Tag Archives: violence

“At least it was a peaceful transition”

I’ve heard in a few places something along the lines of “well the election was rough but it was a peaceful transition and for that we should be thankful.” But the amount of violence that the Trump campaign carried with it isn’t inconsiderable.

The constant encouragements from top to bottom to assault and even kill those that disagree, or those that are different; the constant threats during the campaign to levy the coercive force of the state against his opponent, the press, protesters, latin@s, Muslims; the direct violence threatened and now in the process of being perpetrated on some thirty million Americans soon to lose healthcare they’re paying for; the violence involved in wresting from women self-determination over their own bodies; these are all things that occurred not only throughout the campaign but have carried over in the transition and into the new administration.

The only thing we’re missing at this point is for Trump to begin that levying of state power against Clinton as he repeatedly promised in the form of illegitimate prosecution, or utilize the same or similar resources to directly pursue and punish journalists that published anything not laudatory. And we’re only one day into his term.

This wasn’t a peaceful transition. The specter of violence threatening life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for anyone not white, male, healthy, able-bodied, and Republican has been ever-present and continues to loom over the Capitol.

For god’s sake, not the windows!


Oh heavens, oh my, oh deary me, the young people are breaking corporation windows in Washington DC. It’s like they’re mad or something, in the week or so in which healthcare was stripped and on the day that climate change and LGBT protection policies were scrubbed, along with the DOJ beginning to drop voting rights protection cases. I for one am shocked that anyone could be angry enough to cause property damage as a cabal of old white men explicitly and purposely wreck their circumstances, country, planet and future.

As the Department of Education is handed to a dilettante billionaire who believes it’s her duty to defund public schooling in favor of private Christian religious education, the Department of Energy is handed to a man that didn’t know what it did but wanted to abolish it anyway, the Environmental Protection Agency is handed to a man that sued it multiple times to block important regulations, the Department of State is handed to an oil executive that’s close enough friends with the anti-gay, anti-human rights authoritarian leader of Russia, and the Department of the Treasury is handed to a Goldman Sachs executive who failed to disclose A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS IN ASSETS.

I can’t imagine why people would be angry with a vice president who believes that electroshock torture is acceptable on people with different sexualities, or a president who belittles and sexually assaults women. I can’t imagine why anyone would be angry enough to break a window in a country where an oil pipeline is diverted away from a city over water fears and re-planned to cross through crucial water resources for an already marginalized Native American population. I can’t imagine why a limousine would be vandalized and burned as we discuss creating registries and immigration and visitation rules on the basis of religion.

I for one am aghast that someone would be angry enough to light a trashcan on fire as legislation is proposed in North Dakota allowing motorists to run over protesters or in Indiana empowering police to shut down protests “by any means necessary.”

There is certainly no need for property destruction in the face of an explicit agenda to illegalize countless loving marriages between our gay friends and family, or in the same stroke deprecate useful sexual education and prohibit any access to birth control and safe abortion. Those windows, that limo, that trashcan, they’re all innocent bystanders in this. And certainly there’s no need for anyone to register a note of dissent beyond a strongly-worded letter.

Roll your eyes as protesters block highways or inauguration gates. Clutch your pearls as windows are broken. Change the channel while people die from preventable and treatable diseases and state-enabled violence. But for god’s sake don’t break a window.

Errata: Horrible Greenlight Game, Creator Economy, AI shenanigans, etc

Moving ‘Errata’ posts to a once-a-week thing, I think.

From gaygamer comes news about an incredibly horrible game allowed to find its way on gaming platform Steam’s “Greenlight” system. (article)

Paul Saffo’s SALT talk on the Creator Economy. (Video and audio at link)

Stephen Colbert has partnered with Share Fair Nation and ScanSource to fund every single teacher grant request in South Carolina. (article)

Motherboard on a new thought experiment: could a superintelligent AI freely manipulate humans interacting with it to its own ends? (article)

Also from Motherboard, a researcher has put together what looks to be a fairly comprehensive record of all arrests related to dark web market activity. (article)

Master combination locks have seemed pretty shoddy security for a long time, but a new exploit allows you to crack many combinations in eight tries or less. (article)

A great episode of the Lawfare podcast in which editor Ben White delivers a talk on “The Future of Violence.” (audio at link)

–This feels like a low-tech companion to the points about technology-centric existential threats that Bill Joy worries about. Going to have to pick up White’s new book, written with Gabriela Blum, ASAP.

