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echovar Posts

Until November

Jack Dorsey has got himself into a fix. He allowed disinformation and damaging tweets from the president to pass into the real-time stream without comment. The idea that “if the president says it, it should be made available to the public” held sway. Surely people will make the appropriate judgements about his statements and act accordingly.

This approach assumes that the statements have no effect on a reader’s ability to judge both the speaker and the statement. This is false. The purpose of military-grade disinformation campaigns is to destroy the readers capacity to distinguish what is true and false, what is moral and immoral. Once our capacity for judgement is damaged, anything becomes permissible.

After the horse had left the barn, Dorsey authorized his team to tag a few of the president’s tweets with fact check links. And then, another tweet with a notice that it violated the company’s policy against fomenting violence.

The president’s statements published through Twitter will continue to escalate as November approaches. The question for Jack Dorsey is whether he will continue to meet the challenge or will he fold and allow the president to execute his disinformation campaign. Jack’s opposite number at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has already folded. In fact, he’s using his team’s algos to pour gasoline on the president’s disinformation campaign. Mark views this as a business opportunity.

What do you call neutrality in the face of the destruction of our democratic republic?

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American Prayer

From Elizabeth Kaetan’s feed, something worth reading at least twice.

The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran pastor and author (and now podcaster – The Confessional) offered this reflection yesterday, which I think is a perfect response to the “White House Commandment.”

I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.

So, for now I just ask that:

When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life Album, that it be counted as praise. (Happy 70thBirthday, SW!)

And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest, may it be counted as a Kyrie.

And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.

And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a shower may it be counted as remembering my baptism.

And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.

And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her grace and love of you may it be counted as a hearing a homily.

And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my time or attention, may it be counted as communion.

Amen.

-Nadia Bolz-Weber

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Algorithmic Gasoline

Zuckerberg added, “The fact is, there is no truth. There’s only interaction scores with content. Lies and truth don’t come in to it. Our business model is based on this idea. See, there’s this little fire and our algos throw gasoline on it to make it a bigger fire. Bigger fires make us more money. And who doesn’t like watching things burn?”

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From Plague Notebooks

This is from Michiku Kakutani’s “Pandemic Notebook” published in the New York Times Book Review on Sunday, May 17, 2020.

“Camus’s novel can also be read as an allegory about the struggle against the Nazi occupation of France. Like members of the Resistance, Dr. Rieux knew ‘there must be no bowing down’ to the plague–no compromise with evil, no resignation to fate. He identified with victims of the plague–‘ there was not one of their anxieties in which he did not share, no predicament of theirs that was not his’–and he knew the ‘essential thing was to save the greatest possible number of persons from dying.’

It’s this sense of individual responsibility, combined with his feelings of solidarity with others, that enable Dr. Rieux to hold fast to two not entirely contradictory truths: the understanding that we must remain ever vigilant because the plague bacillus, like the poison of fascism or tyranny, ‘never dies or disappears,’ and the optimistic belief that ‘what we learn in time of pestilence’ is ‘that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.'”

And that’s the quote of the day.

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