May I see a show of hands of anyone who can guess why this entry is late? If you guessed “a primary election,” you win a prize. It is my heavy-lidded presence right here.
It wasn’t that the work was so bad, but the information-packing of one’s own head, of reading take after take and analysis after analysis. After a while, I feel like Lucy and Ethel in front of the candy conveyer belt, and I have to go watch Israelis and Palestinians battle to the death on “Fauda.”
Fortunately, I have so, so many links to share.
First, a subsection on the internet and its peculiarities, starting with an interesting but not-followed-by-anyone-else explanation of how the Al Franken story spread so quickly and seemed to have grassroots momentum in calling for his exit from the Senate, when in fact? It didn’t:
While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to support Donald Trump, the Franken take-down originated in—and was propelled by—a strategic online campaign with digital tentacles reaching to, of all places, Japan. Analysts have now mapped out how the initial accusation against Franken by Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model Leeann Tweeden was turned into effective propaganda after first being hinted at by right wing black ops master Roger Stone.
A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral—and then weaponized a liberal writer’s criticism of Franken. The bot army, in tandem with prominent real live human right-wingers with Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich, spewed thousands of posts, helping the #frankenfondles hashtag and the “Franken is a groper” meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year.
The best argument for studying computer science is being prepared for this bullshit. Of course Roger Stone is up to his neck in it.
On a related but more technical note, J.C. sent along this piece on “the bullshit web,” i.e. the graphics-and-code-laden websites that take forever to load, even with a fast connection and a middle-aged computer:
Take that CNN article, for example. Here’s what it contained when I loaded it:
- Eleven web fonts, totalling 414 KB
- Four stylesheets, totalling 315 KB
- Twenty frames
- Twenty-nine XML HTTP requests, totalling about 500 KB
Approximately one hundred scripts, totalling several megabytes — though it’s hard to pin down the number and actual size because some of the scripts are “beacons” that load after the page is technically finished downloading.
The vast majority of these resources are not directly related to the information on the page, and I’m including advertising. Many of the scripts that were loaded are purely for surveillance purposes: self-hosted analytics, of which there are several examples; various third-party analytics firms like Salesforce, Chartbeat, and Optimizely; and social network sharing widgets. They churn through CPU cycles and cause my six-year-old computer to cry out in pain and fury. I’m not asking much of it; I have opened a text-based document on the web.
My own beloved MacBook Air is now about four years old, and I can already see signs of this happening to it. It’s the best, fastest computer I’ve ever owned (although I guess you can say that about every new one, right?), but on a night like Tuesday, when I have about a million tabs open, the fans start roaring and I have to go through one by one and shut most of them down, usually because a Pampers ad is playing on a loop.
Anyway, that’s one for you computer geeks.
Speaking of graphics, here’s another one of those juicy NYT data presentations on the average age of first-time motherhood, county by county. There are several maps; note how the age rises with education and income. Fascinating look at the demographics of a significant milestone in almost everyone’s life.
And at the other end of the reproductive arc, also from the NYT, the gift of menopause:
I was never a woman who turned heads, but menopause has made me invisible, and I love being invisible. Why did I ever care if strangers thought I was pretty? Worse, why didn’t I think I was pretty at an age when everyone is pretty? “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26,” wrote Nora Ephron in “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” “If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34.”
I don’t know if it’s menopause or simply aging, but time’s winged chariot has freed me from bikinis, among other things. Life is full of obligations that can’t be shirked, but always there are “obligations” I’m not obliged to do. No, I don’t want to sit on that panel. No, I don’t want to attend that fund-raiser. No, I don’t want to go to that party. The days are running out, faster and faster, and I have learned that every yes I say to something I don’t want to do inevitably means saying no to something that matters to me far more — time with my family, time with my friends, time in the woods, time with a book.
It doesn’t really have a larger point, but it’s a pleasant read, and I know we have a lot of ladies here who’ve gone through the big M. I like being invisible, too. Most days.
I was hoping to keep you-know-who out of my head for a few hours, but he keeps opening the hole in his own, and so we must note the dumber things he says. The stuff about how the fires in California, something something, the water being dumped into the ocean? Like, we could put those fires out if only we had enough water? Er, not true. What’s more, he got this idea from? Alex Jones.
Finally, an elegant little essay about the latest Deplorable picture taken at a Trump rally.
Read it if you like. I’m going to put dinner on.