Saturday, July 25, 2015

HT Orthocuban, an Appalachian Orthodox Paschal hymn (the troparion)

an Appalachian musical style for the troparion, you know the words, right? 
Well, if you don't:

Christ is risen from the dead
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life

Follow the link and watch the video. Think of it as a shape-note troparion and that'll give you an idea of what it sounds like. 

New Yorker, "We live in the loudest times", the rise of dynamic range compression and the loudness wars. The rise of the headphones on a job listening experience
We live in the loudest of times. It all began about twenty years ago, when new digital technologies started to radically alter the way music was made, refined, and shared. It suddenly became fairly easy to endow songs with a more aggressive presence: with a click of the mouse, you just made it all—especially the quiet parts—louder. Since then, there’s been a debate over the effects of the “loudness wars” on our ability to appreciate nuance, particularly the dynamic range between loud and soft that, in the parlance of audiophiles, gives music the room to “breathe.”
But now that we listen to music everywhere—often in a semi-distracted state, across a range of devices and settings—it should come as no surprise that artists want their music to come pre-coated with a glossy immediacy. First impressions matter. Why not insure that you can’t be ignored?
Think of how many contemporary pop hits sound as if they were being belted from within a jet engine. The quiet parts of a Taylor Swift song buzz more boldly than the brashest moments of a heavy-metal album from the nineteen-eighties. The imperfections that resulted when artists pushed their recordings past peak levels have given way, in pop music, to new techniques, textures, and tastes. It’s just how music sounds now, from the noisy, self-conscious revolt of Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and the distorted crunch that occurs when a pop song hits the chorus to the way that MP3s gleam with a pre-formatted sizzle.

Decades ago Leonard B Meyer wrote that technology may have changed how we listen but that it wasn't the ease of access in itself that changed things.  He proposed, in a lengthy essay in a reprint of Music, the Arts, and Ideas that what most changed in the late 20th century about our experience of music was not necessarily how much music we could hear or how we listened to it in itself but where we listened.  In earlier eras we had to listen to music by going where the music was.  Concerts, going to the musicians' homes, going to the objects that played music that were at our homes.  The emergence of portable music players and headphones meant we could listen to music during an afternoon walk.  An upshot of all of this, Meyer stated, was we began to become a culture that listened to music as a secondary activity to any and all of the other stuff we were doing.  Music became the soundtrack of our lives, the background music to whatever we were doing. 

Meyer proposed that what this did was divested the music listening experience from the prior relational contexts in which people would have heard music.  But at a more practical level what Meyer suggested changed was that if you're listening to music while doing something else you're not giving it your full attention.  Meyer has written a LOT on how successful musical styles can withstand intermittent or even inattentive listening: if you weren't listening closely there's enough informational and structural redundancy built into the music that if you stopped intently listening for seconds or even minutes you have time to refocus your listening and you'll still get the basic idea.  Maybe not every last little syllable but basically you'll get the words.

Meyer used to write that the shortcoming of total serialist music was it had no redundancy in information or perceptual form.  Meyer wrote that minimalism was an example of a musical style that could account for inattentive listening by having so much informational and stylistic redundancy. 

But at the level of audio engineering the loudness in music may be explicable by the recognition of people who make music that we tend to listen to music while walking or jogging around; while we're in vehicles going from point A to point B.  If you don't crank up the dynamic compression then a lot of music can't even be heard by the people who are listening to music as part of their lengthening urban commutes. 

And that gets to another thing, what kind of music might you listen to if you're spending an hour or three on public transit?  The gossimar lines of a string quartet by Gyorgy Kurtag?  Choral music by Poulenc? Ha!  Right, whatever.  How about ... Stevie Wonder?  Okay, yeah, that's entirely practical. 

HT Mockingbird, men who harass women online are literally losers

It reminds me of an observation shared by a coworker years ago when she said "A guy losing a video game is worse than a woman going through PMS." 

invocations of Digital Millenium Copyright Act to stop internet revenge porn and data from Ashley Madison hack spark discussions of what the DMCA was NOT intended for

One of the challenges facing people in the age of the internet is that we're looking at the disclosure and distribution of stuff that was never intended to be published or publicly accessible.  The hack of Jennifer Lawrence's personal photographs is an example.  Now there are those who, not without some cause, suggest that the first line of prevention would be never taking nude selfies.  Points noted, but Terry Teachout blogged about the facile reasoning behind that.  For those who didn't read what he had to say he was just talking about the stuff people knowingly and voluntarily published.
Should unhappy shamees know better than to post the silly selfies and tasteless tweets that get them into trouble? Perhaps, but it’s too easy to answer yes. Twitter, after all, wasn’t created until 2006, and it took a fair amount of additional time for it to become a fully empowered agent of the secular arm of politico-personal correctness. We are still adjusting to that horrific development.

But Lawrence found herself dealing with information (i.e. images) she never intended for publication.  The technology of access and replication we have has advanced farther than our reasoned discourse on what constitutes socially accepted ethics for access in use in a way that can be easily enforced.  And why shouldn't this be a problem we face?  Our money isn't money, our money is information.  Who you are as a citizen is in many respects reducible to a single number, your SSN.

As it notes in a history on its website, “The Social Security number was created in 1936 for the sole purpose of tracking the earnings histories of U.S. workers. … The card was never intended to serve as a personal identification document.”

It can be easy to not feel any sympathy for users of Ashley Madison resources.  The nature of the hack and the personal information compromised is possible in other contexts.  There aren't necessarily legal precedents for this kind of thing.  The DMCA shouldn't apply since it was designed to protect copyrights of formally published commercially available content, not hacked nude selfies.
When Jennifer Lawrence’s personal photographs were stolen by a hacker and posted online her lawyers used the DMCA to block their spread since technically, she (and other women who were victimized by the photo theft) owned the copyright for the stolen pictures. In the case of the Ashley Madison hackers, company lawyers claim that ALM “owns” their customers’ content and thus have legal grounds to send DMCA takedown notices to prevent it being published online.  Although I’m not legal expert, it seems like a stretch.

old and broken as it is, is the only tool creators have to protect their work. When ALM lawyers send takedown notices in situations like this only serves to muddy the waters and give critics of the law ammunition to attack it.

One can understand why ALM is moving quickly to protect their business model, but shouldn’t the DMCA be reserved for clear instances of real copyright infringement?  Can the operators of Ashley Madison really claim to own the photographs and biographical material of its clients?

Perhaps ironically the group that did the hack claims they decided to publish information to demonstrate what they considered to be consumer fraud on the part of ALM.

As Mr. Krebs reported, “The Impact Team said it decided to publish the information in response to alleged lies ALM told its customers about a service that allows members to completely erase their profile information for a $19 fee.”

Without paying that fee, accounts were hidden but not actually deleted. Therefore, they could still be accessible by anyone who can figure out the password – whether a hacker or suspicious spouse. But the Impact Group claims that even users who do pay to have their profiles, conversations, posts, and pictures removed still have personally identifying information such as real names and addresses in the company's databases.

While I'm not defending the group or perpetrator behind the Ashley Madison data breach, the company's practice of only deleting customers' most intimate data for a fee is strikingly similar to revenge porn. What's more, Ashley Madison is able to protect its users from being exposed through the DMCA because it claims ownership over users' photos and conversations in order to charge an extortion-like "administrative fee" for a full account delete.

In both cases, and in the case of revenge porn as well, property rights determine whether or not intimate details of people’s lives can be published against their will

Theoretically, but we live in a civilization in which our money isn't necessarily money, it's information.  Isn't that basically what we mean by fiat currency?  Our identities themselves can be construed, in a social and political and economic sense, not so much as who we really are in our physically embodied selves but the information about us within the massive array of information networks. 

The hackers stated that there was information which was not truly deleted even after ALM charged participants to have it deleted.

In a long manifesto posted alongside the stolen ALM data, The Impact Team said it decided to publish the information in response to alleged lies ALM told its customers about a service that allows members to completely erase their profile information for a $19 fee.

According to the hackers, although the “full delete” feature that Ashley Madison advertises promises “removal of site usage history and personally identifiable information from the site,” users’ purchase details — including real name and address — aren’t actually scrubbed.

“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” the hacking group wrote. “Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real name and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

Their demands continue:
“Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms, or we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails. The other websites may stay online.”

So there's that. It's possible for people to have information about them disclosed on the internet that they don't want disclosed but may not be able to control.

Thing is, this can go the other way in an information culture.  Thanks to a clerical error you can be pronounced dead because somebody at the Social Security office mistypes a number that gets you declared dead even though you're very much alive.
If a clerical error by a government employee gets you declared dead by the Social Security administration the burden of proof's gonna be on you to prove you're not dead and restore your own credit history. 

Who you are as a physical person is one thing, who you are on the internet and who you are as information in an information economy isn't quite the same thing.  If we have not fully come to terms with how to handle the consequences of stuff we voluntarily publish in wisdom or folly, we're less adept at figuring out how to formulate legal reactions to the disclosure and distribution of information that has been published that was never meant to be published.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

a diachronic survey of the Driscoll resignation narratives, Driscolls released to quit Oct 13, consult people/send letter Oct 14, and Driscoll kids find out about this on October 15?

Here at Wenatchee The Hatchet we've looked at multiple narratives recounting the incidents and motivations described by Mark Driscoll and others about his late 2014 resignation from Mars Hill.  There's the resignation letter itself, the MH leadership statements from shortly after the resignation was announced, the Robert Morris Gateway narratives (mostly Morris there), there's the Thrive presentation, and most recently the Houston interview.  It might be tempting for some readers to assume that all the stories are false.  Well, actually, that's not at all necessary.  In fact, it's possible to reconstruct a pretty coherent linear narrative from all of the narratives previously presented and discussed.

Based on the Houston interview, Driscoll initiated a review process for himself by telling the board (BoO? BoE? BoE as surrogate) to check whether he was not fit for ministry.  On the weekend of his birthday, or his birthday, he met with the board.  The board said there was nothing disqualifying him for ministry but they wanted him to participate in a restoration plan.  By Driscoll's account he agreed to this and he and Grace explained to their kids what was going to happen.  That is all spelled out in the Houston interview. 

