the Department of State. Blue X’s are unfilled positions; red X’s are positions which were purged. Note that the “filled” positions are not actually confirmed yet.

As the Guardian points out, this has an important and likely not accidental effect: it leaves the State Department entirely unstaffed during these critical first weeks, when orders like the Muslim ban (which they would normally resist) are coming down.

The article points out another point worth highlighting: “In the past, the state department has been asked to set up early foreign contacts for an incoming administration. This time however it has been bypassed, and Trump’s immediate circle of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus are making their own calls.”

(5) On Inauguration Day, Trump apparently filed his candidacy for 2020. Beyond being unusual, this opens up the ability for him to start accepting “campaign contributions” right away. Given that a sizable fraction of the campaign funds from the previous cycle were paid directly to the Trump organization in exchange for building leases, etc., at inflated rates, you can assume that those campaign coffers are a mechanism by which US nationals can easily give cash bribes directly to Trump. Non-US nationals can, of course, continue to use Trump’s hotels and other businesses as a way to funnel money to him.

(6) Finally, I want to highlight a story that many people haven’t noticed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying” for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies.

Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

Conclusive? No. But it raises some very interesting questions for journalists to investigate.
What does this all mean?

I see a few key patterns here. First, the decision to first block, and then allow, green card holders was meant to create chaos and pull out opposition; they never intended to hold it for too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goal is to create “resistance fatigue,” to get Americans to the point where they’re more likely to say “Oh, another protest? Don’t you guys ever stop?” relatively quickly.

However, the conspicuous absence of provisions preventing them from executing any of the “next steps” I outlined yesterday, such as bulk revocation of visas (including green cards) from nationals of various countries, and then pursuing them using mechanisms being set up for Latinos, highlights that this does not mean any sort of backing down on the part of the regime.

Note also the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. CBP continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders. (See my updates from yesterday, and the various links there, for details) Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.

A second major theme is watching the set of people involved. There appears to be a very tight “inner circle,” containing at least Trump, Bannon, Miller, Priebus, Kushner, and possibly Flynn, which is making all of the decisions. Other departments and appointees have been deliberately hobbled, with key orders announced to them only after the fact, staff gutted, and so on. Yesterday’s reorganization of the National Security Council mirrors this: Bannon and Priebus now have permanent seats on the Principals’ Committee; the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have both been demoted to only attending meetings where they are told that their expertise is relevant; the Secretary of Energy and the US representative to the UN were kicked off the committee altogether (in defiance of the authorizing statute, incidentally).

I am reminded of Trump’s continued operation of a private personal security force, and his deep rift with the intelligence community. Last Sunday, Kellyanne Conway (likely another member of the inner circle) said that “It’s really time for [Trump] to put in his own security and intelligence community,” and this seems likely to be the case.

As per my analysis yesterday, Trump is likely to want his own intelligence service disjoint from existing ones and reporting directly to him; given the current staffing and roles of his inner circle, Bannon is the natural choice for them to report through. (Having neither a large existing staff, nor any Congressional or Constitutional restrictions on his role as most other Cabinet-level appointees do) Keith Schiller would continue to run the personal security force, which would take over an increasing fraction of the Secret Service’s job.

Especially if combined with the DHS and the FBI, which appear to have remained loyal to the President throughout the recent transition, this creates the armature of a shadow government: intelligence and police services which are not accountable through any of the normal means, answerable only to the President.

(Note, incidentally, that the DHS already has police authority within 100 miles of any border of the US; since that includes coastlines, this area includes over 60% of Americans, and eleven entire states. They also have a standing force of over 45,000 officers, and just received authorization to hire 15,000 more on Wednesday.)

The third theme is money. Trump’s decision to keep all his businesses (not bothering with any blind trusts or the like), and his fairly open diversion of campaign funds, made it fairly clear from the beginning that he was seeing this as a way to become rich in the way that only dedicated kleptocrats can, and this week’s updates definitely tally with that. Kushner looks increasingly likely to be the money-man, acting as the liaison between piles of cash and the president.

This gives us a pretty good guess as to what the exit strategy is: become tremendously, and untraceably, rich, by looting any coffers that come within reach.

