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20 Nov 15:11

Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

by John Scalzi

So, this week.

The last few days are a reminder that a large number of Americans are in fact shrieking, bigoted cowards, and that's a sad thing, indeed.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) November 19, 2015

Seriously, I don’t think the bedwetting about Muslims has been this bad in a very long time, which is saying something, and the panic on Syrian refugees is particularly ridiculous. Here’s a nice, juicy quote from a just released essay on the subject:

Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States and none was successfully carried out.  That is one terrorism-planning conviction for a refugee for every 286,543 of them who have been admitted.  To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.  The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough…

The security threat posed by refugees in the United States is insignificant.  Halting America’s processing of refugees due to a terrorist attack in another country that may have had one asylum-seeker as a co-plotter would be an extremely expensive overreaction to very minor threat.

What horrifyingly liberal commie soviet came up with this load of codswallop? The Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, i.e., the fellow who with his brother is currently trying to buy the entire right side of the political spectrum for his own personal ends. When the Cato Institute is telling you to maybe take down the pearl-clutching over the Syrian refugees a notch or two, it’s an indication that you’ve lost all perspective.

It’s been particularly embarrassing how the mostly-but-not-exclusively (and thankfully not all-encompassing) GOP/conservative politician freakout about the Syrian refugees points out that, why, hello, bigotry really is a thing, still. From small-town mayors declaring that FDR had it right when he put all those US citizens of Japanese descent into camps to presidential candidates alluding that might not actually be a bad idea to make special IDs exclusively for Muslims here in the US, to the House of Representatives passing a bill to piss on the Syrian refugees, it’s been a banner week for bigotry here in the US, enough so that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement of concern with reference to the Syrian refugees. And as many have noted, there is irony in the freakout about Syrian refugees coming into a season which celebrates a notable middle eastern family who famously were refugees at one point in their history, according to some tales.

But as this asshole politician said this week, “Mary and Jesus didn’t have suicide bomb vests strapped on them, and these folks do.” Well, no, they don’t. Leaving aside that the perpetrators on the attacks in Paris all appeared to live in Europe to begin with, the actual process for placing refugees in new countries is so long and arduous and so selective, with just 1% of applicants being placed, that (as the Cato Institute astutely notes) there’s a vanishingly small chance that someone with ill intent will make it through the process at all — and an even smaller chance that they would be assigned to the US when all the vetting is done. To worry about terrorists in the refugee pool is, flatly, stupid — no terrorist organization is going to pour resources into an avenue with such a small chance of success, especially when it’s easier to apply for a friggin’ visa and get on a plane (they can buy their guns when they get here, don’t you know). The reasons why so many people are voiding their bowels about it are simple: Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry.

“But people are scared!” Okay, and? Being scared may be the excuse for abandoning all sense and reason in the moment one is actively under attack; it’s not even close to a reasonable excuse for, thousands of miles away from an attack and with no immediate threat on the horizon, vilifying innocent co-religionists of the attackers and plotting to slam the door on refugees running from the very people who claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks. Taking the Paris attacks out on Syrian refugees is security theater — it doesn’t make us safer, it’ll just make the most ignorant among us feel safer. It’s the TSA of solutions to the Daesh/ISIS problem.

This has been a bad week for the United States, folks. France was directly attacked by terrorists and its response was to promise to house 30,000 Syrian refugees; we weren’t and one branch of our government fell over itself to put the brakes on accepting a third of that number. France is defying the very organization that attacked it while we, on the other hand, are doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do. We’re being the cowardly bigots they hoped we would be, and as loudly as possible.

So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it.

20 Nov 00:00

Five-Day Forecast

You know what they say--if you don't like the weather here in the Solar System, just wait five billion years.
19 Nov 17:32

falseredstart: in which it appears like I wore the same outfit...


in which it appears like I wore the same outfit for three months

(I guess I kind of did)

What biologists actually do…

19 Nov 17:26

An animal filled a microwave antenna with over 300 pounds of acorns

by Mark Frauenfelder

Who stuffed this microwave antenna to the bursting point with 300 pounds (about 35-50 gallons) of acorns?


19 Nov 20:23

Caterpillar's heavy vehicles are killswitched subprime computers on wheels

by Cory Doctorow


In an earnings call in which Caterpillar execs explained their dismal takings to investors, Cat execs explained their plan to grow by leasing tractors to Chinese companies with crummy track-records for payment. (more…)

19 Nov 03:27

iran-daily: Religious scholar Reza Aslan answers CNN’s...