Now what seems to have happened next was the Monday after the meeting, Driscoll stated he heard a voice.  The way he described it at Thrive was he was released from responsibility to serve in ministry at Mars Hill.  In the Houston interview the story is more detailed and Driscoll mentioned hearing a voice that said "a trap has been set".  There's another transcript that can be consulted now, over here:

In this newer account the Driscolls describe "we're released" (Grace Driscoll) and "a trap has been set and they could not return to ministry.  Since the Hillsong focused blog features a much longer transcript that captured more of the statements we'll refer to that some:

so I asked her well what did the Lord say to you because I didn’t want to influence her and so she said, uh, she said we’re” (39:45-42:42)
Grace Driscoll: “We’re released.” (42:43)
Brian Houston: “We can take a moment.” (42:52)
Mark Driscoll: “So, she said well what have you heard so I can hear it. “Well the Lord revealed to me that, you know, a trap has been set there’s no way in which to return to leadership.” And I didn’t know what that meant or what was going on at the time. And um, I said, he said well release too we need to resign. And so, um, you know, this is not what we anticipated, and uh a lot of people thought you know, maybe he’s got another plan, or, we didn’t. We didn’t know what we were doing. And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I’ve never seen my wife like that she was devastated. Um, so we prayed and slept on it decided that we would make sure we got this right, and uh.”
Grace Driscoll: “Speak with wise council.”
Mark Driscoll: “Sought the pastors of those we trust and sent in our resignation in on that, it would’ve been that Tuesday, yeah, and resigned.” (42:53-43:57)

Now this comes across as though the Driscolls say they heard God release them from ministry Monday night.  They decided to sleep on it and Grace mentioned "wise council" Mark Driscoll mentioned "sought the pastors of those we trust".  So if they "slept on it" Monday night, this would have been Tuesday that they sought the council and consideration of other pastors, although if they were sure a voice from God told them they could quit what confirmation they would need or want seems moot.

But that does, in any case, get us to the resignation letter itself.
 October 14, 2014Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church
Dear Michael:

Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me.
...That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. [emphasis added] I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.

No mention of any instruction from God there, just the godly counsel.  As before, it would seem that if God told the Driscolls they were released that would have been the thing to lead with back on October 14, 2014.  And as Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed at some length in the past, the scriptural precedent for God telling leaders "you're off the job" conspicuously features the likes of King Saul and King Ahab.  What was attested by the BoAA at the time was what a surprise the resignation was.
Pastor Mark Driscoll's Resignation
By: Mars Hill Church
Posted: Oct 15, 2014

On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation [emphasis added] and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. [emphasis added]

This was not the only statement made about the Driscoll resignation by leaders at Mars Hill, of course:
starting about 3:45

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. [emphasis added] Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.
So both accounts present Driscoll's resignation as a surprise, and the second account presents the decision as having pre-empted the restoration plan that was proposed for him to be able to return to ministry.

In light of the Houston interview the Driscolls may have fit in all the seeking godly counsel Tuesday after they "slept on it" about the voices saying they were released from ministry/a trap was set.  This could account for why the BoAA found Mark Driscoll's resignation to be a complete surprise.  They weren't expecting it because, per Mark Driscoll's longer account in talking with Houston, he said he asked the Board to investigate him and present him with a result and he'd comply with what they decided.  By Mark Driscoll's account he said he agreed to cooperate with the restoration process proposed and told his kids what the plan would be.  Then, come Monday, all that changed.  Tuesday, it seems, the Driscolls talked to those they considered godly counsel.

Which gets us to Robert Morris and his account.
Transcript of Robert Morris and Mark Driscoll from the Gateway Leadership + Worship Conference
on the evening of Monday, October 20, 2014, as broadcast live via DayStar Television:
Robert Morris:
 Uh, it was publicized that we cancelled him; that’s not true, we did not cancel. I’m speaking of Mark Driscoll. We did not cancel him. He and I decided together uh that he was going to step out of ministry for a season and get some healing. [emphasis added]

So by this account Robert Morris could have been one of the people the Driscolls reached out to on Tuesday, after the Monday voices and their respective messages to Mark and Grace Driscoll.  Now it's possible Mark Driscoll opted to not tell Robert Morris "God told me we get to quit" in so many words.  Morris may have either not known what Mark Driscoll says God told him, or Morris may not have mentioned it.  In any event, the observation here is that Robert Morris' story does not contradict the cumulative Driscollian narrative we can assemble from the multiple accounts--Driscoll wrote that he/they sought counsel and Morris recounted that he and Mark decided together that Mark should step out for a while. 