Combining all of these facts, we have a fairly clear picture in play.

    Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
    The regime’s main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
    The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday’s moves should be read as the first part of that.
    The aims of crushing various groups — Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press — are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.

If you’re looking for estimates of what this means for the future, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post on what “things going wrong” can look like. Fair warning: I stuffed that post with pictures of cute animals for a reason.

tldr; yes, it probably was.

General Discussion / The data that turned the world upside down
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:02:46 PM »

Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to analyze people in minute detail based on their Facebook activity. Did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory? Two reporters from Zurich-based Das Magazin (where an earlier version of this story appeared in December in German) went data-gathering.

On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich. The 34-year-old researcher had come to give a lecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) about the dangers of Big Data and the digital revolution. Kosinski gives regular lectures on this topic all over the world. He is a leading expert in psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology. When he turned on the TV that morning, he saw that the bombshell had exploded: contrary to forecasts by all leading statisticians, Donald J. Trump had been elected president of the United States.

For a long time, Kosinski watched the Trump victory celebrations and the results coming in from each state. He had a hunch that the outcome of the election might have something to do with his research. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned off the TV.

On the same day, a then little-known British company based in London sent out a press release: “We are thrilled that our revolutionary approach to data-driven communication has played such an integral part in President-elect Trump’s extraordinary win,” Alexander James Ashburner Nix was quoted as saying. Nix is British, 41 years old, and CEO of Cambridge Analytica. He is always immaculately turned out in tailor-made suits and designer glasses, with his wavy blonde hair combed back from his forehead. His company wasn't just integral to Trump’s online campaign, but to the UK's Brexit campaign as well.

Of these three players—reflective Kosinski, carefully groomed Nix and grinning Trump—one of them enabled the digital revolution, one of them executed it and one of them benefited from it.

How dangerous is big data?

Anyone who has not spent the last five years living on another planet will be familiar with the term Big Data. Big Data means, in essence, that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every “like” is stored. Especially every “like.” For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we’ve Googled “reduce blood pressure.”

On November 9, it became clear that maybe much more is possible. The company behind Trump’s online campaign—the same company that had worked for Leave.EU in the very early stages of its "Brexit" campaign—was a Big Data company: Cambridge Analytica.

To understand the outcome of the election—and how political communication might work in the future—we need to begin with a strange incident at Cambridge University in 2014, at Kosinski’s Psychometrics Center.

Psychometrics, sometimes also called psychographics, focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the “Big Five.” These are: openness (how open you are to new experiences?), conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), extroversion (how sociable are you?), agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and neuroticism (are you easily upset?). Based on these dimensions—they are also known as OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism—we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us. This includes their needs and fears, and how they is likely to behave. The ”Big Five” has become the standard technique of psychometrics. But for a long time, the problem with this approach was data collection, because it involved filling out a complicated, highly personal questionnaire. Then came the Internet. And Facebook. And Kosinski.

Michal Kosinski was a student in Warsaw when his life took a new direction in 2008. He was accepted by Cambridge University to do his PhD at the Psychometrics Centre, one of the oldest institutions of this kind worldwide. Kosinski joined fellow student David Stillwell (now a lecturer at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge) about a year after Stillwell had launched a little Facebook application in the days when the platform had not yet become the behemoth it is today. Their MyPersonality app enabled users to fill out different psychometric questionnaires, including a handful of psychological questions from the Big Five personality questionnaire (“I panic easily,“ “I contradict others”). Based on the evaluation, users received a “personality profile”—individual Big Five values—and could opt-in to share their Facebook profile data with the researchers.

    Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts.

Kosinski had expected a few dozen college friends to fill in the questionnaire, but before long, hundreds, thousands, then millions of people had revealed their innermost convictions. Suddenly, the two doctoral candidates owned the largest dataset combining psychometric scores with Facebook profiles ever to be collected.

