I’m Not Celebrating: Happy ACAB day, December 12

I was planning a long screed, but I’m pressed for time. So much for rule #3.

In a week (never mind a year) where cops in many countries violently attack peaceful protesters, when cops rape women, when cops use “early release” to coerce dates out of women they arrested, when cops murder their wives after other cops refused to take away guns or enforce restraining order, when cops fail to test rape kits and let rapists walk free, when cops selectively enforce laws based on the perp’s AND victim’s income, I say ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS.

This is from Vimeo, continuing the youtube viewcott:


Taken Aback(side): The backlash against Lizzo’s backless shirt

I don’t listen to Lizzo and rarely watch basketball (unless it’s a college team playing a full court press), so her appearance at an LA Lakers game was unknown until mentioned in several feminist groups.

Lizzo’s Bootylicious Lakers Game Outfit Goes Viral After People Share Mixed Reviews

The “Truth Hurts” singer rocked a black T-shirt dress with a cutout that showed off her thong as she twerked on the Jumbotron.

By Jenna Amatulli

Many people have a something to say about Lizzo’s latest sartorial choice.

The 31-year-old singer wore a black T-shirt dress with a spicy twist to the LA Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves game over the weekend: a cut-out that revealed her black thong. And, in true Lizzo fashion, she twerked to her heart’s content while at the game.

When the twerking hit the Jumbotron and then Twitter, fans and critics alike came out in droves to offer their thoughts on her outfit and antics.

Yes, negative comments galore made by nosy parkers talking about something that doesn’t affect them whatsover.  People moaned and whined after the game, “Think of the children!” They would have commented during the game, but they were too busy looking at the 50kg Laker Girls dancing around the basketball court at halftime, wearing hot pants and crop tops with exposed bosoms.

More text below the fold.  Yes, the picture you’re expecting is there, and so is another.

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Blissful Silence: Four days without youtube

I’m really enjoying the second of four days without youtube.  I’ve been trying to write this post for months but would get angry and couldn’t finish.  Now I can finally do this without using profanity (blog rule #3).

I’m sure many reading will have heard of Photosensitive Epilepsy (PSE), a disability where seizures can be triggered by flashing lights or similar stimulae.  According to the Epilepsy Society of the UK (the most recent link above), approximately one person in 100 people has epilepsy, and 3% of people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy.  That means approximately three in every 10,000 people has PSE.

That’s a tiny percentage of the population, and yet those who produce movies, television, lighted billboards, software for handheld devices or other electric and electronic media all accede to and accomodate these people’s needs.  News programs give warnings if there will be flash protography, and nearly all forms of entertainment have stopped using them altogether.  Respecting a rare form of disability was easily and painlessly done, and what was taken away (flashing lights) wasn’t essential to the message being conveyed.

People who have had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and suffer Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) have a problem similar to PSE: the brain can’t process information the same way anymore.  Most people with PCS have no difficulty with natural input (e.g. conversational speaking, animals, even moving traffic).  But unnatural and jarring input ranges from difficult to impossible to follow.  According to this link from the CDC in 1999, there were approximately 5.3 million americans living with TBIs out of a population of 280 million, approximately 1.9%, yet little or no accomodation is made for them.  Like depression, people are told to “get over it and stop using it as an excuse”.

The symptoms of PCS vary with everyone; two people could be hit in the same part of the head in the exact same way and with the exact same force and still have different symptoms.  Early common Post-Concussion symptoms include (list and quoted text stolen from the Mayo Clinic):

* Headaches
* Dizziness
* Fatigue
* Irritability
* Anxiety
* Insomnia
* Loss of concentration and memory
* Ringing in the ears
* Blurry vision
* Noise and light sensitivity
* Rarely, decreases in taste and smell

Post-concussion headaches can vary and may feel like tension-type headaches or migraines. Most often, they are tension-type headaches. These may be associated with a neck injury that happened at the same time as the head injury.

Doctors regularly ignore and dismiss the concerns of patients with PCS because it’s difficult to treat with such wide ranging symptoms and causes. Doctors want a one-size-fits-all solution, and when they don’t have one, some shrug and walk away.  Worse yet, some doctors write off disabled TBI patients as “A1!” and force them back to work.  They should be on disability but are instead cut off of income if they refuse.  Many people can’t return to work immediately or require a significant adjustment time.  It requires accomodation and consideration by the employer to let the person find out what tasks they can handle.