So this presents a story in which Monday voices are heard and Tuesday people are consulted, a letter is drafted, and the resignation is made official.  This completely explains the elements from the Thrive presentation:
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]


It finally came to the point where God released my wife and I from our responsibility to ministry. He spoke to us audibly. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. We were both pretty shocked and the announcement was going to come out that week. [emphasis added] And, uh, our server, our e-mail and things apparently were hacked and there was no way to get anything done without it being a public situation. And so the Board, which are good, godly people in authority, which I appreciate -- they released a statement earlier than we were anticipating, so um, but that meant, and I agree with that decision, I’m not critical of it.  But that meant that I hadn’t told my kids that I had resigned and they were in school, taking test, it was a test week, …. we threw some stuff in a bag and ran to school to grab the kids and within minutes it was on TV, I think it was on CNN.  [emphasis added]
We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast.  So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked. 

We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast. [emphasis added]  So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked.  We’d served in that city for 20 years.  Founded that church in our living room. And served it for 18 years.  (loud applause) Baptized somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. (audible amens from crowd).
So, we’re sitting with the kids explaining to them that dad had resigned and that we were going to continue forward and that God had released us very clearly.

CNN was it?  When did CNN cover the resignation?
Let's pull that up
October 15, 2014 at 4:33pm.

and RNS also covered the resignation October 15.
cf HuffPo

The story seems to have broken about 3pm October 15.  And, of course

So threading all the accounts together, Mark Driscoll seems to have drafted the letter Tuesday October 14.  It was submitted to the BoAA, who released it to the public and RNS published the resignation letter October 15.  In the Thrive presentation Mark Driscoll described that "within minutes" of going to get his kids, CNN was discussing his resignation.  It leads us to a remarkable little question that needs some narrative grounding.

Mark and Grace Driscoll told the Fab Five Poppa Daddy agreed to the restoration plan the Board proposed October 10th and/or 11th; and if by Mark and Grace Driscoll's account they heard from God they were released from ministry responsibility and able to quit on Monday, October 13; if the Driscolls consulted people on October 14th and Mark Driscoll wrote and sent his resignation letter that day; then when the media reported the resignation on October 15 there had been at least some time in there for Mark and Grace Driscoll have told their kids that Poppa Daddy had made the decision to quit, right?

If Mark Driscoll's story at the Thrive conference is true and the Houston story account shared by Mark and Grace Driscoll is true then the question to ask is why on earth they waited for their children to find out about Mark Driscoll's resignation the way they did rather than telling their own children Poppa Daddy and Mom heard audibly from God that they were released from ministry at Mars Hill and this meant they could quit, and to tell the kids first? The space between Monday evening and about 3:00pm October 15, 2015 PST gave them at least twenty-four hours, didn't it? No sitting the kids down the afternoon or evening of Tuesday, October 14, 2014 to break the news?  Could not the Driscolls have shared the news with their children FIRST and THEN sent off that letter to the BoAA? 

Still, if the Driscolls decided the best way for their kids to find out was some other way, okay.  Maybe the idea was the resignation letter would get sent off and the BoAA would just, I don't know, sit on it for at least a few days beore releasing it to the press?  That might have given the Driscolls time to have told their children some time after October 14.  Let's keep in mind
Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill. Grace and I pledge our full support in this process and will join you in praying for God’s best for this, His church, in the days and years ahead. Grace and I would also covet your prayers for us as we seek God’s will for the next chapter of our lives. Therefore, consider this written notice of my voluntary termination of employment.

If Mark and Grace Driscoll decided their family was not in a healthy spot and was even physically unsafe at times then that would seem all the more reason to not leave the announcement of Mark Driscoll's resignation wait until October 15 when the media got the story.  It would seem like something to have mentioned somewhere between October 13 and the and of October 14.  But perhaps Mark and Grace Driscoll had reasons to not mention anything about the resignation and to let things play out.  By Mark Driscoll's account at the Thrive conference the way the Driscoll kids learned about the resignation was through social or broadcast media, maybe CNN. Driscoll's Thrive account makes it almost seem as though the way the kids found out about his resignation was through media coverage because he hadn't told them himself yet. Maybe that's not what he meant but that's the impression that comes across to Wenatchee The Hatchet.

So ... waiting anywhere between 24 to 32 hours to let someone else break the news to your children you've made a decision that will alter everything about their social lives as they'd come to know it was ... part of the plan for Mark and Grace Driscoll?  It seems weird, but it's just how things come across threading all the narratives of Mark Driscoll's resignation together.  The Thrive narrative and the Houston narrative basically overlap and don't really contradict each other so long as we take as given that neither Mark nor Grace Driscoll saw any reason to tell their kids the evening of October 14 what they had decided based on something they claim they heard on what seems to have been October 13. 

We've already discussed the few precedents there are in the biblical narrative literature for God explicitly telling a leader he is released from leadership or no longer bearing the responsibility of a previously divinely appointed role.

If you want to read a dry but informative survey of the rise and decline of King Saul V. Phillips Long has a great dissertation on that subject. 

We've also looked at precedents in Old Testament narrative literature for traps God set for wicked rulers who misappropriated authority and power for themselves.

