Three Things: California Carrot Cataclysm

[NB: check the byline, thanks./~Rayne]

You probably recognize this packaging and its contents.

Depending on the store at which you shop and location in the U.S., you might be more familiar with a different brand but similar contents.

Or perhaps you prefer regular or cooking carrots — the companies which produce them here in the U.S. are quite popular across the country.

Carrots, including “baby-style” or “baby-cut” carrots, are the fourth most popular vegetable in the U.S., with 51% of Americans surveyed acknowledging they’ve eaten them. Only potatoes, tomatoes, and onions are eaten more widely and they’re found in many dishes which aren’t potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. Carrots, though, are often eaten plain as snacks and in salads.

What’s weird about carrots for all their popularity and straightforward consumption, is how little the average American knows about them.

~ 3 ~

It’s worth your time to read this essay, Where do carrots come from? by gardening columnist Jill Severn in The Journal of Olympia, Lacey, & Tumwater (JOLT).

You may think she’ll tell where they come from, but instead she introduces you to a critical problem with and for U.S. agriculture:

Many years ago, a young woman from New York City came to visit on Bainbridge Island, brought by mutual friends who lived in Seattle. The Island amazed her; she said she had never seen so many trees.

She had also never seen a vegetable garden. As we walked the garden paths, she could identify tomatoes and cabbages, but pointed at a row of carrots and asked what they were. I pulled one up and showed her. A look of horror came over her face. “Carrots grow in the dirt?” She was horrified. “That’s so unsanitary!” Her feelings were hurt when we laughed.

Really, do go read it, because the scale and depth of the problem become more obvious. It’s not a laughing matter which Severn acknowledges.

I admit to being shocked when I first read those two grafs; I’ve had my hands in garden soil since I was eight or nine years old, growing strawberries and vegetables with the rest of my family. I know carrots not only grow in dirt but they can be a pain in the ass with the wrong soil or growing conditions, or pests. I know carrots straight out of the garden, once rinsed, are heaven to eat and need no adornment.

But as a parent I had a revelation when my oldest was tested for a gifted education program. She was encouraged not to jump into kindergarten but spend a year in a pre-K program because she didn’t know what peas were.

Admittedly, it wasn’t just peas — the other barrier was her ignorance about skipping. At age four when tested, she didn’t recognize it, didn’t know how to do it.

The one thing both peas and skipping had in common was that her parents and caregivers didn’t pass this knowledge onto her. Both parents being full-time white collar workers with schedules in excess of 40 hours a week, neither parent had spent time skipping with her. We took her to playgrounds, parks, taught her how to ride a bike with training wheels, but apparently skipping never made our agenda in the few waking hours we had together every week.

Same thing with peas, only perhaps worse: my spouse hated peas. I’d never cooked them by themselves  unless as pea pods, but the test my daughter took showed her a plate with podless peas. She had no idea what they were. I wish all these years later I’d asked what she thought they were — edible beads? odd candies? alien eggs?

This is how easily Americans become ignorant, by exclusion of information. In the case of carrots and peas, they’ve become ignorant about the very foods they eat every day, and at scale about U.S. agriculture.

~ 2 ~

This is Bakersfield, California:

The grey-blueish area is the city itself, all of its residential and businesses on either side of the Kern River which bisects Kern County. The squares of different shades of green and brown to the south and north of the city are farms.

Note how the city and farms nestle in a flat area surrounded by higher uneven terrain, and how by comparison the entire area is rather arid compared to a similar-sized area in the middle-to-eastern U.S.

Kern County’s average annual rainfall is roughly 6-9 inches, depending on the source consulted; there can be wide swings in this figure from year to year as 2023 will prove. But this average rainfall figure is less than a third of that in Lansing, Michigan or Evansville, Indiana, about an eighth of that in Columbus, Ohio.

The entire county’s native plant life is chaparral – the kind of plants which thrive in a Mediterranean climate with damp cool winters and baking hot summers. Farming anything but chaparral-type plants requires more water.

Farmers have not only used as much surface water as the local ecosystem provides but pumped for more. This has destabilized areas like that beneath the Friant-Kern Canal which serves water to Kern County’s agricultural businesses.

Meanwhile, water managers on the southern end of the Friant system are watching those flows with more than a little frustration.

They are being denied the same largess because the Friant-Kern Canal is out of commission in southern Tulare County as repair work continues there to fix a “sag” along a 33-mile section caused by excessive groundwater pumping that sank the land beneath the canal.

Because of the canal repair work not scheduled for completion until 2024, increased water from this month’s storms isn’t making its way down from Friant to Kern as it would if the canal were fully operational. While rains have increased over Kern County, the groundwater isn’t being recharged if any pumping continues during or after January rains.

This is the Friant-Kern Canal’s path, diverting water from below Millerton Lake from along the base of the Sierra Nevada range to Bakersfield:

Map: Friant-Kern Canal, central California, by Kent Kuehl-The Californian

In spite of much greater rainwater received at the northern source end of the canal, drought based on technicalities – un-recharged groundwater and unfilled reservoirs — and long-term water deficits may remain at the south end.

Snow melt from the Sierra Nevada may help, but there are potential geological threats in the wake of this month’s precipitation.

This is Kern County:

Map: Kern County, California via Google Maps

To say that there may still not be enough water even after all this massive flooding is saying something. The county is the third largest in California and roughly the size of New Jersey.

I won’t even begin to address the other issues related to water quality here, including oil waste fluid and soil fumigant TCP, let alone what water stores in Kern County have meant to other parts of California south of the county.

~ 1 ~

All of which brings me back to the question Jill Severn posed: Where do carrots come from?

85% of U.S. carrot crop is produced in California.

Three of the country’s largest carrot producers — Bolthouse Farms, Grimmway Farms, and AndrewsAgemploy roughly 8000 persons in the Bakersfield area, a number close to 2% of Bakersfield’s population.

This is where our nation’s carrots come from.

Chances are good the carrot crop has been affected in some way by this month’s rainfall in California, even if Kern County hasn’t borne the brunt of it the way other portions of the state have, like central coast, or the Sierra Nevada range with its massive snow pack.

I haven’t even mentioned the challenge of transporting these carrots and other produce. You can see from the city and county maps above the highways which enter and exit Kern County, limited in part by the geography since cutting roads through hills and mountains isn’t a minor undertaking.

This map shows recent landslides which may have affected highways over which produce has been transported:

Map: Landslides in California, January 1-16, 2023, via CA Geological Survey.

Even when the rains stop and the snow melt has finished, instability along some highways will continue.

But carrots aren’t the only produce grown in California and trucked across the U.S.

Where does our garlic comes from? Mostly Santa Clara and Fresno counties – the former badly hammered by this month’s rain – producing roughly half of all garlic consumed in the U.S.

Where do our strawberries come from? Monterey, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz counties, all along central coastal California and all savaged horribly by this month’s storms. Around 90% of strawberries consumed in the U.S. come from this region.

Lettuce is much the same as is celery. I’ve had both romaine and celery in my refrigerator recently which was grown by Tanimura & Antle Farms in California, in the San Joaquin Valley. The same valley has been flooded.

Unlike competitor Bolthouse Farms, Tanimura & Antle is an employee-owned farming business. It also owns farming operations in Arizona and Tennessee, but the latter is particularly interesting as it’s a hydroponic greenhouse facility for lettuce production located between Nashville and Knoxville.

It doesn’t look like much from the air:

Satellite photo: Greenhouse lettuce facility, Tanimura & Antle, Livingston TN via Google Maps

But it’s much more like the most productive fresh produce farms – those in the Netherlands serving Europe.

The Washington Post ran a marvelous piece about farming in the Netherlands this past November. It’s worth the effort to read because this small country 1.5 times the size of Maryland has become a super producer, the “world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products by value behind the United States” according to the WaPo’s article.

Thinking about water and land use, we could learn a lot from the Dutch:

The Netherlands produces 4 million cows, 13 million pigs and 104 million chickens annually and is Europe’s biggest meat exporter. But it also provides vegetables to much of Western Europe. The country has nearly 24,000 acres — almost twice the size of Manhattan — of crops growing in greenhouses. These greenhouses, with less fertilizer and water, can grow in a single acre what would take 10 acres of traditional dirt farming to achieve. Dutch farms use only a half-gallon of water to grow about a pound of tomatoes, while the global average is more than 28 gallons.

How much less water would growers need in California if they used similar technologies? How much less oil would we need to ship produce if we had more smaller produce farms spread out across the U.S., copying Dutch vertical farming under LEDs in greenhouses?

How much less risk would there be to the nation’s food supply if produce wasn’t so heavily concentrated in a single state, one vulnerable to more extremes in weather, wildfire, and earthquakes?

Disruptions to power for protracted periods?

Not to mention the ongoing problems of long-term water availability and its contamination, or other challenges like food-borne illness (ex. E. coli in romaine lettuce from Salinas County, CA).

This isn’t a problem confined to California alone. The celery I bought most recently was from either California or Arizona.

The same Arizona where unincorporated municipality Rio Verde had its water supply cut off by neighboring Scottsdale due to drought. The long-term outlook doesn’t look good, either.

The heavy rain and snow battering California and other parts of the Mountain West over the past two weeks is helping to refill some reservoirs and soak dried-out soil. But water experts say that one streak of wet weather will not undo a 20-year drought that has practically emptied Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, and has strained the overburdened Colorado River, which supplies about 35 percent of Arizona’s water. The rest comes from the state’s own rivers or from aquifers in the ground.

Where does our next celery come from?

We need to learn about our nation’s agriculture in a hurry.

On Speakers

Okay, I probably junked up enough substantive threads already with casual music stuff, so am going to separate that out. Pretty much agree with Stella Blue that ribbon tweeters are great, but also with VVV that they will not take the pounding.

Late in high school, I got a pair of Cerwin Vega towers. “Made Loud To Be Played Loud” was their motto back then. I literally got a roll of stickers that said exactly that with the purchase. They were great.

Somewhere after joining the bar, I was offered a pair of Altec A7’s. They needed help, but I think they were free. Had to recone the massive woofers on both, and replace the diaphragm on one of the horns. They were huge. You could literally play a mid sized club with these things. But if you blew out a woofer, just recone it. Blow out a horn diaphragm it’s $50 and a ten minute surgery. I originally had Marantz tube equipment, then later changed to Adcom. Pump a bunch of clean watts into the A7’s, and you can rock the entire block.

Then I up and got married. When we were expecting, Mrs. bmaz bluntly told me to lose the giant speakers. I inverted them and loaded the horns in the baffles hoping to minimize and save the situation. No go. So, as they came to me, the Altecs left to a friend with a small band, same as they came, for nothing, just come get them.

Now I have the same rack of Adcom amp, pre-amp and switcher. But played through Polk towers with B & W studio monitors sitting on top of them with a Velodyne 15 sub. Still usually listen to vinyl on a turntable.

So, that is the story of Bungalow bmaz, what is yours? Let’s stereo!

Leaving Las Birdas

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Marcy asked Sunday about a checklist of actions:

It’d be useful for someone to put together a checklist for journalists to prepare for the inevitable banning: download archive, delete DMs and phone number, update Masto follows… What else?

I started drafting one but as I was doing so, Elmo was changing the rules. I had to toss some parts, rewrite others, do more research than I expected all because Elmo decided he was going to ban a journalist permanently (WaPo’s Taylor Lorenz) and ban all references to certain other social media platforms.

And then Musk did a 180-degree turn and deleted a bunch of the new rules late Sunday evening.

A flood of new users over the weekend combined with increased posting volume flooded Mastodon servers again, making everything a bit slow. It will speed up again once everything settles down into a new stasis.

Anyhow, here’s the list journalists probably could have used already.

1) Get your Archive — Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you have requested an archive of your Twitter history which includes all your tweets, retweets, quote tweets, media, more.

— Select Settings and privacy.
— Choose Your account.
— Select Download an archive of your data.
— Confirm your password, then select Request archive.
— Watch for notice in your Settings within the next 2-5 days that your archive is ready to download. Don’t count on an email notification as those appear to be spotty.

This archive will not be readily readable to folks who don’t code, but there are tools to format it into readable structure.

2) Obtain 2FA backup passcodes — you need a way to access your account if Twitter’s 2FA service crashes. It has in Ukraine and India and spottily in the US since November 1.

Once you have your 2FA backup passcodes, make sure you have 2FA set up on your account. Next step will help a lot with 2FA.

3) Remove your phone number from your Twitter account. Lifehacker published a how-to. If you must keep a phone number attached, consider either switching it to a dedicated cheap burner or leave the existing number but get a new number wholly separate from Twitter for everything else.

Unauthorized use and sale of phone numbers may violate the FTC’s consent decree, but Musk has already proven repeatedly he doesn’t care what the FTC’s consent decree says, having violated it multiple times since taking control of Twitter. Don’t assume regulation can restrain him or that regulatory bodies in the U.S. or EU can act before the damage is done.

4) Leave contact information as to where else you can be found.

Musk is now suspending accounts for sharing Mastodon, Facebook, Instagram, Post, Tribel, TruthSocial, Nostr addresses and links. To ensure readers can still obtain addresses at these platforms, try these alternatives:

— There are three open source link shorteners available which can mask an underlying link. See https://opensource.com/article/17/3/url-link-shortener for information about Lessn More, Polr, and Yourls; or

— Use Glitch.com to cite all your social media addresses and identities in one link. You can ‘hide’ your Mastodon address in it and use the URL on your Twitter profile;

— Another approach is to collect your identities and put them in an image file and add it to a pinned tweet (do not include any text referring to the image’s content). So far I haven’t seen any indication Twitter is using OCR to detect ‘forbidden’ addresses except perhaps in profile header images;

— If you already have a blog, you can draft a post or a page with all your contact information in it and link to that page/post. (I’ve done this, it’s very easy.)

5) Delete your Direct Messages (DMs) — this may take some time if you haven’t had a practice of deleting them as you go along. In the future use Signal for private messages with auto-deletion so you don’t have this albatross to deal with if you need to leave another social media platform.

Protect your sources and ask them to make sure they’ve deleted on their end as well.

6) Delete your Tweets — this is not a necessity and may actually cause problems if others have relied on your tweets in their reporting. Unlike DMs, tweets are assigned a unique URL; deleting one can create a 404 error for anyone who cited one of your tweets. Think long and hard about doing this.

It may be difficult to delete more than your last 3200 tweets. I couldn’t; the service I used choked on the copy of my archive for one of my accounts. So I left it as it was.

