Oct 172017
 

Interesting if true:

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

The basic claims are not new, but the claims that the FBI knew about it and essentially sat on it… that’s new.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

 Posted by at 10:31 pm
Oct 142017
 

For all the arguments about whether the BFR-based suborbital/fractional-orbital transport system is technologically or economically feasible, there’s one firm argument that can be made that says that it’ll never become successful: the TSA and similar government bureaucracies.

New Rule: Residents In Nine States Will Need Passports For Domestic Flights in 2018

If you are a resident of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Washington, come January 22, 2018, you’ll actually need to have something like a passport to hop a flight to somewhere else in the US, because your state issued drivers license/ID card ain’t up to federal snuff. Come October 1, 202, other states may also no longer be able to use their drivers licenses.

According to the DHS, here’s a current map of which states are in compliance. Presumably a lot of the states in blue – under review – will be approved by 2020, but who knows.

 Posted by at 4:25 pm
Oct 142017
 

Police arresting nine people a day in fight against web trolls

In Britain, you can actually be arrested for posting comments that “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.”

Once again: you can be arrested for annoying someone. Couple that with the BritGuvs determination to crack down on vaguely-defined “far right” speech online, and hoo boy, glad I’ve got that First Amendment thing. Here, when some idiot troll starts causing annoyance, I can simply hit the “ban user” button and the problem is solved. Or, heck, simply ignore them. But in Britain? Call the cops, I guess, someone said something I didn’t like.

No, no, no way in hell that this sort of system could *ever* be abused, nosiree.

An interesting summary of some of the many laws regarding speech and computers in the UK includes a paragraph on the communications Act of 2003:

Sending by means of the Internet a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or sending a false message by means of or persistently making use of the Internet for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety is guilty of an offence liable, on conviction, to imprisonment. This wording is important because an offence is complete as soon as the message has been sent: there is no need to prove any intent or purpose.

Say, that’s neat. You can be arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for annoying someone without even having intended to.

Sadly, even Utah isn’t immune from the scourge of the easily offended delicate snowflake. The local news last night had a story about a guy who set up a Halloween display (Halloween is *big* in Utah… I’d say it’s right up there with Christmas in terms of interest, enthusiasm and maybe even money). His original display? I larfed my keister off. Because it’s funny, that’s why:

Having just watched “The Purge: Election Day” less than a week ago, I got the gag. But apparently there are a lot of humorless would-be British-style speechcops out there in Facebookland, and even in the guys own neighborhood.

Utah man says his ‘purge and purify’ Halloween sign isn’t racist or political

People saw the “MAGA” and promptly assumed that the homeowner was promoting racist violence. Oy.

As a result of the online and IRL backlash, the homeowner changed the display, rewording to to be more accurate to the tagline of the movie:

As sad as this tale was here in Utah, imagine if the guy had been living under British laws. He could have *easily* been arrested, especially since the people who were offended – or at least who pretended to be – claimed that the message was right wing.

FFS. If you can’t have fun with murder and bloodshed and horror on Halloween… what *can* you have fun with?

Still, the laws are what they are. One can hope that people in Britainland will start overloading the police with complaints about *everything* online that annoys them. How about online photos of Communist mass murdering psychopaths on Irish postage stamps? Surely that’s annoying to any Brit who suffered directly or indirectly at the hands of communism.

 Posted by at 12:09 pm
Oct 132017
 

There is a long history of putting various monsters from pop culture on postage stamps. Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Mummy, various critters from myth and folklore.

 

Well, Ireland has added a new monster to the mix:

Che Guevara anniversary stamp approved by Cabinet

Sure, why not. Throw in a Nazi or two as well, so long as you’re celebrating leaders of genocidal ideologies.

 Posted by at 5:18 pm
Oct 092017
 

This piece seems to be reasonably well reasoned, and if you are a left-winger or an anti-gunner, or if you know one, I’d suggest giving it a read.

6 Reasons Your Right-Wing Friend Isn’t Coming To Your Side On Gun Control

As the title suggests, six reasons are given. But I think the first one is perhaps one of the most important:

The most destructive, divisive response when dealing with Second Amendment advocates is the notion that we aren’t on your side of the issue because we “don’t care” about the tragedy and loss of life. Two years ago at Christmas I had a family member, exasperated that I wasn’t agreeing about gun control, snarl, “It appears that if your [step] daughter was killed because of gun violence you wouldn’t even care!”

