Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Photography by Radoslaw Pujan.
Pujan is a Belgian based professional European photographer, who works in fashion, beauty and black and white nude photography. For a gallery of his work go to

“...It is not only about my photos but about photography in general. Except for films I use, I won’t write too much about the technicalities. I will rather focus on preparations of my photo-sessions, how I work with the people involved in, and what emotions I want to show in my photographs. However, I will also write a bit about the whole world of photography that we are in contact with, my own opinions about how I see and feel it...”

Friday, February 23, 2018


Editor’s note.  Eight-year-old West Coaster craft beer monthly magazine and daily website ran an online poll for two months on its website. After crunching the numbers, the San Diego based beer news outlet did its best to determine why readers voted the way they did. For the next few weeks, PillartoPost will share snapshots from West Coaster’s 2017 Best in Beer reader’s poll.

Best Overall #SDBeer: AleSmith .394
Brewed with inspiration and feedback from the greatest Padre of all time, .394 Pale Ale is a mid-strength 6% hoppy, yet balanced San Diegan ale named after Tony Gwynn’s legendary batting average for the 1994 season. AleSmith did a great job getting this beer brewed and distributed, with classic Friars colors to boot. This Pale is delicious, has a great story, and is easy to find, which makes it a solid go-to for many local beer drinkers.

Best Barrel-aged: AleSmith Speedway Stout
AleSmith’s big, beefy, barrel-aged 12% ABV beast of a beer is both well known and respected. Roasty and toasty with espresso and chocolate notes in abundance, the beer in its original format is already dangerously quaffable. When aged in a barrel, the beer becomes even more drinkable. First brewed in 1997, the first bottle release of a Speedway specialty variant was in 2005, and AleSmith has been at the forefront of humans-waiting-in-line-control for bottle releases ever since. The first barrel-aged Speedway varietal releases began drawing crowds of nearly 700, with people camping out in cars or tents, flying in from around the country, or enlisting elderly relatives to stand in line in order to snag another bottle.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Editor’s Note: The following is an example of media analysis performed daily by the Columbia School of Journalism on its daily blog. Today’s post is CSJ’s take on the election hacking by the Russian troll factories.  It's worth a donation.  See end of post.

The media today: Are Russian trolls behind everything?
By Mathew Ingram

Now that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted a dozen Russian agents and several Russian corporations as part of his investigation into interference in the 2016 US election, the troll problem must be solved, right? Not quite. In fact, Russian trolls seem to be popping up almost everywhere: A New York Times report, for example, said that a number of Twitter accounts with links to Russia moved quickly to take advantage of the attention focused on the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, by posting hundreds of updates related to the event and using popular hashtags.

How extensive or influential this was, however, is unclear. The Times relied in part on data from Hamilton68, a site that tracks the behavior of a range of Russian accounts, but the site's conclusions have been questioned. It was created by The Alliance For Securing Democracy, which is in turn associated with the nonprofit German Marshall Fund. According to The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald, the Alliance and the Fund are backed by notorious right-wing warmongers such as Bill Kristol and Mike Chertoff, and therefore their conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. Others have also raised concerns: The Russia-focused news site Meduza notes Hamilton68 won't disclose which accounts it follows, and in some cases, they appear to just be accounts set up by actual Russian entities such as the broadcaster Russia Today.

Russian trolls seem to have become everyone's favorite excuse for any negative outcome. Newsweek and the site RawStory, for example, both ran with pieces that claimed former Senator Al Franken's resignation after sexual harassment allegations was driven by Russian trolls hijacking the #MeToo campaign. These reports were also based in part on conclusions by Hamilton68, which Newsweek said called the anti-Franken campaign "officially a Russian intelligence operation." But fact-checking by found some holes in the story, including references to a piece by Ijeoma Oluo that was supposedly part of the campaign and was promoted by trolls. But Oluo told Snopes her article was written after Franken had already resigned.

Even New Yorker writer Adrian Chen, who in 2015 wrote what is probably the definitive profile of the Russian "troll factory" known as the Internet Research Agency, has been downplaying the influence of the IRA. In an interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Chen said that while some commentators have compared the troll campaign to Pearl Harbor and other major global events, it was "essentially just a social-media marketing campaign." Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal seems to concur: He says the Russian troll campaign "wasn't that sophisticated," and that if the IRA had been a Silicon Valley startup "they probably would not be picking up a fresh round of venture capital" because their methods were so haphazard.

Here's some further reading on the topic of Russian trolls and their alleged activity in the US:

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight asks, "How much did Russian interference affect the 2016 election?" and comes up with a not-very-satisfying answer: "It's hard to say." Russian activity was part of a campaign that had been going on for years before the election, Silver says, and its actual influence is difficult to measure. He believes a letter from former FBI Director James Comey to Congress—stating that the investigation into Hillary Clinton was still open—probably had more impact.

Foreign policy analyst Molly McKew, however, who specializes in information warfare and has advised several European governments, says in Wired that "it's now undeniable" Russia affected the 2016 election. The troll factory campaign involved tens of millions of dollars spread over several years to build what she calls a "broad, sophisticated system that can influence American opinion." For example, McKew notes that actual events took place that were orchestrated by the Russians.

But were those events actually successful in changing anyone's mind about Trump or Clinton or the election? A piece in The New York Times makes it sound as though at least a few of them were poorly organized and failed to amount to much of anything. A fake group called Heart of Texas, for example, set up an anti-Muslim rally in Houston, but only a dozen people showed up.

Also in The New York Times, Amanda Taub and Max Fisher argue that whatever Russian meddling there was amounts to "a drop in the ocean of American-made discord." The real problem, they say, is a wave of partisan polarization that has "infected the American political system, weakening the body politic and leaving it vulnerable to manipulation." In particular, Taub and Fisher say, research suggests that people who are hyperpartisan in their views are more susceptible to "fake news." 

Meanwhile, a Facebook executive was forced to apologize to his colleagues after comments he made on Twitter about the Mueller investigation were retweeted by Donald Trump. Rob Goldman, a vice-president in charge of advertising, suggested the main goal of the Russian troll campaign was not to influence the election but to destabilize American society. Goldman sent a message to staff apologizing for his comments, and said he didn't intend to undermine the special counsel or his conclusions.

Other notable stories:
In a recent speech at the University of Oxford, Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron talked about how the media and social landscape in the US have changed, and how the rise of "fake news" and conspiracy theories has changed the game. "I think we must recognize that something profound has changed in our profession," he said. "Journalism may not work as it did in the past. Our work’s anticipated impact may not materialize. The public may not process information as it did previously."

Adeshina Emmanuel writes in CJR about his experiences with alt-weekly Chicago Reader editor Mark Konkol, who was fired after less than three weeks on the job. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Konkol had pledged to "bring a new vibe" to the magazine, but quickly acquired a reputation for being a bully, and also drew controversy with a racially charged image he chose for the cover of a new issue.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has banned a local news site called Rappler from covering his official events, according to a Reuters report. Duterte blamed the site for publishing "fake news" about his government, including a story that reported his senior aide had intervened in a navy procurement deal. Philippine securities regulators recently revoked Rappler's license to operate because of what they said were irregularities involving one of its investors, eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Rappler is appealing.

Dylan Byers of CNN has launched a beta test of a newsletter called Pacific, which will cover "the innovation economy." According to a tweet from Byers with a mockup of the newsletter masthead, a group of 150 tech and media executives, journalists, and friends have been given access to a trial version of the newsletter, which was announced in September and is set to officially launch in March. CNN said it will focus on the West Coast-based companies "that have changed media, technology, and politics."

A judge in St. John's, Newfoundland, has ruled that it was not a criminal act for a man to yell an offensive phrase at a TV reporter as he drove past her while she interviewed the mayor. The phrase in question has become a popular internet meme, and has been shouted at journalists both in the US and elsewhere. But the judge ruled that while it was offensive and hurtful, it was not a criminal offense.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018


One of the more important articles of our time when it comes to delayed equal justice for all:


Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Move over John Le Carre* and Richard Condon** because your Russian espionage fiction has just been trumped by real life events.

Case in point, on Monday, February 22 the Washington Post published “The Russian Journalist Who Helped Uncover Election Meddling is Confounded by the Mueller Indictments.”  Here are a few lines from the Post’s Adam Taylor:

“...A 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Friday brings fresh American attention to one of the strangest elements of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. But much of the information Mueller published on Friday about the agency’s efforts to influence the election had already been published last October — in an article by a Russian business magazine, RBC.
Russian Journalist Andrey Zakharov
“In a 4,500-word report titled “How the 'troll factory' worked the U.S. elections,” journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov offered the fullest picture yet of how the “American department” of the IRA used Facebook, Twitter and other tactics to inflame tensions ahead of the 2016 vote. The article also looked at the staffing structure of the organization and revealed details about its budget and salaries...”

The Russian reporters were taken aback how the story was such big news in the U.S. when it was no bombshell in Russia. It adds up to a whirlwind of espionage reality.

Click here for the Washington Post article.

Click here for the Russian article.

Click here for Mueller’s 37 page indictment.

Wait there’s more:
Let’s go back to 2015, when New York Times Magazine penned “The Agency.”  Proving the Russian Trolling Agency was operating in plain sight before the U.S. 2016 Presidential elections.

Note the date next to byline, above
Click here for The Agency via BuzzFeed.

Notes: * Author John Le Carre wrote “The Russia House.”

**Author Richard Condo wrote “The Manchurian Candidate.”