Going back to youtube and videos, I’m specifically talking about jump cuts.  For those who don’t know what they are, a jump cut is abrupt and sharp editing, cutting off the end (or start) of two sentences and splicing them together.  But it’s not just a shift from one scene to another, I’m talking about repetitive and intentionally jarring cuts.

Try reading this sentence:


If parsing out words from that sentence is difficult and bothers you, imagine having to do it while text is scrolling up the screen, and every single line of a 3000 word article is written like that.  And then the writer of it blames YOU for not adapting to his “style”.  Is it your fault that you can’t follow the text, or the writer’s for not publishing in an accessible and readable format?

Again the sentence: There are makers of videos who cut out the gaps between EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE in a five or ten minute video.  And it’s not just audio, it’s visual too.  It’s like the editing in a Michael Bay movie or the Freddie Mercury movie, constant switching between images and positions on the screen.  This is why I mentioned flashing lights and PSE, because jump cuts have a similar effect on people who aren’t neurotypical.

Those who do it “think” that it’s a ‘style’, that it’s ‘fashionable’.  No.  Jump cuts are ableist.  And it’s not just people with PCS.  I know this is apocryphal and said without evidence, but I’ve had conversations with people who have epilepsy and autism and some say the similar things: videos with unnatural speech are hard to process, unnatural visual patterns hard to watch, while natural speech is easy.  I can watch clips of John Moschitta Jr. talk at 300 words per minute and still understand what he says.  He may talk fast, but there are still natural patterns so the brain can fill in the gaps.

Take for example, Rebecca Watson’s videos.  Most of hers are done in a single take, which makes them easy to follow.  Unfortunately (aigh! criticizing an atheist!) there are a few points in certain videos where she edits clips together and abruptly cuts from one sentence to another.  I have to rewind and try and shut out the first part to focus on the second.  Now compare with Zinnia Jones, another ex-FTB member, whose videos may be separate segments spliced together, but all have smooth fade outs and fade ins, giving the viewer time to adjust between cuts.

Watson’s sparse jump cut edits are NOTHING compared to what some people do.

There are a plethora of under-35 video makers who are guilty of making unwatchable and ableist videos, and many of them are Transgender or Non-binary: Stef Sanjati, Riley Dennis, Jammidodger, Sam Collins, and many others.  The single worst has to be Jake Van Gogh whose arrogance alone makes him unwatchable.  Essence of Thought was recently mentioned on PZ Myers’ blog in a discussion about Transgender people’s rights.  I didn’t comment because I couldn’t watch the video.  Not didn’t, but couldn’t.  Even a video with that few jump cuts can be hard to follow.

It’s not just younger producers who do this.  Brady Haran (Numberphile, Computerphile, Periodic Videos), SciShow, and The Young Turks are some of the worst, though there are other guilty parties I won’t name.

The thing that I REALLY don’t understand about the overuse of jump cuts is this:

It takes MORE time and effort to “edit” and visually plan all the jumps of location and text than it does to read paragraphs and have smooth transitions.  It doesn’t make the video more watchable and in increases the producer’s workload several times over.  Plus, what if you make a mistake in dialogue or scenes, how are you going to fix that?

Those who execessively use jump cuts actually write scripts and plan this out, so their dialogue is pre-written.  But if you ask them to release the transcript as plain text which people can read instead of watching, they won’t.

A video of a script read in a single take video is far easier to do, and it both looks and sounds better.

The Cowards Come Home : India’s two new Delhi-terious laws

India’s corrupt and incompetent government and prime minister trying to enact new laws that do the polar opposite of what their names claim. Finally, an american idea catches on in India.

First, a new “law” will allow people to easily obtain citizenship based on their religion. It will welcome hindus, buddhists, sikhs, jains, parsis and christians.

Do you notice which religion is missing? A religion that makes up a third of India’s population and is the religion of many of India’s neighbors?

This is religious exclusion, not inclusion. Modi wants to slowly outpopulate and eliminate muslims.

Protests erupt as India pushes for religion-based citizenship bill

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government offered a controversial bill in parliament that would give citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in India’s lower house amid raucous debate. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.

Second is a new “Transgender rights bill” is designed to anything but grant equal rights. Under Modi’s farcical “law”, Transgender, Non-Binary, Intersex and other similar people could have less protection under the law after being attacked or assaulted. Crimes committed will result in lesser sentences (a half to a third as long) than if they were perpetrated against a cisgender person.

If you think cisgender women in India live in fear, just imagine being a Transgender person.

India’s trans rights bill 2019 “Is Just Devastating”

Despite ongoing and intensifying protests the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 has passed both of India’s Houses and is now waiting on the presidential assent to become law.

The Trans Bill 2019 is contrary to the Supreme Court of India, third gender ruling which declared transgender people to be a ‘third gender’, affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people, and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender.

According to the trans rights bill 2019, a person can apply to become classified as transgender by submitting an application to a district magistrate. this defies the right to self-determine one’s gender as has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

In the event that a district magistrate rejects the application, there is no appeal process for a transgender person who cannot avail any benefits mentioned in the Bill without the certification.

If the ‘application’ is approved and the trans person is later sexually violated the penalties are substantially less according to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019.

This leaves India’s third gender solely at the mercy of a district magistrate, and a lesser caste at best, which is an absolute violation of their rights as citizens.


Read this item from NPR:

India Just Passed A Trans Rights Bill. Why Are Trans Activists Protesting It?

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) bill prohibits discrimination against transgender persons with regard to things like education, employment and the ability to rent or buy property. It also gives transgender persons a “right to self-perceived identity” — but requires them to register with the government if they want to be officially recognized as “transgender.” If a transgender person identifies as a trans man or trans woman and wants to be legally recognized as such, they have to submit proof of gender confirmation surgery to the government.


The bill makes abusing transgender people a punishable offense with a jail term from six months to two years. But under Indian law, when a cisgender (that is, a person whose gender identity matches their sex at birth) woman or child is sexually abused, the punishment can be as severe as a life sentence or, in some cases, even the death penalty. Semmalar says the lesser punishment for crimes against transgender people reiterates and strengthens the idea that trans lives are dispensable and of lesser value.

Lesser punishment when the victim is Transgender?  This is not “protection”.  It’s an encouragement for sexual predators and murderers to target Transgender people instead of cisgender women.

As Intended: All your base DNA pairs belong to Verogen

Verogen is a company that sells DNA sequences to police states…I mean police agencies for the purpose of “catching criminals”.  Verogen just bought GEDmatch, one of the biggest DNA ancestry companies, and intend to use people’s DNA for purposes that people never consented to.

Selling your DNA to the swine and governments was always the goal, suckers.

The Genealogy Website That Helped Crack The Golden State Killer Case Has Been Bought By A Forensic Genetics Firm

The transformation of genetic genealogy from a geeky pastime to a crime-fighting business opportunity has taken another leap forward.

Verogen, a San Diego-based company that provides equipment for high-tech sequencing of crime-scene DNA, today announced that it had acquired GEDmatch, a website that rose to fame after it led cops to the alleged Golden State Killer.


Although GEDmatch’s new owner is a forensic science company, it is promising a firm line on protecting users who don’t want cops to access their genetic information. “We are very committed to privacy,” Verogen CEO Brett Williams told BuzzFeed News.

Call me untrusting, but I’m untrusting of any company that gleefully works with cops.

You don’t have to be paranoid to see how easily this can be misused.  Just look at how willing cops are to misuse anything now.

1) Cops check a DNA sample in a database, find a match to a genetic cousin of John Smith.

2) Cops show up at John Smith’s door, demanding a full list of his cousin’s or cousins’ whereabouts.

3) John Smith either doesn’t know or refuses because he is not involved in the crime.

4) Cops falsely arrest John Smith and overcharge him (e.g. “conspiracy”, “obstruction”, etc.) and possibly perpetrate theft of his home via “property seizure” laws, of the relative was involved in a crime that allowed property seizure.