Me, I’m a jerk. I’ve long since ceased to really care about convincing people who disagree with me to agree with me, because to a large degree politics has become so stultifyingly polarized that no matter what evidence is produced that there isn’t some phantom wage gap, or that nuclear power is the way to go, or that the United States isn’t the greatest evil in world history, or that the world is more than 6,000 years old or that vaccines aren’t going to give you autism or that a firearm I own isn’t going to jump up and shoot you or that maybe you should be allowed to keep what you earn and control your own stuff and destiny, there will be people who just will not accept it. A few decades of these fights have largely drained the hope from me that many people are even open to understanding anything that even comes close to libertarianism or conservativism or a rational scientific outlook. So I just throw the occasional bomb onto my blog and call it a day.

But if you actually hold out the hope of convincing The Other Side of your viewpoint, coming at them right out of the gate with “you don’t care about victims” is *exactly* the wrong approach. And for two reasons:

1: If the other guy doesn’t believe that you believe what you’re saying, he knows you to be a dishonest and disreputable liar.

2: If the other guy *does* believe what you say when you declare that he doesn’t care about actual victims, he’s going to assume that *you* are the actual sociopath in the situation.

And somethgin that has coem up in the comments section of this blog many times is also discussed:

5. We Seriously Don’t Care About Gun Laws in Other Countries

We really, really don’t.

We don’t.

Most Americans give precisely zero shits about “but everyone else in the world does X.” Whether “X” is:

  • Fanatical devotion to soccer
  • Disdain for American beer/chocolate/fast food/movies/music/culture
  • Acceptance of anti-blasphemy laws and other forms of legal strictures on the expression of unpopular opinions
  • What y’all think the US should do about gun laws.

We really, really don’t. Sure, some do, but we tend to sequester them in Hollywood where we can point at them and laugh.

 Posted by at 12:18 am
Oct 082017
 

On a day when I received emails telling me that the mailer will not be purchasing my cyanotypes because he disagrees with my politics, this news story came along to make me sigh and shake my head:

Vegan’s life upended after Facebook rant about “carnists” killed in Vegas

The owner of a vegan food truck (uuuughhh…) posted some interesting things about the victims of the Mandalay Bay Massacre, including:

“Yes, I am jaded. Fifty-nine meat eaters dead. How many animals will live because of this?” And “I don’t give a REDACTED about carnists anymore”

And now she’s shocked, SHOCKED, that people are reacting poorly to her essentially expressing appreciation for the fact that fifty nine of her fellow Americans were murdered, because they had perfectly normal and natural diets.

This is her and her clearly well adjusted son/business partner in front of the food truck they are no longer operating. So if in a few weeks you see them tooling around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in a repainted food truck, make sure to pay them a visit. Do not do like the people in the article death-threatening her, but *do* demand that she make you a good burger. Use the same court rulings that force religious bakers to make cakes they don’t want to make.

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
Oct 072017
 

Non-Americans and anti-American Americans are currently yammering on about how the US needs to get rid of the right to bear arms and other basic Constitutional rights, in the doomed pursuit of a slight decrease in the crime rate. Many of these people disdain “Constitutional absolutists.” But without that absolutism, you get this:

Amber Rudd: viewers of online terrorist material face 15 years in jail

As described, if you “repeatedly view terrorist content online” you  “could face up to 15 years behind bars.” Assuming the article is accurately written, simply viewing material that the government doesn’t like can get you tossed into the hoosegow. But worry not, gentle blog readers, the intent is narrowly focussed:

“I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law”

So, only jihadi websites, anything to the right of Lenin and basic chemistry. What’s to worry about?

 Posted by at 7:57 pm
Oct 072017
 

I’m not a big comic book guy, so I haven’t been as invested as some in being appalled at the SJW takeover of Marvel Comics. As someone who only paid a smidgen of attention to the issue, it was hard to tell if this problem arose within the staff of Marvel, or if there was an actual fanbase. Given that sales have apparently gone down as a result of the SJW-ification  of many of the titles, I assumed that it was a problem within the Marvel offices. So when news came out that Marvel was teaming up with Northrop-Grumman in order to bolster STEM, I figured that the Marvel leadership was pulling its head out, and that the fanbase would approve.

Ooops.

Marvel cancels controversial Northrop Grumman presentation at NYCC following backlash

The “backlash” came from an army of Twits  who claimed to be horrified that a comic book company that has made billions of dollars off of fictional weapons designer Tony Stark would team up with a  company that builds the weapons that keep their nation safe. And Marvel didn’t just cancel the presentation, they cancelled the partnership.

It may be that the Twitterbots who were complaining were that small portion of the fanbase who are thrilled with the neutering of characters like Iron Man, or if this is a larger symptom of idiocy among the fanbase.

 Posted by at 3:00 pm