Whether Abimelech seeking kingship by treachery and murder; or King Saul being tormented by a spirit sent by God; or Ahab's prophets being deluded by a spirit of calamity that misled them, we simply cannot take as given that just because the Driscolls say they heard an audible voice telling them they were released from ministry in contradiction of what they just agreed to do was necessarily God, or a god.  No matter how many times Mark Driscoll protests otherwise, if Mark and Grace Driscoll did not want to quit being part of Mars Hill they could have stayed on.  By Mark Driscoll's account the Board found nothing that disqualified him for ministry and he claimed to Brian Houston he agreed to submit to their restoration plan.  Then all of a sudden, as he's lately recounted it, he heard a voice saying "a trap has been set", or something like that.

Let's not forget that even though God was described as commanding Abraham to kill Isaac the Bible also tells us God stopped Abraham from actually doing that.  What's fascinating about the Driscoll narratives is they never bothered to say God said anything to either of them until this year on the road talking to people at Thrive or in a video-taped interview with Houston.  Even if we assume for the sake of friendly conversation a voice said the Driscolls were released, the cumulative precedent of OT canon does not suggest that being released is a sign of approval, rather it tends to be a sign of substantial divine disapproval and even judgment.  So it's not impossible God released them because of some shortcoming and the sticky wicket here is that if we go by what the biblical texts say, when God says someone's no longer on the job, their salvation is frequently an open question at best.  Lots of people would consider kings like Saul and Ahab to have not been believers to begin with.  So there's that. 

Atlantic: America is less socially mobile than previously thought

HT Jim West, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice: groups most likely to be killed by law enforcement, American Indians

Black people, who according to a 2014 study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice represent approximately 13 percent of the population and 26 percent of police shootings, suffer more deaths than Native Americans at the hands of police.

But Native Americans are only 0.8 percent of the population, and yet they comprise 1.9 percent of police killings.
The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans.

Native Americans, 0.8 percent of the population, comprise 1.9 percent of police killings. African Americans, 13 percent of the population, are victims in 26 percent of police shootings. Law enforcement kills African Americans at 2.8 times the rate of white non-Latinos, and 4.3 times the rate of Asians.

So it seems blacks definitely got shot more often but Native Americans are most likely to get killed.  While discussing the way whites and blacks relate to each other is important it's kind of staggering to consider what stuff doesn't come up on the matter of American Indians.  Team names would just be one example.

A more jarring one, personally, was how James Cameron's Avatar turned out to be such a magic whitey movie and this trope didn't get called out in mainstream cinematic film criticism all that much.

South Park, on the other hand, called Dances with Smurfs for what it was.

and for an amusing and informative break-down on the ways the Cameron film was a high-budget glossy retread of Billy Jack ...

The more things change ... ?

The Onion: child's description of heaven during near death experience includes details for book and movie deals

In the spirit of Heaven if for Real ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ribbonfarm on cooperative ignorance, part 2: on degrees of plausible deniability and the information culture of Mars Hill

Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed Mars Hill use of social media in the past at the following posts:

What was striking about the disciplinary case of Andrew Lamb at the time was how not-anonymous it was for anyone who was familiar with long-term local coverage of the growth and change of Mars Hill.  Wenatchee The Hatchet managed to write about 12,000 words demonstrating just how not-anonymous the disciplinary situation was at Mars Hill.  There's a tagged series here.

What was remarkable about the thing was how much information had been bursting forth in waves from Mars Hill in broadcast and social media making it pretty straightforward to identify a number of parties at the time the incident made headlines.  Nothing Matthew Paul Turner did really did anything to prevent the identities of the notable parties from eventually being known to just about anyone inside Mars Hill at the time, or even former members. It took a weekend in 2012 to identify most of the salient parties.  But during 2012 when the controversy swirled about, Mars Hill claimed it did not want to share more details about why it believed its disciplinary approach was appropriate out of consideration for the privacy of parties involved.  Unfortunately for Mars Hill that a few parties involved had info-dumped everything necessary to identify them on social media in the months before Andrew's case became news was what it was.  How could anyone in the upper echelons of leadership at Mars Hill actually believe that the matter was truly private even before a letter got posted to The City? 

From 2012 to 2014 The City turned out to be a city without walls ... or perhaps it could be likened to a city with an exterior wall that was permeable and interior walls that were pretty tough.  What became a refrain in the final years of the corporate entity known as Mars Hill was reports that people inside the organization were turning to blogs and news coverage to get a clearer sense of what was going on.  That at least suggests a culture in which information silos existed for which that were little overlap.  This process of siphoning information into non-overlapping silo points seemed to begin around 2007 with the suspension of the Midrash 2.0 php system and its replacement with The City. 

Even though The City was designed to reinforce existing social connections in theory, in practice it became a top-down leaders-to-led communication platform.  People at campus A would not have much chance of figuring out what was going on at campus B. When the controversial firings and trials of 2007 occurred the information culture at Mars Hill was a unified whole and with a few possible exceptions anyone could contact anyone regardless of campus or regional affiliation. That abruptly ended in the wake of the 2007 re-org.  Whsat came up in its place was the campus affiliation and having information limited to that campus affiliation.  You'd have to pick Lake City or Ballard or West Seattle at the expense of having access to other information networks on The City. 

