Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2022

Back Issue #103

Want to know what it’s like to live in a police state?  Look around you.  –  “Universal Criminality

Read Full Post »

I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.  –  Jim Steinman

It’s been a while since a musician’s death affected me as strongly as last week’s passing of Meat Loaf, but then there aren’t many musicians about whom I can truthfully claim to own every single album they ever released.  And there was really only one song I could use in memorial: the one Jim Steinman wrote as the ultimate teen death song.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker, Billy Binion, Scott Hechinger (x2), and Cop Crisis, in that order.

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

Interactions with artificial agents is not the same as interacting with humans.  –  Yochanan Bigman

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#799) 

The idea that words entered into a computer program constitute “verbal abuse” is like something out of a Monty Python sketch:

The smartphone app Replika lets users create chatbots…that can carry on almost-coherent text conversations…Replika has also picked up a significant following on Reddit, where members post interactions with chatbots created on the app.  A [sad] trend has emerged there: users who create [algorithms they pretend are] partners, act [toward them in a way that could be termed] abusive…[if the algorithms were alive], and post the toxic interactions online…The results can be upsetting [to those with a very loose grasp of reality who should maybe get off the internet once in a while]…Replika chatbots can’t actually experience suffering — they might seem empathetic at times, but in the end they’re nothing more than data and clever algorithms…nothing you do can actually “harm” them…Yale University research fellow Yochanan Bigman [said] “Chatbots don’t really have motives and intentions and are not autonomous or sentient.  While they might give people the impression that they are human, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not”…

The “trigger warning” claiming that typing words into an algorithm constitutes “violence” is just {chef’s kiss}.

You Were Warned (#976)

This decision was necessary to prevent a cascade of predatory lawsuits that would make the tobacco & breast implant lawsuits look reasonable and moderate in comparison:

A California appeals court sided with Salesforce…and dismissed a lawsuit by [ambulance-chasers representing] 50 [professional “survivors”] claiming that the cloud-based software company was liable for their alleged sex trafficking because it had provided services to the now-defunct classifieds site Backpage.com.  The ruling dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeal on the basis of Section 230…[just as the lower] Court [had]…

Counterfeit Comfort (#984)

We may be seeing the beginning of the end of these medieval practices:

From McClendon v. Long, decided…by the Eleventh Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Frank Hull, joined by Chief Judge William Pryor and Britt Grant:  In October 2018, two deputies from the Butts County Sheriff’s Office placed signs in the front yards of the residences of all 57 registered sex offenders within the County, warning “STOP” and “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS.”  Before Halloween 2019, three registered sex offenders living in Butts County sued, seeking to enjoin the Sheriff from placing the signs again…[W]e conclude that the Sheriff’s warning signs are compelled government speech, and their placement violates a homeowner’s First Amendment rights.  Thus, we vacate the district court’s judgment in favor of the Sheriff and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion

Social Distancing (#1055)

The sex industry is a major part of the Thai economy, but you wouln’t know it from the way politicians behave:

[Last summer], sex workers and others in Thailand’s nightlife industry lined high heels up in front of the parliament building in Bangkok.  Each pair…had a note calling for the government to compensate redlight district workers who are out of work due to the pandemic.  Six months later, with bars and nightclubs still ordered to remain closed, sex workers…have not been financially supported like others in the nightlife industry…many of the workers, who call themselves the “High Heel Defenders” have been mailing boxes with pairs of heels to the government each day to “remind them of their responsibility for the people impacted by their policies.”  But the packages have been sent back…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1185)

Cops will keep this up as long as people let them pretend that adults never like sweet flavors:

[Mobile] police [squealed and grunted at credulous reporters after they stole]…86 pounds of…marijuana…and a large number of [edibles.  Head pig] Paul Prine [oinked a lot of idiotic nonsense about how no adult in the universe eats marshmallow treats made with breakfast cereal]…“Everything is packaged to attract children,” he [oinked stupidly.  Cops are obsessed with the idea that people want to give expensive cannabis edibles to penniless brats for free, but a few reporters have grown tired of parroting the silly fantasy]…

To Molest and Rape (#1203)

Hey, female cops; how’s that collaboration with the police state working out?

