17 September 2014

LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

0000 by Jeff Hess

This internal thread concerning events in and about Ferguson, Missouri,
is stuck to the top of the blog, newer, less vital, posts appear below.

Meanwhile, comments on PZ Myers’ Good Morning, America now exceed 1,500…

Protesters seeking the immediate arrest of the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old loudly disrupted another government meeting Tuesday, renewing calls to remove the county prosecutor investigating the case and vowing political retaliation against an elected official tied to the prosecutor.

The demand for Darren Wilson’s arrest and the recusal of the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney began with the final utterance of the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the St. Louis County Council meeting.

“For all,” crowd members shouted, emphasizing the second word, as the pledge concluded with, “and justice for all.”

A larger protest also took place a week ago, at the Ferguson City Council’s first meeting since Michael Brown’s death. That was followed by unsuccessful efforts to block an interstate highway during rush hour in a demonstration that led to 35 arrests, and a weekend demonstration in downtown Ferguson linked to calls for a boycott of local businesses.

Protest leaders said they plan to broaden their efforts with demonstrations at upcoming games hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals, who sit in first place and await a likely playoff berth, and the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, who host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

“It’s no more business as usual,” said activist Anthony Shahid, who addressed the seven council members with a noose symbolically tied around his neck.

Ferguson protesters make new call for prosecutor’s removal from The Associated Press.

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A planned highway shutdown fell through Wednesday as a wall of officers in riot gear kept people who planned to protest the Ferguson police shooting from walking onto Interstate 70 during the late afternoon commute.

State troopers and St. Louis city and county officers warned the roughly 150 demonstrators who gathered in a nearby suburb to Continue Reading »

17 September 2014

EDWARD SNOWDEN IS NOT OUR PROBLEM…

0900 by Jeff Hess

“Well prior to Edward Snowden, online jihadists were already aware that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were attempting to monitor them.” This point would seem obvious in light of the fact that terrorist groups have been employing tactics to evade digital surveillance for years. Indeed, such concerns about their use of sophisticated encryption technology predate even 9/11. Contrary to claims that such groups have fundamentally altered their practices due to information gleaned from these revelations, the report concludes. “The underlying public encryption methods employed by online jihadists do not appear to have significantly changed since the emergence of Edward Snowden.”

These findings are notable both for empirical rigor through which they ascertained, as well as their contradiction of apparently baseless statements made by high-ranking U.S. officials regarding the impact of the leaks on U.S. national security. This is particularly important as it pertains to the ongoing public debate over the alleged threat of ISIS. In making his case that the danger from ISIS to the United States is “imminent”, Marco Rubio recently claimed that the group has: “…learned a lot about our intelligence-gathering capabilities through a series of disclosures and other sorts of things, and they have become increasingly capable of evading detection.”

Earlier this month former NSA head Michael Hayden also stated, “The changed communications practices and patterns of terrorist groups following the Snowden revelations have impacted our ability to track and monitor these groups”, while Matthew Olsen of the National Counterterrorism Centre would add “Following the disclosure of the stolen NSA documents, terrorists are changing how they communicate to avoid surveillance.”

Olsen went on to say that terrorist groups are, “….moving to more secure communications platforms, using encryption and avoiding electronic communications altogether.” In fact, it’s well known that terrorist groups have employed such tactics as a means to protect their data and communications for years. Correspondingly, it’s difficult to imagine how statements suggesting that such tactics are new developments prompted by Snowden could be made in good faith.

Murtaza Hussain writing in No, Snowden’s Leaks Didn’t Help The Terrorists for The//Intercept.

17 September 2014

STEPHEN KING ON CUTTING WORDS…

0800 by Jeff Hess

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Jessica Lahey interview Stephen King in How Stephen King Teaches Writing. Here are a few bits I found interesting.

Lahey: By extension, how can writing teachers help students recognize which words are required in their own writing?

King: Always ask the student writer, “What do you want to say?” Every sentence that answers that question is part of the essay or story. Every sentence that does not needs to go. I don’t think it’s the words per se, it’s the sentences. I used to give them a choice, sometimes: either write 400 words on “My Mother is Horrible” or “My Mother is Wonderful.” Make every sentence about your choice. That means leaving your dad and your snotty little brother out of it…

Previously…

17 September 2014

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY INDEX CARD…

0700 by Jeff Hess

I am obsessed with index cards.

A number of us, actually, suffer from this condition. For several years, the largely blog-based movement known as “lifehacking” has embraced the unassuming index card as an unrivalled tool for personal organisation – a dirt-cheap, portable medium for keeping lists, taking notes, brainstorming, memorising, organising your schedule, or leaving reminders for yourself. You might recall the “Hipster PDA” – a tongue-in-cheek proposed replacement for electronic organisers, consisting of a stack of cards, a bulldog clip … and nothing else. (For more uses of index cards, see the blogger Dustin Wax’s exhaustive summary.

