"test" of bulletproof vest leads to murder charges

Posted on: Sun, 07/27/2014 - 01:46 By: Tom Swiss

Doing stupid things can get you killed.

Man charged with shooting friend in botched test of bulletproof vest in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun)

Three people stood in the basement of a Westport home before 4 a.m. Wednesday to film a stunt in which they planned to test a bulletproof vest. Darnell Mitchell put it on, looked into a video camera and proclaimed himself ready to take "deuce deuce in the chest."

But, police said, Mark Ramiro missed the body armor when he pulled the trigger on the .22 caliber handgun, and he now faces murder charges in the 28-year-old's death.

Roko’s Basilisk and the ridiculous side of technofuturism

Posted on: Fri, 07/25/2014 - 09:34 By: Tom Swiss

I am interested in technology -- my degrees are in Computer Science, after all, and I still mostly pay the bills by creating software and wrangling machines. And I am interested in the future, since as the cliche goes, that's where we'll spend the rest of out lives. But hardcore technofuturism is full of pathetic, confused people, like poor Ray Kurzweil, who wants to build a computer simulation of his dead father. It's mostly old silly religious ideas dressed up in new silly science fiction. They replaced the Rapture with the Singularity, and now they're replaced Pascal's Wager with Roko’s Basilisk. It would merely be sad-to-amusing -- except that some of these people have a lot of money and influence.

The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time (Slate)

One day, LessWrong user Roko postulated a thought experiment: What if, in the future, a somewhat malevolent AI were to come about and punish those who did not do its bidding? What if there were a way (and I will explain how) for this AI to punish people today who are not helping it come into existence later? In that case, weren’t the readers of LessWrong right then being given the choice of either helping that evil AI come into existence or being condemned to suffer?

... It was a thought experiment so dangerous that merely thinking about it was hazardous not only to your mental health, but to your very fate.

separate entrances for the working class

Posted on: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 00:18 By: Tom Swiss

Is it time to sharpen the guillotines and give the aristocrats what they deserve yet?

Building Will Have a Separate Door for Poor (Daily Intelligencer)

New York City moved just a little closer to all-out class warfare over the weekend, when the Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved a plan for an Upper West Side condo building with a separate door for the poorer people who are being allowed to live there. Extell Development, the company building the 33-story luxury complex at 40 Riverside Drive, proposed the controversial arrangement last year as part of its application for the Inclusionary Housing Program, which gives developers tax credits and other perks in exchange for creating some affordable units alongside their less affordable ones.

big hole in Obamacare?

Posted on: Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:30 By: Tom Swiss

Courts should go with what the law -- be it the Constitution or the ACA -- actually says, not with what we want it to say, not what we believe is fair, or what we believe the authors meant to say, or even what the authors say they meant to say. Laws are insanely complex enough without adding "well, it says this, but that's not what it means" to it." "Original intent" is a bogus legal philosophy.

Now, I haven't looked up the text of the law. If it's true (as the article claims) that "other portions of the law specifically say that a federal exchange set up for a state is by definition a state exchange" for purposes of the Act, then this doesn't reflect what the law actually says and will certainly be overturned. If that's not true, if there is a gaping hole in the law as written, blame lies with the politicians who wrote it, voted for it, and signed it into law, not with judges who discovered the error and applied it as written.

Two Republican Judges Gut Obamacare, Threatening Health Care For Millions (The Huffington Post)

The two judges seized on text within the law that said subsidies would be provided to people who purchased insurance on exchanges established by the states. But 36 states declined to set up their own exchanges, and chose to rely on the federal government's exchange instead. Because the law doesn't specifically say that people who bought insurance on the federal exchange also get subsidies, the law's opponents argued that therefore such subsidies are illegal.

"The problem confronting the [ACA] is that subsidies also turn on a third attribute of Exchanges: who established them. Under section 36B, subsidies are available only for plans 'enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the [ACA],'" the majority opinion ruled, rejecting the counter-argument that other portions of the law specifically say that a federal exchange set up for a state is by definition a state exchange.

screw the forest, we need another Walmart!

Posted on: Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:08 By: Tom Swiss


Endangered Florida Forest Lands To Be Bulldozed For A Walmart (The Huffington Post)

In a move that’s enraging environmentalists, the University of Miami in early July sold 88 acres of endangered pine rockland in Miami-Dade County. The purchaser, Palm Beach County developer Ram Realty Services, will clear out much of the area and punch in a 158,000-square-foot Walmart, as well as an LA Fitness, Chik-fil-A, Chili’s and 900 apartments, the Miami Herald reports.

Preservationists worry the development will strip the land of its rare plants and harm its threatened and endangered animals, including two rare butterflies, the bald eagle, the indigo snake and the Florida bonneted bat, per the Herald.