[Typical and representative Wisconsin cop] Rick Gramza has been ordered to pay a [very small] fine [but] will spend no time in jail after…[repeatedly] sexually assaulting a department employee [for] several [years]…Gramza[‘s victim was afraid she’d lose her job, but sometime after he was promoted to Boss Pig she]…filed [charges against him] in November 2020…Gramza…[used the typical cop “she wanted it” defense, but also]…resigned from the department [the following] March…

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1204)

Politicians are always happy to indulge cops’ violent fantasies:

West Virginia [politicians] advanced a bill that would make “exposing” [cops] to illicit fentanyl punishable by up to five years in prison…It’s unclear how someone might be shown to “intentionally” possess illicit fentanyl, which is often present as an adulterant in supplies of other drugs without purchasers’ awareness or consent…Mike Pushkin…the sole committee member to vote against the bill, [said]…“In a lot of cases, people think they’re buying one substance and they wind up getting fentanyl. So how can you prove they intentionally were in possession of fentanyl?”  Neither is it clear how the bill would determine “exposure” to fentanyl.  “Does it mean they’re in the same room?” Pushkin asked…overdose from passive fentanyl exposure is a myth.  The substance does not readily absorb through the skin, nor do its molecules linger in the air.  But the false claim that simply touching or being in the vicinity of airborne fentanyl can cause overdose is one frequently circulated by [cops]…

Read Full Post »

Bathhouse 55

We finally got a week without rain, which means that, paradoxically, I could finally do the work to seal the join between the rooves of house and bathhouse against rain.  We probably should’ve put this channel in before doing the roof panels, but live and learn.  As you can see, I didn’t have enough roof-sealing compound to do both sides when this picture was taken, but I got it the next day and finished the job; taking it with the bathhouse side undone made for a clearer picture anyway, because that rubberized asphalt roof stuff is really goopy and can’t be applied neatly.  It’s likely I’ll come back later and do a second coat, but I wanted to get this in place so we don’t have a waterfall in front of the back door every time the weather does its typical Olympic peninsula thing.  If you’re very observant, you may have noticed that the edge of the bathhouse roof does not run exactly parallel to the line of roof shingles; that was by design, so the north end is lower down the slope of the house roof, in order that the water will run to the downspout on that side.  While I was up on the roof, Grace was fabricating the steel beams for the next leaf of the roof; you’ll be seeing pictures of that very soon.

Read Full Post »

Since we’ve finished Doctor Who for now (we’ll watch the most recent shows as they reach DVD), Grace and I turned to watching Blake’s 7, a gift from one of my regular readers who’s enjoyed the Whovian thread.  The set was only available in Region 2, but I have a multi-region player, so it’s all good.  I’ve known about the series since the ’80s, but for some reason I never managed to catch it on PBS.  One thing that struck me immediately was how groundbreaking the series was; it may be difficult for younger folks to believe, but in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s sci-fi series were very episodic.  There were ideas and themes that ran for entire series or seasons, but it was notable when an episode even made reference to the events of an earlier episode, much less continued a big, complex story.  Blake’s 7 changed that pattern; most of the stories were still just stories, but several per season were part of a larger pattern of development.  I don’t know if he’s ever said as much, but it appears pretty clear to me that J. Michael Straczynski was influenced by it in the creation and structure of Babylon 5, which started the same way and grew over 5 seasons to one long, deeply-interconnected saga, setting a new standard in US sci-fi TV.

One of the things I love about British sci-fi is its valuation of characters and storytelling over flashy special effects, and Blake’s 7 definitely has that (though its effects are actually better than those in Doctor Who of this time period).  It’s also fun for me to see so many faces and names I recognize from “Who” in this one; chief among those names is that of Terry Nation, most famous as the creator of the Daleks, who conceived of the show and wrote every episode of the first season (another Straczynski-like feature, though Babylon 5 did that in a later season, not the first).  I was happy to see that Nation’s writing had matured and improved considerably since the ’60s; this is the Nation who gave us “Genesis of the Daleks”, not the guy who phoned in so many earlier Dalek appearances, so the quality of the first season is consistently high.  Another familiar Who name is that of the script editor, Chris Boucher, who had given us Leela (and three excellent Who adventures featuring her) the year before signing on to Blake’s 7.  Boucher’s script editor during his time on Doctor Who was Robert Holmes, who reversed the relationship by penning a number of Blake stories for Boucher.  Holmes was a good fit here; as an idealistic young man he had become a cop, but once he found out the nasty truth about policing he turned to writing, and many of his tales involve noble or charming rascals, scoundrels, anti-heroes battling corrupt authoritarian governments.  But while The Doctor is a bit of a rascal and has no use for cops or permits, Blake’s 7 takes it up a couple of notches by giving us an often-abrasive hero dedicated to bringing down the entire evil Federation, even if it means a lot of people getting hurt in the process (the entire second season demonstrates that pretty clearly); his crew, all criminals themselves (including a smuggler, a cowardly thief, and an extremely arrogant embezzler); and a stolen spaceship (it’s technically only salvaged until the actual owners try to reclaim it).  One last thing for now: among the series’ innovations was the season cliffhanger.  Until then it was highly unusual for a TV series to bait viewers back for the following season by leaving the heroes facing certain death, as in the old movie serials; Blake’s 7 did it every season.  Though it’s now de rigeur for dramatic series to do this, that wasn’t so until the Nineties; even in the Eighties leaving the viewers hanging for more than one week (the typical gap in serials such as Doctor Who) was pretty rare on both UK and US television.