If you have sensitive tweets which could end up deleted by Twitter’s current or future regime, consider archiving them in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

7) Pull a list of follows/followers if you’re headed to Mastodon — technically speaking, this information is in your archive copy but without the right tool it can be difficult for the non-coder to read. Use tools like Fedifinder or Twitodon to pull a list of follows/followers identifying those who’ve migrated to Mastodon already. Log into your Mastodon account and follow the emigres as desired.

8) Nuclear Options: a) Lock your account, or b) Deactivate/Delete your account.

a) Locking your account means it is only visible to your existing followers at the time it is locked. You won’t get spammed/trolled by non-following accounts while you’re locked. Other accounts may try to follow you but you’ll have to approve them and at this point most may be spammers or troll/bot accounts not worth your time to screen let alone approve.

b) Deactivating/Deleting your account will freeze your username for 30 days but after that the username is available for use by another new user. I do NOT recommend this; if your name is your brand, you don’t want someone misusing it. Just make sure the account is secured by 2FA and walk away.

Between my two accounts I have less than 3000 followers and I’d informed them the account was going on hiatus and left info on how to find me. I locked my accounts and haven’t logged back in.

9) Prep your other social media/future social media home — I’m not going to assume journalists are headed to Mastodon though many are. Some media figures are heading elsewhere.

— Make sure to update your other/new media accounts with new addresses as appropriate;

— Make sure you’ve activated 2FA or MFA secured logins on your other/new accounts;

— If you’re leaving Twitter, remove buttons and links from your social media accounts and — blog/website which take readers to your Twitter account;

— Share a post as soon as possible on your alternate platform(s) advising your status, and then make sure to sustain some level of consistency in posting there to develop audience.

10-a) If you are moving to Mastodon — find the circulating lists of journalists who’ve opened a Mastodon account. Follow your peeps from that list, have yourself added to that list.

an ongoing Google Doc of journalists prepared by Tim Chambers, administrator of indie.social (@[email protected]):

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13No4yxY-oFrN8PigC2jBWXreFCHWwVRTftwP6HcREtA/htmlview

The list is at least 1280 entries long. When clicking through the link above, note the link at the top to a form to collect new entry’s personal information.

an ongoing active list of verified journalists prepared by Dave Lee of the Financial Times (@[email protected]):

https://www.presscheck.org/

Caveat: Dave is swamped, there’s a backlog of requests by new accounts.

10-b) If you are moving to Mastodon — you have a lot to learn in a short period of time; make sure you understand how Mastodon’s culture differs from Twitter’s, and how the lack of algorithms and nominal analytics may change your mode of operation.

— YouTube video introduction by Jeff Jarvis (@[email protected]), journalism prof at CUNY Newmark School:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnbct41Sxnk

— Introduction to Mastodon at Washington Post:

A guide to getting started with Twitter alternative Mastodon (gift link)

There was another intro at Wall Street Journal this weekend as well — which says something interesting, doesn’t it? I don’t have a link to it, though, as I don’t have a subscription.

~ ~ ~

Now, a note about reporting on Elmo and Twitter going forward: ARCHIVE TWEETS BEFORE REPORTING ABOUT THEM. Make this an automatic practice.

I’ve run in to a number of situations where journalists have posted in Mastodon about Twitter rules and Elmo’s tweets, sharing links to the Twitter-based content. Because I refuse to give Twitter traffic I copy the URL of the tweet and check the Internet Archive first for an archived copy instead.

I can’t tell you how many times the shared tweet url had NOT been archived, even this Sunday during the height of Musk-ian confusion about the new rule regarding mentions of social media competitors.

Do not trust Elmo not to delete content whether tweets or administrative content under Help, Twitter Support, or other Twitter organization account. Take a screenshot, document the hell out of it. Add any links to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

Polititweet had been archiving Musk’s tweets including tracking those deleted, but I can’t be certain it’s up to date.

Just don’t trust him or the business he runs because it’s not the Twitter you once knew.

~ ~ ~

Go. Remember you’re supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Do it from a better place than the circus Twitter has become.

Held Hostage by the Barmy Bird

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Of all the journalists suspended by Elmo on the bird site, I was bothered most by that of Voice of America’s Steve Herman.

I mentioned before he’s a straight news kind of guy. I’d followed his account at Twitter so far back I can’t remember which of us had a Twitter account first. He was one of the few early Twitter sources I could rely on for news about earthquakes in Japan. His coverage of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 was invaluable.

But the most important factor about Herman’s suspension is that he is a U.S. government employee.

Herman works for us. He’s paid with our tax dollars.

And a single foreign-born billionaire offering weak excuses after the fact had OUR public employee suspended for doing their job.

Once again, I’ll point out that Elmo was exercising his own free speech rights by suspending journalists on the social media platform he owns.

Popehat said it better, of course:

Remember: Twitter is Elon’s company, he has the free speech and free association right to run it pretty much however he wants and to ban people for petty narcissistic reasons.

And we have the right to laugh and point at his ridiculousness and at the free-speech pretenses of his gullible fans.

But even Popehat said that on Mastodon.

Elmo may be within his rights to capriciously decide to suspend journalists, but in suspending VOA’s Herman it became crystal clear that the U.S. government should not allow its resources to be subject to the whim of a single individual when the entire country relies on those resources.

Thankfully, Herman was already on Mastodon before the suspension and has been ramping up posting on that open platform since he launched his account.

But it’s who else is NOT on Mastodon which is now a problem.

Every member of Congress who has an account on Twitter is vulnerable to suspension.

Every U.S. government department and agency still on Twitter is likewise at risk.

Let’s say Musk becomes annoyed with the Federal Aviation Administration because of its regulations on airspace and planes, commercial and private. Could he suspend the FAA’s account?

Or perhaps Musk gets his pants in a knot about National Aeronautics and Space Administration because he and NASA don’t see eye to eye about a SpaceX-related matter. Could he suspend NASA accounts (there are multiple for this agency).

One might say, “Surely Musk wouldn’t be stupid/crazed enough to do that.”

Except he’s already suspended one employee of a U.S. government agency, and holding that person’s account hostage until content is deleted from that person’s account.

Elmo might have the right to do this, but the U.S. should not be held hostage by a pasty excessively-monied git with an unmanaged ego.

Look at this situation from another angle: this is ransomware denying service to a user until a specific deliverable has been provided.

In VOA’s case, Musk by way of Twitter Safety has demanded Herman delete a tweet before service will be resumed.

How should a government agency respond to demands for ransom like this, when an open platform is ready and waiting to provide alternative service?

There’s no good reason why each department and agency is still on Twitter but not on Mastodon, nor is there any good reason why each member of Congress doesn’t have an account on Mastodon.

None of the work government departments, agencies, and employees do should be impeded by the private sector let alone by a single butt-hurt billionaire.

Contact your members of Congress and tell them this needs to be fixed going into the next session of Congress. Each of them and their caucuses need to have a non-commercialized open social media platform account.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot (which has a Mastodon account, by the way).

After the Deluge: What’s Next on Mastodon for Journalism? [UPDATE-2]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

After Thursday’s Musk-ian tantrum booting off more than eight journalists from Twitter, there was a stampede of new users opening accounts on the open social media platform Mastodon.

It bogged down performance considerably on the largest servers. My timelines lagged by nearly three hours at one point on mstdn.social. But that was Friday; there wasn’t a lot of urgent news. We could afford the lag.

Though service improved greatly over 24 hours later, servers may still be throttled a bit. They’ll likely be upgraded over the next week or two depending on the instance and if traffic continues to level out over the next 48 hours.

