define “astroturf”

by twit

One of the more annoying side effects of the leftish side of the blogosphere remaining so quiet about the “Ellie Light” fracas is that they have much longer memories than I do about various ‘astroturfing’ incidents, and they could contribute to a discussion about this far better than I’ll be able to.

So what is astroturfing?  This was one of the examples that I was thinking of:

Last month, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) announced a congressional investigation of the DC lobbying firm Bonner & Associates. The firm, which has a long history of astroturfing, was caught forging anti-clean energy reform letters — purportedly from groups representing women and people of color — to Congress.

When I think of “astroturf,” I think of something that is fake and pretending to be something it’s not.  Politically, it is a corporation or political organization pretending to be individual members of the public.  They pretend to be individuals who have spontaneously decided to speak out and have no apparent connection to the organization.

I doubt that “Ellie Light” is connected to a corporation or organization, along the lines of what Ann Althouse has said, because a skilled astroturfer just wouldn’t be so stupid.  So “Ellie Light” doesn’t really fit the definition.   I think that “Ellie Light” used a version of ‘astroturf’ tactics by pretending to speak as a local resident, but I find it hard to believe at this point that there was encouragement or payment for such a deceitful and poorly executed stunt.

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an Ellie Light list

by twit

The Ellie Light phenomenon was first reported by Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, by way of the Drudge Report:

“It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.

Variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, IowaPennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

and then there were more.  and more.  and more.  and then I found a new one (and another) (and another).  I checked and organized links from the Cleveland Plain Dealer articles and the Paterrico posts (including the comments) to look at all this and get a sense of the unfolding story.

so it appears to begin, much like everything else, on the Internet…

Internet

January 7, 2010. Politico. no address.

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What is lurking in that North Carolina sewer?

by twit

Finally!  The mystery has been solved.

The robot, “Plasmobot,” will be created using vegetative slime mold called plasmodium (Physarum polycephalum) that is commonly found in forests, gardens, and most damp places in the UK.

Horrible moving blob things were filmed awhile back by an apparent sewer colonoscopy, and the commentariat developed various  theories about the creatures in the video:  bryozoans, tubifex worms, or plasmodial slime mold.

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banksy! banksy! banksy!

by twit

“He’s got an attractive method of perking up a blank wall…”

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The Socialist Hellscape

by twit

of Norway, as reported by the New York Times on May 14, 2009:

… in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt.

[...] Banks represent just 2 percent of the economy and tight public oversight over their lending practices have kept Norwegian banks from taking on the risk that brought down their Icelandic counterparts. But they certainly have not closed their doors to borrowers.

[...] To Ms. Halvorsen, the finance minister, even the underside of the Norwegian dream looks pretty good compared to the economic nightmares elsewhere.

“As a socialist, I have always said that the market can’t regulate itself,” she said. “But even I was surprised how strong the failure was.”

for future reference, while we wait with baited bated breath for the Republicans to launch their upcoming campaign to ‘rebrand’ Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

Red dawn feminism

by twit

Lunchbreath.

image via The Daily What

We’ve come a long, long way.

There’s so much more work to do, but I’m not sure that it is appropriate to continue to fly the feminist banner when doing it.

Since history tends to like dates and such, I’ll be so bold as to say that the day American feminism died was when Cosmo laid claim to the third wave.

When a radical movement goes that mainstream, I think that’s as good a sign as any that the tide has turned.

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Swine Flu! Swine Flu! Swine Flu!

by twit

Finally, some good-sounding news from the Associated Press on May 1, 2009:

CDC flu chief Nancy Cox said the good news is “we do not see the markers for virulence that were seen in the 1918 virus.” Nor does swine flu virus have the virulence traits found in the H5N1 strain of bird flu seen in recent years in Asia and other parts of the world, she said.

However:

It’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about what this variation of the H1N1 virus will do. Experts say the only wise course is to prepare for the worst.

this pandemic needs some theme music:

and a handy site to answer the question “Do I have Swine Flu?

We are America! We do not fucking torture!

by twit

With thanks to the Daily What, and by way of FOX News:

it’s about thirty seconds in…

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The high-level White House

by twit

According to Newsweek on April 21, 2009:

The report, an advanced copy of which was provided to several news organizations, draws on newly declassified documents that Levin says bolsters his principal message: That the abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo were not caused by “a few bad apples,” as Bush administration officials repeatedly asserted.

Instead, Levin said in a statement Tuesday, it was the product of high-level White House decisions to utilize a controversial series of “enhanced” and coercive interrogation techniques despite vociferous warnings by U.S. military lawyers and FBI officials that they could subject U.S. officials to prosecutions for torture and war crimes.

High-level White House decisions?  Whatever could that mean?

According to Fox News on April 20, 2009:

The former vice president says the biggest task he had was to protect the nation’s security following 9/11 and to ensure such devastation would never happen again.  He says many of the policies he set up are currently being dismantled by the Obama administration.

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How the world is here and other morning cartoons

by twit

Neither have you tasted my Jesus:

via the daily what:

Girl uploads pro-creationist rant to YouTube. Guy finds her rant and superimposes explodingdog-like drawings to illustrate her talking points.

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the internets at work

by twit

In Zimbabwe, most people cannot afford to buy a newspaper because of the hyperinflation and most people cannot afford an independent newspaper because of the “luxury tax” on the sale of imported newspapers, including The Zimbabwean, which is printed in South Africa for distribution in Zimbabwe.

according to the internets, this flickr stream is a response, and it includes at least one billboard

update:  from The Zimbabwean on March 31, 2009:

To call attention to thew deplorable situation in Zimbabwe, TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS collected trillions of dollars worth of worthless Zimbabwe currency to create billboards, flyers and wallpaper. The purpose of the campaign is to support The Zimbabwean newspaper which has been slapped by the Mugabe regime with a 55% luxury duty tax making the paper unaffordable to most citizens.

The campaign is running in England and South Africa where it is hoped people will buy the newspaper to support its ongoing coverage of the country’s plight.

and TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS is an ad agency

Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are you man?

by twit

Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times that “the zombie ideas have won,” which is unsettling, to say the least, considering he is talking about the Obama Administration’s plan to stabilize our economy.

Which brings us to the delightful way that our internets can manage to push the issue:

currently at #16 on the viral video chart

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because they’ve done such a good job

by twit

and they are “worried that the proposals distracting employees

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., recipients of more than $100 billion in U.S. rescue funds, criticized congressional proposals to tax Wall Street bonuses.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis called the tax “unfair” in a memo to employees today, while Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit said his bank is “working in every appropriate way with policymakers.” JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon held a conference call with about 200 executives, saying the firm is concerned about retention and is working with lawmakers.

what are they going to do, move to a private island somewhere and live in a rich-people-only colony?

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Sarah Palin’s campaign against special needs children

by twit

So Sarah Palin is turning down a large chunk of the federal stimulus money for Alaska:

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

But this is Sarah Palin, who will always impress with her capacity to turn her particular brand of heartless politics into an immediately hypocritical statement:

Obama, who made the joke Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” apologized. But the remark caused an immediate stir.

Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was “shocked to learn” about Obama’s comment.

“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world,” Palin said, whose son, Trig, was born with Down syndrome last year. “These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will.

and she should know!  since she is leading the fight to add more challenge and adversity to the lives of special needs children in Alaska…

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… in just six amazing steps!

by twit

Be Amazing!

via the Viral Video Chart

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Biomusicology, indeed

by twit

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists:

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The zombie GOP

by twit

comes out to play at CPAC:

“We’re alive,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), who emceed the evening session, said. “We’re not going anywhere. Remember this is ground zero for the conservative movement.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele competes with Bachmann to see who can make the most cringe-worthy statements:

“Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

according to CNN, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (yes, that Michelle Bachmann) wins:

As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.

although an alleged “you be da man” video is inconclusive at best

So perhaps Steele wins this round, considering the video shows him ending his speech with “Let’s get busy…  Let’s get out there and fight for those things that we believe in,” which considering the retch-inducing manner that Steele recently invoked a hip-hop costume for the ‘new GOP,’ it is quite the cringe-worthy double entendre to make…

but that was at the end of the day!

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Darwin wins again

by twit

Barreleye1-350

via Discovery News

update! now on video:

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morning cartoons of insanity

by twit

“The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

via mefi

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“we’re not talking about some strange nut screaming on a street corner

by twit

… this is all coming from an elected member of Congress.”

via Wonkette, Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes to crazytown on the radio:

Bachmann “explained” to the host and Minnesota audience:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

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It’s a turn-around jump shot

by twit

It’s everybody jump start

The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

The statement represented a “180-degree turnaround” from policy under the Bush administration, said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 75 environmental organizations working to reduce mercury exposure.

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our crowded galaxy

by twit

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/23/Marta.jpg/200px-Marta.jpg

via the BBC on February 15, 2009:

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.  Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

… based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one “Earth-like” planet. This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life.

… Recent work at Edinburgh University tried to quantify how many intelligent civilisations might be out there. The research suggested there could be thousands of them.

actually, tens of thousands:

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the “new” problem of nukes at sea

by twit

Two nuclear-armed submarines crashed into each other in early February:

As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves.

But modern anti-sonar technology is so good it is possible neither boat “saw” the other.

although this kind of thing may happen more often than one might think:

The USS San Francisco, a nuclear submarine, crashed into an undersea mountain at its top speed of about 32 knots in 2005. One crew member was killed and 97 injured.

but not to worry!