Religious scholar Reza Aslan answers CNN’s question, “Does Islam promote violence?”

CNN is all, “Yeah, but that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

19 Nov 02:23

The US government turned down Anne Frank's visa application

by Cory Doctorow


Otto Frank sought help from his college friend Nathan Strauss Jr, the son of the owner of Macy's, to get a US visa, but the US State Department turned him and his family down. (more…)

18 Nov 15:21

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Bacon is Literally Cancer


Hovertext: Weinersmith vs. WHO reporting, Round 1.

New comic!
Today's News:

 Our latest book did wildly better than expected. Thank you for your generosity and support! 

18 Nov 21:05

After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS

After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS:

“In the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times even having to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.

“Yet pushed by their sources in the government, the media quickly became a sound wall of noise suggesting that encryption was hampering the government’s ability to stop these kinds of attacks. NBC was particularly breathless this week over the idea that ISIS was now running a 24 hour help desk aimed at helping its less technically proficient members understand encryption (even cults help each other use technology, who knew?). All of the reports had one central, underlying drum beat implication: Edward Snowden and encryption have made us less safe, and if you disagree the blood is on your hands.

“Yet amazingly enough, as actual investigative details emerge, it appears that most of the communications between the attackers was conducted via unencrypted vanilla SMS”

Much more, including links to citations, at Techdirt.

18 Nov 17:48



18 Nov 15:53

"When candidates say, we wouldn’t admit three-year-old orphans – that’s political..."

When candidates say, we wouldn’t admit three-year-old orphans – that’s political posturing.  When individuals say that we should have a religious test and that only Christians—proven Christians—should be admitted—that’s offensive and contrary to American values.

   I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West. And when you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility, suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.

   And I would add, by the way, these are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL, or using some additional rhetoric somehow is going to solve the problems out there. But apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.

- More President Obama, rejecting the reflexive posturing and fear-mongering that is endemic to the GOP.
18 Nov 14:22

EU official: all identified Paris attackers were from the EU

by Cory Doctorow


Despite the rumors that tricked more than half the state governors in the USA into enacting racist anti-Syrian policies, there is no evidence that the Paris attackers came from outside the EU. (more…)

17 Nov 05:01


by Robot Hugs

New comic!

This is my humble entry into the toolset of gender-focused media criticism. Enjoy.


17 Nov 13:40

thechronicleofshe: centelle: OH MY FUCK GOD SHIT GREATEST...




when a cat likes you, its like being elected president.

when a bird likes you, its like being chosen King Arthur, ruler of albion, the once and future king, gifted with Excalibur, born of blood and magic

17 Nov 11:27

We treat terrorism as more costly than it truly is

by Cory Doctorow


The deaths from terrorism are unspeakable tragedies. It goes without saying. But the mortality due to terrorism -- total deaths per capita -- are very low, lower than car-wrecks or traditional murder. Likewise, the costs from terrorism -- damage to physical structures, damage to economies -- are high, but, when you look at the numbers, you find they're just not that high. (more…)

17 Nov 18:33

okbjgm: it’s a damn shame that the christian faith doesn’t have...


it’s a damn shame that the christian faith doesn’t have a formative parable about providing shelter to displaced, persecuted middle-easterners.

16 Nov 09:48

Adam 2.0

Adam 2.0
16 Nov 21:18

How scientists trick themselves (and how they can prevent it)

by Cory Doctorow


A smashing editorial in Nature catalogs the many ways in which scientists end up tricking themselves into seeing evidence that isn't there, resulting in publishing false positive. Many of these are familiar to people who follow behavioral economics (and readers of Predictably Irrational). But, significantly, the article advocates a series of evidence-supported techniques (some very simple, others a little more mostly/tricky) to counter them. (more…)

16 Nov 15:48

How terrorists trick Western governments into doing their work for them

by Cory Doctorow


Terrorism's goal is to commit frightening, high-profile crimes that scare people into making rash, expensive decisions that make the world look like the terrorists would like to see it. (more…)

16 Nov 23:18

How can anybody be sucked in by such shallow and deceptive...

How can anybody be sucked in by such shallow and deceptive swill? It’s not like it is in any way convincing or genuine – or even rational. It’s pure bullshit and obviously so. Someone wrote a diary that ‘the democratic insiders’ didn’t think Bernie did well in the debate. Wait! What? The establishment doesn’t like Bernie? The establishment is willing to tell any fucking lie at all on Bernie? No shit, Sherlock.


This shit is getting old. Why does anyone still fall for it? Why would progressives back Wall Street? Why would the victims of the ongoing class war support the 1% who started it and who are ruthlessly waging war on us? What kind of wacky Stockholm Syndrome bullshit is going on here?

She told Wall Street, “Cut it out!” and took their millions because 9/11

16 Nov 23:26

"No one was more energized by the news from France than the Republicans running for president, who..."

“No one was more energized by the news from France than the Republicans running for president, who fell all over each other trying to see who could sound the toughest. Marco Rubio declared, “This is a clash of civilizations,” as though ISIS were in fact its own civilization. Ben Carson, displaying his usual commitment to factual accuracy, attacked the Obama administration for “bringing 200,000 people over here from that region,” even though the actual number of refugees we plan to take in is only 10,000. Speaking of which, Ted Cruz said that we should accept only Christian refugees, a position made all the more heartwarming by the fact that he said it at a “rally for religious liberty.” Mike Huckabee released a statement saying that because of the attack we should revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran, I guess because all Muslims are scary.
And Jeb Bush, super-macho-man that he is, said “We should declare war” on ISIS, apparently because he doesn’t know what it actually means to declare war. And that’s not to mention the inane attacks on Hillary Clinton for her unwillingness to repeat the words “radical Islam,” as though doing so would actually accomplish anything.”

- Republicans understand full well that having sober, detailed discussions about foreign policy and terrorism don’t play quite as well for them. Fear, though? Fear is electoral gold for the GOP.
16 Nov 14:16

Our Generation Ships Will Sink

by Kim Stanley Robinson


“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.”

—Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Humanity traveling to the stars is an ancient dream, and a late nineteenth and early twentieth century project, proposed quickly after the first developments in rocketry. The idea spread through world culture, mainly by way of science fiction. Countless stories described people visiting planets orbiting other stars, and by a process of cultural diffusion, space travel became one part of a plausible and widely-held consensus future for humanity, a future we seemed to moving into with accelerating speed as the twentieth century progressed.

With the enormous successes of Star Trek and Star Wars, the idea was firmly planted in the popular imagination: if we survived as a species, we would be moving out into the galaxy. This awesome diaspora would mark our maturity or success as a species, and would enable us to outlive the Earth itself, should it suffer a natural disaster or be destroyed by some human folly. The thought of long-term galactic survival for humanity was comforting to some, and in any case it seemed inevitable, humanity’s fate or destiny. When we landed people on the moon in 1969, and robots on Mars in 1976, it seemed we were already on the way. (more…)

16 Nov 22:47

Microscale spacecraft explores white space

by Rod

The latest creation from Tim Goddard (aka roguebantha) is a beautiful microscale space exploration vehicle. It’s a great model with a real sense of heft – you can just imagine it pushing its bulk out into the cosmos, the crew peering out from the stubby bridge.

The Azure medium explorer

The build features a load of Tim’s signature greebles, the fiddly grey machinery details which do so much to suggest the model is much bigger than it is. Alongside those, the azure striping is an obvious treat against the relatively blank canvas of the white hull. The way the stripe continues back around the domes and the little disc at the rear is just clean and classy building. Tim says this model was an exploration in broadening his use of color. It’s a success as far as I’m concerned.

But away from the colors, what I’m enjoying most is the little gaps in the main body, offering glimpses of machinery within. All too often spaceship models can look as if they’re just tombstones of bricks strapped sideways onto a hollow shell. The gaps here suggest there’s actual stuff going on inside that pretty hull – a really nice little touch.

16 Nov 23:11

mediamattersforamerica: An important perspective in light of...


An important perspective in light of recent events.

Watch this. 

16 Nov 14:00

Know What I Meme?

by john (the hubby of Jen)



















Thanks to David N., Jill H., Jennifer P., Felicity G., Leslie O., and Liz A. for the werk dern mermery lern.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

15 Nov 21:59

Anne Frank Scandal: An Underreported Copyright Monopoly Abuse

by Rick Falkvinge

copyright-brandedAnne Frank‘s Diary, if you haven’t heard of it, is the notes of a girl who hid in Amsterdam from the nazis toward the end of World War II. Sadly, she didn’t make it, and died at nazi hands in 1945.

Her diary has become a seminal work to understand what people in the occupied countries went through on a personal level, beyond the statistics. It was compiled after her death and after the war by her father, Otto Frank.