The lag will be more obvious than some of the corporate-owned commercial platforms, but we’ve all seen now what the price is for the responsiveness of commercial Big Tech.

Besides, we’ve been here before during early rapid growth of a platform.

We’ll get through this.

~ ~ ~

Now that journalists have finally been confronted by the reality their go-to social media platform is run by an erratic narcissist, it’s time to ask what’s next.

Some of the outlets employing these journalists are already turning a blind eye to what happened now that Musk has lifted the suspension on several journalists. The selective approach should be yet another signal to media outlets that there is no return to normal. The big name outlets like CNN, NYT, NBC saw the ban on their journalists lifted, but the smaller independent outlets and freelance journalists are still suspended.

Among them are the only woman of color who was banned (Linette Lopez) and a commentator who’s retired from political commentary (Keith Olbermann). Hello racism, misogyny, ageism, and not a single complaint from the big media outlets about this because they’re not affected (wow, if that doesn’t say something else).

Not only is the Musk-ian problem of throttled journalism continuing, it will happen again. It’s just a matter of time before some other issue arises which trips Musk’s hair trigger and a journalist or outlet will be suspended.

(While I was writing this piece, Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz was suspended from Twitter without explanation. Her account also happens to be on the so-called antifa list circulated last month — surely just a coincidence, hmm?)

There’s purpose to this beyond an expression of Musk’s shallowness. It’s now a means to change the subject and redirect journalists’ attention — even away from some of the journalism being throttled.

What was it that Lopez reported which triggered Musk? Why isn’t that getting more attention?

And as I asked in my previous post, what really tripped the suspension of Matt Binder? Was it about Tesla’s performance?

This is among the what’s next actions: journalists and their employers need to stop getting played by Musk the same damned way they were played by another malignant narcissist who mastered undermining and marginalizing the media.

Stop navel gazing and start doing more and better reporting about Musk and his effect on free speech and press freedom.

Publish it on an open social media platform, which the narcissist’s platform isn’t.

Do that with all reporting.

~ ~ ~

Consultant Dan Hon has posted a few observations, assessments, and recommendations of media outlets’ next steps. He began writing about news organizations moving to open web platform Mastodon back in October just before Musk took ownership of Twitter, before journalists were banned:

— News outlets need a Mastodon instance;
— Instances should be associated with organization’s existing website URL to ease discovery while building on and enhancing brand;
— Instances should verify its journalists’ (and opinion columnists’) identities through the Mastodon instance;

Thursday’s journalists’ suspensions emphasize the importance of Hon’s recommendations. News media shouldn’t be held hostage by a single billionaire with an attitude, especially if these outlets don’t have financial relationship with that billionaire and his social media business.

It’s possible the big name media outlets whose journalists’ suspensions were lifted have or have had advertising purchases with Twitter which influenced Musk’s handling of the suspensions.

No outlet so far has copped to this though it’s certain some participate in Twitter’s video monetization program Amplify. We only know that some of the outlets begged for mercy *cough* asked for reconsideration of the suspensions.

The New York Times asked its reporters not get into confrontations with Musk in public view on Twitter.

In one case the news outlet has punished the journalist for their coverage of Musk. NBC dressed down Ben Collins and pulled him off coverage of Twitter for his tweets earlier in the month which were characterized as “not editorially appropriate.”

NBC’s behavior may have emboldened Musk.

Entities pleading with Musk like the American Foreign Service Association on behalf of VOA’s Steve Herman may only have fed Musk’s ego.

FreePress.net’s insistence Musk step aside as Twitter’s CEO is laughable given how much of his own wealth is invested in the business, not to mention Musk was exercising his own free speech rights suspending journalists.

None of these actions deal with the problem, which is that a media platform has been taken over by a billionaire fascist narcissist with no genuine interest in free speech and a free press.

Dealing with this effectively means building a better mousetrap which can’t be overtaken by a single person’s whims.

There have been some instances established on open platform Mastodon for some media outlets listed below:

— USA —
https://c.im/@ABC (bot)
https://c.im/@CNN (bot)
https://c.im/@NBC (bot)
https://journa.host/@onthemedia
https://journa.host/@[email protected]
https://mstdn.social/@RollingStone
https://newsie.social/@TheConversationUS
https://newsie.social/@themarkup
https://newsie.social/@Chalkbeat
https://newsie.social/@STAT
https://newsie.social/@ProPublica
https://newsie.social/@damemagazine
https://mastodon.world/@FAIR
https://mastodon.world/@foreignpolicy
https://mastodon.world/@theprospect
https://mastodon.social/@niemanlab
https://mastodon.social/@GovTrack

— US Local —
https://mastodon.social/@gbhnews
https://mastodon.social/@KCStar (bot)
https://texasobserver.social/@TexasObserver
https://newsie.social/@Chron
https://mastodon.tucsonsentinel.com/@TucsonSentinel
https://journa.host/@msfreepress
https://journa.host/@berkeleyscanner
https://sfba.social/sfchronicle
https://sfba.social/@sfgate
https://sfba.social/@sfstandard
https://sfba.social/@thevallejosun
https://verified.mastodonmedia.xyz/@theoregonian
https://mas.to/@sltrib

— Technology —
https://c.im/@Mashable (bot)
https://c.im/@Engadget (bot)
https://geeknews.chat/@arstechnica
https://mastodon.social/@macrumors
https://restof.social/@restofworld

— Sports —
https://c.im/@NBA (bot)
https://c.im/@NFL (bot)
https://c.im/@MLB (bot)
https://c.im/@NHL (bot)
https://c.im/@Soccer (bot)

— International —
https://botsin.space/@bbcworld (bot)(UK)
https://bylines.social/@BylinesNetwork (UK)
https://bylines.social/@BylinesScotland (Scot)
https://bylines.social/@BylinesCymru (Wales)
https://bylines.social/@YorksBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@NEBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@BylinesEast (UK)
https://bylines.social/@CentralBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@NWBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@KentBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@SussexBylines (UK)
https://bylines.social/@WEBylines (UK)
https://c.im/@BBC (bot)(UK)
https://c.im/@DW (bot)(German)
https://mastodon.social/@riffreporter (German)
https://mamot.fr/@lesjoursfr (France)
https://mamot.fr/@mdiplo (France)
https://piaille.fr/@Vert_le_media (France)
https://piaille.fr/@politis (France)
https://amicale.net/@lemondefr (bot)(France)
https://masto.ai/@linforme (France)
https://mastodon.social/@Reporterre (France)
https://mastodon.social/@Mediapart (France)
https://mastodon.social/@citizenlab (Canada)
https://mastodon.social/@rferl (International, Ukraine)

Note those marked (bot) — these may not have been established by the news organization but instead by some other entity whose identity is not clear. They are cross-posting news headlines from somewhere, possibly Twitter. Each (bot) is a failure; it may share the organization’s news articles faithfully, but the site isn’t verified and its posts will never answer any questions from readers. It’s a loss of control over IP and branding, at a minimum.

The real successes are those which set up their own instances, like the Texas Observer. Best in class is the Bylines Network which has not only established an instance but accounts for each of its local news subsidiaries. Ideally this is what news organizations like Gannett or McClatchy would do with their network of local papers.

Of course these are all news outlets which still focus on print; television news should take the same approach.

And all of the journalists who report for these entities should have verified accounts with their employers’ instance.

