A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

[OBSCURA] “The Story Behind That ‘Future That Liberals Want’ Photo”

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In a great Wired article, Charley Locke describes how a photo taken on the New York City subway system by Instagram user subwaycreatures ended up going hilariously viral.

Samuel Themer never planned to be a symbol of everything that’s right or wrong with America. He just wanted to go to work. But when he hopped on the subway to head into Manhattan on February 19, the Queens resident was in full drag—he performs as Gilda Wabbit. He also ended up sitting next to a woman in a niqab, a fact he initially didn’t even notice. “I was just sitting on the train, existing,” he says. “It didn’t seem out of the ordinary that a woman in full modesty garb would sit next to me.”

Someone on that W car with them, though, thought otherwise. Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, wanted to document what he saw as a testament to tolerance, so he took a photo of the pair and posted it to Instagram. “It’s diversity,” says Barry, who says he doesn’t identify as liberal or conservative but does oppose President Trump’s refugee ban. “They sit next to each other, and no one cares.”

But someone did care. After the post was shared by Instagram account subwaycreatures, the photo drifted across the internet until /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet on Wednesday with the message “This is the future that liberals want.”

/pol/ News Network, which also recently declared Get Out to be anti-white propaganda, probably intended the post to be a warning about the impending liberal dystopia. But as soon as actual liberals saw it, they flipped the message on its head—and began touting the message as exactly the future they wanted. They filled /pol/ News Network’s mentions with messages endorsing the photo and adding their own visions of a bright future. By Thursday, it was a full-blown meme. Soon images of a future filled with interspecies companionship, gay space communism, and Garfield flooded onto social media.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 6, 2017 at 8:00 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO shares ten facts about Union Station.
  • Centauri Dreams describes possible ice volcanoes on Ceres.
  • Crooked Timber argues in favour of implementing a basic income before a universal income, on grounds of reducing inequality and easing the very poor.
  • The Crux shares an argument against dark matter.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze talks about nitrogen and oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres as biomarkers.
  • Far Outliers looks at intertribal warfare on the American plains in the 19th century.
  • The LRB Blog talks about critical shortages of translators, and funding for said, at official functions in the United Kingdom.
  • Language Log tries to translate the Chinese word used by the head of the Chinese supreme court to insult Donald Trump.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map showing how particular areas of the United States are especially dependent on foreign trade.
  • pollotenchegg maps areas of relative youth and agedness in Ukraine.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at what happened to his Twitter stats after he quite.
  • Towleroad links to a new duet featuring Chrissie Hynde and Neil Tennant.
  • Window on Eurasia warns of a Russian invasion of Belarus and argues that Novgorod’s proto-democratic tradition no longer exists.

[PHOTO] Seven past links of mine and one review on photography

  • In July 2009, I wrote about my reaction to the photography of Nan Goldin, as seen in a 2003 exhibition at Montréal’s Musée d’art contemporain and in book format in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, noting how her impulse to preserve the people around her in photographs is one I got.
  • In November 2010, I linked to a blog post by Andrew Barton talking about how film photography, unlike digital photography, imposed a certain discipline owing to the relative expense of film.
  • In February 2012, I noted in an article on the power of social media to drive the mass media Zeynap Tufekci’s essay wondering if social networking technologies and ubiquitous video and photography will help preserve bad memories as well as the good.
  • In April 2012, I linked to an article arguing that Instagram was ultimately good for photography.
  • In January 2014, I linked to an io9 article predicting the imminent end of cameras as standalone devices.
  • In June 2015, I linked to an Open Democracy essay talking about how photography can lend structure to a chaotic world.
  • In December 2015, I defended the practice of taking photographs in art galleries, even selfies, as actions perfectly compatible with caring about the artworks that would be subjects or even backgrounds to photographs.
  • In December 2016, I linked to an article in Wired noting how the power of photographs helps spread fake news.
  • On that same day in December, I shared Burhan Ozbilici’s stunning photograph of Mevlut Mert Altintas, assassin of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, praising Ozbilici’s skill.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 6, 2017 at 11:30 pm

[LINK] “The Suicide Bomber Next Door”

In the latest issue of Toronto Life, Lauren McKeon examines the short and sad life of Aaron Driver, a small-town Canadian who became so lost after family traumas–a mother’s early death, a stillborn child–that he managed to join up with ISIS online, eventually to die in a confrontation with police.

Aaron Driver was a sunny, easygoing kid with knobby knees and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles obsession. Born in Regina in 1991 to Wayne, a long-haul trucker, and Linda, a stay-at-home mom, he was a late addition to his family. His sister, Eileen, was already 12, and his brother, Rob, was 10. Wayne often spent weeks on the road, and, in his absence, Aaron became inseparable from his mom. He’d do anything to make her happy—clean his room, do his homework, take out the garbage.

