Monthly Archives: February 2013

Highschools Help FB Reach Its Natural Conclusion

This is just too good of a story to ignore:

In the annals of middle-school mischief, the Facebook page Let’s Start Drama deserves an entry. The creator of the page—no one knew her name, but everyone was sure she was a girl—had a diabolical knack for sowing conflict among students at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown, Connecticut. “Drama Queen,” as I came to think of her in the months I spent reporting at the school to write a book about bullying, knew exactly how to use the Internet to rile her audience. She hovered over them in cyberspace like a bad fairy, with the power to needle kids into ending friendships and starting feuds and fistfights.

In contrast with some other social networks, like Twitter, Facebook requires its users to sign up with their real names. Drama Queen easily got around this rule, however, by setting up Let’s Start Drama with a specially created e-mail address that didn’t reveal her identity. Wrapped in her cloak of anonymity, she was free to pass along cruel gossip without personal consequences. She started by posting a few idle rumors, and when that gained her followers, she asked them to send her private messages relaying more gossip, promising not to disclose the source. Which girl had just lost her virginity? Which boy had asked a girl to sext him a nude photo? As Drama Queen posted the tantalizing tidbits she gathered, more kids signed up to follow her exploits—a real-life version of Gossip Girl. She soon had an audience of 500, many drawn from Woodrow Wilson’s 750 students, plus a smattering from the local high school and a nearby Catholic school.

Drama Queen was particularly ingenious at pitting kids against each other in contests of her own creation. She regularly posted photographs of two girls side by side, with the caption “WHOS PRETTIERRR?!” Below the pictures, commenters would heckle and vote. One such contest drew 109 comments over three days. When it became clear which contestant was losing, that girl wrote that she didn’t care: “nt even tryinqq to b funny or smart.” The rival who beat her answered, “juss mad you losss ok ppl voted me ! If you really loooked better they wouldve said you but THEY DIDNT sooo sucks for you.” This exchange nearly led to blows outside of school, other students told me. And they said a fight did break out between two boys who were featured on Let’s Start Drama, in dueling photos, above the caption “Who would win in a fight?” They reportedly ended up pummeling each other off school grounds one day after classes.

Melissa Robinson, who was a social worker for the Middletown Youth Services Bureau, quickly got wind of Let’s Start Drama because, she says, “it was causing tons of conflict.” Robinson worked out of an office at Woodrow Wilson with Justin Carbonella, the bureau’s director, trying to fill gaps in city services to help students stay out of trouble. Their connecting suite of small rooms served as a kind of oasis at the school: the two adults didn’t work for the principal, so they could arbitrate conflict without the threat of official discipline. I often saw kids stop by just to talk, and they had a lot to say about the aggression on Let’s Start Drama and the way it was spilling over into real life. “We’d go on Facebook to look at the page, and it was pretty egregious,” Carbonella told me. Surfing around on Facebook, they found more anonymous voting pages, with names like Middletown Hos, Middletown Trash Talk, and Middletown Too Real. Let’s Start Drama had the largest audience, but it had spawned about two dozen imitators.

Carbonella figured that all of these pages had to be breaking Facebook’s rules, and he was right. The site has built its brand by holding users to a relatively high standard of decency. “You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user,” Facebook requires people to pledge when they sign up. Users also agree not to fake their identities or to post content that is hateful or pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic violence. In other words, Facebook does not style itself as the public square, where people can say anything they want, short of libel or slander. It’s much more like a mall, where private security guards can throw you out.

Carbonella followed Facebook’s procedure for filing a report, clicking through the screens that allow you to complain to the site about content that you think violates a rule. He clicked the bubbles to report bullying and fake identity. And then he waited. And waited. “It felt like putting a note in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean,” Carbonella said. “There was no way to know if anyone was out there on the other end. For me, this wasn’t a situation where I knew which student was involved and could easily give it to a school guidance counselor. It was completely anonymous, so we really needed Facebook to intervene.” But, to Carbonella’s frustration, Let’s Start Drama stayed up. He filed another report. Like the first one, it seemed to sink to the bottom of the ocean.

And for a description as to how they operate:

In an attempt to impose order on a frustratingly subjective universe, User Operations has developed one rule of thumb: if you complain to Facebook that you are being harassed or bullied, the site takes your word for it. “If the content is about you, and you’re not famous, we don’t try to decide whether it’s actually mean,” Willner said. “We just take it down.”

All other complaints, however, are treated as “third-party reports” that the teams have to do their best to referee. These include reports from parents saying their children are being bullied, or from advocates like Justin Carbonella.

