Monday, September 02, 2019

In ‘The Memory Police,’ an authoritarian government tries to erase the past

“‘Isn’t it sad,’ he said, ‘that writers who, in their youth, break their backs to escape the bourgeoisie, end up by imitating them—at least the wealthy ones.’”
~ Siegfried Sassoon (quoted in S.N. Behrman, People in a Diary: A Memoir)
“In front of me 327 pages of the manuscript [Master and Margarita] (about 22 chapters). The most important remains - editing, and it's going to be hard. I will have to pay close attention to details. Maybe even re-write some things... 'What's its future?' you ask? I don't know. Possibly, you will store the manuscript in one of the drawers, next to my 'killed' plays, and occasionally it will be in your thoughts. Then again, you don't know the future. My own judgement of the book is already made and I think it truly deserves being hidden away in the darkness of some chest.

[Bulgakov from Moscow to his wife on June 15 1938]” 

Mikhail Bulgakov 

A charismatic con artist devastated her victimsthen they fought back - ABC

Can books kill? They seemed to do just that during the “great book scare” of the 1890s — a mass panic over diseases spread by libraries... Cold River Drowning Outside the flags 

Antony Loewenstein will be appearing at the Melbourne Town Hall on the 9th September to launch his new book, 'Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs'. The evening will also feature a panel discussion with community leaders including Fiona Patten, Julian Burnside, Laura Turner, Mick Palmer, Greg Barns and hosted by ABC Radio journalist, Jon Faine. Antony Loewenstein will speak about the issues raised in his book and be available afterwards for a book signing

Al Jazeera English has just broadcast my documentary, West Africa's Opioid Crisis, made with South African film-maker Naashon Zalk.

Fifty-four people go to jail in NSW each day — 22 of them are on ice

An inquiry into the drug ice is painting a bleak picture of drug use among the state's prison population — with 8,000 active amphetamine users entering custody last year.

Film ‘Official Secrets’ is the Tip of a Mammoth Iceberg Consortium News

Brain-reading tech is coming. The law is not ready to protect us. Vox

Bill Black: Is it Cynical to Believe the System is Corrupt?

Bill Black presents evidence the system is corrupt and rigged against ordinary people – a sentiment with which a new poll shows many agree.

  An authoritarian government tries to erase the past
Jon Michaud, via The Washington Post
It’s a grim existence, a fascism of forgetting. But not everyone succumbs to the mass amnesia. A handful of people are able to retain memories.

'Never let a crisis go to waste': Labor MP calls for drastic action in ICAC fallout

Stephen Jones said the explosive revelations exposed at a corruption inquiry are the result of a "long legacy of doing whatever it takes".

Facial recognition: School ID checks lead to GDPR fine

Upper-Crust Free TV The Baffler

EVOLVING WORLD: Critically, Beijing specifically disavows Western institutions, or seeks to redefine them ‘with Chinese characteristics.’

TechCrunch: “Travelers are increasingly being denied entry to the United States as border officials hold them accountable for messages, images and video on their devices sent by other people. It’s a bizarre set of circumstances that has seen countless number of foreign nationals rejected from the U.S. after friends, family or even strangers send messages, images or videos over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, which are then downloaded to the traveler’s phone. The latest case saw a Palestinian national living in Lebanon and would-be Harvard freshman denied entry to the U.S. just before the start of the school year. Immigration officers at Boston Logan International Airport are said to have questioned Ismail Ajjawi, 17, for his religion and religious practices, he told the school newspaper The Harvard Crimson. The officers who searched his phone and computer reportedly took issue with his friends’ social media activity. Ajjawi’s visa was canceled and he was summarily deported — for someone else’s views.

The decision in Voller is another addition to the common law mosaic of principles that are being created to directly address the problems posed by digital platforms and the like. For some, the decision represents the problematic nature of defamation in the 21st century. Whilst the defendants may well be exculpated of defamation and many matters may be refined following a full trial, one thing is certain: Facebook page operators must ramp up their scrutiny of what is posted on their pages and take swift action to remove defamatory and other types of wrongful commentary, not just by those who operate the page itself, but by third parties.

C Warren, Dylan Voller defamation decision is a threat to outrage media but not to press freedom, 25 June 2019, ; M Bachelard “This judgment will chill us all” The Sydney Morning Herald 24 June 2019 ; M McGowan “Has an Australian judge just broken Facebook for publishers?” The Guardian 25 June 2019 .
Australian Consumer and Competition Commission Digital Platforms Inquiry — Preliminary Report (December 2018) ; D Taylor “Social media dominates way millennials consume news, prompting alarm, Deloitte survey says” ABC News 17 August 2016,-deloitte-says/7721528 .

Takeaway points
• A UK parliamentary inquiry into the impact of social media and screen time on young people has claimed that their detrimental effects require controlling regulation (unrelated to the issues of privacy and offensive content the subject of other enquiries).
• There can be no doubt that screen time and the addiction to social media that mobile computing technologies have enabled will change the brains of young and old — but in a bad way? It might be too early to tell.
• Is this just another example in a history of moral panics about new communications? It’s interesting to compare what Elizabethan England said about pamphleteering — fear that the hoi polloi would read things other than their psalters — and compare the rhetoric.
How history repeats itself — is screen time the moral panic of the 21st century?