To get theoretical for a moment, the cards fulfil two requirements of any good information storage system. First, it’s easy to put stuff in: I’m far less likely to record a thought if I have to fiddle with a handheld device. Second, it’s easy to manipulate stuff once it’s in. You can’t, by contrast, endlessly rearrange the pages of a notebook in order to prioritise tasks, structure a piece of writing, discard things you no longer need, etc.

But might the power of index cards be greater still – mysterious, almost? I’ve wondered this ever since reading Robert Pirsig’s novel Lila, in which the lead character is a philosopher who lives on a boat, writing his magnum opus on thousands of cards. As each thought occurs, he records it. Then, for hours, he rearranges the cards, grouping similar ideas together until a structure begins to emerge, seemingly independent of his will. This kind of “emergent order” is a hallmark of the web – think Wikipedia – but it’s somehow spookier when it happens on paper, and involves only one human.

Oliver Burkeman writing in his column will change your life for The Guardian.

17 September 2014

RULE NO.77: DON’T CLEAN YOUR PLATE…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Rule No. 77 – Leave Something on Your Plate. (This one will be particularly hard, but good practice to strengthen discipline.)

From Food Rules, an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan

Previously…

Found in my electronic chapbook. See also Eating Mindfully by Jan Chozen Bey.

17 September 2014

MORE HATING ON OBMACARE A POLITICAL LOSER…

0530 by Jeff Hess

Previously…

17 September 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

(Note: Newseum doesn’t usually update the front pages until 0630 or so)

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Arrest in ’81 killing
Woman convicted of armed robberies
Harmar sidewalk work in limbo again
United Way kicks off campaign
Life after high school

Top Headlines Poll: Are more inclined to play the lottery if there’s a reallybig jackpot?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

16 September 2014

HATING ON OBMACARE A POLITICAL LOSER…

1200 by Jeff Hess

obamacare 140916
For members of Congress like my representative Republican Jim Rencci (OH-16) who put “voted to repeal Obamacare over (sic) 40 times” as his top legislative accomplishment on a recent piece of campaign literature, the above chart is very bad news. What can Renacci say when 74 percent of Republicans with the new coverage report speak favorably—are somewhat (30 percent somewhat satisfied and 44 percent very satisfied—of Obamacare.

As the law shocked detractors last spring by exceeding its enrollment targets, the anti-Obamacare community fixated on a final hope: that consumers looking to enroll this fall for next year would encounter soaring premiums. Not only has the hoped-for premium shock failed to materialize, rates seem to be coming in actually lower than this year. In a market where annual large price hikes have occurred for decades, the result is almost unfathomably positive.

Jonathan Chait writing in Ted Cruz’s Obamacare Nightmare Comes to Life for New York Magazine.

Chait concludes:

Republicans in Congress worry about passing bills that would harm consumers and companies that are participating in Obamacare… Vulnerable Republicans have calculated that the message no longer helps them. It mobilizes more potential victims against them than it mobilizes potential anti-Obamacare voters.

The Republican crusade against Obamacare is not ending; rather, it is shrinking and mutating. The party base will demand a presidential nominee who promises to repeal the hated law, just as it did in 2012. But the next Republican candidate will be running in an environment where repealing the law would create millions and millions of now-identifiable victims. Since the start of the year, Obamacare has gone from a weakness Republicans were salivating at the chance to exploit to an issue they no longer want to talk about. Two years from now, matters could be worse still.

I have to wonder how Mr. Renacci will spend his time next year, if he is reelected, without Obamacare to kick around anymore?

More…

16 September 2014

OUR MORAL STANDING IN THE WORLD…

0900 by Jeff Hess

Watching the president describing IS Wednesday night, (former U.S. Air Force drone pilot Brandon) Bryant saw the extension of what he now considers an uncountable, global killing machine.

“He calls them ‘unique in their brutality,’ but we’ve got prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that haven’t seen the light of fucking day,” Bryant says. “We’ve killed children. We’ve killed entire families getting at one or two people. We’ve killed entire weddings or funerals just to get at one or two people.”

“It doesn’t really seem like there’s much of a difference in our military actions versus what they do, other than we justify it because they’re a terrorist group and we’re an official government,” he adds.“I’m pretty sure that acts of barbarism like we have would be considered acts of terrorism by anyone else in the world.”

Ryan Devereaux writing in Those Who’ve Seen Bloodshed Warn of Endless, Brutal War in Iraq for The //Intercept

16 September 2014

STEPHEN KING ON SENTENCE DIAGRAMMING…

0800 by Jeff Hess

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Jessica Lahey interview Stephen King in How Stephen King Teaches Writing. Here are a few bits I found interesting.

Lahey: While I love teaching grammar, I am conflicted on the utility of sentence diagramming. Did you teach diagramming, and if so, why?

King: I did teach it, always beginning by saying, “This is for fun, like solving a crossword puzzle or a Rubik’s Cube.” I told them to approach it as a game. I gave them sentences to diagram as homework but promised I would not test on it, and I never did. Do you really teach diagramming? Good for you! I didn’t think anyone did anymore.

16 September 2014

UP THE WELSH…!

0730 by Jeff Hess

plaid cymru 140916

Also…

16 September 2014

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY

0700 by Jeff Hess

We face a “coming dark age”, cautions Maggie Jackson in Distracted, one of the better recent works on the topic. She fears an “attention-deficit future” in which we’ll live shallow, fragmented, joyless lives, robbed of our powers of “deep focus”.

It doesn’t disprove this thesis to observe that people have been saying similar things at least since the invention of the telegraph. “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times,” wrote the wise Trappist monk Thomas Merton in the 1960s, long before the web, or BlackBerrys, or the first use of the word “multitasking” as applied to human activity. “Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace.”

Oliver Burkeman writing in his column will change your life for The Guardian.

Meanwhile, in the Duncan household

16 September 2014

THE WAY OUT FROM THE BOSS’ EVERWAR…

0630 by Jeff Hess

zits 080301 140916

16 September 2014

RULE NO. 76: PUT FLOWERS ON THE TABLE…

0600 by Jeff Hess

Rule No. 76 – Place a Bouquet of Flowers on the Table and Everything Will Taste Twice as Good.

From Food Rules, an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan

Previously…

Found in my electronic chapbook. See also Eating Mindfully by Jan Chozen Bey.

16 September 2014

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO…?

0530 by Jeff Hess

non sequitur 140916

16 September 2014

NOT THE MARIETTA TIMES

0500 by Jeff Hess

TODAY’S MARIETTA TIMES FRONT PAGE

(Note: Newseum doesn’t usually update the front pages until 0630 or so)

Today’s headlines include:

Local News

Notorious lots
Children Services levy to help families
Man admits selling drugs to informant
Body found in home gutted by fire
Warren on track with middle school plan

Top Headlines Poll: How do you winterize in your house?

Great pictures of Marietta

What’s going on here

Previously

15 September 2014

WHAT THE FECK HAPPENED TO IRELAND…?

1930 by Jeff Hess

John Oliver does a good job here, but what caught my eye was the way The Republic Of Ireland is photoshopped out of the map to Oliver’s right (upper left from the viewer’s perspective).

15 September 2014

POLITICAL PARTY EMERGES IN NEW ZEALAND…

0900 by Jeff Hess

New Zealand’s national election will be held on September 20. Over the last several weeks, Key has been embroiled in a scandal that saw a top minister resign, after independent journalist Nicky Hager published a book, Dirty Politics, documenting ties between Key officials and a right-wing blogger known for attacking public figures and showing that Key officials declassified information for political purposes.

Revelations of illegal GCSB spying prompted the creation of the anti-surveillance Internet Party, which formed an alliance with the left-wing, indigenous Mana Party and is predicted to win several seats in Parliament.

Glenn Greenwald writing in New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While Publicly Denying It for The//Intercept.

15 September 2014

TRACKING, TRACKING, TRRAAACCCCKKKKKING…

0830 by Jeff Hess

Chokepoint from The Intercept on Vimeo.

Via Map of the Stars: The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies.

15 September 2014

SNOWDEN SPEAKS TO NEW ZEALANDERS…

0800 by Jeff Hess

The GCSB provides mass surveillance data into XKEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at facilities such as the GCSB station at Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact. Importantly, they do not merely use XKEYSCORE, but also actively and directly develop mass surveillance algorithms for it. GCSB’s involvement with XKEYSCORE is not a theory, and it is not a future plan. The claim that it never went ahead, and that New Zealand merely “looked at” but never participated in the Five Eyes’ system of mass surveillance is false, and the GCSB’s past and continuing involvement with XKEYSCORE is irrefutable.

But what does it mean?

It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.

Faced with reasonable doubts, ask yourself just what it is that stands between these most deeply personal communications and the governments of not just in New Zealand, but also the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia?

The answer is that solitary checkbox, the Five Eyes Defeat. One checkbox is what separates our most sacred rights from the graveyard of lost liberty. When an officer of the government wants to know everything about everyone in their society, they don’t even have to make a technical change. They simply uncheck the box. The question before us is no longer “why was this done without the consent and debate of the people of this country,” but “what are we going to do about it?”

This government may have total control over the checkbox today, but come Sept. 20, New Zealanders have a checkbox of their own. If you live in New Zealand, whatever party you choose to vote for, bear in mind the opportunity to send a message that this government won’t need to spy on us to hear: The liberties of free people cannot be changed behind closed doors. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to restore our democracies. It’s time to take back our rights. And it starts with you.

Edward Snowden writing in New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance for The//Intercept.

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