Social-Engineer.org podcast episode with Deviant Ollam on his physical security shenanigans.

And via twitter, a Macedonian protester using a riot shield as a mirror to reapply her lipstick:

CEVIvRLWEAAa-vL

Readings: Ebola Papers, Check Your Science, Zimbardo’s Ugly Problems

reddit: Understand the Dynamics of Ebola EpidemicsFor the bored, curious, and comorbidly morbid, a handful of open-access papers on Ebola (mostly epidemiological in nature) available in this reddit thread. Possibly made more relevant by an index patient in Sierra Leone disappearing from the hospital, and the top Sierra Leonan ebola virologist coming down with the virus.

Also reddit: A toxicology professor from McGill did an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on his research into electromagnetic radiation and health effects. Redditors ripped apart his shoddy science and he basically refused to answer a single hard question.

BPS Research Digest: What the textbooks don’t tell you – one of psychology’s most famous experiments was seriously flawed

The SPE was criticised back in the 70s, but that criticism has noticeably escalated and widened in recent years. New details to emerge show that Zimbardo played a key role in encouraging his “guards” to behave in tyrannical fashion. Critics have pointed out that only one third of guards behaved sadistically (this argues against the overwhelming power of the situation). Question marks have also been raised about the self-selection of particular personality types into the study. Moreover, in 2002, the social psychologists Steve Reicher and Alex Haslam conducted the BBC Prison Study to test the conventional interpretation of the SPE. The researchers deliberately avoided directing their participants as Zimbardo had his, and this time it was the prisoners who initially formed a strong group identity and overthrew the guards.

Article goes on to talk about how the Stanford Prison Experiment is covered in top US psychology textbooks, which is less than inspiring. While I was studying the SPE was certainly regarded as a staple in psych education, a bit of a monolith. I should’ve known better!

Readings: Democracy or Prom, Las Vegas Shooters, Turing Test

As always, quotes in quotation marks, comments by me in italics.

Boston Globe: Newton student penalized for democracy notes in China – “Newton North High School senior Henry DeGroot was visiting a school outside Beijing on a semester abroad this year when he decided to have some fun and also make a point by writing prodemocracy messages in the notebook of a Chinese student.” – So the choice is, adhere to democratic principles or go to prom. That’s a pretty screwed-up message to send.

TPM: Neighbors: Las Vegas Shooters Bragged About Taking Part In Bundy Standoff – ‘”They were handing out white-power propaganda and were talking about doing the next Columbine,” he said.’ – Bragged about it, but I’m guessing the pair weren’t functional enough to maintain membership in any well-defined organization. Details sketchy right now so worth watching, and as much as I want to paint typical militias with the same brush these two seem much more like the spurned radical/reactionary type.

Verge: Computer passes Turing Test for first time by convincing judges it is a 13-year-old boyMethodological issues aside, to conclude that computer passed the Turing Test you must first believe that thirteen-year-olds are humans.

Conveniently Missing from the Lexicon

It is amazing to see that, once again, white perpetrators with a history of political extremism commit an ideologically-charged shooting and are not labeled terrorists. Twice in recent weeks; first Elliott Rodger, and now Las Vegas shooters Jerad and Amanda Miller. The lengths that media goes to in order to refuse to apply that label to Caucasians stretches beyond the intellectual and into the realm of spiritual beliefs. Including white people as terrorists strikes some nerve at the most fundamental level of our civic religion. As the tenets of that religion stray increasingly far from reality we seem to react in the same way as any other faith: we refuse to talk about it.