Not a single thin dime need be spent on Twitter Blue to achieve verification.

Every instance is an opportunity to develop a closer relationship with readers in ways Twitter couldn’t provide. Because Mastodon is RSS friendly, every one of the news outlets above can be followed with an RSS reader by simply adding .rss to each address and then adding the address to a preferred RSS reader.

~ ~ ~

Why haven’t or won’t media outlets migrate to an instance on open platform Mastodon? As Don Hon wrote, it’s a bunch of work! It needs maintenance not unlike a website, and it needs a level of creative thinking which Twitter/Facebook/Instagram haven’t required because they’ve been fairly stable for years. The open web and the Fediverse is terra nova for news organizations, and it will take some craftiness to develop an new media ecosystem with measures to determine success of any invested effort.

It’s also too tempting to look at another billionaire-funded closed platform like Post.news and assume from its polished finish that this might return media outlets to normalcy.

Sadly, no. Many users are turned off by what has been characterized as a hollow echo chamber effect with little community building.

There are still more opportunities but each has has major drawbacks. Hive.social has had a major security problem; Jimmy Wales’ WT.social in beta phase is based in the UK and subject to entirely different laws regulating speech and intellectual property; no one wants to go back to relying on Facebook or Instagram, and LinkedIn wasn’t designed for the kind of community usage Twitter has had.

I have yet to hear anyone express interest in Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky which is still in development.

At some point media outlets need to face reality, as UCLA Associate Professor of Information Studies Dr. Sarah T. Roberts explained:

As people are leaving Bird for good, I find that many are engaged in what I believe is a dangerous and misguided game of mixing apples and oranges. After what just happened, and all that it has revealed about reliance on for-profit corporate entities for interpersonal and community interaction, why advocate for another such environment? Substack is already known garbage, and Post provides no future-proofing. When I say, “seize the means of your social media production,” this is why.

Seize the means, indeed.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:15 P.M. ET 18-DEC-2022 —

Community member Laura Hoey informed us The Oregonian (OregonLive.com) has a Mastodon account. I’ve added it to the list of local news outlets above.

It’s a particularly interesting addition because the host instance, https://verified.mastodonmedia.xyz, is a dedicated server for use by journalists or media personalities. The owner/operator is Matt Karolian, who describes himself as “Boston Globe by day, Mastodon Admin by night.”

If you know of a local news outlet which has a Mastodon account but isn’t on the list above, let me know in comments and I’ll add it as long as comments are open on this post. Thanks!

UPDATE-2 — 3:50 P.M. ET 18-DEC-2022 —

Another local news outlet added to the list, courtesy of community member Katrina Katrinka. See Salt Lake Tribune at https://mas.to/@sltrib.

If you are a newer user of Mastodon and find the site laggy, it’s because of a crush of new accounts and more posts. I’m trying to write yet another post which should address the reason for this influx.

Elmo and the Urge to Purge [UPDATE-3]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates at the bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Elmo has had a bug up his ass for at least a couple days.

It seems Twitter added a warning note to all tweets which included the word “mastodon”; it made for some laughs from the archaeo-bioscience sector when it resulted in a warning attached to a tweet about ancient mastodon DNA.

It’s not the first time Twitter has been hinky about “mastodon”; Twitter users had difficulty last month during a wave of users leaving Twitter for the open social media platform Mastodon.

Then Elmo lashed out yesterday punitively removing @elonjet from Twitter, the account which tracked his personal jet.

Never mind the flight data is public record and @elonjet merely reposted that data.

Elmo also removed all accounts associated with Jack Sweeney, the teen who launched @elonjet. There was no advance notice.

There was some back and forth with reinstatement but some whining on Elmo’s part blaming Sweeney and @elonjet for some possible road rage event. No proof was offered showing a link between anything tweeted by Sweeney or his accounts and whatever transpired on the road.

Elmo did manage to dox the person he claimed threatened him in a car, violating his own Terms of Service.

But that was yesterday.

This evening Elmo purged a bunch of journalists. At least one was banned permanently with the rest receiving a suspension of their accounts.

Aaron Rupar, Substack (@atrupar) – permanent suspension

Donie O’Sullivan, CNN (@donie) – suspended

Micah Lee, The Intercept (@micahflee) – suspended [on the list]

Drew Harwell, WaPo (@drewharwell) – suspended [on the list]

Ryan Mac, NYTimes (@[email protected]) – suspended [on the list]

Matt Binder, Mashable (@mattbinder) – suspended [on the list]

Tony Webster, independent (@[email protected]) – suspended

Keith Olbermann, retired (@KeithOlbermann) – suspended

Here’s what’s particularly interesting about half of these eight known accounts: they were on a list circulated via Telegram on/around November 25 labeled “Antifa accounts and antifa follower accounts.” The intent appeared to have been brigading and purging 5000 accounts on that list from Twitter; the same list was purportedly supplied by an entity called “Right Side News” and shared with Elmo.

The list is out there somewhere; it had been shared at Pastebin. It’s not going to be shared here because the site doesn’t need the hassle.

No matter the reason Elmo’s panties were in a bunch, there’s no such formal organization called antifa. As noted several times here at this site, antifa is an ideology — anti-fascism — and yes, journalists who benefit from the First Amendment and its free speech press protections might well identify with antifascist ideology.

But every journalist has a different take on what constitutes fascism which makes it gross overreach to claim any and all journalists are members of an imaginary group called antifa let alone claim their ideological bent is antifascist. You can certainly think of a few folks who claim to be journalists whose work appears very fascist or in the service of fascists.

One might also assume that a business targeting those earmarked as antifa or sharing antifascist ideology is itself fascist.

Ken White (@Popehat) shared on Mastodon:

Remember: Twitter is Elon’s company, he has the free speech and free association right to run it pretty much however he wants and to ban people for petty narcissistic reasons.

And we have the right to laugh and point at his ridiculousness and at the free-speech pretenses of his gullible fans.

Yup. I have the right to call Elmo a hypocritical spoiled asshat.

And the third largest shareholder at Tesla has the right to say some blunt things about Elmo’s performance:

Investors and executives at Tesla have raised concerns regarding Musk’s shifted focus to Twitter. On Wednesday, Tesla’s third-largest shareholder, investor Leo KoGuan, tweeted that Musk had “abandoned Tesla” and that the company “has no working CEO.” Other prominent investors have echoed the concerns. Future Fund Managing Partner Gary Black tweeted that the market was indicating that “the $TSLA brand has been negatively impacted by the Twitter drama. Where before EV buyers were proud to drive their Teslas to their friends or show off Teslas in their driveways, now the Twitter controversy is hurting Tesla’s brand equity.”

That excerpt was from RollingStone magazine; it included this tweet by Matt Binder:

Huh. I wonder if this tweet in particular is what caused Matt’s suspension?

The RollingStone article was written by Nikki McCann Ramirez. I wonder if she had a Twitter account and if it was suspended or not, and if so was she also on the so-called “antifa list”?

Place your bets now on which journalist(s) will feel the emerald mine heir’s bitchy boot.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 10:10 P.M. ET —

Well that didn’t take very long. Steve Herman of the Voice of America was given the boot after he tweeted about the @elonjet account. Herman is a straight news guy, can’t imagine a journalist less likely to provoke anyone.

At least this heave-ho revealed Elmo’s Achilles heel.

Oh, and if you’re at Mastodon, follow Steve Herman at https://mstdn.social/@[email protected]

UPDATE-2 — 11:30 P.M. ET —

HELLO JOURNALISTS EXITING TWITTER — please do NOT attempt to join the largest Mastodon servers/instances if you are looking to create an account for the first time.

The sites are extremely busy now and performance is degraded for everyone. It will make you feel even more frustrated than you may already be, having seen fellow journalists booted off Twitter this evening.

Check this list of servers/instances for one that fits your needs. It doesn’t have to be permanent — you can switch to a different server in the future if you find one you prefer.

These three servers are more lightly loaded and dedicated to serving journalists:

https://journa.host
https://newsie.social
https://federated.press

Check each server’s About page.

Look for their moderation policy which may vary by server — what content is permitted/not permitted, how moderation works, so on.

Some servers require approval of applications, some are instant.

Note whether the server has defederated from/blocked other large or critical servers.

The three listed here for journalists are not likely to be an issue with regard to moderation, application speed, federation, but it doesn’t hurt to check up front.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around which server you want to call home for now, read this introduction-and-how-to by Electronic Frontier Foundation:

How to Make a Mastodon Account and Join the Fediverse

It’s straightforward, plenty of graphics, and will surely get your back with regard to security.

Next, find yourself a Mastodon mobile app you prefer. I don’t have a recommendation for Apple iOS but I am happy with Tusky on Android. It has a Twitter-ish feel which makes adoption easier.

I use the Mastodon native app in the browser on my desktop, don’t have any other recommendations yet for you. It’ll get you started.

Once you’ve launched an account, you need to begin changing your thinking and your work habits because Mastodon is not like Twitter.

— Set up a profile carefully, then an introductory post to pin to your page. Add 5-7 hashtags to the introduction about subjects of importance to you.

— There are no algorithms, nothing comes to you that you don’t first seek and pull.

— There is no search inside the applications which operates across the federated Mastodon universe (the Fediverse); this is intended to prevent harassment by trolls brigading. You can use Google, however, if you plot out your search terms carefully.

— Hashtags are searchable across the Fediverse, however. Use them often. However don’t sprinkle them inside text as they interfere with e-readers; append hashtags to bottom of your posts.

— They’re not tweets but posts; they used to be called “toots” but that recently changed because it annoyed too many people and it was based on a joke anyhow.

— Follow many people; boost (comparable to retweeting) anything of interest; likes are compliments to the poster.

— Quote tweets were seen as causing negative engagement by Mastodon’s progenitor and are therefore difficult to do.

This should be enough to get you started in Mastodon; it’s more than I had and I am doing pretty well. Bring friends!

UPDATE-3 — 11:00 A.M. 16-DEC-2022 —

For folks still looking to open a Mastodon account here’s a site which helps identify servers with best fit by a handful of criteria:

https://instances.social/list

I would have shared this last night but it was crashing. LOL

Do note that Mastodon servers offer many more criteria by which to sort for a new home. Some of this may be a reflection of local laws where the instance operates — pornography-free servers, for instance — or it may be a reflection of the values of the persons using that server.

Mastodon leans hard into anti-abuse and anti-discrimination policies though some servers are less firm about them. Those that stray too far and allow too much offensive material and even more offensive users may find their server defederated after other muting and blocking methods have been exhausted. In this respect Mastodon has better and moderation than Twitter since users are the frontline of moderation, blocking and reporting content and abusers.

Three Things: Goodbye to the Once and Former Shitty Crustpunk Bar

[NB: As always, check the byline. /~Rayne]

Social media sites can be like your favorite watering hole, whether a blog, a forum, a platform like Orkut. You find one you’re comfortable hanging around because of content, and then you stay longer if you like the regulars who are likewise attracted to the content.

You get to know the regulars’ names after becoming familiar with the dynamics of the digital neighborhood. After a while you realize you’re a regular too – you’ve gotten to know this person has kids, that person has a beloved pet, yet another has a quirky habit manifest in the way they comment.

They get to know you and call you by your name as if you were Norm entering that Boston pub called Cheers.

Site moderators get to know you, too, may cut you a little slack if you’ve been there long enough and paid your dues to the community by making your own form of contribution with credible comment material and respectful interaction.

With some investment getting yourself situated for optimum comfort, it’s easy. Everything just comes to you — the bartender now knows exactly what to serve you.

All of this is incredibly important to people who are marginalized offline. The digital neighborhood can be a lifeline of sanity, a place where they can escape the oppressive crap of the real world. They can join the community through a lingua franca within their circle of safety. They don’t have to burn any more precious energy to obtain a measure of peace.

Safety borne of familiarity, regularity, and connection, of a cultivated common culture — that’s what the digital refugees who are fleeing Twitter miss, that’s what they’re seeking.

It’s not at all easy to replace. It also feels like personal and social loss to leave it.

Except the refugees didn’t leave it. It left them.

~ 3 ~

A couple years ago there was a really great thread at Twitter in response to comments made about the far right’s weaponization of free speech.

We’ve seen the weaponization in action in many ways – the white nationalist Nazi-types terrorizing Charlottesville with tiki torches while exercising their free speech, ultimately resulting in the death of a young woman crushed by a white nationalist expressing himself with his car.

Cosplay Nazi-lite lighting smoke bombs during a rally without a permit on the National Mall, or planning to disrupt a Pride parade again in cosplay.

Disrupting community events at libraries, terrorizing families enjoying themselves.

Or the January 6 insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol expressing their anger as they laid bombs the night before, breached barriers, assaulted police, shat on the floor, stole equipment while hunting for the House Speaker and the Vice President in order to kill them. Multiple people died as a result of the insurrection.

Anyhow, this chap at Twitter noted the point at which this weaponization of free speech should be addressed to prevent the predictable overreach into violence, when Popper’s Paradox is optimally preempted.

The venue needs to deal with the hate speech as soon as it arrives with its hair neatly combed wearing a button down with an insignia-covered tie. Cut it off in the whitewashed alt-right larval form; grab the club and set on on the bar top long before the Nazi must be punched. That’s when the effort is most effective; that’s when you can still fight and eliminate the emerging Nazis.

Unfortunately, Elon Musk figured out how to get inside this OODA loop.

He bought the bar. He was simply faster at doing this than Paul Singer was back in 2019.

And now the once-beloved shitty crustpunk bar which many of us could comfortably call home is now a goddamned Nazi pub.

The longer you stay there, the more that shit rubs off on you: you’re one of the Nazi watering hole’s patrons.

You’re a Nazi by association.

~ 2 ~

Jack Dorsey is a crypto Nazi. He’s been encouraging Musk for some time, and now he’s nudging him to take all remaining restraints off the Nazis Musk has already freed, including insurrectionists like Roger Stone. “[M]ake everything public now,” which will allow right-wing propagandists to run amok and distort past moderation decisions.

The way Twitter responded to Trump’s racist crap back when Dorsey was at the helm should have been clue enough; the donation Twitter made to the ACLU was just whitewash, the few hundred thousand a feint when Musk would spend billions to upend the entire place to free his Nazi fanbois’ speech.

Dorsey tried to play both sides but it was ultimately easier to let his buddy Musk strip away the veil. Or hood, if you’d prefer.

Bari Weiss is a Nazi apologist who thinks she can escape what Nazis do by being their handmaid, carrying Nazis’ water, chopping their wood for them.