As Anne Frank died in 1945, this work would be elevated to the public domain in six weeks, on January 1, 2016 – 70 years after her death. However, the foundation that holds the copyright (and therefore collects a significant amount of money from this work) is now trying an obvious abuse of their monopoly, by suddenly naming her father Otto a co-author of her diary where he was previously just an editor. This move purportedly extends their own monopoly on the piece of heritage by decades – all the way through 2050 – out of the blue.

What’s really infuriating about this is how oldmedia doesn’t call it out as fraud at all, but takes a completely neutral stance. Most outlets seem to be rewrites of the New York Times story, which just neutrally reports “the book now has a co-author”, quotes a few people in the worst form of abdicative “he-said-she-said journalism”, and leaves it at that.

Let’s be clear on three points here: One, this is a fraud committed for the sole purpose of preventing the work from being elevated to the public domain; two, it is committed now as the book would otherwise be elevated to the public domain a mere six weeks from now — if Otto Frank was objectively a co-author, it would reasonably have said so from the beginning, and not when then monopoly was down to the wire; and three, oldmedia remains abysmally ignorant of how the copyright monopoly is used to punish and withhold, rather than the illusory encourage and reward.

Not one single oldmedia outlet has called out the fraud, even though it’s right in their face.

The tech outlets are less inhibited. BoingBoing is much more upright, calling it fraud in the very header.

The thing is that this ignorance is endemic to oldmedia. The Internet is the single most important piece of infrastructure we have, and policymakers are letting an old printing monopoly decide how it can and cannot be used – which should be cause for revolts and uprisings. Instead, oldmedia are collectively treating it with a yawn, while tech writers who understand the issue are calling a spade a spade.

What’s worse, it’s widely assumed that the cost of the monopoly is zero. But as BoingBoing observes, there have been two houses fighting in lockstep over petty monopolies to bring the story of Anne Frank to the world – and seeing how that number is typically limited to one, now that it’s evidently possible to have two, what sets a cap at two? Why can’t it be two hundred or two thousand?

That’s the harm of the copyright monopoly. Putting it differently, were it not for the copyright monopoly, we wouldn’t have had seven Harry Potter books but rather upwards of seven thousand, many utter crap but some outright stellar. There’s a real cultural cost, a real cost to our common heritage, right there. That’s how the copyright monopoly punishes and withholds us all.

And oldmedia is completely oblivious to it.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

Follow @Falkvinge

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

15 Nov 07:25

Going to the market

Going to the market

14 Nov 20:30

"[I]n the wake of a terror attack, Step One is to forget about “the score” completely..."

“[I]n the wake of a terror attack, Step One is to forget about “the score” completely …
So the next time you turn on the news and see that terrorists have blown up 10 children with a car bomb, that’s the first step: Realize that the scoreboard lies. It will tell you that winning the game means dropping bombs that you know full well will splatter ten times as many children as collateral damage. The score — the real score — would then be:
Violence Against Children 110, Humanity 0
When a bunch of terrorists blow up a school or shoot up an office full of cartoonists, do you think it’s because they don’t know we have guns and bombs and drones? You think they do what they do because they believe we’re “too weak to strike back” and that we thus need to “show them how strong we are?” …
They know exactly what we’re going to do: We’re going to overreact. We do it every time. That’s why they do it. So stop, step back, and understand something that most of America doesn’t:
They do what they do, because they know we’re too weak to resist striking back.
Our knee-jerk, bomb-dropping reflex is our weakness. They are trying to exploit it, because retaliation bombings are how they recruit more terrorists to their side. And please note that when I talk about their “side,” I’m not talking about Islam, or even Islamic terrorism. Their “side” is what I’m going to henceforth call Team Violence … The bully doesn’t fight because he wants to win; he fights because he wants a world in which everything is resolved by fighting (note: The bully himself doesn’t realize this). It doesn’t matter if he loses — the moment you chose to fight, his side already won, and the world becomes more like the world he wants to live in …
In other words, “We can’t beat them, unless we become more like them.” It’s like a doctor telling you he’s going to get rid of your tumor by growing a bigger, meaner tumor next to it. Even if it works, Team Cancer wins, and you just fell for a scam that has been tripping up humanity for 200,000 years or so.”

- David Wong’s “6 Ways to Keep Terrorists From Ruining the World.”
14 Nov 19:49

(via TrollX)

(via TrollX)

13 Nov 11:33

Birthdays Are Weird

by Tim Urban

To best understand this comic, read this post first, or at least look at this drawing.


My birthday was yesterday. Here’s what this week has been like:

Mountain Monday


Mountain Tuesday


Mountain Wednesday




Mountain Friday

The post Birthdays Are Weird appeared first on Wait But Why.