Only jerks are invited to Trump social media summit

Trump says Google wants to rig the 2020 election.

How much is Trump's taxpayer-paid golf bill? $108.1 million and counting

“I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off.” —Candidate Donald Trump, 2016

Consultant helps game developers not do stupid things such as decorate lava levels with Stars of David

Geographer Kate Edwards helps game developers avoid offensive and malignant stereotypes and tropes in their work. There are more than enough mistakes and blunders to keep her in business.

A common and “safe” way of avoiding problems [is] inventing a whole pseudo-country. It’s worth noting that Ubisoft have since announced that their next big Clancyromp, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, will airlift our angry shootyboys out of Bolivia and drop them in a fictional Pacific Island nation called Aurora. But I want to know if transplanting your story like this really helps. Or if it’s just an ill-fitting patch.

“I actually think that’s a very effective tool,” says Edwards. “Good science fiction and fantasy have been using allegory forever… [It’s] a very powerful way to make people think about the particular situation without just bluntly hitting them over the head with it. You can do that too if your narrative serves that purpose – and I don’t think we should instantly shy away from doing that. If you have a good reason to set your action and narrative in a certain locale that is real, then I would go ahead and explore that option.

“Ultimately, you have to ask yourself… how much of a difference does it make to the narrative purpose of your game whether it’s set in Bolivia or it’s set in some fictional South American country? Is it really going to change things significantly for the narrative of the game?”

But even Edwards admits that allegory can sometimes go wrong

Example: they put an evil alien in Halo 2 and named it "The Dervish" until someone noticed and fixed it. Read the rest

Republican Roy Moore launches 2020 Alabama Senate campaign

Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and failed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is running again.


Moore lost a safe seat to his Democratic Party opponent, Sen. Doug Jones, when sexual assault allegations crippled his 2017 campaign. Moore was allegedly banned from the Gadsden mall for bothering girls there.

In the wake of the allegations, Moore took and "likely failed" a polygraph test as part of the effort to clear his name, according to attorneys for one of his alleged victims. Polygraph tests are held to be pseudoscientific, easily fooled with practice and generally inadmissable in court. Read the rest

Why can't we see big companies' tax returns?

As Russell Brandom writes, "before 1976, corporate tax returns were broadly considered part of the public record" and there's been bipartisan support since for mandating that big companies show us how they're structuring their earnings (this was especially urgent after the Enron scandal). Read the rest

Juicy Ghost: Rudy Rucker's tale of an American coup

"Juicy Ghost" is a new tale from Rudy Rucker (previously), an explicitly politican sf story told from the point of view of a suicide-assassin who is getting ready to take out an illegitimate president during his inauguration; as Rucker describes, he really struggled with the story, and couldn't figure out where or if to publish (he even contemplated rebooting his late, great, much-lamented webzine Flurb with an "all-politics" issue as a means of giving the story a home). Read the rest

Billionaire newspaper monopolist family cancels editorial cartoonist after anti-Trump drawing

Canada's Irving family is one of the richest in the world, owning more land than anyone except the British royals and the Catholic church; they also own virtually all the media in New Brunswick, as well as the industries that those newspapers cover, and they augment their media control over the public discourse with a ruthless approach to their critics. Read the rest

Chin pimple suddenly disappears during presidential debate

This footage of presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard appears to show a small blemish on her chin--a pimple or bug bite, perhaps--that suddenly disappears as she's talking. Conspiracy theorists suggest MSNBC (producers of the footage) added the pimple to make her look bad. But it's obviously more likely that they were using filters to smooth out everyone's meat on a live broadcast (see below) with limited time for makeup, and the pimple got through for a few seconds.

Or maybe it's just a bug and it flew off...

If it's a filter, the filter should go. The times are not amenable to even the most innocuous digital manipulation.

Read the rest

"Because we're not morons:" This bumper sticker announces you're voting for "the Democrat"

Five bucks will buy you the bumper sticker that lets people know you're voting for WHATEVER Democratic presidential candidate is on the ballot in 2020. Right now there are 24 in the running.

The Democrat 2020 bumper sticker:

Look, we're all gonna have favorites during the primary. That's what primaries are for. But once we have a Democratic nominee, we're gonna vote for them, because we're not morons. Announce your intent to end the madness by voting for the Democrat in 2020, whoever they are.

...Made with adhesive so it's easy to change when the time comes to replace this sticker with one from your new favorite nominee.

Thanks, Steve Garfield! Read the rest

Roy Moore stuck in teens

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore isn't doing well in opinion polls, where he remains stuck in the teens. And that's just with Republicans!