All the Musk fanbois who are Oh-My-God-Twitter-Moderated, amplified in turn by Fox News in the wake of Musk euphemistically ‘exiting’ Twitter’s counsel? Nazis.

And of course there are the Nazis Musk let back in the bar, putting out the Welcome mat for them.

They’re all hanging at the Nazi bar Musk bought in order to make sure Nazis had a cozy place to call home because Gab, Parler, and Truth Social don’t have the commercial cachet to realistically achieve any level of social and economic success.

The financiers who either bought stock or loaned Musk money are likewise good with Nazism. It’s not a stretch to see how three Middle Eastern fossil fuel producing countries might want to destabilize the U.S. by normalizing Nazis in American right-wing culture.

This normalization which heightens internal conflict is to them not a failure.

So long as the American left and center are preoccupied with fighting Nazis, they’ll have less wattage to undermine stultifying fossil fuels to the benefit of alternative energy development.

No idea what the hell Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison was thinking by loaning Musk money to buy Twitter. We can only rely on first principles and allow his actions to convey exactly what they look like: Ellison wanted a chunk of Nazi bar action.

That goes for all the other investors who loaned Musk money for Twitter.

Remember that social success may mean their ideas as noxious as they are gain what has been a mainstream platform used by this country’s largest media outlets — they are legitimized by proximity.

Remember that economic success may mean benefits other than those obtained by Twitter’s profitability. Like stifling discussion about alternatives to oil. Or disrupting conversations about open source, open data, open systems in the case of a proprietary database corporation’s CEO. Or thwarting changes to tax code which may affect billionaires by throttling communications by elected representatives who’d like to pass a tax increase on the 1%.

$44 billion for a Nazi bar might be a bargain.

~ 1 ~

This is when it gets – and already has been – dicey for advertisers.

Because they’re buying ad space from a Nazi bar, to be shown in a space where their brands appear cheek-and-jowl with Nazis.

The back and forth between Musk and Apple about Apple’s ad buys shouldn’t fool anyone. Apple doesn’t want to leave Nazi money on the table.

I say this with great disgust and a letter to the board of directors because I own Apple stock and the cost to buy Twitter would have been chump change to Apple.

It would have been more valuable to have access to a big chunk of the Android market’s users for advertising purposes while preventing damage to Apple’s brand if Apple had stepped up this past March after Musk’s stake in Twitter became public. Just whip out some cash and cut off the incipient Nazi bar.

But no, Apple fucked up.

Instead of making a values-based statement about its products and service the way they would have in the past, they’ve remained silent too long as Musk taunted them about free speech and nagged them about advertising buys.

The company that literally smashed the iconography of then-giant IBM in 1984 and Microsoft to follow, the company which was the first to be valued at a trillion dollars and subsequently two trillion, has been tippy-toeing around a fucking Nazi bar owner tweaking its nose.

What’s really even more egregious: while Musk is trash talking Apple and Apple responds in a way totally unlike one of the wealthiest and most creative on earth should, Musk is using Apple and refusing to compensate the corporation for it.

He just jacked up from $8 to $11 a month the price of Twitter Blue, the subscription service with verification to be available only to Apple iOS users, so that he passes on the fee Apple charges for listing in its app store.

In other words, Musk expects Apple to validate every Twitter Blue account by virtue of being an iPhone or iPad user with access to the Apple app store.

And he’s not going to pay Apple one goddamned cent for this validation service.

Meanwhile, Apple will continue to look Nazi-adjacent in Musk’s Nazi bar.

I hate that I’m going to trash my own retirement account saying this; I have a big chunk of my portfolio in Apple stock.

But I hate even more that Apple — which could have afforded to buy Twitter without going to other lenders as Musk did — is fucking up so badly and torching its brand by advertising in a Nazi bar and allowing a Nazi bar to profit off its hard work.

If Google ever figures out how to do microblogging, they may yet eat Apple’s lunch if they can stay clear of the Nazi bar and avoid Musk’s predatory moochery.

~ 0 ~

Yeah, I know — people I know, care about, and even in some cases love are still using Twitter.

You don’t need to know any longer what it was like in the 1930s before Kristallnacht, before the Reichstag fire. This is what it looked like, all the rationalizations, all the denialism, all the lingering doubts about whether it’s better to remain and hold the space, stay and fight, or walk away even as people fled Germany for safety.

The fight’s done, though.

Think about it: what happens to you when you get into a fight inside a Nazi bar?

There are other bars. Some of them are shitty, some crusty, some punk. One of them may only need you to make it a shitty crustpunk bar.

Maybe even one with a surly bartender who clearly hates you but still keeps a hand on their bat for Nazis.

[Photo: Jose Chavez via Unsplash]

Trash Talk: Here for ‘The Big Game’

Okay, I promised I’d put up a Trash Talk post for The Big Game. Here it is, have at it.

What Big Game, you might ask. Yeah, I made that mistake last week.

I must be slipping a cog because a Michigander like myself should have remembered University of Michigan Wolverines plays its Big Ten rival Ohio State University Buckeyes today.

Most of the hardware stores in this state are probably rather quiet right now. Their usual denizens are likely parked in front of the tube in their favorite sports bar if not their den, if not out in the woods watching on their mobile device while choking out the final weekend of firearm deer season.

They’ve just kicked off. If you want to watch the number 3 ranked team U-M meeting the number two team OSU, you’ll find them on Fox.

Big question going into this game — at least for Michiganders: is running back Blake Corum recovered from last weekend’s injury to his left knee?

~ ~ ~

Let’s switch gears to the NFL —

— You Green Bay Packers haters must be tickled at the season-ending suspension of rookie lineman Sean Rhyan for performance enhancing drugs. Personally, I can’t understand why someone with so much going for them would fuck up like this so early into their career with a professional team. He’s played only one game for the Packers.

— Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just happened to be watching an effort to harass Black students to prevent them from entering the North Little Rock High School they attended with Jones. A photo surfaced this week in which Jones appears within arm’s length of the harassed students. He was just 14 or 15 years old and it was just a coincidence he was there in that photo watching the harassment Jones expects us to believe. We’re also supposed to give him some credit for having been punished by his high school team for being anywhere near this conflict in which he just stood there.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith expects to likewise cut Jones, who has profited immensely from so many Black bodies working for him for years, some slack because Jones hasn’t deserved the heat he’s received this week.

Yeah, well those six Black students didn’t deserve the harassment in that 60-odd-year-old photo, the harassment they surely received before that photo, or the discrimination they’ve endured because of structural racism since then.

Smith will continue to benefit from his access journalism and Jones, who has never hired a Black coach, will continue to enjoy his billions.

~ ~ ~

Fucking FIFA. I will be so glad when this atrocity is over.

— “Bonesaw” bin Salman gifted each of Saudi Arabia’s players a Rolls Royce Phantom after their win over Argentina this past Tuesday. Seems on brand awarding a fossil-fueled fossil to a team representing a fossil fuel-producing fossil in a fossil fuel-producer’s futbol series.

— U.S. Men’s National Team tied England 0-0 in yesterday’s Group B match. We’re supposed to be amazed by this. Should we be? I don’t know; I thought the U.S. had a better team but what do I know being a failed soccer mom (failed meaning my youngest played soccer but didn’t enjoy it enough to stay with OR I didn’t nag them enough to stay with it).

— So far World Cup hasn’t crashed the bird app — so far.

~ ~ ~

I don’t really understand Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) let alone the appeal.

