Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?

Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?

It’s remarkable, you know. I see patterns other people don’t and there are people who know me and think I’m too full of hyperbole to pay attention. Even when I’m right. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?”

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Early this year, in the mad grab for Hamilton tickets, I decided to go ahead and get a full subscription to the Hippodrome in Baltimore. I invited a friend to join me, and we got a pair of tickets for the coming season. Continue reading “Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…”

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

When you were a kid, did you ever read Dr. Seuss’ book The Sneetches and Other Stories? You know the one I’m talking about. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 8…”

Locking Down Facebook…

Locking Down Facebook…

The following four articles led to this note. Please read them in order (but watch out for the AUTO LAUNCH VIDEO in the first link):

1. CBS News: Facebook knew of illicit user profile harvesting for 2 years, never acted

2. Reuters: Republican lawmakers concerned by Facebook data leak

3. The Guardian: How to protect your Facebook privacy – or delete yourself completely: If you found the Cambridge Analytica data breach revelations deeply unsettling, read our guide to the maze of your privacy settings

4. BBC News: Is leaving Facebook the only way to protect your data?

Upshot: Panic in the streets. Momentary threats to leave Facebook. And in a week, when something new distracts us, another privacy violation or some other horrible thing that happens in government or in your local community pushes the panic out of the way and we resume our daily lives.

On the 23rd, I posted the following comment on Twitter in relation to this panic, and I think it bears repeating here:

“You know, the conspiracy theorist in me wants to think that the Cambridge Analytica blow-up is meant to destroy our ability to talk freely to one another. If we all delete FB, how will we be able to share this data across a free platform and warn people about stuff like this?”

One friend claims email or texting is sufficient, but she has missed my point completely. We’re all howling now because we know this is a problem and we know it because news sources we trust have covered it. And you know what? Fox News knows it. Just read the comments to see what I’m talking about. Yes, really. This is where it’s important to see what the other side thinks, now more than ever.

Here’s one more article, which I haven’t posted anywhere else until now:

Fox News: Here’s why the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy matters. Interestingly, the comments are similar to my take: Shut down Facebook and the Right loses a platform to reach millions.

For the record, I’ve been warning people about Facebook manipulation in Facebook Notes that go as far back as November, 2012, so this isn’t news. The bottom line is that you can choose what data you want to share with friends or strangers, but the key is to be diligent in managing your own data, and protecting yourself starts and ends with understanding FB’s labels.

Quizzes are a bad deal and they always have been. If you participated, and even if you didn’t, but someone else left their settings wide open and slurped up your data, the first thing you’ll need to do is shut off the apps and access to your account.

The Guardian’s article provides this handy link for checking whether you’ve got apps connected to your account: <>

Click the link to see what apps you’ve authorized. At the moment, I have only three links authorized, and only one set to Public (and that’s Twitter, because I’m often posting to Twitter first, which then posts to FB for me).

How to edit or remove an App.

If you have a pile of apps you don’t recognize, delete them by clicking on the app picture and then the x. If you want them, but you don’t want others to have access to the data, set them to Private by clicking on the pencil.

But that’s only part of the picture.

Below the Apps, there are four additional settings: Apps, Websites and Plugins, Game and App Notifications, Apps Others Use, and Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile.

If you allow apps to post cross-platform like I do (for Twitter), you have to leave the first of these enabled. If you don’t connect anything to Facebook and you don’t want to, change this setting and disable Platform entirely. FB warns you of the following:

“If you turn off Platform apps:

·       You will not be able to log into websites or applications using Facebook.

·       You will not be able to log into mobile games or applications using Facebook.

·       Your friends won’t be able to interact and share with you using apps and websites.

·       Instant personalization will also be turned off.

·       Apps you’ve previously installed may still have info you shared. Please contact these apps for details on removing this data.

·       Apps you’ve logged into (with Facebook or Anonymously) will be removed.

·       Posts by apps will be removed from your profile.”

This is perhaps the MOST important thing to do to lock your account down.

The second most important: Apps Others Use.

This is the setting that (in theory) keeps your data from being slurped up via apps like Cambridge Analytica. I go in periodically and confirm that these settings are still off, because when FB pushes updates, they sometimes change those settings for me, and I have to change them back again. It’s a once-in-a-quarter housekeeping thing that’s totally worth the sixty seconds of my time. Click Edit and make sure every box is unchecked.

Third, I shut off Game and App notifications a long time ago, because I got tired of telling my friends to police their own games. If those game notifications are annoying you, you haven’t turned Notifications off yet.

Last, I set all the Old Versions to Only Me, because if that’s all I can do, it keeps my data private.

That’s how you keep your data from being slurped up, but how do you manage annoying ads?