The approach that Kosinski and his colleagues developed over the next few years was actually quite simple. First, they provided test subjects with a questionnaire in the form of an online quiz. From their responses, the psychologists calculated the personal Big Five values of respondents. Kosinski’s team then compared the results with all sorts of other online data from the subjects: what they “liked," shared or posted on Facebook, or what gender, age, place of residence they specified, for example. This enabled the researchers to connect the dots and make correlations.

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.

Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn’t stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether deduce whether someone's parents were divorced.

The strength of their modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject’s answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook “likes.” Seventy “likes” were enough to outdo what a person’s friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 “likes” what their partner knew. More “likes” could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook.

Michal Kosinski. Courtesy of Kosinski

Only weeks later Facebook “likes“ became private by default. Before that, the default setting was that anyone on the internet could see your "likes." But this was no obstacle to data collectors: while Kosinski always asked for the consent of Facebook users, many apps and online quizzes today require access to private data as a precondition for taking personality tests. (Anybody who wants to evaluate themselves based on their Facebook “likes” can do so on Kosinski’s website, and then compare their results to those of a classic Ocean questionnaire, like that of the Cambridge Psychometrics Center.)

    Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

But it was not just about “likes” or even Facebook: Kosinski and his team could now ascribe Big Five values based purely on how many profile pictures a person has on Facebook, or how many contacts they have (a good indicator of extraversion). But we also reveal something about ourselves even when we’re not online. For example, the motion sensor on our phone reveals how quickly we move and how far we travel (this correlates with emotional instability). Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

Above all, however—and this is key—it also works in reverse: not only can psychological profiles be created from your data, but your data can also be used the other way round to search for specific profiles: all anxious fathers, all angry introverts, for example—or maybe even all undecided Democrats? Essentially, what Kosinski had invented was sort of a people search engine. He started to recognize the potential—but also the inherent danger—of his work.

To him, the internet had always seemed like a gift from heaven. What he really wanted was to give something back, to share. Data can be copied, so why shouldn’t everyone benefit from it? It was the spirit of a whole generation, the beginning of a new era that transcended the limitations of the physical world. But what would happen, wondered Kosinski, if someone abused his people search engine to manipulate people? He began to add warnings to most of his scientific work. His approach, he warned, “could pose a threat to an individual’s well-being, freedom, or even life.” But no one seemed to grasp what he meant.

Around this time, in early 2014, Kosinski was approached by a young assistant professor in the psychology department called Aleksandr Kogan. He said he was inquiring on behalf of a company that was interested in Kosinski’s method, and wanted to access the MyPersonality database. Kogan wasn’t at liberty to reveal for what purpose; he was bound to secrecy.

At first, Kosinski and his team considered this offer, as it would mean a great deal of money for the institute, but then he hesitated. Finally, Kosinski remembers, Kogan revealed the name of the company: SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories. Kosinski Googled the company: “[We are] the premier election management agency,” says the company’s website. SCL provides marketing based on psychological modeling. One of its core focuses: Influencing elections. Influencing elections? Perturbed, Kosinski clicked through the pages. What kind of company was this? And what were these people planning?

What Kosinski did not know at the time: SCL is the parent of a group of companies. Who exactly owns SCL and its diverse branches is unclear, thanks to a convoluted corporate structure, the type seen in the UK Companies House, the Panama Papers, and the Delaware company registry. Some of the SCL offshoots have been involved in elections from Ukraine to Nigeria, helped the Nepalese monarch against the rebels, whereas others have developed methods to influence Eastern European and Afghan citizens for NATO. And, in 2013, SCL spun off a new company to participate in US elections: Cambridge Analytica.

Kosinski knew nothing about all this, but he had a bad feeling. “The whole thing started to stink,” he recalls. On further investigation, he discovered that Aleksandr Kogan had secretly registered a company doing business with SCL. According to a December 2015 report in The Guardian and to internal company documents given to Das Magazin, it emerges that SCL learned about Kosinski’s method from Kogan.

Kosinski came to suspect that Kogan's company might have reproduced the Facebook "Likes"-based Big Five measurement tool in order to sell it to this election-influencing firm. He immediately broke off contact with Kogan and informed the director of the institute, sparking a complicated conflict within the university. The institute was worried about its reputation. Aleksandr Kogan then moved to Singapore, married, and changed his name to Dr. Spectre. Michal Kosinski finished his PhD, got a job offer from Stanford and moved to the US.

Mr. Brexit

All was quiet for about a year. Then, in November 2015, the more radical of the two Brexit campaigns, “Leave.EU,” supported by Nigel Farage, announced that it had commissioned a Big Data company to support its online campaign: Cambridge Analytica. The company’s core strength: innovative political marketing—microtargeting—by measuring people's personality from their digital footprints, based on the OCEAN model.

    After the Brexit result, friends and acquaintances wrote to him: Just look at what you’ve done.

Now Kosinski received emails asking what he had to do with it—the words Cambridge, personality, and analytics immediately made many people think of Kosinski. It was the first time he had heard of the company, which borrowed its name, it said, from its first employees, researchers from the university. Horrified, he looked at the website. Was his methodology being used on a grand scale for political purposes?

After the Brexit result, friends and acquaintances wrote to him: Just look at what you’ve done. Everywhere he went, Kosinski had to explain that he had nothing to do with this company. (It remains unclear how deeply Cambridge Analytica was involved in the Brexit campaign. Cambridge Analytica would not discuss such questions.)

For a few months, things are relatively quiet. Then, on September 19, 2016, just over a month before the US elections, the guitar riffs of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” fill the dark-blue hall of New York's Grand Hyatt hotel. The Concordia Summit is a kind of World Economic Forum in miniature. Decision-makers from all over the world have been invited, among them Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. “Please welcome to the stage Alexander Nix, chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica,” a smooth female voice announces. A slim man in a dark suit walks onto the stage. A hush falls. Many in attendance know that this is Trump’s new digital strategy man. (A video of the presentation was posted on YouTube.)

A few weeks earlier, Trump had tweeted, somewhat cryptically, "Soon you’ll be calling me Mr. Brexit." Political observers had indeed noticed some striking similarities between Trump’s agenda and that of the right-wing Brexit movement. But few had noticed the connection with Trump’s recent hiring of a marketing company named Cambridge Analytica.

Alexander Nix. Image: Cambridge Analytica

    “Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven," says Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix

Up to this point, Trump’s digital campaign had consisted of more or less one person: Brad Parscale, a marketing entrepreneur and failed start-up founder who created a rudimentary website for Trump for $1,500. The 70-year-old Trump is not digitally savvy—there isn’t even a computer on his office desk. Trump doesn’t do emails, his personal assistant once revealed. She herself talked him into having a smartphone, from which he now tweets incessantly.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, relied heavily on the legacy of the first “social-media president,” Barack Obama. She had the address lists of the Democratic Party, worked with cutting-edge big data analysts from BlueLabs and received support from Google and DreamWorks. When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don’t understand the country and its people? Seriously?

“It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process.” The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. “Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates,” explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. “Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him,” another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

“So how did he do this?” Up to now, explains Nix, election campaigns have been organized based on demographic concepts. “A really ridiculous idea. The idea that all women should receive the same message because of their gender—or all African Americans because of their race.” What Nix meant is that while other campaigners so far have relied on demographics, Cambridge Analytica was using psychometrics.

Though this might be true, Cambridge Analytica’s role within Cruz’s campaign isn’t undisputed. In December 2015 the Cruz team credited their rising success to psychological use of data and analytics. In Advertising Age, a political client said the embedded Cambridge staff was "like an extra wheel," but found their core product, Cambridge's voter data modeling, still ”excellent.” The campaign would pay the company at least $5.8 million to help identify voters in the Iowa caucuses, which Cruz won, before dropping out of the race in May.

Nix clicks to the next slide: five different faces, each face corresponding to a personality profile. It is the Big Five or OCEAN Model. “At Cambridge,” he said, “we were able to form a model to predict the personality of every single adult in the United States of America.” The hall is captivated. According to Nix, the success of Cambridge Analytica’s marketing is based on a combination of three elements: behavioral science using the OCEAN Model, Big Data analysis, and ad targeting. Ad targeting is personalized advertising, aligned as accurately as possible to the personality of an individual consumer.

Nix candidly explains how his company does this. First, Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from a range of different sources, like land registries, automotive data, shopping data, bonus cards, club memberships, what magazines you read, what churches you attend. Nix displays the logos of globally active data brokers like Acxiom and Experian—in the US, almost all personal data is for sale. For example, if you want to know where Jewish women live, you can simply buy this information, phone numbers included. Now Cambridge Analytica aggregates this data with the electoral rolls of the Republican party and online data and calculates a Big Five personality profile. Digital footprints suddenly become real people with fears, needs, interests, and residential addresses.

The methodology looks quite similar to the one that Michal Kosinski once developed. Cambridge Analytica also uses, Nix told us, “surveys on social media” and Facebook data. And the company does exactly what Kosinski warned of: “We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people,” Nix boasts.

He opens the screenshot. “This is a data dashboard that we prepared for the Cruz campaign.” A digital control center appears. On the left are diagrams; on the right, a map of Iowa, where Cruz won a surprisingly large number of votes in the primary. And on the map, there are hundreds of thousands of small red and blue dots. Nix narrows down the criteria: “Republicans”—the blue dots disappear; “not yet convinced”—more dots disappear; “male”, and so on. Finally, only one name remains, including age, address, interests, personality and political inclination. How does Cambridge Analytica now target this person with an appropriate political message?

Alexander Nix at the 2016 Concordia Summit in New York. Image: Concordia Summit

Nix shows how psychographically categorized voters can be differently addressed, based on the example of gun rights, the 2nd Amendment: “For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience the threat of a burglary—and the insurance policy of a gun.“ An image on the left shows the hand of an intruder smashing a window. The right side shows a man and a child standing in a field at sunset, both holding guns, clearly shooting ducks: “Conversely, for a closed and agreeable audience. People who care about tradition, and habits, and family.”

How to keep Clinton voters away from the ballot box

Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016.

    These “dark posts”—sponsored Facebook posts that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

“Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven,” Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. “We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals.”

In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump’s campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to “suppress” their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These “dark posts”—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

Nix finishes his lecture at the Concordia Summit by stating that traditional blanket advertising is dead. “My children will certainly never, ever understand this concept of mass communication.” And before leaving the stage, he announced that since Cruz had left the race, the company was helping one of the remaining presidential candidates.

Just how precisely the American population was being targeted by Trump’s digital troops at that moment was not visible, because they attacked less on mainstream TV and more with personalized messages on social media or digital TV. And while the Clinton team thought it was in the lead, based on demographic projections, Bloomberg journalist Sasha Issenberg was surprised to note on a visit to San Antonio—where Trump’s digital campaign was based—that a “second headquarters” was being created. The embedded Cambridge Analytica team, apparently only a dozen people, received $100,000 from Trump in July, $250,000 in August, and $5 million in September. According to Nix, the company earned over $15 million overall. (The company is incorporated in the US, where laws regarding the release of personal data are more lax than in European Union countries. Whereas European privacy laws require a person to “opt in” to a release of data, those in the US permit data to be released unless a user “opts out.")

Groundgame, an app for election canvassing that integrates voter data with "geospatial visualization technology," was used by campaigners for Trump and Brexit. Image: L2

The measures were radical: From July 2016, Trump’s canvassers were provided with an app with which they could identify the political views and personality types of the inhabitants of a house. It was the same app provider used by Brexit campaigners. Trump’s people only rang at the doors of houses that the app rated as receptive to his messages. The canvassers came prepared with guidelines for conversations tailored to the personality type of the resident. In turn, the canvassers fed the reactions into the app, and the new data flowed back to the dashboards of the Trump campaign.

Again, this is nothing new. The Democrats did similar things, but there is no evidence that they relied on psychometric profiling. Cambridge Analytica, however, divided the US population into 32 personality types, and focused on just 17 states. And just as Kosinski had established that men who like MAC cosmetics are slightly more likely to be gay, the company discovered that a preference for cars made in the US was a great indication of a potential Trump voter. Among other things, these findings now showed Trump which messages worked best and where. The decision to focus on Michigan and Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign was made on the basis of data analysis. The candidate became the instrument for implementing a big data model.

What's Next?

But to what extent did psychometric methods influence the outcome of the election? When asked, Cambridge Analytica was unwilling to provide any proof of the effectiveness of its campaign. And it is quite possible that the question is impossible to answer.

And yet there are clues: There is the fact of the surprising rise of Ted Cruz during the primaries. Also there was an increased number of voters in rural areas. There was the decline in the number of African-American early votes. The fact that Trump spent so little money may also be explained by the effectiveness of personality-based advertising. As does the fact that he invested far more in digital than TV campaigning compared to Hillary Clinton. Facebook proved to be the ultimate weapon and the best election campaigner, as Nix explained, and as comments by several core Trump campaigners demonstrate.

Cambridge Analytica counts among its clients the U.S. State Department, and has been reported to have communicated with British Prime Minister Theresa May, pictured here with Secretary of State John Kerry on July 19, 2016. Image: U.S. Dept. of State

Many voices have claimed that the statisticians lost the election because their predictions were so off the mark. But what if statisticians in fact helped win the election—but only those who were using the new method? It is an irony of history that Trump, who often grumbled about scientific research, used a highly scientific approach in his campaign.

Another big winner is Cambridge Analytica. Its board member Steve Bannon, former executive chair of the right-wing online newspaper Breitbart News, has been appointed as Donald Trump’s senior counselor and chief strategist. Whilst Cambridge Analytica is not willing to comment on alleged ongoing talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Alexander Nix claims that he is building up his client base worldwide, and that he has received inquiries from Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. His company is currently touring European conferences showcasing their success in the United States. This year three core countries of the EU are facing elections with resurgent populist parties: France, Holland and Germany. The electoral successes come at an opportune time, as the company is readying for a push into commercial advertising.

Kosinski has observed all of this from his office at Stanford. Following the US election, the university is in turmoil. Kosinski is responding to developments with the sharpest weapon available to a researcher: a scientific analysis. Together with his research colleague Sandra Matz, he has conducted a series of tests, which will soon be published. The initial results are alarming: The study shows the effectiveness of personality targeting by showing that marketers can attract up to 63 percent more clicks and up to 1,400 more conversions in real-life advertising campaigns on Facebook when matching products and marketing messages to consumers’ personality characteristics. They further demonstrate the scalability of personality targeting by showing that the majority of Facebook Pages promoting products or brands are affected by personality and that large numbers of consumers can be accurately targeted based on a single Facebook Page.

In a statement after the German publication of this article, a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said, "Cambridge Analytica does not use data from Facebook. It has had no dealings with Dr. Michal Kosinski. It does not subcontract research. It does not use the same methodology. Psychographics was hardly used at all. Cambridge Analytica did not engage in efforts to discourage any Americans from casting their vote in the presidential election. Its efforts were solely directed towards increasing the number of voters in the election."

The world has been turned upside down. Great Britain is leaving the EU, Donald Trump is president of the United States of America. And in Stanford, Kosinski, who wanted to warn against the danger of using psychological targeting in a political setting, is once again receiving accusatory emails. “No,” says Kosinski, quietly and shaking his head. “This is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I only showed that it exists.”

This is why we can't have nice things. Like Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, we get so fixated on whether we *can* do something that no one stops to consider whether we should. Did Kosinski really think that after demonstrating that such a powerful technology could work (and how) that slapping a "WARNING: COULD BE DANGEROUS IF USED BY BOND VILLAINS" label on the box was going to prevent its misuse? Fuck that guy.

But anyway, this is the type of thing that makes me think that any sort of cautious optimism in terms of the direction the political climate is headed is merely costing us time. Even broad-brush propaganda can be effective when you're being bombarded by it consistently enough. In combination with the political-theatrical misdirection that Putin's regime is known for and that Bannon is said to be taking after and somewhere, every day, a fence sitter is becoming a Gideon and a protester is becoming a fence sitter.

General Discussion / Re: Giving some thought to embracing Islam
« on: January 30, 2017, 01:57:03 AM »

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 29, 2017, 07:55:34 PM »
It's now very obviouss the right wing extreme in our country leveraged other government's with similar conservative outlooks to accomplish what's happening.

However, Russia is 20 percent Muslim and views the Islamic world as a necessary ally. I don't think most Trump supporters or conservatives understand the differences in geopolitical conservatism and how it's vastly different from ours besides general things like generic ultra nationalism.

The goal of our enemies is to bog us down using subversion and it's working, the right wing just believe they are winning when I guarantee countries like Russia see this as our global descent into something much lesser.

So while bannon and co keep doing things like this while moving himself into the national security meetings, which I believe this was a tactic to distract from that.

The world is going to be moving fast against us and the current government is going to have to deal with internal discourse while our enemies strengthen their positions.

This is how I've been interpreting Putin's support of Trump from day one

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 29, 2017, 07:17:54 PM »
I said hysterical opposition (in general), not just reporting, although that reached a low point just around the election.

I know, that's why I made the distinction to delineate the bounds of my agreement with you. You'd have to be more specific about what you consider hysterical opposition outside the real of media; we may or may not disagree. Some people would consider just going out and protesting like people did on election noght and last weekend as hysterical opposition and I don't agree with that at all (otoh see also my response to Sear below).

Jesus Christ I really don't even know what to say anymore

I reached this point pretty much immediately after election day. The evidently endless cycle of "did you hear that Trump __comic book villainy_______ yesterday?" "Oh my god, yeah, can you believe it?" shows no signs of slowing down and doesn't even really feel cathartic at this point. I personally see no room or cause for cautious optimism at this point--nothing that's happened so far surprises me, and what would surprise me at this point is if we get through the next four years without a war cropping up--and I feel like whatever limited potential we have to mitigate this shitshow is in direct proportion to how quickly Americans shake off the shock and grief and start really organizing, whether that's to vote in more acceptable assholes to replace the current assholes or just to throw increasingly large public tantrums until we get concessions, or whatever's clever.

Has anyone else been engaging in any kind of activism, or thinking about it? I've been volunteering a bunch every week and floating around a few different leftist groups trying to see where the bright ideas are. So far none of them seem to have many besides getting more people to show up regularly and try to come up with some. But I think even that is important--especially since Trump' and his cabinet's MO seems to be to gaslight the entire country until we forget he's a piece of shit and that most Americans think so.

If this seems like insufferable low-key bragging I really don't mean it that way--I have the luxury of having fewer obligations to schedule around/be exhausted by, and I'm just throwing myself at whatever seems productive, half just for my own sanity because I'm a lot more anxious about the current political climate than I get the sense many of you are (and if it seems ridiculous I hope in four years it seems as laughable to me as it does to you).

[nonviolent] protesting seems like the obvious and immediate answer

I agree--I've been doing that, too. I just worry that it's not enough and that eventually that fervor to protest (not to mention its ability to have any impact at all on anyone not participating) will start to run dry as Trump continues to fuck up one thing after another without concern for correspondingly increasingly common the protests--similar to what happened with Occupy.

Sifter, good info

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 29, 2017, 11:18:43 AM »
Hysterical opposition is not going to help. Trump can only be beaten by picking major issues where he is obviously wrong/lying and exposing him. Crying wolf about every small or unsubstantiated thing, like media / dems has been doing, will just make him immune to scrutiny. Take the sloppy reporting on the MLK bust, he has been using that to deflect legitimate criticism as "fake news".

I think hysterical writing-op-eds-and-saying-see,-isn't-he-awful won't solve anything. To that extent I agree with you. I don't think waiting around for the media--including social media--to invoke some magical narrative that'll finally Trump back into a pumpkin and some dryer lint like we spent the entire election cycle doing is going get us anywhere no matter how much we talk among ourselves about what that narrative needs to look like. On the one side you've got Trump and avowed propagandist Steve Bannon actively scheming to silence the media and neutralize its messaging, on the other side you've got a cacophony of anxious voices grasping at any sign that others agree with them that we are in the darkest timeline, to remind themselves that they aren't going crazy even though Trump wamts them to think so, and in the middle you've got the actual media who, while it may contain some real, honest journalists here and there, still knows that in a time when people are desperate to reinforce their hatred of the administration, hysterical shotgun criticism gets clicks and shares.

I think in order to keep this pendulum from swinging so far to the right that it knocks the whole clock over by the time reelection rolls around it's going to take serious organization of real, on-the-ground people reaching out to other real people, in person, and talking about what we agree doesn't work and how to--and more importantly, right now--how not to fix it.

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 28, 2017, 11:16:12 PM »
I was asking not implying. I want to know what you think would need to happen for this to be solved, in realistic terms. Not the positive outcome, but what would it actually require to get to that point.

That's what I never hear, people get focused on the goal and not the road to it.
I honestly don't know. I think one priority has to be just getting as many people together who agree shit's not working as possible and just mutually acknowledging that of each other directly instead of second guessing the political climate based on what pundits and op-eds tell us. I think even accomplishing just that is potentially a pupe-dream, and it definitely won't solve anything by itself, but ai think if we fail to do it then as apathy and despair kicks in over the next four years --not to mention all the gaslighting from Trump and the parties that benefit from his policies, which will probably only get worse--we may find ourselves truly at a loss as to means of resisting at all--at least until shit gets unimaginably worse and we start seeing water riots or something.

I think the milquetoast neoliberal try-to-please-the-center approach is a nonstarter, in partial answer to your question. I don't know what, exactly, is better, but I think that anything that's gonna work--both in terms of policy and getting the power to implement it--is gonna have to come from grassroots organization at this point (partly because there's so little trust in the democratic party that reforming it wouldn't guarantee it could get the support anymore, and partly because the party is so undeserving of trust that I'm personally not that confident it's worth trying to fix).- What we have to work with is that 40% of households control less than 1% of the wealth in the country and most people--left or right--have some sense that there getting fucked over by our economic policy in one way or another. It's just that the left thinks it's the super rich and the right thinks it's the liberal elites funneling money into bloated bureaucracies that feed all the poor families except theirs or none at all.

I think the only potent political messaging at this point (and since before the election cycle started) is necessarily radical to some degree, in one direction or the other. Bernie's was good--maybe the best we could do at the time. I dunno if that can be salvaged at this point but I think that for now, for lack of a better idea, his more avid followers' initiative in carrying that torch into their local politics and the coming midterms is a good direction to be looking.

General Discussion / Re: Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 28, 2017, 10:36:28 PM »
Do you believe the US will be able to work like this, the back and forth politics which some believe needs to find a middle and we just try to casually hover around that center.

What did I say to make you think so?

General Discussion / Americans: Doing things?
« on: January 28, 2017, 10:24:57 PM »
Jesus Christ I really don't even know what to say anymore

I reached this point pretty much immediately after election day. The evidently endless cycle of "did you hear that Trump __comic book villainy_______ yesterday?" "Oh my god, yeah, can you believe it?" shows no signs of slowing down and doesn't even really feel cathartic at this point. I personally see no room or cause for cautious optimism at this point--nothing that's happened so far surprises me, and what would surprise me at this point is if we get through the next four years without a war cropping up--and I feel like whatever limited potential we have to mitigate this shitshow is in direct proportion to how quickly Americans shake off the shock and grief and start really organizing, whether that's to vote in more acceptable assholes to replace the current assholes or just to throw increasingly large public tantrums until we get concessions, or whatever's clever.

Has anyone else been engaging in any kind of activism, or thinking about it? I've been volunteering a bunch every week and floating around a few different leftist groups trying to see where the bright ideas are. So far none of them seem to have many besides getting more people to show up regularly and try to come up with some. But I think even that is important--especially since Trump' and his cabinet's MO seems to be to gaslight the entire country until we forget he's a piece of shit and that most Americans think so.

If this seems like insufferable low-key bragging I really don't mean it that way--I have the luxury of having fewer obligations to schedule around/be exhausted by, and I'm just throwing myself at whatever seems productive, half just for my own sanity because I'm a lot more anxious about the current political climate than I get the sense many of you are (and if it seems ridiculous I hope in four years it seems as laughable to me as it does to you).

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