Sam Bankman-Fried…guilty!

Of course he was guilty. Billions of dollars vanished under his watch, while he somehow lived an extravagant life of luxury in the Bahamas, while piously preaching the gospel of “effective altruism” as a cover. The jury deliberated for only five hours, but now we have to wait until March until we learn how many decades he gets to spend in prison.

Now…when do his partners-in-crime, his girlfriend, his parents, face justice? They’re all awful people.

Russell Brand finds a way to endear himself to his audience

Russell Brand’s frantic fast-talking comedy never really appealed to me, but he seems to have found a new audience in the past several years as a fast-talking conspiracy theorist on a podcast I’ve never listened to. Braying out loud weird claims just doesn’t appeal, but OK, he’s successfully tapping into a revenue stream that exists.

Except now he’s got criminal charges hanging over his head, being accused of rape and sexual assault. It’s all so predictable: volatile personality gets rich, acquires lots of privilege, uses it to treat other people like things. How will he get out of it? By talking fast, of course.

Brand had already moved to deny what he called “very serious criminal allegations” on Friday night. In a video posted online, he said he had received correspondence from a media company and a newspaper detailing the claims; this is standard practice for journalists preparing to report serious allegations about a named entity.

He issued his denial in a video posted across his accounts on several media platforms, insisting his relationships had always been consensual.

He portrayed the reports as a “litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks” and said they pertained to a period of his career when he was working “in the mainstream … As I have written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous [at that time].”

Brand continued: “Now, during that time of promiscuity the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I am being transparent about it now as well.

“To see that transparency metastasised into something criminal, that I absolutely deny, makes me question: is there another agenda at play?”

Somebody explain to him that promiscuity is one thing, but rape is a completely different other thing. You do not get criminally charged for consensual promiscuity.

At least he knows that “consent” is a useful word to deploy when your behavior is brought to light, but I don’t think he grasps what that is, either.

According to the paper’s report, one of the women said Brand entered into a relationship with her while he was 31 and she was still a 16-year-old schoolgirl. She reportedly said he referred to her as “the child” during an alleged emotionally abusive and controlling three-month relationship.

She told Dispatches the presenter once “forced his penis down her throat”, making her choke, which led her to punch him in the stomach to make him stop.

I think we can reject his version of consent when the words “16-year-old schoolgirl” enter the picture.

He has at least dug up the formula that will keep his gullible audience in thrall: it’s a paranoid conspiracy, they’re all out to get me. It’s true, a lot of people will be out to get you if you commit reprehensible crimes.

Science relies on honest observation

Elisabeth Bik is getting mad. She has spent the better part of a decade finding examples of scientific fraud, and it seems to be easy pickings.

Although this was eight years ago, I distinctly recall how angry it made me. This was cheating, pure and simple. By editing an image to produce a desired result, a scientist can manufacture proof for a favored hypothesis, or create a signal out of noise. Scientists must rely on and build on one another’s work. Cheating is a transgression against everything that science should be. If scientific papers contain errors or — much worse — fraudulent data and fabricated imagery, other researchers are likely to waste time and grant money chasing theories based on made-up results…..

But were those duplicated images just an isolated case? With little clue about how big this would get, I began searching for suspicious figures in biomedical journals…. By day I went to my job in a lab at Stanford University, but I was soon spending every evening and most weekends looking for suspicious images. In 2016, I published an analysis of 20,621 peer-reviewed papers, discovering problematic images in no fewer than one in 25. Half of these appeared to have been manipulated deliberately — rotated, flipped, stretched or otherwise photoshopped. With a sense of unease about how much bad science might be in journals, I quit my full-time job in 2019 so that I could devote myself to finding and reporting more cases of scientific fraud.

Using my pattern-matching eyes and lots of caffeine, I have analyzed more than 100,000 papers since 2014 and found apparent image duplication in 4,800 and similar evidence of error, cheating or other ethical problems in an additional 1,700. I’ve reported 2,500 of these to their journals’ editors and — after learning the hard way that journals often do not respond to these cases — posted many of those papers along with 3,500 more to PubPeer, a website where scientific literature is discussed in public….

Unfortunately, many scientific journals and academic institutions are slow to respond to evidence of image manipulation — if they take action at all. So far, my work has resulted in 956 corrections and 923 retractions, but a majority of the papers I have reported to the journals remain unaddressed.

I’ve seen some of the fraud reports, and it amazes me how stupid the scientists committing these fakes must be. It’s as if they think jpeg artifacts don’t exist, and can be an obvious fingerprint when chunks of an image are duplicated; they don’t realize that you can reveal cheating by just tweaking a LUT and seeing all the duplicated edges light up. The only reason it’s done is to adjust your data to make it look like you expected it to look, which is an obvious act against the most basic scientific principles: you’re supposed to use science to avoid fooling yourself, not to make it easy to fool others.

This behavior ought to be harshly punished. If image fakery became in issue when one of my peers came up for tenure or promotion, I’d reject them without hesitation. It’s not even a question: this behavior is a deep violation of scientific and ethical principles, and would make all of their work untrustworthy.

Also, this is a problem with the for-profit journal publication system. Those scientists paid money for those pages, how can we possibly enforce honesty? The bad actors wouldn’t pay us for journal articles anymore!

But guess what happens when Elisabeth Bik takes a principled stand?

Most of my fellow detectives remain anonymous, operating under pseudonyms such as Smut Clyde or Cheshire. Criticizing other scientists’ work is often not well received, and concerns about negative career consequences can prevent scientists from speaking out. Image problems I have reported under my full name have resulted in hateful messages, angry videos on social media sites and two lawsuit threats….

Things could be about to get even worse. Artificial intelligence might help detect duplicated data in research, but it can also be used to generate fake data. It is easy nowadays to produce fabricated photos or videos of events that never happened, and A.I.-generated images might have already started to poison the scientific literature. As A.I. technology develops, it will become significantly harder to distinguish fake from real.

Science needs to get serious about research fraud.

How about instantly firing people who do this? Our tenure contracts generally have a moral turpitude clause, you know. This counts.

My nightmare

This is a story that worries me.

Jinming Li, an arts and business student in the class, was an eyewitness to the event. According to Li, a man of about 20-30 years of age entered the class and asked the professor what the class was about. The man closed the door, pulled two knives out of his backpack and proceeded to attack the professor. Students ran to the back of the class to exit out of the one class entrance.

It was a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo. You know what triggered it — it was an act of stochastic terrorism driven by the right wing’s current moral panic.

The good news is that while a professor and two students were slashed, they’re alive and recovering. The attack occurred in Canada, with knives. Here in the USA, it would have been guns, probably an assault rifle, and the only question would be how high the body count would go.

We do have one thing in common with Canada: an ineffectual response to such events. Waterloo has an app they provide to students, faculty, and staff that’s supposed to send out an alert when active threats are on campus. It took 90 minutes to send out warnings, well after the danger was over.

Another judge caught with his snout in the trough

Here we go again. Justice John Roberts has been profiting from his position via his wife’s lucrative headhunting.

Jane Roberts was paid more than $10 million by a host of elite law firms, a whistleblower alleges.
At least one of those firms argued a case before Chief Justice Roberts after paying his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Details of Jane Roberts’ work come as Congress struggles to reform the Court’s self-policed ethics.

Here, let’s slather a little more juicy slop into the trough. He refuses to testify about Supreme Court ethics because it might compromise “separation of powers concerns” and “judicial independence.”

Chief Justice John Roberts has notified Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin that he won’t testify at an upcoming hearing on Supreme Court ethics, instead releasing a new statement signed by all nine justices that is meant to provide “clarity” to the public about the high court’s ethics practices.

When will congress learn that you don’t ask the crooks to dictate what the law should be? You tell them.

The rapist who would be president

I guess this must not be an important story, because both the NY Times and the Washington Post have buried it in small articles far down on their pages…but it seems like it ought to be a big deal. Donald Trump is being tried for the rape of E. Jean Carroll. The leading Republican candidate for the presidency has been credibly accused of rape. Maybe we ought to care a lot more about that? Everything in the account is consistent, and fits with what we know about the man. Carroll has testified:

In a heart-wrenching testimony, Carroll told her story once again: She hung out with Trump on a whim. They bantered. Then he raped her. She was so scarred by the experience, she said, that she was “unable to ever have a romantic life again.” This, too, is consistent with her first public recounting of this story, published in her book and in New York magazine in 2019: “I have never had sex with anybody ever again.”

Donald Trump is the cure for desire. I believe it.

While Carroll has been present and bravely telling a story that clearly hurts her deeply, Trump is not present in the courtroom. His lawyers (who are scum-sucking creeps, whose only defense is to slander the victim) have wisely chosen to keep him away.

Of course, there’s a pragmatic reason to keep Trump away, which is that he’s too undisciplined. He can’t keep his story straight regarding sexual abuse, and whether he’s for it or against it. During the deposition, for instance, Trump tried to stick to his story that no encounter happened. But, being the sexist pig he is, he kept veering very close to contradicting himself in order to invoke another sexist myth about rape, which is that victims are asking for it.

“She actually indicated that she loved it,” he grumbled during the October 19, 2022 testimony, referring to a CNN interview he watched with Carroll. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

Carroll’s attorney almost caught him, by replying, “So, sir, I just want to confirm:· It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?” Seemingly realizing his screw-up, Trump back-tracked and started dithering about how he was merely speculating about her mental acuity based on a cable news program. But one can see from this, and from Trump’s social media posts, why his lawyers are so worried he will let some damning detail slip if he’s under the pressure of cross-examination.

He’s a corrupt fool and a rapist, but he’s still running for the highest office in the land. The Supreme Court has been packed with corrupt and untrustworthy lickspittles to the rich. There is no justice in America.

Another Supreme Court justice bought & paid for

We have the receipts: Neil Gorsuch has a great big conflict of interest.

For nearly two years beginning in 2015, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sought a buyer for a 40-acre tract of property he co-owned in rural Granby, Colo.

Nine days after he was confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, the then-circuit court judge got one: The chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s biggest law firms with a robust practice before the high court. Gorsuch owned the property with two other individuals.

On April 16 of 2017, Greenberg’s Brian Duffy put under contract the 3,000-square foot log home on the Colorado River and nestled in the mountains northwest of Denver, according to real estate records.

It’s not as if this was an attempt to curry favor with a judge presiding over big cases…

Since then, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court


I guess when the process for appointing him was corrupt, you can’t expect a mere Supreme Court justice to behave ethically.

All sheriffs are bad, too

They’re just cops in cowboy hats, you know. Anyway, a small town newspaper in Oklahoma left a recording device in a meeting room when various county officials had a meeting. He “wanted to prove that officials were discussing county business after the meeting had ended in violation of the state’s open-meeting law.” He got a bit more than he expected.

A small newspaper in rural Oklahoma secretly recorded what it said was an illegal public meeting where a county official talked about hanging Black people and several officials spoke of hiring hit men and digging holes for two of the newspaper’s reporters.

Them good ol’ boys were having a grand time chatting about all the crimes they wanted to commit: killing troublesome reporters, hanging black folk, all the stuff we usually just imagine rotten county officials talking about in back room meetings. They do!

Jennings: It’s like somebody wanting this job, they don’t realize, like your job. I heard it the other day, said I heard 2 or 12 people were going for sheriff. I said fuck, lets get 20. They don’t have a goddamn clue what they’re getting into. Not this day and age. I’m gonna tell you something. If it was back in the day, when that when Alan Marshton would take a damn black guy and whoop their ass and throw him in the cell? I’d run for fucking sheriff.

Sheriff: Yeah. Well, It’s not like that nomore.

Jennings: I know. Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got.

It’s no fair, nowadays Black people have the right to not be hanged. Makes a fella pine for the good ol’ days.

You know, these kinds of attitudes don’t just spring up out of nowhere. It says the leading citizens of that Oklahoma town have a culture that accepts casual racism and that wallows in their privilege. Fire the lot of them.

Their defense is now that it was illegal to record their conversation. They said the things, you just weren’t supposed to hear them.

At least it’s reassuring that real brave journalism still exists in small pockets around the country.

You can’t teach this

It might make someone uncomfortable about racism in America.

It’s a crime to ring a doorbell while black in America.

Ralph Yarl, a 16 year old Black boy, was shot twice by a white man in North Kansas City after accidentally ringing the doorbell of the wrong home while attempting to pick up his sibling. The white man reportedly shot Ralph in the head through the glass door, then when Yarl was already bleeding out on the ground, shot him again. The family has described it as a hate crime, and community members are calling for justice for the young victim.

The perpetrator of this vicious crime is in jail, at least. He is in jail, right? Right?

Reports indicate that the white man was taken to the police headquarters briefly to provide a statement but was released shortly after without charge. Yarl’s family is outraged that the perpetrator has not been held accountable.

Unbelievable. He shot an unarmed boy who only rang his doorbell, and put a second bullet in him while he was lying on the ground, and the police didn’t recognize that he committed an act of attempted murder? Let me guess: Missouri has a ‘stand your ground’ law.

Texas takes another step into the abyss

Daniel Perry was an uber driver who ran a red light, drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, and when one of them approached his car carrying an AK-47 (which, stupid and dangerous as it is, is legal in Texas), opened fire with a handgun and killed him. He was found guilty of murder in a jury trial.

In Texas. After he threatened to kill someone online.

Perry’s defense team argued that he acted in self-defense, but prosecutors contended that Perry instigated what happened. They highlighted a series of social media posts and Facebook messages in which Perry made statements that they said indicated his state of mind, such as he might “kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex.”

A friend responded, “Can you legally do so?” Perry replied, “If they attack me or try to pull me out of my car then yes.”

Guess what? The governor wants to free him immediately.

Abbott wants an army of undisciplined thugs who will murder people he doesn’t like. It’s the authoritarian mindset.

“It’s what happens in Uganda or El Salvador,” said Cofer, a former prosecutor. “Total abrogation of the rule of law. And what’s even worse is that Abbott knows better. He was a smart Texas Supreme Court Justice. He knows this is legally wrong. Profoundly wrong. Pure politics.”

But it works! I know I would never consider living in Texas. I won’t even visit the state anymore. Abbott is doing a great job of driving anyone who would oppose him away.