Years ago, when FB first introduced the concept of Likes, they told you straight up that your choices would shape and mold what you saw online. An equally long time ago, I removed most of the “Likes” I had in my profile, because I wasn’t interested in seeing all the ads for Red Lobster or whatever. But the majority of my friends never touched their settings, so I see junk in my feed all the time, and it’s coming from their profiles, not mine.

In the course of the last six years, FB has changed the way Likes work. Tracking your interest in items posted on Pages has been a thing for years, but as I found out recently, there’s no longer a link to manage your “Likes” separately, and that’s part of how you control the ads that show up on your feed.

So just how do you control those ads?

Well, there are a couple of places, if you’re on the Desktop version. Note: I can’t speak about the Facebook App for your phone because I never installed it. I use Chrome on my Droid. FB complains, but so far, I can still read the content using the phone browser.

But I digress. And here’s the counterintuitive part: While you manage the above settings using Ads (on the left side of your Settings page), you can’t get to your Likes that way anymore. They’re really in two places and you need to manage both.

The first part you control here:

[Helpful hint: If you don’t have “F”luff “B”usting Purity installed, go get it. I’d post a link, but FB has decided to flag posts that promote the site as spam, and this article is more important than fighting with FB over controlling what we see here, so go search for it yourself on Google.]

Two of the most useful options show up here, and are for removing “Your Interests” and “Advertisers you’ve interacted with” to control what you see on your feed.

Click into each one of these items, hover over the picture, and click the X to get rid of the item. For example, I clicked on an NRA article at some point, and magically, there it was. This hampers FB’s ability to dump crap on your feed.

The second section of this page contains even more invasive stuff. Every one of the options in these two tabs (“About you” and “Your categories”) helps give FB access to the things it thinks you care about the most. Every time you like an article or click through a link, you get tagged and FB builds data on what you care about. Turn all of it off.

“About You” Settings


“Your Categories” Settings

In the next section, Ad Settings, you’ll find three options. These are equivalent to choosing your poison. Turn them all off.

Finally, on that page you’ll find “Hide Ad Topics” (targeted to a demographic FB has decided you fit). For example, on my feed, the following options appear:

Alcohol, Parenting, Pets.

Each of these has a separate set of controls. I set all three to permanently hide ad topics.

And you think that’s all, but you’re wrong.

For the next set of changes, you need to be on your Home page. On the left side of your Home page, click on the Pages link.

On this page you’ll see the following: Top Suggestions, Invites, Liked Pages, and Local Picks. If your page is like mine, you’ll default to “Liked Pages” and this is where you’ll find all the things you’ve Liked since the beginning. Theoretically, at least.

There is no easy way to dump the Likes here. You have to click into each one and select “Unlike” to dump the connection.

FB has offered a handy tool on the upper right side, that lets you click multiple pages to unlike all at once, so if you have tons of these, use the tool. I leave the ones that belong to my friends and to select celebrities and politicians I want to follow, but we’re talking about 73 total, and of that only a handful are for people I don’t know in real life.

And that’s about it (for now). Will these options look the same next week? Probably. Three months from now? Maybe. A year from now? I doubt it seriously, but by then you may have decided you’re done with FB forever.

Is there anything else out there that’s comparable?


G+ tried to be relevant, but in all honesty I trust Google even less than Facebook, if that’s possible. Twitter isn’t the same at all. Just about everything is public or locked to friends, and the structure for finding what you write is even worse than it is on FB, so no. I have an Ello account as well, and a Pinterest account. Instagram is part of FB, so you’re not really leaving if you go there. LinkedIn is useful, to a point, for work-related stuff, but I don’t mix that with my interactions on Facebook.

You can do what you want, but I firmly believe my boss has no reason to read my writing in this forum on either LinkedIn or Facebook, and these three things are not connected as a result. Eventually, I will tie this Blog to Twitter, which will then automatically post to Facebook, and I’ll probably be done then, but not before I go and grab all the personal stuff I put on Facebook, that’s now Friends-locked.

I guess it all depends on what you want to get out of Facebook. For me, interactions are for two things: To promote my niche view of politics and philosophy on my own personal soapbox and to promote my work (on a different account).

One more thing:

This is the last time I’ll attempt to post anything via FB Notes. It isn’t the first time they’ve locked one of my posts for including something they considered spam, but it’s damn sure going to be the last. I’m grabbing all the Notes I published there and republishing them here instead.

Take THAT, Facebook Algorithms! HAH!

And as always, your mileage may vary. Taxes, tags, and license extra. Caveat emptor and all that.

Wishful thinking…

Wishful thinking…

I try.

Really, really, I do. I try not to get caught up in wishful thinking, which often leads to disappointment when I discover that the thing I really want to be true turns out to be propaganda designed to tie up the Internet and my brain space.  Continue reading “Wishful thinking…”

Can you vilify Hillary Clinton without being called sexist? Signs point to no…

Can you vilify Hillary Clinton without being called sexist? Signs point to no…

A friend posited the following on her FB page (paraphrased here).

“It seems that Hillary is attacked due to gender-based perceptions: She’s cold, manipulative, sneaky, can’t be trusted, and so on. Very few people are speaking about the actual issues. Foreign policy? Hillary has laid out a comprehensive set of goals and stances. Trump said that generals are impotent and we must throw money at them. The economy? Hillary has a plan with specifics, goals, and a path to reach them. Trump said “I’m successful and that’s enough.” Yet instead of discussing the differences in policies, people complain about Hillary’s demeanor and call her “cold,” which is just a smidgen away from being called “frigid,” which implies that her worth is tied to how much she enjoys sex. Which has what to do with the Presidency?”

I thought it was a good question, and I’ve been hammering at the answer all day. It’s complicated, because the second one brings up the question of gender in politics, lots of people (mostly men) go instantly on the defensive.

Sound like anyone you know?

Him: “Hillary is a warhawk. I problems with the big money associated with her. I also have issues with her pattern of allowing her opinions to “evolve.”

Me: “So you don’t support Bernie Sanders’ new movement, “Our Revolution” do you? That’s unfortunate because Bernie Sanders stumps for Clinton. This is pure cognitive dissonance at its worst. If you’re for the candidate, why did you vote for him? I am supporting HIS candidate for the presidency.”

Him: “Oh I don’t know, maybe because the differences between him and her where WHY I voted for him in the first place? He has been pretty rock solid regarding his principles. She changes her mind whenever the polls shift.”

Me: “What’s really sad here is that I am trying to find a source for the “she changes her mind too much” stereotype and can’t find one that’s cogent because they all revolve around relationships with men, or that it’s a right belonging to humans. You’d want someone in office who believed absolutely that black people are inferior and should be jailed, but can’t accept someone moderating her views based on evidence that she was wrong? Which one has a healthier sense of integrity?”

Him: “ The Hole in Hillary’s Flip-Flop Excuse: She keeps saying new information makes her change her mind on policy. But what new information?

Me: “From the above article:”

To my knowledge, no new “information” about gay marriage emerged from the day she endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples to the day she demanded the right to same-sex marriage. The immigration, gun control and mass-incarceration issues have been similarly unrippled by shocking new findings. Likewise, the information required to make a stand against the Iraq War was not hidden. Other senators found it and took that position! Perhaps the anti-war information escaped Clinton’s notice—in which case, bad on her—or perhaps she viewed it and decided not to act on it—in which case, double-bad on her. And who among us had a better vantage from which to assemble an encyclopedic view on the Trans-Pacific Partnership than Clinton? She praised it endlessly while secretary of state, but pulled a moonshiner’s turn last week to skedaddle away from it.”

Let’s unpack that accusation, shall we? That No New Information part is opinion on the part of Jack Shafer, the author who wrote the article. It is patently false information.

One: See: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Two: If you haven’t seen the massive shift in opinion over 1) marriage equality, 2) gay rights, 3) prison inequality, or 4) trade agreements, you haven’t been paying attention to politics in the last ten years. Or you’ve been living under a rock.

Get it? No?

Moving on.

Me: “Regarding Syria: One simple word should be everything you need to know. Are they migrants or refugees? She uses refugees (the correct word) instead of migrants (which sounds completely different and not descriptive in the slightest, but what most conservative media sources prefer). Language is everything. Recognizing you’re wrong and correcting your behavior is a big thing. Has President Obama done everything I wanted him to do? No. Why? Because the GOP have stood in his way in nearly every instance. Will that happen with Hillary Clinton? Why the hell are they fighting SO HARD to keep her out of office, and to maintain their death grip on the House and Senate? Follow the money. There’s a foregone conclusion that she will win the White House (by no means assured from my perspective). So conservative PACs are pumping their money into House and Senate races to keep the Democrats from grabbing control again.”


Did you know that there hasn’t been a bulletproof Democratic majority in the House and Senate since Carter was in office? And look what they had to do to take him down? (Iran-Contra. It’s a thing.)

What I want to know is how the GOP glitterati got away with this crap for so long, without ever being held accountable. I want it to stop. If that happens because Bernie Sanders’ revolution and Hillary Clinton’s presidency makes it so, then I am all in favor of electing her for the job. FOR.

But I digress.

Me: “Meanwhile, your source for the article above appears to be shilling for the GOP, which calls the article itself into question, for bias against Hillary Clinton. Oops? Is Politico a GOP Shill? (Actually a letter from Media Matters for America, magnanimously published by Politico itself.)”

Confused yet?I mean, sure, Politico can post articles like these, and expect people to read them, but there’s this thing called the Internet, which makes it easier to trace back a bit. A little more unpacking here:

Me: “From Media Matters Response:”

“One note, though: Media Matters is closely tied, financially and personally, to Hillary ( Newsday had the must-read on that topic). So far, the group stands up for Obama as well as Clinton, and I’m not given to conspiracy theories about financing dictating content. I never had a publisher tell me what to write at the four newspapers I’ve worked for in the last few years. But it’s worth knowing.”

Ironically, the Newsday article that’s referred to in the Politico response leads nowhere, but the article may still be seen beyond the paywall. Its author? One Glenn Thrush, lately of? You guessed it! Politico.

Who to believe?

All of which leads us back to the original question, above. And to this: On the Media: Why Don’t People Trust Hillary Clinton? () and also this:

The Washington Post: How Hillary Clinton helped create what she later called the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’.

(Psst: What if it’s real?)

Okay, so end digression. Again.

Oh, it’s so much easier to fling poo than admit that there’s a problem here. And to deflect from the point than actually admit there’s a problem. I mean, research is HARD!

The Atlantic: Fear of a Female President

Compare and contrast with: Donald Trump’s Alt-Right Brain

Here’s the problem with complaining that rejection of this woman for president makes you sound sexist: It does, because at some level it is. Women are held to a different standard than men. Lots of people deny it, but the facts outweigh the denials. And we can all thank Phyllis Schlafly and women like her for a good percentage of that.

I wish I could find a better source for this issue, but the fact is that there is simply no way to divide out the inherent stereotyping and discrimination that goes with being a woman in a leadership position with her existence AS a woman. I have been told at work (by a woman) that I am too forceful in my opinions and to tone them down because I will offend the artistic director (a man). The rule is that you only get what you want when you sweet-talk your way.

You can probably imagine how I feel about that.

Here are just a couple of choice articles on the subject:

Scientific American: The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly…

Quora: What are some of the ways women are discriminated against that men are often unaware of? Why Are Women Biased Against Other Women? We shouldn’t be surprised that both sexes have gender stereotypes about women (and men)

And this doesn’t even begin to address the guilt-by-association that goes along with being Bill Clinton’s wife.

So when a woman doesn’t fit that sweet-talk mandate, there’s hell to pay. And when that woman wants to be President of the United States of America? Well, riddle me this: Would you say the things you do if Hillary Clinton was a single white male?

I doubt it.

Stop sharing Photos on Facebook, unless you uploaded it yourself or you trust the source. Seriously.

Stop sharing Photos on Facebook, unless you uploaded it yourself or you trust the source. Seriously.

[This needs to be a note, and so here it is. Feel free to share this. I’m not out to grab your personal data.]

For the love of ALL THAT’S HOLY, would you please click the link of the profile page for the person who posted the picture you’re sharing? Please?

Because if you don’t that next “Share” may get you on a mailing list you didn’t intend, or hand your profile data over to someone whose views you don’t actually support after all. Or, worse, you just add your profile to the latest Like Farm.

Don’t know what a Like Farm is? Here:



Yeah, I remember what it was like growing up in the 70s, and yeah, I do know what pencils and cassette tapes are for, and more. I just don’t choose to share my Facebook account like that.

I mean, you can do what you want, but if your gripe is with the GOP, sharing a photo posted by a member of the GOP means you’re connecting yourself to the member. And frankly they just don’t need more help.

Really. Just don’t.

And yes, Sharing is JUST AS BAD as Liking.


Just say NO!


RM: Click Bait!

Me: And as soon as I posted this, I saw another one of those guilt-driven “66% of you won’t post this” images. Yo. Same thing applies.

Chain letters are spam, too.

Just saying.

KJN: I get to feeling like such a schmutz for slapping my friends when they are being dumb.

JP: That’s why I cut/paste quiz results also.

LS: I am completely and utterly unmoved by “66% of you won’t repost this” memes. Aside from the danger, it’s rude and clumsy arm-twisting of the worst sort. I never repost those things. And I’m okay if people think I support dog fighting and root for the carcinoma side of the War on Cancer because of it.

If you have a cause you are passionate about, by all means post about it. But be original, and don’t imply that people are heartless/spineless dickheads for not echoing you on their own walls.

98% of you won’t repost this rant. I approve of you.

GB: Or at least add a reason. Most people wont understand this particular issue.

JW: If there is something that you feel is worthy of being shared , you might consider what Betsy said at the outset…check the source.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.