The poll from Cygnal shows Moore polling at 13 percent, placing him a distant third behind former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R., Ala.). Moore's net favorability is 38 percent, and 31 percent of Republicans would consider voting for Sen. Doug Jones (D) over Moore in a head-to-head race.

Moore famously lost to a Democratic adversary last time around after claims of pedophilia and sexual harassment kneecapped his campaign. Read the rest

After threats, Reddit finally quarantines Trump forum The_Donald

r/The_Donald still exists at Reddit, but it's been pushed into the site's "quarantined" basement after a series of threats against police were posted there.

“Recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement. “As a result, we have actioned individual users and quarantined the subreddit."

The new quarantine was brought on by anti-police threats posted on The_Donald. Some users had apparently encouraged violence against law enforcement, angry that officials in Oregon were trying to bring back GOP state senators who fled the state to avoid voting on a climate-change bill. In a note to The_Donald moderators, Reddit administrators said they had “observed this behavior in the form of encouragement of violence towards police officers and public officials in Oregon.”

Trump himself answered questions there in an AMA, apparently, "despite" its reptuation for abuse, bigotry and general grossness. At the time they were zipped into the plastic sheeting, the top item among the_donaldites was a rant about women's soccer. Read the rest

Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17

Mueller agreed to testify after being subpoenaed to do so.

It's time for a less compromising queer activism—and media

After yesterday's news about young Americans' acceptance of queer folk falling sharply, I wanted to take aim at the passivity of mainstream LGBTQ advocacy in the age of Trump. At groups who compromise with uncompromising enemies. At activists who have nothing to say when yarns are spun about the personal costs of queerness. At corporate donors' vision of heteronormatively gay-married surburban debt sponges and police-infested Pride marches. The price is right, at least for fundraisers, but the costs are becoming clear.

At The Outline, Katelyn Burns explores one specific consequence of trying to wait it out: mainstream media constantly writes about LGBTQ stuff with the presumed conservative reaction in mind, giving little corresponding consideration to their queer subjects' experience. The lack of dedicated LGBTQ media is a disaster, she writes.

What’s most frightening to me as a trans reporter is that these unprecedented attacks on trans and LGBTQ rights is coming in the middle of the complete devastation in LGBTQ media. Into, an LGBTQ-focused news site owned by Grindr, shut down in January following its report detailing anti-marriage equality comments made by its own owner late last year. The LGBTQ desks at BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post have been decimated. Even ThinkProgressZack Ford, one of the most reliable reporters on the queer news beat and who has a long track record of breaking anti-trans news, was reassigned by his employer to cover Trump in general (though ThinkProgress is maintaining its LGBT coverage with nonbinary writer Casey Quinlan).

Read the rest

Here's a list of the 77 members of House who now favor an impeachment inquiry on Donald Trump

The latest tally on House members who favor beginning impeachment inquiry hearings against President Donald J. Trump is now at 77. Read the rest

Study: Acceptance of queer folk falls sharply among young Americans

A GLAAD study claims that the number of young Americans comfortable with LGBTQ people has fallen from 53% to 45%, the second consecutive annual drop.


Scenarios for the survey included learning a family member is LGBT, learning my doctor is LGBT, having LGBT members at my place of worship, seeing an LGBT co-worker’s wedding picture, having my child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands and learning my child has a lesson on LGBT history in school.

The Index comes amidst a number of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination incidents. Just last year, reported hate crimes rose 17 percent, making it the third consecutive year that such crimes increased.

Here's an executive summary of the poll, but it doesn't offer much to chew on in terms of how shaded or teleological the methodology is with respect to GLAAD's activist aims.

Nonetheless, the conclusion:

While young people are identifying as LGBTQ in higher rates than ever before, there has also been an uptick in non-LGBTQ young people pushing back against acceptance. The younger generation has traditionally been thought of as a beacon of progressive values. We have taken that idea for granted and this year’s results show that the sharp and quick rise in divisive rhetoric in politics and culture is having a negative influence on younger American

Trumpism involves endless mendacity and manipulation. But these new conservatives have definite enemies and aims. They offer an inspiring message of division and disgust for the youth of today. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren profile: portrait of a savvy politician who appeals to working people, and who can get stuff done

Sheelah Kolhatkar's 10,000 word New Yorker profile of Elizabeth Warren is mostly a "color piece," giving a sense of where Warren is coming from, personally and politically; as such, it's a good read, but mostly redundant if you've already read Warren's (very good) 2018 book This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class; that said there's a couple of key political insights that are very timely for anyone trying to figure out whom to support in the Democratic presidential primary (I am a donor to both Warren's and Sanders's primary campaigns). Read the rest

A new AI tool from Adobe can detect Photoshopped faces

We presume it can tell by the pixels.

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