If GEDmatch or other companies had no intent of giving your DNA to oppressive agencies, they would have destroyed the samples and DNA sequences after collection.  Or, they would have used a “blind” system where the DNA cannot be directly connected to a name.

Add Ads Or Delete: Youtube’s new policing…I mean policies

Content creators and viewers are both up in arms as much as they’re in a panic, and for good reason.  The new “policies” on youtube have been inflicted on people, and risk ruining the platform.  This is a far worse screwup than “google plus”.  Makers of kids content are particularly worried:

YouTube’s new kids’ content system has creators scrambling

On Tuesday afternoon, YouTube formally announced its plan to have creators label any videos of theirs that may appeal to children. Starting in January 2020, if creators mark a video as directed at kids, data collection will be blocked for all viewers, resulting in lower ad revenue, and those videos will lose some of the platform’s most popular features, including comments and end screens. It’s a major change in how YouTube works, and has left some creators clueless as to whether they’re subject to the new rules.

The following notice appeared from several friends today, announcing a youtube walkout: don’t watch, comment or post and videos for the next four days (December 10th to 13th). I plan to adhere to it.

ATTENTION EVERYONE: there is a youtube walkout from the 10th to the 13th. Please don’t upload or watch any content on youtube within that timeframe. This is in protest of a new rule which gives them the ability to delete anyone’s channel if deemed “not advertiser friendly”. This will disproportionately affect women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and political youtubers. If enough people participate in the walkout we can have make change

Not following this protocol is the same as crossing a picket line – don’t be a scab.

A post on the Waypoint blog explains it thus:

Starting tonight, many Youtubers will be staging a walkout in protest of Youtube’s new terms, which threaten any channel with deletion if Youtube determines them to be no longer “commercially viable”; as well as their handling of their recent agreement with the FTC over Youtube’s COPPA violation. These new policies are especially worrisome for LGBTQ+ and visible minorities creators who have all seen unexplained demonetization from Youtube in the past. Creators are asking viewers to not upload, view, or share Youtube videos from Dec 10-13. Please see the links below [on the blog] for more info:

What most people are worried about is the new rules on advertising revenue – not by the users, but by youtube.  If they’re not making enough money on your videos, they’re threatening to kill your account.

YouTube says it can delete your account if you’re not ‘commercially viable’

YouTube’s new terms of service has some users and content creators very worried that the company could delete their account.

In the section titled “Account Suspension & Termination” with the subheader “Terminations by YouTube for Service Changes,” the site’s new terms, which are set to take effect on Dec. 10, adds the following:

“YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”

In its most basic terms: if YouTube isn’t making money off you, the company can delete your account. The platform’s current terms of service do not include this language.

There are also new rules for their “algorithm” (read: black box) which will reportedly make it harder for new creators to establish themselves, or they must do it quicker.  My gut tells me this “policy” was so intended to be so egregious that when they backpedal with another awful policy (but less awful than this one) people will accept it.

I honestly don’t believe this is about ad revenue. Youtube gets paid per view, whether a video is seen once or a million times.  The popularity of content creators is irrelevant.

I suspect this is about silencing content, removing channels and creators that displease governments, not advertisers.  It will be censorship by proxy.  If “advertisers are unhappy” why don’t ads disappear on less popular channels?  Why are only creators and content demonetized when it is about topics banned in oppressive regimes?  I will be very surprised if it’s not a repeat of what happened at tumblr, fascistbook and reddit: rightwing hate speech will be unaffected, and minorities of all sorts will be the ones targeted. Youtube’s past silencing of LGBTQIA videos will look like a minor blip compared to this.

In April last year, Reason wrote this about censorship by proxy:

When YouTube, Facebook or Twitter cracks down on some form of expression—conspiracy theories, radical rants, terrorist propaganda—some of the targets inevitably complain that their freedom of speech is under attack. (This feeling of victimhood may be what sent Nasim Aghdam to YouTube headquarters, gun in hand.) There is a strong retort to this: These are private platforms with a right to decide what they publish. It is no more a violation of the First Amendment for YouTube to muzzle a channel it finds offensive than it is for this newspaper to refuse to run a column calling for Minnesota to invade Wisconsin.