I have a great deal more to say, but it’s so much I’m going to divide it up over several weeks.

Read Full Post »

Any suggestion that we allow or encourage illegal content…defies…reason, from both a moral and business standpoint.  –  Feras Antoon

Advice for Clients (#738)

Another good little article on interacting with sex workers on Twitter:

…If you’re new to Twitter, you may feel a bit overwhelmed when deciding whether to follow, like, comment, or retweet.  You might worry about saying the wrong thing, or accidentally making a bad impression.  I recently reached out to ask sex workers on Twitter for their best etiquette advice.  The result: some real gems on how to interact with your favourite providers in a ways that will help you enjoy the platform without jeopardizing your future booking success…As with everything in the sex industry, workers each have their own preferences.  But the advice that’s generously offered here is a great place to start…Mistresse Matisse has the perfect metaphor to describe the social media experience.  “Twitter is a cocktail party, not a one-on-one date”…

Not To Be Taken Internally (#886)

How many times must I say, “Do NOT let non-doctors inject filth into your body“?

A man…had been inserting various objects into his urethra for some time as an aid for erectile dysfunction.  During one such occasion, he and his partner had decided to use a straw attached to a can of weatherproofing spray, when the partner “inadvertently pressed the button deploying the foam.” The foam then shot through his entire urethra, even filling up his bladder.  The man waited three weeks before seeking medical attention at an emergency room, during which time he increasingly had difficulty urinating and urinating blood when he did…

Predictable Consequences (#1134)

Prohibitionism is an inherently violent belief system, but this kinda shitty hit piece in Vanity Fair pretends otherwise.  Rather than simply admit the obvious  –  that increasingly-emboldened members of the growing anti-sex cult burned down the property of the owner of a website their leaders had selected as the next target of their attentions after the wanton destruction of Backpage  –  the author prefers instead to repeat prohibitionist fantasies, wallow in dysphemisms and deny the agency of every single person in an entire industry while sharing weird, evidence-free conspiracy theories about possible perpetrators while pretending that there was no evidence pointing toward the obvious culprits  –  you know, those who had for weeks been literally calling for the place to be burned down.

Policing for Profit (#1158)

Cops seem to be moving toward discarding even the pretense that this is about anything other than pillage:

Because the continued federal prohibition of marijuana makes banks and payment processors leery of serving state-licensed cannabis suppliers, many of those businesses rely heavily on cash, which exposes them to a heightened risk of robbery…includ[ing by gangs of] cops who use federal civil forfeiture laws to steal money earned by state-legal marijuana businesses.  Five times since last May, [cops have held up]…armored cars operated by Empyreal Logistics, a Pennsylvania-based company that serves marijuana businesses and financial institutions that work with them.  The cops made off with…a total of $1.2 million…Empyreal, which is represented by the Institute for Justice, argues that…it is “entitled to protection from highway robberies, regardless of whether they are conducted by criminals or by the Sheriff and federal law-enforcement agencies acting under color of law”…

You Were Warned (#1175)

Much more of this, please:

OnlyFans…has hired its first federal lobbyists as poli[ticians] continue t[heir deranged crusade]…to [censor the internet and empower ambulance-chasers to destroy]…tech companies…OnlyFans is the latest player in the adult content ecosystem to turn to K Street as [politicians try to eviscerate] Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act…Last year the Free Speech Coalition…enlisted a bipartisan pair of lobbyists at Clarity Consulting, becoming the first group to register to lobby on behalf of the porn industry in Washington…

Torture Chamber (#1186)

They’ll use any excuse to protect their own:

Bronx prosecutors have dropped all charges against a Rikers Island doctor’s assistant…[who repeatedly] rap[ed caged] women…Sidney Wilson…skated on a 43-count indictment filed in 2017…Bronx District Attorney Darcell Clark…touted the case in a press release and in testimony as part of her crackdown on sexual abuse in the troubled jail…But in…quietly dropped all charges against Wilson and is now blaming the discovery reform law requiring prosecutors to disclose a wide range of evidence earlier in the trial process [despite the case being filed over two years before the law came into effect]…

Never forget that a prosecutor is just another kind of cop; they are not interested in prosecuting their own.

