Tag Archives: news

The end… of a rainy work week

(Jun 29 5:33 p.m.)

I wish I could say I’ve been busy all week, but I haven’t.  It rained, and there were a few thunderstorms.  The rodent(s) in the house — particularly squirrels, given how loud and forceful they are — are sometimes eating, scratching away material in the ceiling (and I have footage and some lost sleep to prove it).  I wrote a little, but mostly I felt sorry and empty for myself… What’s new?  Lol. Continue reading The end… of a rainy work week

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Of Fear and Trust

Note: This is going to be a controversial post… not that my writing ever draws any attention.

‘We have a problem,’ I read one day, on social media.  ‘The dehumanizing.’ …But the detail of the text was misinformed, as too often generalized posts on twitter are.

It was the first Thursday of the month, the day the Reynolds video went viral.  A video that, as slow and horrific as it was, saddened me.  Philando Castile, 32, was fatally wounded in a traffic stop, and “Diamond” Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, live-streamed the aftermath the previous day.  It was emotional.  News outlets warned viewers before showing the video as it included Reynolds briefly conversing with a child in the back, and Castile’s shirt soaking in blood, the man fading away.  (He was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center, but to the viewer it may appear that he died in the car.)

The recording of the Facebook video was at first taken down, but restored early Thursday.  “GRAPHIC CONTENT” trended on twitter.  (Warning: there are unrelated tweets on the GRAPHIC CONTENT timeline that are seriously graphic.)

I was surprised that the officers allowed Reynolds to cover what she did, considering there have been other, less violent scenes where officers demanded bystanders stop recording, and laws enacted in some states that prohibit recording police at the scene at all.  That seemed unusual to me about the video.

It was obvious that the driver showed no indication of harming the officer.  In Minnesota, a state that allows open-carry (with a license), Reynolds informed the police officer that Castile was carrying a permitted firearm… So the early picture that developed was: a law-abiding man reaching for his wallet, shot multiple times.

“He worked an honest job five days a week,” his mother, Valerie, told CNN Thursday.  He worked as a cafeteria supervisor.

It’s sad news like this that promotes the more valid point of #BlackLivesMatter, that black Americans have the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness like any other citizen, with more than enough proof that show many police are implicitly trained with a bias that black men are seen and treated as a threat first… Tim Scott, a GOP Senator, had to prove his identity despite wearing a pin that immediately identified himself as a Senator.

Still, there are other parts of the equation that reveal a certain ignorance in this country.  Between the sweat and the news that morning (it was relatively hot in Maine the day prior), I was reminded of California Gov. Brown signing gun bills with retroactive effects, and the comments in social media that show how disconnected we all are, in some way or another.

I was reminded the fact that many of the fears people have are exaggerated.  The officer who shot Castile, who is of Chinese descent (according to Reynolds), was likely terrified.  The probability of anything happening if he hadn’t fired was low; it was after Castile’s death that he was put on paid administrative leave, as standard procedure.

If it wasn’t for the fear, Castile would probably still be alive.  And, supposedly, if his gun rights were respected, he would still be alive.  The same with Alton Sterling, another victim that week.  There is a real problem here.

…But the picture is never as simple as we’re told to believe.

First, Thursday made me see, in terms of race, how skewered gun control is.  The demographics are split, according to a CNN poll.  (The poll also indicates that three out of ten don’t understand law.)  But public perceptions have contributed to saddening articles like “White & Black, A History of Gun Control for Black People.”  (The article also adds more reason to not to trust the NRA, an organization once known for training freed black men in post-Civil War America to defend themselves against pro-slavery remnants like the Klan.)  So, not only did the Clinton administration promote conservative policies that contributed to the twenty-five-fold increase of prison admissions for black Americans for drug offenses between 1983 and 2000, but there’s a whole history of policies promoted with, in mind, the very fear of black men baring arms.  (Apologies if the last link doesn’t work— I’ve been getting an “encoding compression” error trying to load the page I was able to read a while back.)

It was in my further reading that I caught one way of reducing gun violence, one that has actually shown to work.

In the 1990s, there was a program called “Ceasefire,” which targets to help young people, in breaking up feudal violence.  Shown to have an effect on reducing gun violence in inner-cities, in two years Ceasefire apparently reduced the average youth homicide rates by 63%.  That isn’t to say this program is a one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s something remarkable when there’s a community that works, the crime rates are effectively low and the police better know the actual problem areas.

The Rev. Jeff Brown, one of the ministers who worked on the project, remembers people were outside more, barbecuing in the park. At Halloween, kids were able to trick-or-treat on the streets again.

So why don’t we hear about this program today?  Because the conversation is drowned out by the noise and demands of lobbyists and national politics in the media circle, particularly massacres in suburban areas, which represent less than 1% of the gun homicide stats overall.  “The national groups that spend the most money and do the most advocacy related to gun violence have concentrated almost exclusively on passing stricter gun control laws.”  Liberals and conservatives alike tend to oversimplify what Ceasefire addresses as “urban,” effectively reducing what the program targets as “a minority problem.”  Inner-city violence is higher in the stats, so… deliberately do nothing?  The media are no better, with the breakdown of the black family narrative in the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post sticking its own coverage into the category “Black Voices”… Black Voices written by white progressives.  And so these programs, which tend to actually help, have trouble in getting the necessary funding from Congress to get off the ground.

“Such initiatives … fit into no political camp and thus have few powerful champions.”  Focused deterrence— what academics call Ceasefire and similar approaches— “challenges the orthodoxy on both sides. It makes everybody uncomfortable.”  Boston’s own effort fell apart in 2000 (according to research), and feudal crime crept up again.

…Skip to recent years, where news coverage has become noticeably lacking.

It wasn’t until the following Saturday this July, hours after a cold army reservist retaliated to “the news” in Dallas, that I looked at alternative news sources in the Castile case.  I was missing a big part of the picture.

There were details in the Reynolds video that didn’t add up.  It wasn’t some ordinary traffic stop, as alleged.  (A ‘busted taillight’ added to the emotional outrage.)  A store was robbed approximately four blocks from the traffic stop, and Castile, to a degree, resembled the suspect.  Store camera footage and the police audio for the stop made that clear, and in such cases, an approaching officer may not state the actual reason for pulling a someone over to avoid escalating potential violence should the person be the suspect.  The officer clearly saw himself in danger.  But once a story snowballs, it’s hard to roll back.

The press appeared to take Reynolds at her every word.  And, surprise, the two adults in the car are very flawed people.  Reynolds lied about details on her Facebook page (which isn’t all that uncommon), and photos of a few years back revealed a different Castile giving the finger multiple times and flashing Crip gang signs, among other behaviors.  (Member or not, there’s no way you can flash gang signs without getting into trouble.) …I know you don’t want to tarnish the victim, but… there’s “a man turning his life around,” and then there’s scrubbing a person’s character clean.

Yes, we all have our flaws; believing otherwise is delusional. …And the illusions of the press are exposed every so often with hoaxes.

So we do have a problem: a narrative problem.  A dishonesty problem that has promoted fears on all sides, and has exhausted police departments with protests, not to mention Molotov cocktails.
Continue reading Of Fear and Trust

Windows 10, already…

Image source: yahoo.com/tech

Yeah, what happened to version 9?  (And of course we all know what happened to 7.)

Doobster, over at Mindful Digressions, came across what we all face, one time or another, going to the electronics store: “we no longer sell that.”  Or at least, they no longer sell it in-store.  He decided to go for the online-only laptop with 7 Pro, end of story.

Well.  Of course, I knew Windows 7 was no longer sold at places like…Best Buy?  I thought Best Buy was gone too.  They closed so many stores, I figured they’ve closed them all by now. …Oh, no, that was Circuit CitySigh.  Just a memory now…
Continue reading Windows 10, already…

FCC votes on Net Neutrality—you bet I don’t like it

The Federal Communications Commission voted on “net neutrality” today; it was predictably approved.  Mark Cuban predicts lawsuits.

Cuban thinks the plan to regulate the internet as a public utility will “will fuck everything up.”  He said this at the Code/Media conference last Wednesday, in California, according to re/code.  “Net neutrality is just a demonization of big companies.”  (Source: The Daily Caller.)

Mark Cuban (Image source: SportsIllustrated.CNN.com) Couldn’t find any pictures of him not smiling.
Mark Cuban
(Image source: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
Couldn’t find any pictures of him not smiling.

How about monopolization?  The big companies win in these kinds of “fights.”  Have you ever heard of a demonized big corporation really losing?  Especially with lobbies in Congress?

It’s the “dumbest stuff ever.”  (Source: CNBC.)

In 2010, the courts struck down an earlier move by the FCC, saying the government-appointed entity didn’t have the authority to regulate the internet.  Just let that little expression sit for a minute:  regulate  the  internet.  There have been fights in other countries in regards to matters like these, and they’ve been for free speech against more government intrusion.

Sure there’s abuse (and it would be good to have some actual data on that, when it comes to cable companies, than throw red-meat fear at the public), but how does more abuse help?  This ruling attempts to fix something that isn’t broken.  It attempts to make the government look friendly.  And guess where the cost goes?  To the consumer.

And then one of those buzzwords that über-capitalists use came up: open.  It gets creepier and creepier every time.  To “fix a problem” with that so-called “open” nature, where transparency is lost.

It’s times like these where polling data shows that people want change but not the kind of change proposed when it’s explained to them.

The idea that the internet will die because some speeds are crappier is, to me, a load of crap.  We survived dial-up, end of story.  There is, however, reason to consider internet a utility, like telephone service, since many services now DEPEND on internet access, and the dependencies are expected to grow.  But net neutrality goes further than that.

The field of competition changes with every new regulatory law, and of course not always for the better.  They almost always help the BIG corporations, and harm the small ones, your local services, especially those that don’t receive taxpayer money or manage with subsidies (and it’s a real headache just how complicated the tax system is that subsidies are needed because of deliberately high tax rates).

It’s also telling when the big corporations want this, as some do.

Now…if I were to step into my pile of politics…I would say this is akin to insurance companies getting demonized alongside perks as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  Notice your health insurance bills going up?  Watch your ISP bill go up.  The IRS might as well play a part in all this, gaining your personal info, ’cause…why not?  It does with the ACA; the IRS is supposed to have access to your medical info.

And of course, today, pseudo-socialists claim the people will have more ownership, more control…as if state and people ever mean the same thing.

Sigh… Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe the FCC, known for increasingly tougher broadcast licensing, First Amendment-violating fining for indecency, growing its fines to a quarter of a million dollars for something as insignificant as the word ‘fuck’ broadcasted once over the air, won’t make free speech more difficult.

Maybe the greedy Democrats and greedy Republicans will listen to the constituents who’ve done their research and not the constituents in their pockets.  Maybe when hell freezes over.  Then again, hell is probably actually a frozen wasteland, given Maine.  (And Canada.)

net-neuterality


Editor’s note: I don’t do politics often.  But when I do, I drink Dos Equis.

(It’s painful.  This is all painful for me.)

It was just a joke! — Social Media and PTSD

This New York Times article by Jon Ronson, published 2015.02.15 is a must-read.  It is proof, with evidence dating back centuries, and multiple traumatic stories, that public shaming is a never-ending monster.  And it doesn’t always come in the form that we consider “bullying.”

It also shows that bad intentions come back to haunt you, as Sam Biddle, the guy who picked up the ‘offending’ tweet, got publicly shamed for one of his own.

Demonizing individuals will never fix an issue.  Getting revenge will not solve anything.  Just leave a bad joke alone, people.  And certainly don’t send death threats, victim or aggressor.  You too will get your just desserts, so remember to love people first!

I found it via Seth MacFarlane, who tweeted, “Ironic that this comes from an online press source, who are all too often complicit, but a must-read for all anyway.”

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

Photo illustration by Andrew B. Myers. Prop stylist: Sonia Rentsch.

As she made the long journey from New York to South Africa, to visit family during the holidays in 2013, Justine Sacco, 30 years old and the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, began tweeting acerbic little jokes about the indignities of travel. …

Read the full article here.

No Joke: Epicenter puts RFID chips into its staff *alarm bells*

Today, I wake up (in the afternoon, admittedly) to see this:

tmp_1898-20150203-155651-small294778896

Did I break something when I put up a post with “666” in its title?  ’Cause this is the kind of thing that’s been prophesied.