Russian conspiracy theories on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:10 By: Tom Swiss

I thought the 9/11 truthers had taken the art of the paranoid conspiracy theory as far as it could go, but wow, I think we have a new champion.

The Russian Public Has a Totally Different Understanding of What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (New Republic)

And that’s when they’re not simply peddling conspiracy theories, which have become a kind of symbiotic feedback loop between state TV and the most inventive corners of the Internet. The best of the bunch is, of course, an elaborate one: MH17 is actually MH370, that Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared into the Indian Ocean. According to this theory, the plane didn’t disappear at all, “it was taken to an American military base, Diego-Garcia.”

Then it was taken to Holland. On the necessary day and hour, it flew out, bound for Malaysia, but inside were not live people, but corpses. The plane was flown not by real pilots; it was on autopilot. Or take-off (a complicated procedure) was executed by live pilots, who then ejected on parachutes. Then the plane flew automatically. In the necessary spot, it was blown up, without even using a surface-to-air missile. Instead the plane was packed with a bomb, just like the CIA did on 9/11.

NYPD cop chokes man to death for allegedly selling loosies

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2014 - 09:47 By: Tom Swiss

Eric Garner was killed by a New York City police officer last Thursday, choked to death in an assault by several cops. The crime of which he was accused? Selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Witnesses say he had just broken up a fight, but rather than pursue and investigate that act of violence they harassed, assaulted, and murdered Garner.

Two officers and four EMTs and paramedics have been suspended over the incident, pending investigation.

About 500 Americans are killed by police each year. Some of those, of course, are legitimate cases of defense, but "police privilege", the perceived "right" of cops to harass, beat, taze, pepper-spray, and shoot civilians who don't properly knuckle-under, is becoming more and more of a threat to our lives and liberty.

Staten Island man dies after NYPD cop puts him in chokehold — SEE THE VIDEO (NY Daily News)

A 400-pound asthmatic Staten Island dad died Thursday after a cop put him in a chokehold and other officers appeared to slam his head against the sidewalk, video of the incident shows.


But Esaw Garner and other family members said it was a trumped up claim.

“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” she said. Garner’s family said he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death.

Gaza assault is (partly) about the gas

Posted on: Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:09 By: Tom Swiss

Of course fossil fuels aren't the only reason for the conflict; a century of invasion, theft, oppression, war crimes, and "terrorism" on both sides, creates plenty of momentum of its own, and add in the fact that some of these people think that their god promised this piece of real estate to one ethnic group or another, and there's already plenty of mess. But add gas fields to the equation and it becomes clearer why we can't even have a sane dialog about the topic.

IDF's Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis (the Guardian)

According to Anais Antreasyan in the University of California's Journal of Palestine Studies, the most respected English language journal devoted to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel's stranglehold over Gaza has been designed to make "Palestinian access to the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas wells impossible." Israel's long-term goal "besides preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their own resources, is to integrate the gas fields off Gaza into the adjacent Israeli offshore installations." This is part of a wider strategy of:

"…. separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA, from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources."


Unfortunately, for the IDF uprooting Hamas means destroying the group's perceived civilian support base – which is why Palestinian civilian casualties massively outweigh that of Israelis. Both are obviously reprehensible, but Israel's capacity to inflict destruction is simply far greater.

the spectacle of Israeli war crimes in Gaza

Posted on: Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:45 By: Tom Swiss

Because there's nothing as entertaining as war crimes. It's long past time for the U.S. to end all military support to the Israel. Free Palestine.

Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats

Last Wednesday night, as he stood on a hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot and watched the bombardment of Gaza on the plain below, a Danish newspaper reporter snapped an iPhone photo of about a dozen locals who cheered on their military from plastic chairs while eating popcorn.


When the bombs find their targets, Mr. Krak reported, “cheers break out on the hill, followed by solid applause.”

‘No illeagles here' graffiti

Posted on: Wed, 07/16/2014 - 09:43 By: Tom Swiss

No ill eagles! Quarantine them! <headdesk>

Immigration reform is a complicated subject, calling for a careful balance of humanitarian, economic, and cultural factors. It should be approached with a cool head and a warm heart. This...is pretty much the exact opposite of what's needed.

Graffiti on proposed shelter for immigrant children in Maryland: ‘No illeagles here.’ (Washington Post)

As news spread this weekend that undocumented immigrant children might soon live in a former military facility in this town, graffiti appeared on the one-story brick building: “No illeagles here. No undocumented Democrats.”

Aside from the misspelling — which prompted some snickering about sick birds of prey as a photo circulated on Facebook on Sunday — the scrawled message was a manifestation of the bitter national debate over how the government should treat these undocumented children.

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