A practical implication of this was that when systemic turnover in staff appeared in the organization a person at campus A wouldn't know a pastor or a deacon was laid off or even fired at campus B.  After the 2007 trials there may well have been no trials for the removal of pastors or deacons.  There were scattered indications to the contrary in one or two cases but nothing is very certain there. 

Wenatchee The Hatchet had access to The City from about 2007 through early 2012.  It wasn't much of a thing of interest, actually.  Ironically, once Mars Hill leadership finally shut down WtH's account on The City sources began to volunteer information.  Why that was, exactly, may remain at least a little bit of a mystery.  A couple of sources over the years mentioned that within Mars Hill leadership there were at least some questions as to how so much content that was published on The City ended up at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  There's no plan to answer that question in detail at any practical, nuts-and-bolts level ... but this post can shed some light on some impressions Wenatchee The Hatchet has had about Mars Hill as an information culture.

So we're back to a previously linked piece at ribbon farm:
Often the value in strategic ignorance is not ignorance itself, but being able to plausibly claim that one is ignorant, in order to avoid the consequences of knowledge. [emphasis added link highlighted below]

...The effort among senior management to demonstrate non-knowledge of [a low-level medical researcher’s] actions suggests that the most important managerial resource during the scandal was not the need to demonstrate prescient foresight, or the early detection of potential catastrophes. What mattered most was the ability to insist such detection was impossible. [emphasis added] For senior staff at SocGen, the most useful tool was the ability to profess ignorance of things it was not in their interest to acknowledge.

…[O]rganizations often function more efficiently because of the shared willingness of individuals to band together in dismissing unsettling knowledge.
There is a truism about scams that a mark can only be deceived if he wants to believe; all deception relies on self-deception. The ideal victim of a scam is a person who desperately wants to believe in a reality different from actual reality

In other applications, "we're not entirely sure who they are."
As well, one of the things that has been complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don't know how to reconcile, or how to work things out with, with people because we're not entirely sure who they are, and so that has, that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well.

You might be thinking, "Right. That can't possibly be true."  And there's a case to be made for the impossibility of Driscoll's claim as an individual and on behalf of the upper echelons of leadership within Mars Hill.   Joyful Exiles is as anonymous as the Declaration of Independence and has been up since March 2012. We Love Mars Hill began publishing stuff accessible in their archive in May 2014. Repentant Pastor started publishing material in March 2014. Wendy and Andy Alsup's review of Real Marriage dated back as far as 2012, and let the record show that Driscoll declared in his spiritual warfare session from 2008 Alsup was above reproach and not like many other demonic busy-body gossiping women. So when Wendy chose to address issues that emerged in the wake of Janet Mefferd's on-air conversation with Mark Driscoll about his published works, Driscoll could not honestly say he had no idea who Wendy was or avoid what he'd said for the record about her theology and character being impeccable.  WtH discussed what had been going on in the wake of that on-air moment over here.

So Mark Driscoll continuing to claim people were addressing problems within Mars Hill online anonymously continues to fly in the face of a good deal of evidence.

Now perhaps some of you reading may say, "Well, isn't Wenatchee The Hatchet anonymous?"  No, anyone who spends half a dozen seconds can find out stuff, even if a person might run into "What's in a name?"  When Scott Harris sent a certified letter to Wenatchee The Hatchet the letter did not discuss much in the way of what was going to be of interest to Harris. What sources said to WtH was the concern on the part of MH leadership seemed to be that, if possible, to get WtH to stop blogging about Mars Hill entirely.  Failing that, the secondary goal was to at least stop the steady flow of leaked content from The City that was getting on to Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Even if there are those people so lazy by disposition as to not have figured out who writes at Wenatchee The Hatchet it is no proof that the leadership of Mars Hill has not known for years who writes at the blog. So "we're not entirely sure who they are" is a hard sell. 

Worse, let's also keep in mind that thanks to the taunts of Justin Dean, somebody at Mars Hill not only knew some guy named Rob Smith had been discussing potential litigation but could remark that he had failed to produce any litigation in over a year.  That was March 9, 2014, which means at least Justin Dean, at some point, figured out Rob Smith was one person critical of Mars Hill and that he'd failed to produce any litigation since at least February 2014.  Moreover ...
Justin Dean · Top Commenter · Buford, Georgia
Rob Smith Rob you're in no position to speak of integrity. You're currently threatening to sue the church and my friends and colleagues, raising over $11k for the cause while making outrageous RICO claims. Yet your company Thain Boatworks has a $100k federal tax lein against it, and you haven't produced a lawsuit in over a year. In fact no one has filed a lawsuit. All you hoped to do was hurt our reputation, not help the church and not help others. What are you doing with that $11k when you owe $104k?
Reply · Like · March 9 at 2:28pm

You can't very well bring up federal tax leins against someone if you're ... not entirely sure who they are.

