We discovered a new cocktail in France: the negroni sbagliato. A negroni, as fans of Stanley Tucci know, is very easy to make — equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, shaken with ice, garnished with an orange slice. Very refreshing. In a negroni sbagliato, you substitute sparkling wine for the gin, which lessens the alcohol content and makes it super-refreshing. (“Sbagliato” means “mistake” in Italian, and the legend goes it was invented when a busy bartender reached for the wrong bottle, but you know about legends.)
Alan bought a bottle of prosecco the other day, but it hasn’t exactly been refreshing-cocktail weather lately. Dreary rain and chill. (Also, you don’t want to open a bottle of sparkling wine if you’re not going to finish it, and so it’s best for when you have friends over.) I made the first soup of the season last night, if you don’t count last week’s chili. Cream of broccoli, because Vegetables. Probably should have served a hot toddy in the cold rain, but we just drank the remainder of the white wine after I added a cup or so to the soup.
And now I think I’m going to take the week off drinking. Got a little too accustomed to the 50cl bottle at lunch, and more at dinner, etc. Of course, in a country where McDonald’s and Haagen-Dazs both have alcoholic choices on the menu, you’re just going with the flow. Back home, you should stop drinking so much, you ol’ sot.
I’ve been reading a fair amount about Facebook lately. I said on my own page that I was ready to pull the plug on that hellsite, that once I stopped working for good and didn’t have to post stories for work, I’d be happy to step back and never post again. Maybe keep the account active for the Marketplace and because some people simply refuse to communicate any way other than via Messenger, but otherwise? Pfft. And I must say, the site is making this easy. My news feed is now disproportionately what’s known as “like farming,” i.e. stupid posts that encourage engagement. “Who remembers when the national anthem was played at the end of the broadcast day,” maybe, or “Come on – who here hasn’t gotten a DUI?” The idea is to get people agitated enough to interact with it, which boosts its position, which boosts the poster’s other material, etc. If this is Facebook, fuck ’em. If I want content like this, I can wander down to a local oil-change place and look at the 25th-generation Xeroxes on the break-room bulletin board.
But I realize I’m in the minority, that the site still has way more active users than detractors, and that it’s continuing on its path to destabilize western democracy, just the same. Social media in general doesn’t appear to be good for anyone, but as a Twitter addict I will say I enjoy the kitty videos, and Cats With Jobs (@CatWorkers) always pleases me. Anyway, back to FB, here’s the NYT today:
Apart from the Like button, Facebook has scrutinized its share button, which lets users instantly spread content posted by other people; its groups feature, which is used to form digital communities; and other tools that define how more than 3.5 billion people behave and interact online. The research, laid out in thousands of pages of internal documents, underlines how the company has repeatedly grappled with what it has created.
What researchers found was often far from positive. Time and again, they determined that people misused key features or that those features amplified toxic content, among other effects. In an August 2019 internal memo, several researchers said it was Facebook’s “core product mechanics” — meaning the basics of how the product functioned — that had let misinformation and hate speech flourish on the site.
“The mechanics of our platform are not neutral,” they concluded.
You don’t say. Elsewhere in the same edition, Ben Smith has a column on Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower. It mentions the platform’s role in fomenting sectarian violence overseas. Getta loada this shit:
Dozens of religious extremists burst into a Pentecostal church outside New Delhi in June, claiming it was built atop a Hindu temple. The group installed a Hindu idol in protest, and a pastor says he was punched in the head by attackers.
Members of a Hindu nationalist organization known as Bajrang Dal claimed responsibility in a video describing the incursion that has been viewed almost 250,000 times on Facebook. The social-media company’s safety team earlier this year concluded that Bajrang Dal supported violence against minorities across India and likely qualified as a “dangerous organization” that should be banned from the platform, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook Inc. balked at removing the group following warnings in a report from its security team that cracking down on Bajrang Dal might endanger both the company’s business prospects and its staff in India, the people said. Besides risking infuriating India’s ruling Hindu nationalist politicians, banning Bajrang Dal might precipitate physical attacks against Facebook personnel or facilities, the report warned.
Look on your works, Mark Zuckerberg, and despair. Have I mentioned how very very tired I am of “move fast and break things.” It’s given us piles of shit-tastic technology, and an overwhelming culture of shrugging and back-to-the-ol’-drawing-board and hey-don’t-blame-us-we’re-just-a-platform. It’s maddening.
Anyway. That’s Monday morning. How’s yours?
Finally, I think I’m going to drop some random France pictures in here until I – or you guys – get tired of it. Less-traveled Metro station, here. Love that tile: