share and enjoy

Lebanon Valley College's Lynch building not named for lynching

As the article points out, African-American U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (who is a terrible person who has defended civil forfeiture, let banksters off the hook, been a part of the War on Drugs, and generally been a willing cog in the human meatgrinder known to mankind as the American "criminal justice" system -- but that's another rant) is also named "Lynch". By coincidence, or sometimes distant family ties, some people have the same name as people who did awful things.

People with aspirations of intellectualism -- e.g., college students -- ought to be able to deal with that fact. This is a very different case than, for example, the proposed renaming of Byrd Stadium, where the building's namesake stands accused of significant misbehavior.

Naming of Lebanon Valley College's Lynch building questioned amid equality push (PennLive.com)

Students at the private college in Annville have demanded administrators remove or modify Dr. Clyde A. Lynch's last name, as it appears on a campus hall, due to the associated racial connotations.

...

But while their remaining demands...appeared warmly received at Friday's forum...a call to change the name of Lynch Memorial Hall has been decidedly more controversial, both at the school and beyond.

In the days that followed, commenters on pennlive.com leapt to defend Lynch, who served as the college's president from 1932 to 1950 when he died in office, saying he's been unfairly dragged into the fray by this modern-day movement.

Cory Doctorow: The no-fly list really is a no-brainer

I've been trying to make this point to friends who are firearm prohibitionists. The "terrorist watch list" is a thing that should not even exist; if you have evidence then arrest and charge the person, otherwise leave them alone. That's due process 101. It's sad that so many on both the so-called "left" and "right" are so willing to throw that basic value under the bus.

Indeed, the whole concept of background checks is based on a list of bad guys. But if you have a list of people you can' t trust with access to firearms, you have a list of people who need to be under supervision -- prison, parole, probation, or mandatory psychiatric care. It's the responsibility of those supervisors to keep those people away from guns, not the responsibility of someone selling Grandpa's old hunting rifle at an estate sale.

The no-fly list really is a no-brainer (Boing Boing)

Whatever you think of gun control, Obama's assertion that "Closing the No-Fly List loophole is a no-brainer" is pretty brainless.

The no-fly list, a notorious, secretive, evidence-free zone in which Americans and foreigners alike are denied the freedom of movement based on secret, sloppy evidence that no is allowed to see or refute, is a terrible proxy for "people who should be treated as suspicious."

Washington Post concedes the obvious, style guide OKs singular "they"

The prohibition on singular "they" always struck me as the same sort of pointless and incorrect overcorrection as the ban on split infinitives (I dare to boldly split them) and terminal prepositions (a sort of nonsense I won't put up with).

The Washington Post Style Guide Now Accepts Singular ‘They’ (Mental Floss)

Proponents of singular they have long argued that the prohibition makes no sense. Not only is it natural, it has been used in English for centuries. It’s in the King James Bible. Authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Swift, Austen, Thackeray, and Shaw used it. Before the production of school textbooks for grammar in the 19th century, no one complained about it or even noticed it. Avoiding it is awkward or necessitates sexist language.

Now, in the most recent update to The Washington Post style guide, singular they has been given official approval. Post copy editor Bill Walsh explains that he personally accepted singular they many years ago, but had stopped short of allowing it in the paper. He finally decided to endorse it in house style after coming to the conclusion that it is “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”

Other institutions are sure to follow suit.... The news of the acceptance of singular they may cause a little stir, but nobody will notice the change in action, as Walsh says, “I suspect that the singular they will go largely unnoticed even by those who oppose it on principle. We’ve used it before, if inadvertently, and I’ve never heard a complaint.”

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

Pete Seeger wrote years ago:

Well if you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
If you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
When I see innocent folks shot down,
Should I just shake my head and frown?
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
If you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
Or else it'll just be one more time
The correction creates another crime.
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

We start by giving people a simple test that measures their degree of empathy. Then we tell them some awful stories, about journalists kidnapped in the Middle East, about child abuse in the United States. And then we ask them how best to respond to those responsible for the suffering....Just as with the genetic study, we found that the more empathic people are, the more they want a harsher punishment.

Politicians are comfortable exploiting this dark side of empathy. Donald Trump likes to talk about Kate—he doesn’t use her full name, Kate Steinle, just Kate. She was murdered in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant, and Trump wants to make her real to his audience, to make vivid his talk of Mexican killers.... Trump and Coulter use these stories to stoke our feelings for innocent victims, to motivate support for policies against the immigrants who are said to prey upon these innocents.

There is a history of this sort of thing. Lynchings in the American South were often sparked by stories of white women who were assaulted by blacks, and anti-Semitic attacks prior to the Holocaust were often motivated by tales of Jews preying on innocent German children. Who isn’t enraged by someone who hurts a child?

Similar sentiments are used to start wars.

Things you should not connect to the Internet, Part LXXIII: Wind Turbines

The "Internet of Things" is mostly a bad idea being pushed by companies that want to control your stuff and snoop on you. Very few systems with physical actuators or sensors should be accessible from the public internet -- maybe an intranet at best. Here's a great example why.