Thanks to Justin Dean's comment, he cracked the plausible deniability of Mark Driscoll's "we're not entirely sure who they are." in an awkwardly specific way.  Now Wenatchee The Hatchet did get an invitation from a Sutton Turner to attend a Vision Breakfast some time in January 2014 and WtH knows what a fundraising event is and had other things of more interest, but the invitation was appreciated even if not accepted.  Turner may not always be popular with the former MH crew but he's come across as, even if he might be covering his butt, a straight shooter compared to other former leaders.  So that's another level at which "we're not entirely sure who they are" seems like a tough sell, and let's keep in mind Wenatchee The Hatchet did not leave Mars Hill under any church discipline and left on great terms with his campus pastor and stayed on friendly terms with a lot of people. 

Meanwhile, Mars Hill experienced an astonishing level of staff turnover in the 2011-2013 period and, by Driscoll's account, was at one point close to going over its own fiscal cliff.  In earlier 2014 Mars Hill's BoAA addressed the unusual degree of staff turnover as part of a web of issues in the wake of the Result Source controversy. Remember the Michael Van Skaik communication about 100+ former staffers getting an invitation to participate in an exit interview process?

It would seem pretty clear the leaders of Mars Hill knew how to contact more than 100 former staffers and leaders to solicit their feedback on things.  If they could do that how did they manage to not know who they could meet with to potentially reconcile?  Where was the "we're not entirely sure who they are?"

Cumulatively the claim that "we're not entirely sure who they are" can't hold water if MH's BoAA was involved in sending out more than 100 letters; if campus and even executive leadership made attempts to contact Wenatchee The Hatchet; and MH's PR guru could publicly taunt a publicly identified critic of Mars Hill as having a) failed to produce litigation and b) become the subject of tax leins.  So at length Driscoll's "we're not entirely sure who they are" only seems plausible if we propose that it's a royal "we" that is a circumlocution for Mark Driscoll saying he's not sure who these people are and if he's not it's not for lack of information on the part of the guys who worked for him.

Still, wouldn't it have been more direct and accurate to say "we know who these people are but we don't trust their motives and do not believe they really want reconciliation?" That could be what defenders of Driscoll are saying to this day and if that's true why did the leadership of Mars Hill run so hard with the idea of "we don't know" when there is a pile of evidence establishing otherwise? 

Even though many people will assume the simplest explanation is that the leaders of Mars Hill are liars (and that's not ruled out), let's consider the possibility of a culture of cooperative ignorance. 

At the risk of using a specific case history, we could consider Wenatchee The Hatchet.  After all, content from The City got leaked to Wenatchee The Hatchet from about mid-2012 through to 2014ish. It was conveyed to Wenatchee The Hatchet by a couple of sources that Mars Hill leadership considered the steady flow of leaked information from The City to the blog to be a problem.  How did the leaks happen?  Well, don't expect Wenatchee The Hatchet to ever disclose sources, but what seems germane to the leaks problem Mars Hill faced that IS going to get shared here is a musing on the nature of information distribution.

What had previously been a potential strength of the information culture was that it bracketed members across the campuses so that A could not talk to B easily within the information culture that was available.  That strength is a weakness, however, and a considerable one, if ... say ... a blog by former members is networked with people across a majority of the campuses who volunteer information.  Mars Hill leaders had reportedly had trouble not with the identity of Wenatchee The Hatchet.  That was no mystery to them at all.  Possibly hundreds of people could easily make the identification.  The problem was figuring out how wide or deep the network of sources was. 

There's an old chorus from a Mars Hill worship song that comes to mind, "strength is my weakness." 

In the case of Mars Hill the top-down lateral separation of information distribution with a history of punitive disciplinary processes created a problem when the new problem of how many people were actually leaking things to Wenatchee The Hatchet came up within the leadership of Mars Hill.  With the catastrophic turnover in staff from 2011-2013 and a ground level dislike or distrust of the new regime, cooperative ignorance could have taken two forms.  Driscoll had spent years dismissing bloggers as the sort of jobless types who blog from their mamma's basements, so the leadership class would be in a pickle trying to discuss the identity of Wenatchee The Hatchet within such a culture.  If you didn't already know you couldn't afford to ask inside the culture without signaling that stuff was showing up at the blog that was troublesome. 

From the trenches, the problem was a bit different.  You'd be better off not discussing the issue of who blogged at Wenatchee The Hatchet at all even if it did come up in a season of high turnover.  Given the way those who were sympathetic to Petry and Meyer were shown the door with some sternness back in 2007, it wouldn't seem prudent at the juncture of 2011-2013 to say "Oh, yeah, we totally know who this blogger is!"  Not that jobs would have been at stake, but it would have been awkward.  Anyone who did admit such knowledge could have been suspected as a potential source.  So what's "possible", though this is speculation, is that a culture of cooperative ignorance may have been in play, a don't ask--don't tell scenario. 

As journalists and bloggers began to investigate more of the history of Mars Hill the mission of meteoric growth became self-defeating.  If you aim to keep growing the church as fast as possible that works great until you can't grow it any further.  Mars Hill was for all practical purposes leveraging real estate debt in a way that would lead to its demise once the growth hit a plateau, let alone numeric decline.  But beyond that was the other problem, which was that as Driscoll and his coterie of insiders at the tope redesigned the governance to become more centralized and more like the "God box" model Driscoll spoke against from the pulpit a decade ago, the masses of people who saw these changes could feel like they could not register any protest moving up the chain of command. Since 2008 Mark Driscoll had broached the topic of any disagreement with the executive leadership of Mars Hill by describing it as not only figuratively demonic but literally demonic.

