How Russia’s Disinformation Apparatus Ran Aground in Ukraine

Skillful propagandists always leverage people’s pre-conceived notions to steer the conversation away from what is prejudicial to their side’s interests. The tactic works because it often deflects attention towards other injustices that are also real, making it easy to elicit a strong emotional response that blinds the audience to the underlying cynicism. Redfish, for example, was able to exploit genuine resentments over the real mistreatment of black people during the…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just…

The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

The story notes that when police departments mention they are paying a cash settlement to a plaintiff who has made accusations of police misconduct, the departments typically don’t mention the name of officers involved. On the one hand, this makes sense, since the settlements are often made with no admission of misconduct, so the officers aren’t proven guilty. On the other hand, the missing names means it’s hard for the…

What Was the TED Talk?

The title borders on clickbait, but the self-aware irony of the catch-phrase “Thank you for attending my TED talk” does suggest the concept has long ago escaped the lab. “We live in an era where the best way to make a dent on the world… may be simply to stand up and say something.” And yet, TED’s archive is a graveyard of ideas. It is a seemingly endless index of stories…

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Homeward (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 13) Worf’s foster brother interferes with a primitive, dying culture

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D answers a distress call from Worf’s foster brother, a civilian observing a primitive civilization on a planet with an atmosphere that’s spontaneously dissipating because reasons. The dissipation is also creating a plot contrivance field that periodically jams key systems so that we can watch characters react to dramatic in-person discoveries of details we would otherwise learn through a scanner readout on the bridge. When the planet…

How to spot video and photo fakes as Russia invades Ukraine – Poynter

In the first hours of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, internet watchdogs pored over images shared on Russian media that claimed Ukraine struck first and Russia merely responded. The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that, in the days and hours leading up to the invasion of Ukraine that arrived before dawn on Thursday, Russian sources would release “false flag” photos and videos to make it appear that the…

War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents. Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences. For Russians and pro-Russian separatists…

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Inheritance (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 10) A scientist introduces herself as Data’s “mother”

Rewatching ST:TNG Within minutes of hearing about a problem with a planet’s molten core, LaForge comes up with a solution that Data and the visiting scientists from Atrea are convinced will work.  One of the visitors, Dr. Juliana Tainer, introduces herself to Data as a colleague of his creator Dr. Soong. In fact, because she was married to Soong, she considers herself Data’s “mother.” She explains she and Soong wiped…

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Force of Nature (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 9) A Space Thing leads to an environmental mystery that implicates warp drive technology

Rewatching ST:TNG In which a comic teaser features LaForge’s misadventures with Data’s cat; we join the search for a missing medical transport; and we meet environmentalists with dire warnings about a ubiquitous Federation technology. LaForge is tinkering with the engines, trying to beat the performance stats of an academy frenemy. He and his nerd buddy Data have a meandering scene fiddling casually with the sensors, which have been affected by…

Jerry Lewis’s Costars Speak Out: “He Grabbed Me. He Began to Fondle Me. I Was Dumbstruck”

As a kid I watched Jerry Lewis movies when they turned up on the local independent TV channels, and typically when I was home from school on  Labor Day, I would watch at least part of his muscular dystrophy telethons. I’m saddened to read allegations about yet another established male professional using his position of power to manipulate a younger female artist by demanding sexual favors. Demanding? Requesting? Suggesting? Semantics.…

The beauty from some Olympic skaters was not worth seeing a child emotionally broken on live television.

I didn’t watch any of the video, and I have no desire to. This article was painful to read. “I hate it! … I don’t want to do anything in figure skating ever in my life! … Everyone has a gold medal, and I don’t!” One can forgive a teenage girl for having an emotional response to disappointment in a high-stakes situation, but Trusova’s reaction was an ugly display of poor…

Minnesota authorities can’t arrest or threaten journalists after judge approves settlement arising from George Floyd protests

A federal judge brokers an agreement in which Minnesota police had to be told specifically that they can’t arrest, threaten, or assault journalists, or confiscate or damage their equipment. Even when protestors are ordered to disperse, journalists are permitted to document what happens next, as per their First Amendment rights. The settlement includes a payment of $825k to the ACLU, and additional training for any officers who might think they…

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Interface (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 3) LaForge, using experimental augmented reality gear, encounters a vision of his mother

Rewatching ST:TNG The cold open features LaForge crawling through a Jeffries Tube without his visor, reaching through flames with his bare hands.  He’s actually in a lab, hooked into a VR interface, controlling a drone that’s inside the Reman, a science vessel that got stuck in the dense atmosphere of a gas giant planet.  Riker asks a few questions that give Crusher the excuse to explain the concept of a…

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Liaisons (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 2) Picard is Marooned with a lovelorn woman; Worf is grumpy; Troi eats desserts

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf grumbles about his dress uniform, saying it looks like a dress. He’s preparing to receive two ambassadors on the Enterprise-D, along with a pilot to shuttle Picard to their homeworld. While Troi cheerfully introduces Loquel to the concept of “dessert,” Worf gripes that Byleth is “demanding, temperamental, and rude.” Data helpfully observes, “You share all those qualities in abundance, perhaps you should try to build on your…

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Descent, Part 1 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 26) Data experiences disturbing emotions while killing a Borg drone

Rewatching ST:TNG Data plays poker with holodeck simulations of a crabby Isaac Newton, a genial Albert Einstein, and a grinning Stephen Hawking (playing himself). The Enterprise-D follows a distress call to an outpost, where they find a Borg task force. But everything seems off… not only did these Borg seem to be hiding, the drones refer to each other by names, and one swears to avenge another’s death. When choking…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In February, 2002, I was blogging about…

In February, 2002, I was  logging about Robert E. McElwaine was a conspiracy theorist who had a habit of spamming multiple newsgroups with his political, religious, and social ideas. He used an account at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and was very active until around the time I started teaching at that school. Animator Chuck Jones, who brought to life Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, dies at 89.…

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The Chase (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 20) Planet-hopping archaeological DNA mystery

Rewatching ST:TNG A well-done mystery that could have, *should* have, redefined our understanding of intelligent life in the Star Trek storytelling universe, but did not. Picard’s beloved archeology professor shows up after 30 years with an invitation to join a mysterious expedition.  I respect that the writers don’t ask us to believe that Picard is seriously tempted by the offer; instead, Picard is worried about having to say no to…

He dedicated years of his life to QAnon. One day made him question it all.

Thoughtful analysis structured around one man’s personal journey away from QAnon. No single online platform is responsible for QAnon’s rapid rise. YouTube hosted the videos that many members credit with their “red pilling,” the favored term for a supposed enlightenment or exposure to conspiracy theories. Facebook allowed for easy conversation, meme sharing and organizing. Twitter, Justin’s favored platform, provided fertile ground for QAnon influencers and their lies. “It was an amplification machine,”…