But what if a private platform suppresses speech because it’s afraid the government might otherwise step in?

Just as one effective end-run around the Fourth Amendment is to ask private companies for data they slurped up on their own, the First Amendment can be sidestepped when officials pressure the private sector into self-censorship.

“Policies” on cross-border websites always end up being a watered down compromise (read: capitulation) to dictatorships that want to silence ideas. And when dictatorships do it, so-called “democracies” like to join in and say “they did it first!”

What would I do if I had the skills?  I would take a three step approach:

1) Video creators store their content on servers, whether their own website or paid storage.

2) Create a DMOZ style catalogue where users can submit links to their own content, with keywords.  Volunteer users would review and ensure content was what it claimed to be, or flag it as necessary.

3) Release a free app for all platforms that lets users search for and view videos.

Like Usenet, there would be no central control that can dictate to creators, and creators could place their own ads and generate revenue.

Afghanarchy Wins: The WaPo’s report is unshocking and awful

The US invasion of Afghanistan was unwinnable from the start, and everyone in power in Washington knew it, not just the anti-war critics.

Bu**sh** knew.  Rumsfeld knew.  The generals knew.  The chiefs of staff.  The national insecurity council.  Every single stinking one of those making decisions knew it was a waste of time, effort, resources, bodies and money. They knew they couldn’t get the oil pipelines completed, couldn’t “export democracy”, couldn’t tame the most untameable country in the world (just as the UK and USSR failed to do).  “Nation building” is something people do themselves (e.g. like the US did). It’s not something you impose from the outside.

Why did they do it?  Was “american pride” so wounded that the Bu**sh** regime thought flexing their muscles would accomplish something?  Staying home and licking the wounds of 9/11 would have been a better option (like the US did after the 1983 bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon).   And because people STILL buy into the myth that “the US does not commit war crimes”, it’s unlikely any of those responsible will face the inside of a courtroom…except maybe republicans trying to pin everything on Obama and spineless democrats who backed it.

The only things eighteen years in Afghanistan accomplished were genocide of Afghans; ruined the lives and health of a hundred thousand american citizens; increasing islamic fanaticism across the region; strengthening China’s position politically; increased the power of dictators in the region; and destroyed the US’s own economy and tax base.  If their goal was to cause the US’s self-destruction, launching a nuclear weapon or two against their own soil might have caused less damage.

Excerpts from the Washington Post’s item below the fold.

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Don’t Learn, Don’t Think: Uneducated = Uninformed

Merck (*) and the HIV initiative Prevention Access Campaign did a study on how well informed Millennials and GenZs are on HIV, and the results were both staggering and disappointing.  (* Amazing!  A big pharmaceutical company did something positive.)  This isn’t a bash on Millennials, it’s a bash on people not being curious enough to learn.

I have to wonder if the end of stigma and fear caused incuriosity and ignorance.  The high profile deaths of celebrities from HIV in the 1980s and 1990s (Freddie Mercury, Isaac Asimov, Rock Hudson, Arthur Ashe, Robert “Maple Syrup” Mapplethorpe) changed public perception of both the disease and of being LGBTQIA.  There was a sharp decline in deaths following peak years 1992-1995 as more drugs and effective treatments came (AZT, “cocktails”, HAART, NNRTIs, PrEP). Did people stop paying attention and see it as “just another disease”?

New Survey of Young Adults Uncovers Low Levels of Accurate Knowledge About HIV Transmission Coupled with High-Risk Sexual Behaviors

Survey findings showed participants are not being effectively informed about HIV and its transmission; this trend worsened among Gen Z—the population furthest removed from the HIV crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. Forty-one percent (42/103) of HIV-negative Gen Z respondents said they were either not at all informed or only somewhat informed about HIV, compared to 23% (169/743) of HIV-negative millennials.


Despite no risk of HIV transmission through casual contact, more than one quarter (28%, 209/743) of HIV-negative millennials said they have avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with HIV, and 30% (222/743) said they would prefer not to interact socially with someone with HIV. Among all HIV-negative Hispanic/Latinx and Black/African American respondents, one in three (34%, 100/295) said they have avoided shaking hands or sharing food, drinks or utensils with someone with HIV.