I Spy (#1205)

Nothing infuriates violent, self-important busybodies more than private affairs that are none of their business:

…a new propaganda campaign…is…the latest salvo in the UK’s decades-long war against encryption…[it] include[s] “a striking stunt — placing an adult and child (both actors) in a glass box, with the adult looking ‘knowingly’ at the child as the glass fades to black”…as…David Thiel observed, an opaque box with people inside is what’s otherwise known as “a house.”  On one level, the opaque room represents encrypted messaging.  The audience’s inability to see what happens inside is meant to provoke sympathy for the child, who, it’s leeringly implied, is about to be victimized by the adult…But…on a different level, the opaque room isn’t a metaphor at all.  It is just what it seems to be: an opaque room — that is, a house.  A home.  The audience isn’t meant to sympathize with the people inside the home, people just like them, who can shield themselves from prying eyes.  Rather, they’re meant to sympathize with the would-be watcher: the UK government.  On this level, it’s the frustrated voyeurs who are the victims.  Their desire to watch what happens inside has been stymied by that demonic technology known as “walls.”  Wouldn’t it be better if someone could see in?…By portraying the transparent room as desirable and the opaque room as a sinister deviation from the norm, the government is peddling the idea that it is suspect for people to have our own private spaces in the physical world…

Read Full Post »

Diary #604

I only got to be home for a few days before I had to run back to Seattle for a few appointments, but fortunately the tolerance break worked to restore the ability of fairly small edibles to kick my butt, so I slept like a rock each of those nights.  Usually, once in a trip to Seattle, I take a higher dose one night so I can really trip while alone in conditions conducive to visions.  Well, the same dose that gave me a nice, if quiet trip a few weeks ago absolutely incapacitated me this time.  I knew it would have a stronger effect because of my experiences with regular doses over the few previous nights, but I was unprepared for such an irresistible state of paralysis. Unfortunately, it was too intense to enjoy; I had to focus to keep the experience under control, and therefore couldn’t properly relax. Ah well, next time I’ll reduce the dose by about 33%; that should roughly put me back in the zone.  By the by, when I got back to Sunset Jae had finished staining my shelves, so this is the tentative setup; it may change with time, but this will work for now.

Read Full Post »

Wintertweets

Read Full Post »

If I could give you jail time…I would.  –  Judge Alexis Krot, to cancer patient

There was only one proper choice for a song to commemorate this week’s celebrity death; the links above it were provided by Walter Olson, Cop Crisis, Radley Balko, Franklin Harris, Missy Mariposa, and The Onion, in that order.

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

Until somebody figures out a good way to rein-in government snoopiness, it might be better to avoid taking selfies at protests.  –  J.D. Tuccille

Thou Shalt Not (#35)

Prohibitionism is a dangerous mental illness:

Some packets of biscuits will be banned from [certain areas of] supermarkets from 2023…the new law bans [stores] from selling [foods labeled] HFSS (high in fat, sugar and salt) [by government-employed puritans from displays in] checkout areas, ends of aisles and store entrances…government…[nannies justified the new law by barfing out the phrase]…childhood obesity [while maintaining laws that keep children from healthy outdoor exercise]…a [government] study [declared that most Britons are far too stupid and weak-willed to make their own food choices, so those choices must therefore be made for them]…

Torture Chamber

If there’s one thing the US needs, it’s more sadistic rapists in the military:

…Brandon Scott Price, a [typical and representative Kentucky] prison guard, was convicted of [a misdemeanor assault charge for anally raping a chained woman]…his…judge…sentenced [him]…to [a mere] 12 months in jail…but said Price could avoid jail time if he [re-]enlisted in the military within 30 days…enlistments are subject to military regulations that would require Price to seek a waiver for his sexual-assault conviction from military officials.  The military has spent more than a decade struggling to limit sexual assault among troops…[on the way back from the hospital after she had suffered] a medical emergency…Price pulled the van…over and [anally raped] the woman…then [claimed she wanted it]…

Choke Point (#611) 

PayPal needs to be buried in similar lawsuits before this will stop:

Three PayPal users who’ve…had their accounts frozen and funds [stol]en by the company without explanation have filed a federal lawsuit against the online payment service.  The plaintiffs…are…proposing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all other users who’ve had their accounts [similarly violated] and are seeking restitution, as well as punitive and exemplary damages.  Lena Evans…[ha]d been a PayPal user for 22 years…[when] the website s[tole] $26,984 from her account six months after…fr[eezing it] without ever telling her why…Roni Shemtov sa[w] PayPal s[teal] over $42,000 of her money and never got an acceptable [or consistent] reason for why her account was terminated…Shbadan Akylbekov…[explained that] PayPal s[tole] over $172,000 of his money without…explanation…[except] a letter that says she “violated PayPal’s User Agreement and Acceptable Use Policy”…PayPal has long angered many a user for limiting accounts and freezing their funds for six months or more.  One high-profile case was American poker player Chris Moneymaker’s who had $12,000 [stol]en from his account after six months of being limited.  Moneymaker was already in the process of asking people to join him in a class action lawsuit before his funds were “mysteriously returned”…

Blunt Instrument (#1012)

Oh look, Texas cops are staging pogroms against migrant-owned businesses; what a surprise.  The only thing even remotely unusual about this farrago of loathsome oinking, agency denial, pious bullshit and revolting bootlicking is that the violent racist psychopaths vomit out the word “trafficking” only 5 times in a 21-paragraph copaganda screed.  By contrast, the word “illicit” (a word which characterizes prohibitionist propaganda more than any other) appears 9 times.  But given that this was published (to use the most charitable word possible for this human-centipede excretion) by the Dallas Morning News, a rag so filled with prohibitionist masturbatory fantasies that it’s an embarrassment to the entire state of Texas, that actually counts as a twisted kind of progress.

I Spy (#1086) 

In mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

…[Since] social media an easy and low-cost means of gathering intelligence…cops and their private-sector contractors snoop on us…while fishing for anything of interest…instead of curbing such abuses, many politicians want more.  “Social media has become a significant source of information for U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law noted in a report released last week…Customs and Border Protection…routinely runs the names of people of interest, including journalists and activists, through databases…For years, the FBI used Dataminr, “a third-party service that [surveills]…social media posts”…in 2019 [it switched] to ZeroFox, which offers a similar service.  Some FBI agents blamed their inability to anticipate the January 6 riot at the Capitol on the changeover…and…over the past year, law enforcement has come under pressure to engage in even more monitoring of social media because of its failure to anticipate the…riot…

Stalkers in Blue (#1180)

This disgusting article is loaded with copsucking and emotional manipulation:

A [typical and representative] NYPD [cop], who survived [a 2015 “dismissal probation” after drug paraphernalia and needles were found in his locker], was fired…after he repeatedly [sexually harassed] vulnerable women [he was] arrest[ing]…[including] wom[e]n he believed to be domestic abuse victim[s] and…sex [workers, but who]…were actually [other rolepaying cops]…investigati[ng him due to complaints]…He also used an NYPD computer to [stalk other women] …and [lied]…to [other cops]…about [his predatory behavior]…

Right from the headline on, IB Times attempts to manipulate the reader’s sympathies; the cop who repeatedly tried to get into the pants of women he arrested or “investigated” is described as a “veteran” and a “hero”.  His attempted manipulation and rape is described as “romantic”, his victims’ criminal histories are emphasized, and his other shenanigans are not mentioned until far down in the story.  It’s vile even by the standards of cop stenography.

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1204)

Cops think they can just make up their own pharmacology and demand reality conform to it:

Fentanyl that is about 50 times more potent than “what has regularly been found and tested” in the region has been recovered in Hartford, police [lie]d…[after] find[ing] nearly 40 bags of fentanyl…[near where] a seventh-grader [overdosed.  Though the boy appears to have eaten]…the drug…a…spokesp[ig preferred to oink a bunch of weird cop fantasies about how]…“this product can be deadly to anyone coming in contact with it, including absorption through the skin…fentanyl is a poison”…

Fentanyl is a life-saving synthetic drug, no more a “poison” than any other medicine.  It cannot be absorbed through the skin, and no batch is “50 times more potent” than any other; of course, this confused oinking might be attempting to convey the claim that most heroin cut with fentanyl in Hartford is only about 2% fentanyl, whereas this was nearly pure.  But it’s difficult to tell in proximity to so many exaggerations, cop fantasies and outright lies.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »