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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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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Can We Yes

by lestro

apparently there’s an “Obamicon” web site available to transform any picture into a Shepard Fairey-style image.

This one is great:

but I have to say, I may dig this one more:

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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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fun with evolution

by twit

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

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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Memo to Eric Schmidt

by twit

It really is quite simple…

I wish I had a brilliant idea, but I don’t.

ERIC SCHMIDT, Google’s CEO, on how the search giant could help rescue the struggling newspaper industry

just make an option on Google to search “newspapers only.”

It would make Google searches much more useful for people who want original information produced by professional journalists.

As an added bonus, sites like The Huffington Post wouldn’t profit as much from re-printing entire newspaper articles without permission.  An ability to avoid a bottom-feeder like HuffPo would really be nice, considering how much that site clogs up the top of search results…

And for those who want to wade through hundreds of useless indirect sources, there’s always the traditional Google search option.

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Twitter gets hacked

by twit

via Wonkette, care of Towleroad:

Sanchez

and that’s not all…

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postcards from the internets

by twit

It’s very cold tonight, so we played with bubbles.  If you blow them upwards enough they have time to freeze on the way down.

and here is a link to a picture of a popping frozen bubble and other frozen bubbles.

via neatorama

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The New York Times gets punk’d

by twit

It has been quite a long week for the New York Times.

On December 19, 2008, The Nation takes a big swing at the New York Times coverage of the Georgia/Ossetia conflict, suggesting that “the Times engaged in the sort of media malpractice that it promised its readers wouldn’t happen again after its disastrous coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq War.”  Then, the Standards Editor for the New York Times responds with a “defense” that ultimately seems to support the point the Nation was making.

On December 21, 2008, the New York Times publishes the article “White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire,” which plays into the delusional meme of George W. Bush simply being a well-meant fool.  Overall, it was a long and dull piece that still manages to be a nice reminder about how lucky this country is that Bush didn’t get his way on Social Security privatization.

But then, the article gets some of the spice it was missing when White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a snarly response and stated, “We make no apology for understanding the concept of regulatory balance.”

Today, however, brings this tiding of good cheer:

The New York Times admitted Monday it published a fake letter purportedly from the mayor of Paris criticizing Caroline Kennedy’s Senate bid as “appalling” and “not very democratic.”

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One free ticket to hell

by twit

if you believe in that kind of thing…

While there are many posts on the Fail Blog where innocent people do not get injured in hilarious ways, such as this Price Fail:

fail owned pwned pictures

then there is this Dance Fail:

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No, you cannot grope Hillary Clinton

by twit

even if she is a cardboard cut-out…


Incoming Obama administration director of speechwriting Jon Favreau (L) and a friend pose with a cardboard cutout of incoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a party.

(Obtained by The Washington Post)

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a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

by twit

Specifically, when you make things up out of thin air, and it turns out to be true… see what you want to see…

For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent:

was a hoax apparently true based in some reality, but smeared with an Eisenstadt.  According to the New York Times on November 13, 2008:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

What is so funny is that before the rumor was exposed as a hoax, Palin’s campaign staff confirmed that it was true there was a basis for the rumor.  ABC News reports on November 14, 2008:

Longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton told ABC News’ Kate Snow that Palin had fumbled over an Africa comment, but that it was a misspeak not worthy of the press coverage it received.

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Eight years later

by twit

From the NY Times blog The Caucus on October 24, 2008:

A twist on the old Budweiser “Wassup” commercials, using the same guys as the originals, and incorporating Iraq, the economic meltdown and the electrified change atmosphere of this election.

and the original “Wazzup” commercial:

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Hey Sarah Palin

by twit

… just because I can see the moon / doesn’t make me an astronaut, you loon…

Via the Viral Video Chart

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welcome to the future

by twit

We knew this was coming

Several makers of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs — devices that facilitate operating a computer by thought alone — claim the technology is poised to jump from the medical sector into the consumer gaming world in 2008.

and now it is here:


Photo: Jeff Mermelstein

Sixteen sensors actually read your brain’s electrical signatures to let you play a videogame by just thinking about it. Included software lets you use the device to manipulate any PC title. Think run and you’re out of there; think shoot and your enemy is toast.

So when do we get one that can surf the Internet?

Johnny Mac would NEVER cheat

by lestro

So some big talk in the blogosphere today has been about the questions asked of Mac and Barry at the Saddleback Church forum on Saturday. The NY Times says it’s “lighting up” the blogosphere.

Liberals (those bastards) are worried that McCain had the unfair advantage of hearing some of the questions ahead of time because he was in his motorcade on the way over.

Possible, but who cares?

The man is 145 and an idiot.

Give him ALL of the questions ahead of time and any debate will still end with Barry standing over McCain like Ali staring down at Sonny Liston.

The part that got me though was this:

The McCain campaign heatedly denied that Mr. McCain had done anything wrong.

“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Nicolle Wallace, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, told The Times.

The McCain campaign also sent a statement to Saddleback, which Mr. Ross made available to The Times.

As if military service means someone can’t lie.

As if John McCain wasn’t one of the Keating Five.

As if he isn’t violating his own campaign finance reform laws.

Johnny Mac would NEVER cheat.

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How do you say “Gulf of Tonkin” in Cyrillic?

by lestro

So it looks like Russia launched the first salvo in this war about a month ago.

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace…

Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: “win+love+in+Rusia.”

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers…

This, combined with reports that South Ossetians have been ethnically cleansing Georgians, leads me to believe that the Russians were hoping to provoke a response that would allow them to move their already-prepared-and-waiting military into their neighbor.

