Thursday, November 12, 2015

Can't leave these people alone for even a day (links and stuff)

On Tuesday night, the Republican Presidential Candidates tried to murder me. They did this by having a debate on TV again.  Usually this isn't particularly life-threatening, in and of itself.  It can be if  you consider the part where one of the participants actually becomes President and inevitably makes decisions that end up killing all sorts of people. But leaving that aside, the debates don't usually hurt people.  This one did, though.

The details of just what happened are a little hazy even now.  Here's what I think I heard.  I remember Ben Carson telling us that before 1913, everyone used to live in pyramids which is why we don't need a minimum wage anymore.  And I think Marco Rubio said he wanted to send philosophy majors to metal shop reeducation camps, or something.  This represents a significant pay cut but is probably necessary so that we'll have enough people to work on Donald Trump's wall which, now, will stretch all the way from Laredo to Jerusalem. Jeb wants to "re-think" pretty much the entire US economy. Rand Paul said he can balance the budget using a take a penny, leave a penny jar. And Ted Cruz wants to do it by shutting down both of the Departments of Commerce. Carly said, "we just don't know.." about a bunch of stuff that is actually easily looked up. But she does know "what's in the secret sauce."

All of that is pretty much par for the course for these guys. At least, a seasoned veteran of these events should be able to swallow it without much difficulty. So.. and again.. this is where it gets foggy.. I think it was when the FOX Biz moderators told us to follow along by typing a hashtag into Facebook that my involuntary guffaw caused a large unchewed piece of General Tso chicken to get lodged in my esophagus.

Obviously, it's embarrassing for any adult to cope with something as simple as not having properly chewed his food.  So it was only after another hour and a half of unsuccessful gulping and gagging that Menckles finally forced us to the emergency room.  The debate was still happening so this might have been about the same time the candidates were agreeing that affordable health care was ruining America.  Anyway, it had to be done.

When this happens to a person, there are two steps to the ER treatment.  First they try to relax you into swallowing with Glucagon and Valium.  When that doesn't work, they wheel you upstairs and dislodge the obstruction by knocking you out and shoving a big long selfie stick down your gullet. And this is the story of how, because I started the night laughing at some Republicans but ended up having medical care literally rammed down my throat.  Must be a lesson in there somewhere.

Anyway, there were drugs involved so the next 24 hours are a bit blurry to me.  I did continue to use the internet during this time so there were links bookmarked.  They don't present a pretty picture of what the world was like while I was away, though.

For instance, here's a NOLA.com report on the family responsible for running the Bourbon Street strip clubs recently shut down by the State Police.
As a result of "Operation Trick or Treat," Hebert temporarily suspended alcohol permits of nine establishments, including Lipstixxx, Centerfolds and Scores. Those three clubs were cited with a combined 14 counts of prostitution, eight drug-related violations, and 10 counts of lewd and improper acts, ATC said.

Temptations, another Olano club, was cited with three counts of prostitution, one drug violation and two lewd acts, ATC said. One of the citations for prostitution concerned an incident on Nov. 6, about a week and a half after the initial violations were announced.

At an administrative hearing Monday (Nov. 9), the Olanos' attorney, Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, said the clubs fired every employee named in the investigation and proposed additional measures that would allow the clubs to remain open. Those proposals included hiring an independent security firm for each of the cited clubs, and reporting to ATC any illegal activity the firms find. She said Centerfolds closed permanently the same day its license was suspended, though a manager for the clubs said that was a business decision.
Upon having been "shocked" to learn of the drugs and hookers being sold through their establishments, the owners fired a bunch of people. Who knows what happens to the newly unemployed. The Family will be ok, though. It's not the first time and after this timeout is over they'll get to keep using everybody this way.  It's really no different from the way the Brennans do business. Only the product is different.. slightly.

Here is Chris Christie saying that the (relatively mild) campus unrest in the news lately is happening because of "lawlessness" perpetuated by President Obama.
Christie was asked about protests against perceived racism at the University of Missouri and Yale University, and he blamed President Barack Obama for encouraging students to undermine civic order.

“I think part of this is a product of the president’s own unwillingness and inability to bring people together,” Christie said at a campaign event in Iowa.

“When people think justice is not applied evenly and fairly, they take matters into their own hands,” Christie said. “The lawlessness that the president has allowed to exist in this country just absolutely strips people of hope. Our administration would stand for the idea that justice is not just a word, but it’s a way of life. Laws will be applied evenly, fairly, and without bias to everyone.”

The GOP candidate earlier in the day blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for what he and other conservatives say is a growing trend of anti-police violence — although violence against police is at a 45-year low.
Whichever Republican becomes the nominee is going to run heavily on white resentment against the Black Lives Matter movement.  Christie lays it on a little more heavily than some of the other candidates do. But regardless of the candidate, "law and order" is going to be a key message.

Here is a  Barbie doll that spies on your kids.
Using Hello Barbie involves recording voice data (see the privacy policy here) and requires parental consent. However, Mattel states that "parents and guardians are in control of their child's data and can manage this data through the ToyTalk account." The company also states that the recordings are protected under the "Children's Online Privacy Protection Act," and recordings containing personal information will be deleted once they "become aware of it."

Still, the potential for misuse of this private data is a legitimate concern. "Obviously it is a security and privacy nightmare," said Roman Yampolskiy, director of the Cybersecurity Lab at the University of Louisville. "[The] company [is] collecting data from kids—hackers [could be] getting access to private info."

However, like Turkle, Yampolskiy is "more concerned about social development of the children interacting with it."

"We are basically running an experiment on our kids and have no idea if it will make them socially awkward, incapable of understanding body language, tone of voice and properly empathize with others," he said.
Meanwhile we're also running a similar experiment on everybody.

Everybody knows Facebook is creepy. Nonetheless, all this time it never occurred to me to delete my account until it began doing this: Trying to act like a person. Pretending we are on a first-name basis.
We often imagine the inevitable future tech dystopia will be cold, populations marching under the eye of sterile robot overlords, our speech monitored and scrubbed of sentiment and intonation. 

Increasingly, though, it seems like we’re hurtling toward the opposite: A singularity of smarm, where performative — maybe even excessive — intimacy is the order of the day.
It's not just that "smarm" and affected intimacy is everywhere and annoying, it's becoming something of a professional prerequisite.
Pretending at closeness is really the only way forward for anyone who wants to make money on the internet. As such, watch as organizations pretend, with increasing intensity, that they are individuals. Start counting how many times platforms, services and websites entreat you in human voices, with awkward humor, for money. Watch as the things we expect to be invisible, utilitarian, start oozing emojis and winky-smileys. Even Silicon Valley, global epicenter of whitewashed empathy voids and 1-percenter sci-fi wank fantasies, is going to pretend it cares about you. Especially Silicon Valley. Ugh.

Your inbox is going to fill up with requests for professional favors from strangers who tell you they love you. They are not remotely your peers, but they’ll expect you to work for them anyway for exposure, for credit, for kudos, for ‘the community’. They add emojis for effect, too. Your feelings are now professional currency.
Remember that mass freak-out last week when Twitter changed "stars" to "hearts"?  That's just another expression of this brand of language pollution.  It's a result of our allowing the relentless "positivity" of corporate branding to infiltrate both our personal space to a frightening degree, but also to corrupt our civic spaces which, on the internet, are becoming fewer and more isolated.
As well as providing an online space for socialising and discussion, Twitter plays an important role in the working lives of many – particularly journalists. Its ubiquity makes it a valuable space to find sources, get story ideas and break news. In fact, many news publications regularly publish stories consisting entirely of Tweets.

Activists and campaigners have used Twitter to bring important issues into the public sphere and force them to be taken seriously by both the media and politicians. #BlackLivesMatter is a powerful example of a Twitter hashtag that transformed into a movement for civil rights and racial justice.

Trying to revert this apparatus into a “regular” social media network, with all the gimmicks and shovelware that comes with that, fails to acknowledge that Twitter just can’t make money from its core purpose. That should be proof enough that casual social interaction and its ability to shape news and current affairs are anathema to the desire for profit.
The internet is a powerful communications tool. But as it becomes tailored more and more finely to serve commerce, it becomes less and less useful to the preservation of democracy. Somebody should do something about that. No one will.

Let's see.. what else happened...

Oh yes well we're still trying to make a Governor.  It's gonna cost a lot of money to do that.
Contributions are pouring into Democrat John Bel Edwards campaign for governor.

Edwards reported raising more than $750,000 between Sunday and Monday.

The contributions are detailed in a 31-page “special report” filed with state campaign finance offices.
You can see Edwards's dramatic boost in fundraising post-primary represented graphically here.  Still, Vitter did get the LABI endorsement. (Surprising, only in that LABI officially made one at all.) He's also still pulling in that sweet, sweet, sinkhole money.
On the day of the Oct. 24 primary, five companies that share an address with Houston-based Texas Brine gave $25,000 to Republican David Vitter’s campaign for governor.

None of the donations came directly from Texas Brine, the company widely blamed for the 31-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole, but all are affiliated with the company that has been fighting a class action lawsuit in Assumption Parish.
According to this UNO Poll, Edwards looks like he's in pretty good shape over all.  But that result is probably overstated. There's a week left to play and we're still not sure who the "likely voters" really are in this one.  Meanwhile, you can still early vote until Saturday. Here's a look at how the early voting had been going as of yesterday.

And I think that brings us more or less up to date. How is your week going so far? 

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