After a quick search by Sullivan, the blurry photos I’d seen many times at the top of the Let’s Start Drama page appeared on the screen. Sullivan scrolled through some recent “Who’s hotter?” comparisons and clicked on the behind-the-scenes history of the page, which the Common Review Tool allowed him to call up. A window opened on the right side of the screen, showing that multiple reports had been made. Sullivan checked to see whether the reports had failed to indicate that Let’s Start Drama was administered by a fake user profile. But that wasn’t the problem: the bubbles had been clicked correctly. Yet next to this history was a note indicating that future reports about the content would be ignored.

We sat and stared at the screen.

Willner broke the silence. “Someone made a mistake,” he said. “This profile should have been disabled.” He leaned in and peered at the screen. “Actually, two different reps made the same mistake, two different times.”

There was another long pause. Sullivan clicked on Let’s Start Drama to delete it.

The Atlantic

Very interesting report — I never heard any description of how the moderation at Facebook works. I had no clue that it was literally this superficial. However, one could imagine so as it is such a high volume website. Regardless, it would be nice if there was more action meant to properly moderate the site but at the end of the day this is a profit driven website.

It would also be smart to not particularly invest much time in these ridiculous websites but telling this to children is like trying to fill in the ocean with dirt.  It should probably come down to good parenting on how children behave on the internet.

Japan To Spend $100 Billion In 15 Months

Keynesian economics is not dead and the desire to throw an absurd amount of money into a sector with the hope that the entirety of the economy will recover is a strategy common enough. It has worked before, but…

That is the question facing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he aims to spend more than $100 billion on infrastructure in the next 15 months to help revive his country’s economy. But with its gleaming bullet trains, jungles of elevated highways and strings of man-made islands, ultra-modern Japan doesn’t appear to want for much.

“We cannot simply continue to build roads and infrastructure the way we used to at a time when the population is ageing and shrinking,” says Takayoshi Igarashi, a public policy professor at Japan’s Hosei University who has advised the previous Democrat administration on rebuilding from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.

Infrastructure spending tops Abe’s economic agenda alongside nudging the central bank into more aggressive steps to end deflation. Since he took power in December, Abe has earmarked 10 trillion yen ($107 billion) for new infrastructure and upgrades over the next 15 months – half of it funded by government debt.

That is equivalent to a quarter of the amount that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates the entire world needs to spend on transport infrastructure each year.

Government spending is a classic remedy for weak growth. But it is one Japan has tried over and over – pouring roughly $2 trillion into concrete and steel since 1990 in a vain effort to resuscitate the economy, now in its fourth recession since 2000.

Economists warn that, without reforms to lift Japan’s long-term growth potential, more such spending will produce only a temporary jolt that swells a government debt already worth more than double national output.


It seems like it would be a classically bad idea that leads back to the looming issue of national debt, but this is one thing that never seems to ever be brought into real terms for all of us. No one is actually sure what happens if people start collecting on the national debt as opposed to tax payers just infinitely paying a swelling interest on it.

It is also an issue that seemingly no one cares about — perhaps because everyone powerful and influential enough is interested in capitalizing on the national debt.

I will need to spend perhaps a few years reading to fully understand it all.

Jesse Jackson Busted

Wow, what a day…

Who is surprised?

WASHINGTON — Jesse L. Jackson Jr., the former Democratic representative from Illinois, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one felony fraud count in connection with his use of $750,000 in campaign money to pay for living expenses and buy items like stuffed animals, elk heads and fur capes.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors recommended that Mr. Jackson receive a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison. The federal judge overseeing the case, Robert L. Wilkins, is scheduled to sentence Mr. Jackson on June 28.

“For years I lived off my campaign,” Mr. Jackson, 47, said in response to questions from the judge about the plea. “I used money I shouldn’t have used for personal purposes.”

At one point during the hearing, the judge stopped his questioning of Mr. Jackson, who was crying, so that he could be given a tissue.

“Guilty, Your Honor — I misled the American people,” Mr. Jackson said when asked whether he would accept the plea deal. Mr. Jackson’s father, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, his mother and several brothers and sisters accompanied him to the hearing.

And an illustrious career ended:

Mr. Jackson’s plea was yet another chapter in the downward spiral of his career. Elected to Congress in 1995 at the age of 30 from a district that includes part of the South Side of Chicago, Mr. Jackson was once one of the most prominent young black politicians in the country, working on issues related to health care and education for the poor.

A shame for the black community as a whole to have such an iconic figure cast down.

Not to mention we get to relive the Blagojevich scandal through this Jackson trial:

But as the federal authorities investigated Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois over his efforts to sell the Senate seat that President Obama vacated in 2008, they uncovered evidence that one of Mr. Jackson’s friends had offered to make a contribution to Mr. Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for the seat. Since then, Mr. Jackson, who has said he had no knowledge of the offer, has been dogged by questions about his ethics.

Last summer, Mr. Jackson took a medical leave from Congress and was later treated for bipolar disorder. After winning re-election in November, he resigned, citing his health and the federal investigation into his use of campaign money.

 NY Times

Honestly, this has to be a crushing day for people who have supported him through the decades as a representative of the interests of minorities throughout the country. He has sullied his own name, here, and has robbed the people who had supported him.

What a day.

Chavez Returns To Venezuela

The far left Venezuelan leader has been getting treatment in Cuba and…

President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela early Monday after more than two months of treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery, his government said, and his supporters staged upbeat street celebrations to welcome him home while he remained out of sight at Caracas’ military hospital.

Chavez’s return was announced in a series of three messages on his Twitter account, the first of them reading: “We’ve arrived once again in our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, my God!! Thank you, beloved nation!! We will continue our treatment here.”

They were the first messages to appear on Chavez’s Twitter account since Nov. 1.

“I’m clinging to Christ and trusting in my doctors and nurses,” Chavez said in another tweet. “Onward toward victory always!! We will live and we will triumph!!”

ABC News

It is interesting to hear this far left character talking about clinging to Christ after emerging out of largely antireligious and atheist Cuba but, hey, a populist Latin American left winger’s gotta do what he’s gotta do…

The fact that his followers are seemingly always clad in clothes depicting themselves as Chavezistas is a bit much for anyone, don’t you think?

Peaceful Hindu Movement… Calling For Death Penalty

These are the sorts of things that I enjoy reading about — it makes me chuckle deep down:

Protesters vowed to avenge the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar, one of the key participants of the massive Shahbagh movement, as they continued their demonstration for the 12th consecutive day on Saturday.

Rajib, a young architect and activist of the Shahbagh protest, was stabbed to dead near his house in Dhaka on Friday night allegedly by Jamaat militants. This prompted the protesters to go back to their 24-hour movement instead of seven-hour programme which they had declared hours before the death.


Starting their day’s activities with the national anthem and raising fiery slogans, they expressed rage over the killing of their compatriot . Wearing black badges, thousands of people from all walks of life including students of schools, colleges and universities assembled at the Shahbagh, known as ‘Projonmo Chattar’. They also sang gono shongeet (mass song) in unison at Shahbagh where namaz-e-janaza of Rajib was held in the afternoon.

Heh, by all walks of life they mean primarily students.


The unique non-violent movement began on February 5, soon after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. The protest was initiated by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon turned into a mass movement. It has already spread to many parts of the country.

Please note: the movement is non-violent. It is also apparently unique (???). I am guessing there are no other movements aimed specifically at the following:

The Shahbagh protesters have been demanded immediate arrest of the killers and ban pro-Jamaat blog Sonarbangla. The protesters on February 10 submitted a six-point charter to the Speaker, demanding death penalty for all war criminals, and revocation of the state’s power to grant them amnesty. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina visited the blogger’s residence and consoled his parents.

 The Hindu

A non-violent movement which is actively demanding death penalties for all war criminals and revocation of the ability to grant amnesty (Read: the ability to have mercy).Not to mention they support curtailing the freedom of speech and the right of a Muslim blog to continue operating.But… That’s just their style: peacefully demanding the death of others and the curtailing of their freedom in spite of the fact that just has already been meted out in the form of life sentences.

You would think that people would just drop the charade eventually and decide to call a spade a spade…

These guys are a peaceful movement in the same sense that the neo-Nazis are peaceful: calling for death while not necessarily acting violently elsewhere.

(NOTE: for some unknown reason I am unsure why I could not fix the italics).

Pope Was Advised Against Flying Before Resigning

Perhaps the most excellent reason for the Pope’s stepping down came out in an article that I had just read in the Australian:

Announcing that he would become the first Pope in six centuries to stand down, Benedict said he lacked the physical strength to lead the Church because of his advancing years. His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said the Pope had found it increasingly difficult to walk and had been told not to take transatlantic flights after a visit to Cuba and Mexico last year. The Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said it was after that trip that Benedict decided to stand down.

This was a perfect reason for anyone to step down from the Papacy considering that, at least in modern times, it has become an important role of the Pope to regularly visit abroad and bolster the spirits of Catholics on an international level.

Needless to say, this would be a great reason — and a documented one — that can assuage fears that this could be tied to yet another scandal that would harm the Church and cause more international clamor.

Pope Pius XII Saved More Jews Than Schindler

It is a common error to think of the Nazis and the Catholics as having some infernal alliance. I remember a decade ago seeing some book called Hitler’s Pope with one of those archive photos showing a Priest and a Nazi in the same area.

In reality, there simply was no desire to cooperate with the massacre of Jews that the Pope was a part of and it would be a difficult task to link it otherwise. Here a Rabbi defends Pope Pius XII:

–Q: What did Pope Pacelli do for the Jews?