So if longtime members or staff felt things were going wrong where could an expression of disagreement go?  An audience within might lead to no changes at all.  An audience outside the organization risked giving information out that might be awkward.  But if there were no safe ways of expressing dissent internally; if respected and loved staff were resigning right and left; and if outsiders and former insiders with journalistic interest kept lines of communication open the secure silo approach Mars Hill seemed to have would only stop being a culture of cooperative ignorance when things began to leak outside.  The culture had reached a point in the 2013-2014 period where people were reading blogs such as Throckmorton's to get a clearer idea what was going on inside their own church. 

Had Andrew Lamb been allowed to just resign his membership without a shunning edict getting posted to The City somewhere things would not have changed that much, really.  The catastrophic turnover and high profile resignations were going to become issues in the 2012-2013 period even before the fateful on-air conversation Mark Driscoll had with Janet Mefferd. There was obviously no one thing that made things difficult for Mars Hill as a leadership culture ... unless we're talking about the leadership culture itself. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

ribbon farm on cultures of cooperative ignorance where a critical goal is plausible deniability based on actually not knowing stuff
Often the value in strategic ignorance is not ignorance itself, but being able to plausibly claim that one is ignorant, in order to avoid the consequences of knowledge. [emphasis added link highlighted below]

...The effort among senior management to demonstrate non-knowledge of [a low-level medical researcher’s] actions suggests that the most important managerial resource during the scandal was not the need to demonstrate prescient foresight, or the early detection of potential catastrophes. What mattered most was the ability to insist such detection was impossible. [emphasis added] For senior staff at SocGen, the most useful tool was the ability to profess ignorance of things it was not in their interest to acknowledge.

…[O]rganizations often function more efficiently because of the shared willingness of individuals to band together in dismissing unsettling knowledge.
There is a truism about scams that a mark can only be deceived if he wants to believe; all deception relies on self-deception. The ideal victim of a scam is a person who desperately wants to believe in a reality different from actual reality

We could discuss implications of this kind of cultural approach to not-knowing some time later.  Longtime readers won't have to wonder for long what potential case history could come up.

NYT feature, revising our understanding of how piano works were played in Mozart's time? Maybe

Not the biggest Mozart fan, personally (Haydn, however, I adore) but this is an interesting little link.

Judge trims Blurred Lines verdict down to $5.3 million, gives 50% future royalties to Gaye estate

Now plenty of musicians have sounded off on why they've considered this verdict to be a disaster and Wenatchee The Hatchet is reading a bunch of musicology stuff this year.  It may be interesting to see contrasting threads of thought in the "Blurred Lines" case and associated verdict with another realm of mass published content where a year of controversy led to no litigation of any kind and quite behind-the-scenes en masse revision of already published works.  You don't have to guess which controversy is being referenced there, do you?

because it just wouldn't be the internet without Marxist readings of the Pixar catalog. :) A link to a piece at The Awl.
It’s possible that Pixar’s obsessiveness about work and employment has somehow been effaced in the public eye by the imaginative diversity of their films’ settings: ant colonies, space, the ocean, a bizarre alternate-world inhabited by sentient vehicles, and so on. But in Inside Out, for the first time, the ground beneath Pixar’s ideological feet comes into view, and it’s the Bay Area, California.


In WALL-E, the close of the second acts finds the film’s robotic protagonist tossed down into a garbage disposal vault in the bowels of the spaceship Axiom, where larger-model robots collect the waste to be released into space. Toy Story 3 reaches an emotional peak at a suburban landfill, where Woody, Buzz and their fellows toys face down a violent death by incinerator. In Inside Out, right on cue at the close of act two, Joy is temporarily stuck in a Memory Dump—a pit of discarded memories, jettisoned as Riley grew up. Pixar conceptualizes death not as the end of existence per se, but as the state of becoming waste. Waste does not work. Waste does not have a function. Waste is obsolete. Waste is undifferentiated. For Pixar, the model individual represents usefulness in their own unique way. A virtuous accountant can’t just be like all the other accountants—they have to be their own special kind, they have to be the lead in their own story.

At its bottom, this is the logic of pure capitalism. In an economy structured around limitless growth, dynamism must become the natural state of things. Idle capital is unproductive capital and an unproductive worker is a waste of resources. The virtuous citizen cannot only consume but must produce, an imperative that finds its current (and particularly American) incarnation in the entrepreneur, the boot-strapper, the rags-to-riches hero, who is too busy pulling themselves up by their laces to notice that there’s no top to reach. The natural and profitable ideological by-product of this fixation is an abhorrence of collectivism—and therefore organized labor. To be collective, to be one among many, is to no longer be a special individual producer, which is its own kind of death. This is why Toy Story 2 abhors the idea of Woody becoming part of a box set.

Okay, maybe not explicitly Marxist ...