Dammit WordPress

b558d83d-f9dd-4807-b3d0-dc6ebf12b60dThis is what I’m talking about, WordPress! What is going on with the Reader in the iOS app? I know that there wasn’t a five hour gap where no blogger I follow posted anything last night! So why the fuck aren’t their posts showing up in my Reader on the app.

Hang on a second, WordPress. I’m going to log into Safari on my iPhone. Give me a second, okay?cda1004d-9aa2-4bb8-9e9a-bee5864797c0Okay, I’m back. Do you see that, WordPress? The “missing” posts are there in the Reader on the web browser, but not on your app.

Get your shit together, dammit.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #7

FPQEach week I will pose what I think is a provocative question. By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

This week’s provocative question occurred to me when I read an article in my local paper about Patreon, a site that allows “patrons” to sign up in order to compensate designated artists and writers for creating content an ongoing basis. I follow a few bloggers who are members of Patreon.

The article noted that Patreon has recently banned a number of its content contributors for posting what it considers to be hate speech. Patreon removed controversial anti-feminist Carl Benjamin, who works under the name Sargon of Akkad, earlier this month from its site for for using racist language on YouTube. That same week, it removed right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos a day after he opened an account.

These moves by Patreon prompted a revolt by some of Patreon’s more prominent contributors, citing worries about censorship.

The Patreon team wrote:

“Patreon does not and will not condone hate speech in any of its forms. We stand by our policies against hate speech. We believe it’s essential for Patreon to have strong policies against hate speech to build a safe community for our creators and their patrons.”

Other social media sites, from YouTube to Facebook to Twitter and Tumblr, have also banned content creators whose postings they consider to be “hate” speech.

With that in mind, here’s this week’s provocative question.

“Do you believe that social media sites should be able to censor what people post on their sites and ban content creators from posting? Or do you consider such actions to be a violation of freedom of speech, which is guaranteed as a right in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?”

If you don’t live in the U.S., please weigh in with your thoughts about freedom of speech versus social media sites banning content contributors in your country.

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

And most important, have fun.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #6

FPQEach week I will pose what I think is a provocative question. By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

This week’s provocative question came up when I read an article that talked about how the extent that Russia used social media to influence the 2016 presidential election in the United States and the Brexit vote in Great Britain was more extensive than what was originally thought and that such disinformation and misinformation on social media sites continues almost unabated to this day.

With that in mind, here’s this week’s provocative question.

“Is technological advancement a net positive or a net negative?”

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

And most important, have fun.

The Future Is Now

On Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, shared a video showing CNN’s Jim Acosta struggling with a White House intern to hold onto a microphone during a contentious exchange with Donald Trump. The video appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during the exchange

Fact-checkers and other experts say the video, which was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, a conspiracy theorist associated with the far-right website InfoWars, was deliberately sped up to make it look like Acosta chopped the woman’s arm with his hand. Authentic versions of the video that weren’t manipulated showed him slowly raising his hand, appearing to gesture to the president. The White House pulled Acosta’s press pass Wednesday, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeting that the White House will “not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”

In July I wrote a post about something called deepfakes. Deepfakes are videos that use a sophisticated type of software that makes it possible to superimpose one person’s face onto another’s body and manipulate voice recordings, creating fake videos that look and sound real.

“When you see video, you still think that you are peering into reality,” David Ryan Polgar, a tech ethicist, said. “The struggle now is that we are blurring the lines between reality and fiction. That’s extremely dangerous for our notions of truth, what happened, and what didn’t.”

It’s very telling that the American government is now disseminating doctored videos to spread its propaganda and to justify the president’s lies and abhorrent behavior. Authoritarian governments have a history of manipulating images and releasing propaganda films. But now it appears that our very own government, in the age of Trump, continues to deliberately create and promote false realities.

1337 5p34k

C5664DEF-6BE3-48C6-BE1C-4C38CCB88054Yesterday I received this strange notification from WordPress congratulating me on having received 1,337 followers on my blog.

That seemed to me to be a rather random number to have generated a special WordPress notification. I got one at 1,000 followers and I figured my next one might be when I reached 1,500 or 2,000. But 1,337? Huh?

So I typed “1337” into Google and learned that 1337 means “elite.” Apparently, “1337” is a sort of webspeak kind of symbol for elite. And “1337” is also referred to as “Leet.”

Curiosity piqued, I did a Google search on “Leet.”

LEET (1337) is a written language or cipher used in online gaming, emails, text messaging, tweeting, and other electronic communication. The root of the term “leet” is the word “elite” — translated as 31337 — and 1337 was initially developed as an exclusionary language: a way to encode text so that messages could only be read by the initiated. The defining characteristic of 1337 is substitution of symbols and numbers for letters (for example, in the term “1337,” 1=L, 3=E and 7=T).

Apparently there is this whole language called “leet speak,” and its alphabet is a specialized form of symbolic writing. According to Wikipedia, leet originated on bulletin board systems (BBS) in the 80s. Back then, having “elite” status on a BBS allowed a user special access and privileges.

Leet symbols, especially the number 1337, have become internet memes that have spilled over into popular culture. I guess I’m not so in touch with pop culture because I’d never heard of leet speak or was aware of any special significance to the number 1337.

And while doing my Google research, I also came across “1337 5p34k,” which translates to “leet speak” in, well, leet speak.

So essentially, “leet” is shorthand for the word “elite,” which, in leet speak, means “better than everyone else.” And apparently, the 1337 badge from WordPress is WordPress’ way of telling you that your blog has somehow achieved elite status for having reached 1,337 followers. Woo hoo!

I suppose this is a good, albeit weird, kind of recognition. But I came across another definition of leet speak that defined it as “the language used by geeks to help them identify one another.”

Now I’m not so pleased anymore. I’ve been called many unflattering things in my life, but “geek”? Seriously?