Charles Kenneth Roberts

Politics, History, Culture

Links to Read: December 2018

Since I lack the time (or time management skills) to blog as much as I’d like, I’m going try using this blog as a platform for something useful: A reading journal of sorts, in which I will link to some interesting articles I have read and which I think other people may be interested in. Will I stick with it? Tune in to find out!

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually.: “Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human” is perhaps the most interesting thing here. Increasingly I view the internet like the automobile: something that, despite its great value and potential, turned out to have an overall harmful impact on society.

Something this article doesn’t really address, but which I think is of the same phenomenon, is how the internet or I guess more specifically social media drives the most artificial, robotic behavior, not by force but by some perverted choice. I recall how distinctly unnerving it was during the Kavanaugh hearings the way in which people who were clearly real humans, not bots, would go through Twitter’s search function to respond almost word-for-word with the same argument to random people’s tweets. You can also include people who respond to tweets or in the comments section with the identical “fake news!!!” type responses over and over again. This isn’t a spontaneous human response, but it’s not a bot, either. We’re becoming the lamest kind of cyborgs.

Here’s a sort of related story about how to abuse the Amazon Marketplace. Here’s a sort of related story about, well, whatever this is.

How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success: This article captures much of what’s wrong with America. It’s tough to pick a single excerpt, but this is relevant:

“The Apprentice” was built around a weekly series of business challenges. At the end of each episode, Trump determined which competitor should be “fired.” But, as Braun explained, Trump was frequently unprepared for these sessions, with little grasp of who had performed well. Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump. When this happened, Braun said, the editors were often obliged to “reverse engineer” the episode, scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize the few moments when the exemplary candidate might have slipped up, in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense.

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here: I did not expect this first batch of links to be such downers, but here we are.

Nancy, a 1930s comic strip, was the funniest thing I read in 2018: Here’s something uplifting. Nancy is so good.


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