For anyone alive and aware during the 1980s and 1990s, lots of lessons were learnt about HIV, especially about how it was transmitted and treated.  It changed from a death sentence to a treatable lifelong disease to potentially curable.  Societal attitudes towards people outside the cishetero binary changed along with it.  From A Mighty Girl:

Meet The Woman Who Cared For Hundreds of Abandoned Gay Men Dying of AIDS

In 1984, Ruth Coker Burks’ discovery of a hospital room door with a “big, red bag” over it and her encounter with the dying young man inside changed her life — and led her to becoming the final caregiver for hundreds of people dying of AIDS, most of them young gay men who had been abandoned by their families. When Burks, then 25 years old, learned how many young men were being left to die alone and often were not even being claimed for burial, she recalls thinking, “Who knew there’d come a time when people didn’t want to bury their children?” Over the next ten years, Burks estimates that she helped care for over 1,000 people dying of AIDS and even dug the graves for 40 of them herself in her family’s cemetery.

Burks was visiting a friend at University Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas when she noticed a door with a big red bag over it. “I would watch the nurses draw straws to see who would go in and check on him,” she recalled in an interview with the Arkansas Times. Burks, whose cousin was gay, knew enough about AIDS to guess who the patient inside the door was — and fears about the disease didn’t stop her from sneaking into the room. Inside, she discovered a skeletal young man desperate to see his mother before he died. When she told the nurses, “They laughed. They said, ‘Honey, his mother’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming.’” Burks convinced the nurses to give her his mother’s number and she tried reaching out one last time time, but it was obvious his mother had no intention of coming to see her “sinful” son who she considered already dead to her. As Burks told Katie Couric in an interview, she then returned to the room and took his hand. “I ended up staying with him for thirteen hours until he took his last breath on this earth.”

With his family refusing to claim his body, Burks decided to bury him herself in a local cemetery where her family owned hundreds of plots. “No one wanted him,” she says, “and I told him in those long 13 hours that I would take him to my beautiful little cemetery, where my daddy and grandparents were buried, and they would watch out over him.” The closest funeral home that agreed to cremate his body was 70 miles away and she paid for it out of her savings. A friend at a local pottery gave her a chipped cookie jar to use as an urn and she used a pair of posthole diggers to dig the hole.

Selfishly Motivated: What do anti-vaxxers really want?

Is it an outbreak of measles in the DR Congo, or a pandemic?

DR Congo measles: Nearly 5,000 dead in major outbreak

Measles has killed nearly 5,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019, authorities said, after the disease spread to all the provinces in the country.

Close to a quarter of a million people have been infected this year alone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says this is the world’s largest and fastest-moving epidemic.

How strange that anti-vaxxers are silent about this.  Is it because they don’t want to admit that vaccinations stop disease?  Or is it because it’s “them” who are infected?

Yes, I’m suggesting that racism plays a motivating factor in the mindset of anti-vaxxers. Almost all countries with a strong “anti-vaxxer movement” are predominantly white with the exceptions of Brazil and Japan (which are large economic powers). Many of them in the US are in white, middle class “traditional families”.  I found it utterly laughable back in September when they called themselves “the new civil rights movement”, especially when many of them would likely have opposed the civil rights movement had they been around in the 1960s.

Anti-vaxxers aren’t demanding everyone stop receiving vaccines.  What they want is “my freedumb!” for individuals to opt out – and the continued vaccination of “others”.  They want people not like themselves – immigrants and people in other countries – to be vaccinated so that anti-vaxxers are safe.  Just not them.

No Need To Wait: December 8 is a day Canada should look back in shame

As we all know, the Imperial Japanese army attacked Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941. It was only a few weeks later that all Canadian and US citizens of Japanese ancestry were arrested and put in concentration camps or prison camps and forced to pay for it themselves.  Let’s not use flowery propaganda like “evacuation” or “internment” and call it what it was.

I have admit that until yesterday I was ignorant of how quickly governments began to imprison them.