Script Kiddies Can Now Launch XSS Attacks Against IoT Wind Turbines (softpedia)

After presenting the case of a gas detector that had two critical issues in its firmware, a recent ICS-CERT advisory has now drawn our attention to the XZERES 442SR, a smart wind turbine that comes equipped with a Web-based administration panel.

According to the ICS-CERT advisory, this administration panel is vulnerable to XSS (cross-site scripting) attacks that allow even the lowest-skilled hacker to take advantage of them....

...

By exploiting this attack point, hackers can lower the turbine's efficiency, indirectly cutting electrical power to the systems in accordance with its power output. Depending on what kind of systems are connected to the turbine, this can be a nuisance but can also cause a loss of sensitive equipment or even human life.
Script kiddies rejoice, an IoT hack that's n00b-friendly

While ISC-CERT and the manufacturer say that there have been no attacks carried out by this technique until now, the expertise needed to exploit this flaw is at an entry level for any InfoSec researcher.

Study says ending your texts with a period is rude.

I would guess that this perception is also based on the length of the text -- a period at the end of "Yes." is kind of weird for a text, versus a multi-sentence text ("Are you going? I'm heading there now.").

Study confirms that ending your texts with a period is terrible (Washington Post)

To test whether the period had become a social cue within the context of CMC, the researchers presented a small group (126 undergraduates — admittedly not representative of the entire global population, but at least fairly representative of the most prolific texters) with a series of exchanges framed as either text messages or handwritten notes.

...When that reply was followed by a period, subjects rated the response as less sincere than when no punctuation was used. The effect wasn't present in handwritten notes.

Buffalo buffalo lion? Buffalo buffalo lion.

Our title here is a reference to the famous "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo" sentence, but besides getting a kick out of being able to draw a tenuous connection from that to this story (and also from the fact that some friends nicknamed me "Zen Buffalo" (for reasons I've never known) at Playa Del Fuego some years back), I like how this video puts a spike in the "fierce carnivore vs. placid herbivore" myth.

Lion is sent flying after bull races to the rescue of buffalo (Mail Online)

'The second lion tried to look for an opening for the death blow to the throat, when another female buffalo started bellowing loudly and calling reinforcement from the bulls.

'The lions had now brought the old female down, and we thought the inevitable would happen.

'But the bull ran right in and dug his horns under the young lion and tossed him in the air - twice.

If mass killings disturb you, I've got bad news about American foreign policy.

Wednesday's mass shooting was horrific.

America's brutal and stupid foreign policy -- a bipartisan endeavor -- is about two orders of magnitude worse.

Do Mass Killings Bother You? (www.counterpunch.org)

We now know this. A young man who had successfully killed on a large scale went to his religious leader with doubts and was told that mass killing was part of God’s plan. The young man continued killing until he had participated in killing sprees that took 1,626 lives — men, women, and children.

I repeat: his death count was not the 16 or 9 or 22 lives that make top news stories, but 1,626 dead and mutilated bodies. Do such things bother you?

What if you learned that this young man’s name was Brandon Bryant, and that he killed as a drone pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and that he was presented with a certificate for his 1,626 kills and congratulated on a job well done by the United States of America?

No, there have not been hundreds of "mass shootings" -- unless you redefine the term

Mother Jones's reporting on guns and violence is often inaccurate. Even here MJ editor Mark Follman repeats the invalid complaint that Congress has prevented the CDC from researching gun violence -- criminal violence is the domain of criminologists, not disease experts. (The problem is that criminologists keep saying gun prohibition laws don't prevent violence, and so prohibitionists try to misapply methods from other domains to get the answer they want.) But he is spot on in this analysis of the problematic redefinition of "mass shooting".

How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really? (www.nytimes.com)

On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that “The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 35Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.5th this year.” Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics...[Y]ou could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others....

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

Islamophobia is letting the terrorists win

Naval Reserve officer and Naval War College instructor Haider Ali Hussein on how to deny victory to DAESH:

Don’t Make San Bernardino a Victory for ISIS (www.nytimes.com)

If we don’t want to play into the hands of Islamic State propaganda that America is at war with Islam, we must stand up against Islamophobia.

...
In the latest edition of the Islamic State magazine Dabiq, which glorifies the Paris attacks, a recruiter makes a telling pitch. He writes that a Muslim in the West is “a stranger amongst Christians and liberals … fornicators and sodomites … drunkards and druggies,” and must come to the Islamic State to avoid sleeping “every night with a knife or pistol … fearing an overnight or early morning raid on his home.”

The Islamic State wants every American Muslim to feel alienated. Its false utopia rests on the warped dream that the estimated three million American Muslims will believe they can no longer live, thrive and worship in peace in America. We must not let that happen, even while we remain vigilant about the few American Muslims who wish us harm.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - share and enjoy