–Rabbi Dalin: We have much documentation, which shows that in no way did he remain silent. What is more, he spoke out loudly against Hitler and almost everyone saw him as an opponent of the Nazi regime. During the German occupation of Rome, Pius XII secretly instructed the Catholic clergy to use all means to save as many human lives as possible.

In this way, he saved thousands of Italian Jews from deportation. While 80% of European Jews died in those years, 80% of Italian Jews were saved. In Rome alone, 155 convents and monasteries gave refuge to some 5,000 Jews. At any given moment, at least 3,000 were saved in the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, being freed from deportation to German concentration camps.

For nine months, 60 Jews lived with the Jesuits at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and many others were hidden in the basement of the Biblical Institute. Following Pius XII´s instructions, risking their own lives, many priests and monks made possible the salvation of hundreds of Jewish lives.


Bush’s Email Hacked; Results Disappointing

I am guessing this is falling a bit low on the news media circuit because it really is not that shocking.

No controversy was uncovered… For once? A seemingly clean politician.

A hacker by the name of Guccifer has apparently hacked into several Bush family AOL accounts, pilfered private photos and messages and posted them online. The Smoking Gun, pursuient to their mission, republished it all. The stolen goods include a private letter from George W. Bush to his family about planning the funeral of his father. They include private correspondence from the Fox News journalist Brit Hume on the “silver linings” in the 2012 election. They include a Jeb Bush email about how how George H.W. Bush “helped restore” Bill Clinton’s “sordid reputation.” There is more. You can read about it off site. You can also look at the PG-rated pictures that George W. Bush apparently painted of himself bathing.

There is a criminal investigation. This guy may get caught, just like the guy who hacked Scarlett Johansson’s cell phone got caught. But that will be little consolation. (And it was little consolation to all those members of Congress in recent years who found their private R-rated photos trending on Google.) The fact is that the digital age makes us all unduly vulnerable. As Katy Steinmetz recently wrote for TIME your digital records will outlive you, and may cause your family problems. The permanence of online utterances–a delight to prosecutors, Facebook and snoops–is a bane for the rest of us.



I am glad that no giant controversies unraveled. It has prevented us from hearing the shrill cries and insanity that often comes when there is some sort of discovery — often echoing from both sides.


I do not appreciate how there are websites so willing to share the private correspondence of a former President and a family constantly in the limelight. I also am not sure how I feel about a society that just seems to generally condone all of this.


Really, people’s private business should not be published or revealed.

Greeks Fighting For Food

You know it is a bad day when you see this:

Hundreds of people were fighting eachother on the streets of Athens during a food giveaway, prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.

Farmers protesting against government cuts gave away 50 tonnes of free vegetables and fruit in the Greek capital earlier today, causing chaos in the streets as impoverished and hungry people elbowed their way to the stalls.

Startling images of Greeks struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck outside the Agriculture Ministry have sparked further debate about poverty in the debt-ridden nation.

The free food handout in Athens began peacefully as hundreds of Greeks lined up in advance outside the Agriculture Ministry.

Farmers had announced the giveaway as part of their ten-day protest against Greece’s conservative-led coalition government’s plans to increase taxation on agriculture.

They also demand that the government reduce the price of fuel and cut sales tax on their goods.

However the peaceful good-will protest soon escalated into chaos as the tables piled high with fruit and vegetables began to thin

Daily Mail

That turned into an epic fail very quickly as the Greeks began fighting over the food. However, it appears that only one person sustained injuries worth treating. But nonetheless… when there is fighting over free vegetables you know that the recovery of Greece is not at hand.

중국 유명한 여배우 성상납 논란

내가 항상 홀리우드나 다른 톱스타를 예배하는 문화를 비판하고 있다. 왜냐하면 유명하려고 하면 이렇게 행동하는 사람이 많다. 이런 논란 없어도 빈병처럼 내용이 없는 것이다. 그냥  외모 지상주의를 강조하는 마켓이다.

그래서 이런 뉴스를 읽을 때 놀랍지 않다:

중국 고위 관리가 출연 여배우에게 성상납을 받았다는 의혹이 제기돼 충격을 더하고 있습니다.

7일 중국의 각종 보도매체는 최근 인터넷에서 류즈쥔 전 철도부장이 드라마 신홍루몽 출연 여배우들로부터 성상납을 받았다고 주장했습니다.

보도에 따르면 1일 하얼빈에서 열린 류 전 부장의 측근 재판 도중 이 같은 사실이 드러난 것으로 전해졌습니다. 특히 신홍루몽에 출연한 주요 여배우 12명이 모두 성상납 대상이라고 밝혀 팬들을 경악케 했습니다.

특히 해당 작품에 여주인공으로 등장하는 바이빙을 비롯해 야오디, 탕이페이 등은 현재 중국의 신세대 톱스타로 손꼽히고 있는 상태.