It didn’t begin with Executive Order 9066 (February 19, 1942) when Roosevelt ordered the “round up” of 110,000 US citizens, repeating what had been done to First Nations people less than a century before.  It didn’t begin with the Canadian government’s order of January 14, 1942 to “remove” certain citizens from the coast and imprison them in camps.

The first acts of racism against Canadian citizens began on December 8, 1941, when the Canadian government used the War Measures Act to “impound and confiscate” (read: steal) fishing vessels owned by Canadians of Japanese descent to “prevent spying”.  These weren’t just boats, they were people’s livelihoods.  How would they feed their families?

Canada did eventually pay compensation and apologize to these Canadians citizens, but not until 1988, after decades of resistance and refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing.  I graduated high school in 1985, and “history” class still taught that “their relocation was voluntary”, not at gunpoint.

Another indignity I learnt of today: After the war, the people who had been imprisoned were forcibly removed to the east coast, to a place that few of them had ever been.  Nearly all of the 22,000 Canadians were from British Columbia.  It was not until 1949 that denial of theirs rights stopped and they were allowed to return home to BC or other western provinces.  No doubt at their own expense.

We Are Moving Backwards: The 2019 CIVICUS Report isn’t a feelgood story

CIVICUS describes itself as a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.  They produce an annual State of Civil Society Report about the openness and freedom of countries, and changes in status.  It’s not a happy report for 2019.

Here is the world map for countries.

Forty three countries are rated as Open (civil societies with freedom) but aside from Germany few of those are politically or geographically dominant (e.g. Canada, Nordic Countries, New Zealand).  Forty two are rated as Narrowed (losing freedoms, primarily due to “populism”), and many of them are dominant (e.g. UK, Australia, Argentina, US, Japan).  Eighty percent of the world’s population lives in countries rated as Obstructed, Repressed, and Closed (dictatorships).

The full State of Civil Society report (PDF) can be found here.



Yes, He Is: Michael Harriot was right about Mayo Pete

Back on June 30th during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, there was an incident at the Stonewall bar, the origin of it all.  A Black Transgender woman stood up to speak and read a list of Black Transgender People and Transgender People of Colour, and she was shouted down and heckled by gay white men.  DJs played music louder to silence her.  The bar owners tried to have her arrested.  Gay white men have pretty much gained the social acceptance they want for themselves, and don’t care about anyone else.

That, is Mayo Pete and his supporters in a nutshell, a privileged gay white male who is part of the establishment and doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t white or gay.  Michael Harriot of The Root rightfully calls him Mayo Pete and other things which I agree with but won’t repeat myself.  After Harriot posted that item, Mayo Pete himself called up Harriot.

Buttigieg doesn’t just come from and grow up in white privilege and establishment, he embraces it.  He works for and serves the 1%ers, and they happily support him with money because they know he will server their interests.

He fired South Bend’s Black police chief for opposing racism and then replaced him with a racist murderer, and then oversaw a reduction of the number of Black police officers in the city.  His response to his failed promise to hire more black cops?


Buttigentrifier intentionally forced poor people out of the city to “improve” it for wealthier white people to nove in.

He supports and promotes for a hate group, the Slavenation Army, because he will never be in need nor face being thrown out into the street to die of cold in mid-winter.

He defends Chick-Fil-A’s donations to hate groups, accusing critics of “virtue signaling”.

And now he’s saying “I’m not racist, I have Black friends” to rehabilitate his image.

Those who continue to support Buttigieg at this point (primarily white gay men) are like white republican who support Cheetolini.  There’s nothing he can do wrong in their eyes.  He’s not “one of us”, he’s one of them, one of the 1%ers’ stooges, and serves only his own careerist goals. 

Buttigieg would be as bad a choice as Biden.  It’s clear that those with wealth and power wouldn’t mind him as a gay president, not in the least.

Buttheads Should Butt Out: Another reason I hate smokers

I’ve been accused in various places (not here) of hyperbole and overreaching in my comments about smoking.  Or been threatened and told to shut up.

Too many claim smoking is a “rights and freedumb” issue, not an environmental issue or a form of assault upon those being forced to breath it.  And little or no attention is paid to the rates of aggressive and violent behaviour amongst smokers compared to non-smokers.  Or if there is attention, it’s usually aggressive and threatening.  Thankfully there is a growing sentiment that all smoking around children should be treated as a form of child abuse.  that abuse isn’t just smokers stubbing out cigarettes on children’s bodies.  Smoking in front of anyone who objects should be illegal.


This week in Connecticut, a smoker named Paul Ferguson shot and murdered Della Jette and her brother Sterling Jette Jr. They were the teenage children of his girlfriend, Danielle Jette.  He had moved into the house only two weeks earlier.  After killing the two kids, he shot himself in the head and died.

Why did Ferguson murder them?  Because they complained about him smoking in the house.

Smokers are so addicted that they will ignore basic safety, believing “rules don’t apply to me”.

Belinda Coble of North Carolina died this week while smoking next to her oxygen tank.  She lit the cigarette, and an explosion tore through the room, killing her.  The fact that she needed pure oxygen to breathe didn’t stop her addiction, nor did explicit instructions not to smoke around pure oxygen.   This wasn’t due to forgetfulness or being half asleep in the morning or evening.  She didn’t care, she wanted that cigarette.

Misery Repeats: Meet the new rapists, same as the old rapists

New Republic published a staggering piece this week about the “Monkey House” near Camp Casey, South Korea. It seems that Syngman Rhee’s fascist regime and the US military said, “why spoil a good thing?” perpetrated the same crimes as the Imperial Japanese military: the organized forcible rape and captivity of South Korean women.  And it started in the 1950s, continuing until 1991, several years after South Korea had become a democracy.

The item begins (most original links preserved):

Locals call it the Monkey House. The decaying, three-story cement fortress sits among weeds in the wooded, hilly outskirts of Dongducheon, a Korean city of 96,000 that encircles Camp Casey, the closest U.S. military base to North Korea and home to key elements of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. The 2ID is “the only forward-based Army division integrated with Allied troops” in Korea, President Trump proudly declared to U.S. service members after his highly publicized crossing of the DMZ on June 30 to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

For those who live in Dongducheon, however, the base and surrounding town hold a mixed and painful legacy. Between the end of the Korean War and the early 1990s, more than one million Korean women were caught up in a state-controlled prostitution industry that was blessed at the highest levels by the U.S. military. They worked in special zones surrounding U.S. bases—areas licensed by the South Korean government, reserved exclusively for American troops, and monitored and policed by the U.S. Army. These camp towns were known to the Koreans as kichijong.

The system was designed to strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance, which was formalized in a 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty; its less formal mission was to boost morale for the thousands of U.S. military personnel stationed on the peninsula after the Korean War. It was the same for South Korea, where prostitution was encouraged as a woman’s patriotic duty to the state. Dongducheon, with some 7,000 registered prostitutes at its height, was the largest of the kichijong, and the strip of camp towns stretching from the DMZ down to Seoul was known as “GI Heaven.” For the Korean women in the camp towns, though, it was hell.

No matter how aware you are or try to be about such crimes, there always seems to be a new level of depravity uncovered.

Disaster Animated: “Le Mans 1955” is a brilliant short film

Le Mans 1955” is a beautiful and horrifying short animated film by Quentin Baillieux, depicting the worst disaster in motor sports history, Pierre Levegh’s crash during the 1955 24h du Mans.  More than eighty people were killed and 180 were injured when Levegh’s car crashed into the grandstands. It has won several awards already and has been nominated for the 2020 Academy Awards.

The film is not 100% historically accurate, but mercifully, it barely touches on the crash itself.  The dead are depicted with sheets over them, not the true horror of bodies torn apart and the horrific fire (see below the fold for newsreel footage).  This is a human film about emotions and decency in the face of disaster.  One important true point: it was John Fitch’s outrage that led Mercedes to withdraw from the race.

John Fitch’s story is a fascinating one.  He was a World War II american bomber and fighter escort pilot, one of three americans to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me262 (the first jet airplane).  He took up motorsports after the war and was fairly successful.  But it was his post-racing career as an inventor that made the biggest impression, developing Fitch barriers (barrels of sand) and many other safety devices that have saved thousands of lives.  He also found a way to improve fuel efficiency in gas-powered engines, reducing waste of gasoline and diesel.

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