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It’s raining flaming debris

by twit

in Texas:

The Federal Aviation Administration has received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas, which could be related to a recent satellite collision.

Some of the callers around midmorning Sunday reported what looked like a fireball in the sky.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said officials suspect the debris could be related to the collision, but he said that had not been confirmed.

but not to worry!

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the “new” problem of nuclear space trash

by twit

The Wall Street Journal says:

A commercial satellite owned by a U.S. company was destroyed in a collision with a defunct Russian military satellite in what NASA said was the first such accident in orbit, raising new concerns about the dangers of space debris.

and they helpfully include this image with the article:

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency (ESA) depicts an approximation of 12 000 objects in orbit around the Earth

Getty Images

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency depicts an approximation of 12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth.

NEW concerns?  There is that much crap floating around in our atmosphere and now that there has been a major crash of two satellites, now we have NEW concerns?

Industry officials say Iridium has identified the Russian craft as a Cosmos series satellite launched in 1993, weighing more than a ton and including an onboard nuclear reactor.

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a “pleasurably tactile experience,” interrupted

by twit

so close!

image via Rhodia Drive

From a PBS interview with the founder, Joshua Karp:

In theory, the paper would be able to cater to the demographics of each neighborhood and the readership would become the editor (he would then be able to sell cheap, hyper-local advertisements)

so close!

The idea is to print not one uniform issue but to allow the readers in each of the paper’s distribution neighborhoods to vote online on which blog content they prefer.

um… you have to read it online, then vote for it, so you can print it out and read it again? or take your chances that the local social media community has found blog posts that you want to read?

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The rock paper scissors war

by twit

via dark roasted blend

Bill Gates pretends to be an insane meglomaniac

by twit

Isn’t this is illegal?

‘Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,’ the Microsoft founder yelled at a well-heeled crowd at a technology conference in California.

’I brought some,’ he added. ‘Here, I’ll let them roam around – there is no reason only poor people should be infected.’

He let the shocked audience sweat for a minute or so before assuring them that the freed insects were malaria- free.

What a magical moment that must have been, wondering if the boy billionaire was actually so insane as to raise awareness by exposing people to malaria.

Thankfully he wasn’t raising awareness about HIV and didn’t deploy people with syringes to randomly stick audience members for a minute before assuring them that the needles were clean.

But why should Bill Gates care?  Even if every audience member sued him for the variety of tort claims that may be available, they would just be like mosquitoes to someone as wealthy as Gates.  So why bother to respect the basic civil rights of anyone?

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Don’t Stop Believing

by twit

This weekend I was insisting that we’d see gay marriage legalized, and sooner rather than later.  After all, it is no longer illegal to be gay in America.  And then I saw this video, which only makes me more sure that equality is on its way.

Even if the military manages to get this video taken down.  This is a postcard from the internets letting us know that our culture is undergoing some kind of a shift.

and they really look like they’re having fun, too.  GO ARMY!

update:  From the New York Times on February 8, 2009:

Last year the principal architects of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” former Gen. Colin Powell and former Senator Sam Nunn, said it was time to “review” the policy.

That’s a polite way of saying they’ve changed their minds.

aigh!

by twit

fun with evolution

by twit

although this video styles itself as a history of the internet…

Blago or Cruise?

by twit

I’ll bet Blago thinks Tom Cruise would be perfect for his role…

what with all the dramatics lately, he is kind of acting like he thinks his life story is getting made into a movie…

Illinois’ embattled but defiant governor turned to the history books to describe the emotional strain on him and his family, comparing his arrest last month to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States,” Gov. Rod Blagojevich told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we’ll prevail in this.”

He seems to think he is an all-American hero, coming soon to a theater near you…

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The First Dance

by twit

of a new era:

Inauguration Day!

by twit

the text of President Obama’s Inaugural address:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

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children left behind: agog edition

by twit

An emotional John Rempel, 22, of Leamington held his hands to his face as he described Tuesday how he lost $150,000 when he got caught up in a Nigerian Internet scam. Photograph by: Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

So many people were involved in this, it is jaw-droppping

A Leamington man has fallen prey to international scam artists who strung him along for more than a year with the promise of millions in cash, but ultimately bilked him and his family of $150,000.

… His troubles began in July 2007. He said he got an e-mail from someone claiming to be a lawyer with a client named David Rempel who died in a 2005 bomb attack in London, England, and left behind $12.8 million.

… The lawyer said his client had no family but wanted to leave the money to a Rempel. It was his lucky day.

of course!  the guy had a will that directed an attorney to randomly send emails to people with the same last name, and reward the first responder with the money!  those crazy rich people and the things they do…

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