Isn’t this just a use-whatever-works-to-bash-your-opponents, a kind of free-for-all ball-free contact sport?

Whatever it is, apparently women can do it, too, and this week’s big women in MMA match saw an undefeated fighter brought down for the first time in the four years the Professional Fighters’ League has been in existence.

Former judo Olympian Kayla Harrison lost to Laura Pacheco in a unanimous decision. This was the third time the pair have met with Harrison coming out on top the first two times.

I wonder how much Harrison’s insta-family has affected her training along with the pandemic having cut into the PFL’s schedule. Harrison’s stepfather died suddenly in 2020 leaving behind an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old, for both of whom Harrison took custody. It’s a lot to add to a person’s plate.

~ ~ ~

Okay, that’s enough from me. There’s roughly nine minutes left in The Big Game and the teams are fairly well matched. The score now is 31-20 with Michigan leading; I wouldn’t bet against Ohio coming from behind.

Tell us what other sportsing you’re watching this weekend.

Open Thread: Countdown to T-Day

I threatened a holiday cooking post for recipe exchanges ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Voila, here it is.

What are you preparing for your family and/or friends?

If you’re observing by yourself, what are you going to do to treat yourself — and yes, you should definitely do something special for yourself. It’s self care.

If you’re going to be traveling, what’s waiting for you at the end of your trip?

Share here in comments.

~ ~ ~

It’s going to be just me and my spouse here empty nesting a holiday for the first time in forever. My youngest has to work because Big Pharma production lines run 7/24/365; my oldest is spending the holiday with her partner’s family (we get Christmas). We’ll have our big turkey feast on Saturday when my youngest finally gets a day off.

But I’m going to make my squash rolls today so that we have them for the tiny pork roast hubs and I will have tomorrow in lieu of turkey. These are what I bring to all the family gatherings — they’re my signature baked good. This batch will be made with puree from a hybrid squash, a cross between a kabocha and a Hubbard. The flesh was very dense and sweet, deep orange. I’ve already made one batch with this particular squash. The dough was almost too moist so I’ll cut back a bit this time on water. The dough made excellent cinnamon rolls: tender, not too sweet.

Give these a whirl if you have pumpkin or squash on hand.
__________

Squash or Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls
Makes 16 cloverleaf dinner rolls

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup squash or pumpkin puree

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted

4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

grated zest of 2 orange (optional)

2-1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2-3/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturer’s recommendations (or mix by hand, blending all ingredients except for flour first, then blend in flour).

Set machine to dough setting (or knead by hand until dough is smooth and elastic – about 7 minutes total between mixing and kneading. If making by hand without machine, allow dough to rest and rise in a greased bowl in a warm place loosely covered for 60-90 minutes until dough has doubled in volume).

Grease 16 standard muffin cups.

When machine indicates dough cycle is complete, remove dough onto a lightly-floured work surface.
Divide into 4 equal portions.
Divide each of those into 4 equal portions.
Divide each of the 16 portions into 3 equal portions and roll into small balls the size of a walnut.
WORK FAST – dough may rise rapidly as you work.

Arrange 3 balls of dough into each of the muffin cups.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from pans and allow to cool on racks.

Brush tops with melted butter if desired.

(Based on recipe Squash or Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls, p. 356-357, The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger)

Trash Talk: Dead on the Field

I didn’t think anyone would miss my Trash Talk, but lo and behold, someone actually did.

Yeah, I’m surprised, too, because I’m not a sportser whether on a field or in the woods or on the water.

I do take some sick pleasure in sportsers’ pain, though.

Don’t tell my kid but I laughed my butt off when they complained in all caps it was COLD in the woods during their week of deer hunting.

You wanted this, kid. You knew going into the woods it’s cold, the hours are long, and venison is not a sure thing. You really have to enjoy nature and solitude.

The stories that come out of these hunting trips will last for years, though, and they’ll be buffed up and hauled out over every family gathering. They’ll last far longer than the venison sausage exchanged for a week’s worth of dogsitting.

Can’t wait to hear the tales during our next family gathering during the holiday season.

~ ~ ~

Today was the first Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup match. Ecuador met host Qatar and kicked their asses 2-0.

It’s the least that could happen after so many workers died building Qatar’s field, stadium, and other amenities for its participation in and hosting of FIFA’s World Cup.

Someone calculated the estimated number of hours of play expected in this World Cup series against the total number of workers’ deaths since Qatar was awarded this series in 2010, arriving at a figure of one dead worker for every 64 minutes of play.

Nobody needs futbol that badly.

FIFA’s president also set the tone for this series with an hour-long rant:

FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s extraordinary tirade against Western critics of the controversial tournament in an explosive hour-long monologue is still making headlines around the world. Human rights groups described it as “crass” and an “insult” to migrant workers.

Infantino, the boss of world soccer’s governing body, looked on glumly as he addressed hundreds of journalists in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, and started the news conference with a near hour-long speech, during which he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.

Sure, sure…just because the colonialist west built itself on the backs of enslaved people and occupied indigenous lands, they’re not entitled to grow the fuck up and demand better especially from a sport which has been ridiculously corrupt?

The topper: no beer allowed because it’s a Muslim country and alcohol is forbidden.

I get it, your country, your rules, but those dead workers deserved better. The least they merit is a memorial toast if you’re in reach of alcohol while committing to a global standard for workers’ safety.

It wasn’t just alcohol but kosher food which was banned. Not exactly welcoming to all the people of the Middle East.

I’m not looking forward to the rest of this series.

Wonder how Twitter handled the match; I have no idea because I haven’t been over there. Probably not badly given the largest number of Twitter users are in the U.S. and Japan.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of Twitter, was Kyrie Irving ever suspended or banned from social media platforms?

I see he’s apologizing now for his bullshit anti-Semitic speech. Wonder if that’s about the National Basketball Association’s 8-game suspension alone, or if it’s about Irving’s access to media.

The Brooklyn Nets guard has been cleared to play and will start Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. It will mark his first game since he was suspended Nov. 3 for “harmful impact of his conduct” relating to social media posts around a book and movie that contained antisemitic ideas.

With Twitter’s Musk relying on a poll outcome manufactured by the trolls/bots he derided, Twitter’s allowed both Trump and Kanye West back on and both committed their share of hate speech.

And look, there he is on Twitter, no mention of his hate speech, though.

Which means it’s not Twitter access spurring Irving to offer his questionable mea culpa.

~ ~ ~

What the actual. Detroit’s kitties won their third straight game today, this time over the New York Giants with a final score of 31-18 at the Giants’ field.

Jamaal Williams scored three touchdowns for the Lions.

Anything is possible, huh?

Bmaz wondered earlier in the week where Buffalo was going to play if at all given the record-breaking snow storm expected which was supposed to drop six feet of snow.

Since the Lions were in Giants’ Meadowlands MetLife stadium in New Jersey, the Buffalo Bills played in Detroit’s covered Ford Field stadium, located less than a three-hour drive from Cleveland.

Detroit was on the wrong side of a Great Lake for the weather system which dropped snow on the west side of Michigan and New York state – conveniently for Buffalo, since the team won 31-23 over the Cleveland Browns.

Looks like it was a good time even if it wasn’t at home.

~ ~ ~

This post’s title “Dead on the Field” is derived from a riddle:

Dead on the field lie ten soldiers in white, felled by three eyes, black as night.

Offer your solution to this riddle below in comments.

Treat this as an open thread.

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