It also explains how they got in there so quickly.

But be prepared, this is what the future of war looks like:

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The 26.5 hour day

by twit

Hello, Dr. Wesch.

It is nice to make your digital acquaintance – and thank you kindly for the videos.

Information, information revolution:

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McCain vs. The Video Professor

by twit

it had to happen

postcards from the internets

by twit

Banksy! Perhaps his identity has been revealed? The twit’s not convinced, but this:

Banksy's painting on Israel's security barrier

Asked by the paper whether Gunningham was Banksy, he replied: “Well, he wasn’t then”.

Gunningham’s father Peter said he did not recognise the person in the photograph, while his mother Pamela maintained she had never even had a son.

does seem like something that a mother of an artist would say…

They are the experts: Just because it’s a stone thrown in a glass house doesn’t mean it’s not true:

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said: “McCain’s crude remark on the indiscriminate killing of the Iranian nation not only testifies to his disturbed state of mind, but also to his warmongering approach to foreign policy.”

The Ron Paul Army: Laugh if you must, but these folks may swing the election away from McCain and the Hillary Avengers:

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Hillary For Worldwide Emperor

by twit

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/MMPH/28364~Remington-Steele-Posters.jpgSome of Hillary’s most avid supporters are under the impression that she has been offered the Veep slot on Obama’s ticket. So they have created a site, that allows comments without moderation, with the following inspirational message:

Hillary, don’t take a VP slot. Stay in the Senate (or retire or go worldwide).

We won’t let you sacrifice your own future to prop up Obama.

No Remington Steele presidency!

Go worldwide? Is it time for the Emperor of the World election already?

Click here to sign the petition, and don’t forget to leave a comment! Certainly we can all agree that we do not, under any circumstances, want Hillary anywhere near a ticket led by Obama…

Since so many of us actually want Obama to win.

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Viacom wants to know what you are watching on YouTube

by twit

The beginning of the end, via Wired on July 2, 2008:

Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users’ names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyrighted videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Sure, right now they are just suing Google and Youtube, but Jammie Thomas probably has a different perspective on where this can lead. Via Wired on June 30, 2008:

The Recording Industry Association of America on Monday urged a federal judge to leave intact a $222,000 jury verdict against Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota mother of two who has become a public symbol of the RIAA’s litigation campaign of more than 20,000 copyright lawsuits against peer-to-peer file sharers.

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it’s all viral marketing, isn’t it…

by twit

Viral marketing” videos are out and about everywhere these days, including the ones that don’t make it clear what they’re up to from the start, such as the crazy office guy” andpopcorn mobile phone” videos.

So the twit does wonder what they are selling with “crazy girl on a train,” now remixed by Ludrachrist:

via Delicious Ghost

Chinese hackers don’t watch the news

by twit

and Congress doesn’t get access to the important information about how our government operates. That’s why the President and Vice President are starting to get impeached

Nevertheless, The Hill reports on June 21, 2008:

More Members of Congress have had their computers infiltrated by hackers within China than initially suspected, a lawmaker has revealed.

Apparently, we’re just beginning to get a sense of what has happened:

Computers within the Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Smith serves as a senior Republican, were also infiltrated. Kirk suspects that other committees may have been attacked as well.

“I would suspect that the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence, (and) Appropriations committees would all be top targets,” Kirk said.

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postcards from the internets

by twit

I heart Joan Rivers because she says “Yes, I swore, and I’m so fucking sorry

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The cost of free advertising

by twit

So the Associated Press had a bit of a mental misfire the other day and freaked out at the Drudge Retort

Copyright, fair use and the freedom of speech, nobody seems to quite know how to define it, but people tend to think they know it when they see it… at least according to the New York Times on June 16, 2008:

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

… Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated.

in the meantime, here’s a video about “fair use” and copyright law in general:

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Comedy Porn

by twit

This guy is great. The LA Times describes him as:

[Alex] Kozinski, who was named chief judge of the 9th Circuit last year, is considered a judicial conservative on most issues. He was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He has a national reputation for a brilliant legal mind and has developed a reputation as a champion of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression.

So when his online porn stash becomes public in the midst of an obscenity trial that he is presiding over, does he meekly retreat from the appearance of impropriety? Not a chance. Instead he calls for an investigation, inviting an ethics panel to look over his collection. From the Associated Press on June 12, 2008:

The criminal prosecution of a hard-core pornographer turned into a personal trial for the presiding judge, who called for an investigation Thursday into his own conduct over lewd photos and videos stored on his family’s publicly accessible Web site.

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asked an ethics panel of the court to initiate proceedings after the disclosure about his trove of sexually explicit material.

“I will cooperate fully in any investigation,” Kozinski said in a statement.

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Classics of Western Literature in the 21st Century

by Loadz

Who knew that a random spam e-mail could be so beautiful…

Although it’s not much for rhyming, the imagery it invokes is a weird and wonderful thing. I call it “Cassette of Inadequacy” and have carefully transcribed it here:

It debris? or was.

Is occasional is exponential.

Or readily The brevet.

Which in rive. Or do confluence.

But in bottleneck philosopher highly.

happen a lullaby.

Is distal my sensible. But exhibitor?

Are on neck whites.

Have flannel Be radar.

I buffalo.

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The trouble with sockmonkeys

by twit

is that they are usually made to look like socks.

For example, via sockmonkeyfun.com:

Sock Monkey Fun!

these are the kind of sockmonkeys one might find if one googled such a thing.

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