(And notice the “OF COURSE IT FUCKING HURTS” T-shirt?  It’s is if the whole thing is being rubbed in too.  And the place is called Epicenter, for crying out loud.)

Now, this implanting isn’t mandatory (yet), but the alarm bells are certainly ringing with me.  I knew the technology was already here, as a means of digital barcoding (in clothing), and similar uses of chips for pets, to locate them if lost or stolen.  But this is homo sapiens we’re talking about.

Now before I have an aneurysm, let’s enjoy a little history brief…

In 2004, the FDA had approved VeriChip’s implantable RFID chips for use in humans.  (Source: Ars Technica.)

In the category of unbelievably bad ideas that we all knew were making their way toward reality whether we like it or not comes the news the FDA has just approved VeriChip’s implantable RFID chips for use in humans. These are the same chips that we’re currently using to identify our pets. VeriChip is touting the chips’ medical applications, as a way of potentially saving lives by storing medical data.

In 2012, eight people payed $30 each to have an RFID chip (EM4012) implanted into their respective right hands.

At this years Toorcamp, a meetup for Hackers, there was an “implantation station” where, for $30, attendees could get RFID chips implanted into their hands.

The two-millimeter diameter EM4012 RFID chip was implanted between the thumb and the index …

Image source: socioecohistory.wordpress.com

And now?

I missed the ball.  The story mentioned first here, first appeared late January, by the BBC and CNET.  Hannes Sjoblad, who organized the process of being ‘chipped’ at Epicenter spoke to the BBC.  He said:

“We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big governments come to us and say everyone should get chipped—the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip.”

It may sound absurd, but never say never.  There are countless people, namely bureaucrats, that want control over people.  The majority of those out to control you may be lazy in many respects, but they don’t care.  (The cause of wanting to control over others is giving up on one’s own ability to take care of a problem.)

There are so many things going on that I’m extremely hesitant to discuss because, well, it would all make me sound like a nutjob, despite how much of the factual information I’ve been hearing for years has been proven true and worse.

Would you go the serious length of having a chip implanted in you just to access doors or copiers, or find your keys?  It’s beyond invasion of privacy and RF radiation exposure.  It’s stupid.  It’s unethical.  It’s more of a curse than a convenience.  And it’s alarming.

Please spread the word on this. …And hopefully I won’t die of mysterious causes. 😉  Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t wink at that…

The damage done…

(snow screen image)

So, some of you may be wondering about the aftermath—how bad it got here.  Well, relatively, it wasn’t bad.  I mean, it was a record-setting amount of snow in just a day, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the ice storm of 1998.

image source: threestatesplusone.blogspot.com

Now that was horrible.  Five+ days without power over here, and far worse in other areas.  Parts of Canada were just…ruined.

image source: en.best2list.com

And for some places, the weather is horrible any which way.

Snow up to my shoulders?  No.  It was only sixteen inches.

(16" vertical image)
If you had to work it sucked, but otherwise…

My fingers swelled up doing some shoveling.  Just some pain.  I got out the yard stick early this afternoon to actually measure all the heights.  Not as high as what was measured in Portland, Maine—18″.  Up against the house, I measured 22″ accumulation (this includes the snow that was already there, drafts, falling snow from the roof).

(bank v. car image)
Snow bank almost as high as the car.
(8.5" snow on railing image)
8.5″ snow on the porch railing

About an hour without power.  Just a pain, really.  The snow was still fluffy.  This was a storm relatively easy to deal with, so to say.

(porch snow: 18" image)
Porch snow: 18″ vertical.

I did learn, however, an issue regarding the smartphone camera.  It’s so bad when it comes to low-light images that you have to use flash in darkness.  And it doesn’t work AT ALL against glass.

(photo-flash glare image)
photo-flash glare

Well, Massachusetts and New York got the worst of it.  Mass. got 31+ inches.  Blizzard and transit closures cost the NYC economy an estimated $200 million.

It could’ve been worse.  That’s what they always say.  Well, it was worse prior to 2015.

image source: thedailystar.net/Reuters
image source: thedailystar.net / Reuters
image source: inquisitr.com

Well, that’s what I have for today.  Thanks for reading.

Image source: hollywoodlife.com