Wayne, a devout Christian, had always planned to become a pastor, but he never finished divinity school. Instead, he worked a succession of contract jobs. The Drivers moved around constantly, jumping across Canada from Regina to Kitchener to Port Colborne. On Sundays, they would go to church, then pack a picnic lunch and head to a nearby beach on Lake Erie.

Everything changed when Aaron was seven. Doctors discovered an inoperable tumour in his mom’s brain. Aaron didn’t understand how sick she was until his dad brought him to the hospital to see her undergo radiation. That’s when it sunk in: she wasn’t going to be okay. Aaron grew quiet and withdrawn, spending entire days in the hospital room with his mom.

A few months after Linda was diagnosed, she fell into a coma and never woke up. Aaron was inconsolable. He and his father were suddenly on their own—his older siblings had already moved out—and Aaron found the loneliness unbearable. In the following months, he often refused to get out of bed to go to school. He stopped eating his lunches, telling Wayne that, if he starved himself to death, he could be with his mom in heaven.

When Aaron was nine, his dad met a woman named Monica on a Christian dating site. Aaron seemed to like her at first, but that changed when, several months later, she and Wayne announced they were getting married. Aaron snapped. He raged and screamed, telling his dad nobody would ever replace his mom—and that he wished Wayne had died instead. Wayne took Aaron to a Christian bereavement counsellor, but his son refused to participate. He tried again with a psychiatrist and had to drag Aaron into the office; he sat through the entire appointment in silence. When Wayne brought a family counsellor in for home sessions, Aaron would storm out of the room. Eventually, Wayne stopped trying altogether.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2017 at 9:15 pm

[LINK] “Why Kevin O’Leary is a gift to Kathleen Wynne”

The Toronto Star‘s Martin Regg Cohn argues that the online arguments between Kathleen Wynne and Kevin O’Leary may help the former, by giving her a highly public exchange with a political opponent who can be proved wrong.

When [Kevin O’Leary] trash-talks Ontario, it’s music to [Kathleen Wynne’s] well-worn ears — those ears having been bent out of shape by angry voters, and pinched by her provincial opponents.

The premier can’t push back against senior citizens with quavering voices, and it’s tough to pin down her invisible opposition rivals — akin to fighting phantoms.

O’Leary, however, is right out of central casting. The long-running TV personality is now running for the federal Tory leadership, but he went off script by taking a run at Ontario with the usual pot shots.

Not just high hydro bills, but high taxes allegedly driving away auto plants.

Which is why the premier couldn’t resist engaging him — not on a Tory campaign stage, but on the Facebook platform that now hosts fake news and faux debates. The better to bend our ears and bait our eyeballs.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[LINK] “Premier Kathleen Wynne bombarded on social media by homophobic, sexist abuse”

There are many reasons to criticize the government of Ontario’s Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne. There are many ways to criticize her. The personal abuse described in Mike Crawley’s CBC News report is not one of these ways.

The replies to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Twitter are not for the faint of heart.

The tweets at Wynne predominantly express anger about her record and most stay within the bounds of fair comment, not crossing the line into personal abuse. Such calls as “Resign!” “You’re incompetent!” and “Worst premier ever!” are now simply part of the deal for a politician in the era of social media.

But Wynne also draws a significant number of abusive, sexist and homophobic tweets. [. . .]

The comments on Wynne’s Facebook page are equally nasty, but her communications team filters out posts that contain the most abusive words so the public can’t view them.

A member of the premier’s staff showed CBC News nearly 40 Facebook posts filtered out from just the past week, including ones calling Wynne a “wrinkly bitch” (by a Facebook user named George Onock) a “subhuman, dirty dyke” (Frank Yurkowski) and a “lying cheating c–t.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[LINK] “China urges Trump: be our friend, not our enemy”

That Donald Trump is set for a confrontation with China and that this was not a surprise is the dominant theme in Tom Phillips’ article in The Guardian, which notes how the state media has muted criticism of Trump in an effort to prevent too bad a deterioration. Liu Zhen’s South China Morning Post article looking at the reactions of netizens is also worth reading for a take on how ordinary Chinese once pro-Trump are changing their minds.

China has urged Donald Trump to be its friend not its enemy, amid fears the tycoon’s inauguration could set the world’s two largest economies on a calamitous collision course.

Since his shock election last November Trump has repeatedly put Beijing’s nose out of joint, challenging it over the militarisation of the South China Sea, alleged currency manipulation and North Korea and threatening to up-end relations by offering greater political recognition to Taiwan.

The billionaire has also handed jobs to several stridently anti-China voices including one academic who has described its rulers as a cabal of despicable, parasitic, brutal, brass-knuckled, crass, callous, amoral, ruthless totalitarians.

But on the eve of Trump’s swearing in, China’s government and state-run media struck a conciliatory tone with the man about to become the United States’ 45th president.

“Both sides should try to be friends and partners, rather than opponents or enemies,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm