(Image: The Washington Post)

THE WEEK IN DEEPFAKE

In the Good Luck With That department, US Congress will consider a bill to regulate the threat of deepfakes (someone made an acronym out of “DEEPFAKES”, believe it or not) amid concern they will be used to subvert the 2020 elections — except maybe the real threat is they’ll be used as an excuse to deny that a politician said something.

Except, wait, in fact deepfakes aren’t a threat at all. But we should use deepfakes to attack Big Tech leaders anyway. Here’s my We’re Already Stuffed take: plenty of voters are happily fooled by low tech lies because they complement their prejudices, so why go the trouble of manipulating video in ways that algorithms will easily spot?

IT’S NOT EUROPE

How to protest in a surveillance state: Hong Kong protesters are using a variety of tools to make it harder for HK police and the Beijing tyranny to identify them. But in France, the gilets jaunes, never very clear exactly what they were protesting about, have run out of outrage. Berlin, like many Australian cities, is grappling with housing affordability. But the solutions being considered show up how narrow public policy debate is here.

“Driven by duty, they move inexorably towards their fate, which is often death.” That’s Adam Schatz on Jean-Pierre Melville and how life in the Resistance shaped his work.

Le Samourai (1967) by John-Pierre Melville.

HEALTHY TRANSPORT SOLUTIONS

Fewer people are running, and more slowly, or so the data suggests. (You’d think this has implications for the shoe industry, but the running shoe sector has long since been liberated from any connection with actual usage). And that’s before we get to the systematic ways we make running difficult for women. As my friend and co-author Helen Razer has long pointed out, capitalism has eagerly exploited female empowerment to market bullshit products to women. Now the scam known as the wellness industry is getting in on the giggle.

Here’s an excellent piece on the invasion of the commons by scooter companies – although capitalism was not “kickstarted by the enclosure of the commons” thanks very much. For a different perspective on the bane of dockless bikes and scooters, here’s an irresponsible clown advocating vandalism.

MURICA!

With the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing approaching, there’s a spate of books, and the political history of the Apollo program summons a range of mid-twentieth century giants. The American Conservative continues its relentless battle against Trump’s efforts to invent a pretext for war with Iran. Of course, other interventions in the Middle East continue: Mother Jones has a long read on the American role in Syria, and where that wretched conflict currently rests.

White supremacist groups and right-wingers in the US are trying to deflect increasing attention on the terrorist threat posed by the right by insisting the real threat is from the left — while preparing for the civil war they claim is inevitable. Plus, US mega-churches are borrowing an idea from the corporate world and using contracts to silence parishioners over sexual abuse. And economic prospects for young Americans without degrees are poor and getting worse.

STAT OF THE WEEK

It’s a shame the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare didn’t prepare a nice time-series graph in its latest Burden of Disease report (which covers 2015). But the following extract tells the same story pretty well. Australians continue to get healthier — both because we’re living longer, and because the lives we live are less affected by disease. (For those not across health speak, a DALY is a disability-adjusted life year.)

MISC

Peter Fray

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