NC small town bans solar farms over ridiculous fears

The only problem with democracy is the people. (But it's an even worse problem in every other system we've come up with.)

Woodland rejects solar farm (www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com)

During the public comment period preceding the rezoning vote, citizens expressed distrust and fear of the solar panels.

Calling out the militia in Maryland in 1942

At the always interesting blog "The Volokh Conspiracy", David Kopel has dug up a 1942 decree by Maryland governor Herbert O’Conor calling on armed citizens to serve in a reserve militia to defend the state against Axis "parachute troops, saboteurs, or organized raiding parties" or the actions of "enemy sympathizers within our State". It's notable for its plain statement that volunteers would be expected to provide their own weapons and would be expected to have basic competence with them -- even at this relatively recent date when the standing army was well-established as a tool of American imperialism and the foundations of the military-industrial complex had been laid.

This is what the "well-regulated militia" in Amendment II means -- a citizen body familiar with the use of arms is necessary for the security of the nation. ("Well-regulated" here does not have the meaning of "subject to extenisve regulatory law" but rather "effective and precise" -- in the same way that a mechanical timepiece is "regulated". In order to have people familiar with arms, it is necessary for the people to have them. Therefore, the Second Amendment tells us, the new nation shall not interfere with the vitally important -- not just for individual liberty but for the security of the nation -- natural right of the people to arm themselves.

Misplaced planes and the incompetence of businesses

747s are rather large and expensive pieces of equipment. It takes a major screwup to misplace one. Yet some company (perhaps Swift Air Cargo left *three* of them sitting around in Kuala Lumpur.

Free-market fundamentalists are fond of claiming that the private sector is more efficient and competent than the government. I have to wonder if such people have ever worked in the private sector. Incompetence is the rule everywhere, from government agencies to Fortune 500 companies to microbusinesses. And that should leave us concerned about not just allocating too much power to the state but also about creating powerful state-backed legal structures like "corporations" -- or even "property" itself -- which can let incompetence steamroll over people.

Kuala Lumpur airport seeks owner of 'abandoned' jets - BBC News (BBC News)

Officials at Malaysia's main airport have taken out a newspaper advert seeking the owner of three Boeing 747 jets they say have been left unclaimed.

The notice said if the owners "fail to collect the aircraft within 14 days..., we reserve the right to sell or otherwise dispose of the aircraft".

It said fees for landing and parking were also owed.

An airport official was quoted as saying they had tried to contact the jets' last known owners.

"I don't know why they are not responding. There could be many reasons. Sometimes it could be because they have no money to continue operations," Zainol Mohd Isa, general manager of Malaysia Airports, told AFP.

Oklahoma City cop Daniel Holtzclaw convicted of using position to commit rape

When you create a criminal class by means of laws prohibiting consensual acts, you create a class ripe for exploitation by cops. The blame for this lies not just with the monstrous Holtzclaw and whoever of his colleagues covered for him and maintained the blue wall of silence, but with every legislator who voted for criminalizing drug use and prostitution and every voter who supported such laws.

Former Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw Found Guilty Of Rape (BuzzFeed)

Former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape — first and second degree — as well as sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition, and forcible oral sodomy.

Holtzclaw has been on trial since Nov. 2. He was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women in the community he patrolled from December 2013 to June 2014. His 36 charges ranged from stalking and indecent exposure to forcible sodomy and rape. Of the 36, he was found guilty of 18.

...Prosecutors say that Holtzclaw deliberately chose women he thought were unlikely to be believed — black women with criminal records from an impoverished neighborhood.

Six of the women alleged that Holtzclaw raped them — he was found guilty of four of the six charges. He was found not guilty of a handful of the lesser charges, including two rape charges, one rape by instrumentation charge, four sexual battery charges, three forcible oral sodomy charges, five procuring lewd exhibition charges, and one charge each of burglary, stalking, and indecent exposure.

...

The defense pointed out that most of these women had criminal records — charges related to prostitution, drugs, assault and battery — and that some had provided police over the years with multiple aliases, social security numbers, phone numbers, and birthdates.

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.

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