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Alexander Wait Zaranek
Friendly Scientist
Friendly Scientist

Alexander Wait's posts

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What is shocking about this situation is that the "hits" are now coming via fire hose. There are almost too many scandals to count or digest or protest. And while the occasional Republican opposes one or two items they let the rest pass unopposed.

The dysfunction is an intended feature of an administration that will set the USA and the world on fire in the process of fulfilling their own wildest fantasies. 

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The horror-show drags on... 

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This is a very important idea. Google, Facebook and others must address this ASAP. 
Weaponized, AI-Backed Propaganda

The synergy between fake-content networks, automated message testing, and personality profiling will rapidly spread to other digital mediums. Albright’s most-recent research focuses on an artificial intelligence that automatically creates YouTube videos about news and current events. The AI, which reacts to trending topics on Facebook and Twitter, pairs images and subtitles with a computer generated voiceover. It spooled out nearly 80,000 videos through 19 different channels in just a few days.

If fake news created the scaffolding for this new automated political propaganda machine, bots, or fake social media profiles, have become its foot soldiers -- an army of political robots used to control conversations on social media and silence and intimidate journalists and others who might undermine their messaging.
It's likely Cambridge Analytica will secure more contracts with federal agencies and is in the final stages of negotiations to begin managing White House digital communication throughout the Trump Administration. What new predictive-personality targeting becomes possible with potential access to data on U.S. voters from the IRS, Department of Homeland Security, or the NSA?

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment,” Bannon said in 2013. We know that Steve Bannon subscribes to a theory of history where a messianic ‘Grey Warrior’ consolidates power and remakes the global order. Bolstered by the success of Brexit and the Trump victory, Breitbart (which Bannon owns) and Cambridge Analytica (which Bannon sits on the board of) are now bringing fake news and automated propaganda to support far-right parties in at least Germany, France, Hungary, and India as well as parts of South America.

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Dear parents: Let your kids use open source software

A 16-year-old boy recently asked the r/Linux community for advice. When his parents discovered that he'd reloaded his laptop with Linux, they were horrified—after all, this "free" software must certainly be riddled with viruses and/or hackers. It didn't help matters any that he'd "ruined" an expensive gift, and was no longer using some of the expensive software that had been purchased with it. He tried to talk to them about it, but it was tough—he was the teenager; they were the adults.

With the help of information and advice from the Reddit community, that young man talked to his parents again and helped set most of their concerns to rest. The open letter you're reading right now is for the other parents out there who have discovered their children are using free and open source software, and aren't sure what it is, or whether using it is a good idea.

Read the open letter at

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Quote: In his speech, McCain suggested the Western world is uniquely imperiled this year — even more so than when Barack Obama was president — and proceeded to question whether it will even survive.

“In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism; not this year,” McCain said. “If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.”

In case there was any doubt that this was about Trump. Here's what followed:

"[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”

"They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”

“They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”

"They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."

John McCain is increasingly mad as hell about President Trump. And on Friday, he went after Trump -- hard.

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Quote: I am a lifelong Republican. I voted for every Republican presidential candidate from 1968 to 2004. But I have watched what once was a sane, center-right party go off the rails, first to the extreme right, then to wherever Trump is, which is in another universe.

It’s tough, but we must end this dangerous presidency. Trump must be impeached and removed with all haste. But only Congress can initiate the process.

Our congressman, Steve Chabot, has been busy defending Trump from the media, which is simply reporting Trump’s machinations. It’s time for him to man-up and start drafting the articles of impeachment. As I remember, he did it for Clinton for far less than Trump has already done.

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This is a very good essay by +Melissa McEwan

{The author has also posted about people resharing her work without attribution. Don't do that! }

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A Crack Opens and a Ray of Light in Solving Our Gerrymandering Problem

This is such great news. The problem of political monopolies, or gerrymandering, is one of the most damning causes of problems in our political system.

As former President Barack Obama, who has pledged to make the battle against gerrymandering a focus of his post-presidential activism, has said: “If we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a congressman or a senator or even a president. We have to change the system to reflect our better selves.”

As an example of the skewing it causes:
Fiddler’s point gets to the heart of the matter. Discussions about gerrymandering involve a lot more than maps. They are about electoral competition and the makeup of legislative chambers. Fair competition, in Wisconsin and nationally, could produce dramatic change in politics and governing. For instance: In 2012 voting for state assembly seats in Wisconsin, Democrats won 174,000 more votes than Republicans. Yet, because of the gerrymandering of the assembly maps by Walker and his allies, Republicans won a 60-39 majority in the chamber.

Special thanks to +John Verdon for flagging this to my attention.


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