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Silnith’s Lair

Jul. 20th, 2017

11:35 pm - Russian adoptions.

Trump Jr. says his meeting with a lawyer for the Russian government only talked about adoptions. He thinks this somehow exonerates him because he wasn’t colluding with a foreign government representative. Here’s what needs to be repeated as often and loudly as possible.

When the Russian government talks about Americans adopting Russian orphans, what they mean is Lift US sanctions against Putin and his murdering associates.

This isn’t immediately obvious, which is why Putin’s agents are doing it. But have no doubt at all, whenever a Russian agent says adoptions, they mean lift US sanctions and nothing else. So what Trump Jr. is actually saying is, I met with a lawyer for the Russian government after the lawyer promised me illegal help with our campaign, and when we got to the meeting, the Russian government lawyer immediately started talking about lifting US sanctions on Putin’s friends.

Read that a few more times. This is blatant admission of criminal activity. There is no "if", "but", or "maybe". It is illegal. This is offering aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States, which is defined in the Constitution as treason.

Just to lay it all out as repeatedly as possible, this is the sequence. There was a Russian named Sergei Magnitsky who exposed a massive tax-theft scam by Putin’s associates. (Massive as in hundreds of millions of dollars equivalent.) Sergei Magnitsky was key in the investigation into Putin’s associates when he was murdered in jail pending trial.

In response to this obvious corruption and criminal activity, the US passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012 to freeze the American assets of Russian officials guilty of gross abuse of human rights (like murder).

In retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, Putin froze all the adoptions of Russian orphans by American parents, and told the Americans that the freeze would remain in place until they convinced Congress to repeal the Magnitsky Act. So Putin is responsible for adoptions being halted. The US is not responsible for that happening. And Putin has been very clear that it is inextricably linked to the sanctions.

So every time you hear Trump Jr., or a Republican talking head, or even Trump himself say that Putin or Russian government lawyers or Russian diplomats are only talking about adoptions, remember that they are really saying the Russians are trying to convince them to lift US sanctions against criminal Russian officials.

Trump himself just admitted to yet another undisclosed conversation with Putin, and he said it was centered around adoptions. That means that, once again, Trump is admitting to collusion with Putin against American interests. It is really not possible to overstate just how significant and damaging to America this all is.

Jun. 23rd, 2017

12:51 am - GOP "healthcare" bill

The GOP should name its healthcare bill KTP.

Kill The Poor

The modern Republican party wants poor people to die in agony. They really do. If you're a multi-millionaire, you get subsidized by everybody else's tax money. If you're poor, you die in agony from preventable illnesses.

How did the political party of my grandfather turn from a reasonable and rational collection of ideas into a fascist mouthpiece for billionaire propaganda?

Dec. 19th, 2016

12:09 am - message to the Electoral College

This is what I ended up mailing to the members of the Electoral College last week. Sadly, nearly 200,000 other people also mailed to them, so the chance my message was read is virtually zero.

This is an attempt to summarize the clear rational argument for why the Electoral College should reject Donald Trump on December 19th, and instead elect Bernie Sanders.

  1. President Trump is an existential threat to the United States of America.
    1. His Cabinet is filled with white nationalists. ( NYTimes DemographicsPro Mother Jones )
      1. "White nationalists" is what neo-Nazis named themselves to avoid the stigma of "Nazi". ( CNN Vanity Fair )
      2. They have already put forward the idea of re-introducing internment camps like we put Japanese-American citizens in during World War 2. ( Business Insider Reuters )
        1. President Reagan apologized for those internment camps, to bring them back is to dishonor his memory. ( NPR Smithsonian )
      3. There has been a surge in hate crimes since Trump's victory. This surge will become a pattern once Trump takes office. ( Forbes Slate )
    2. He plans to cut all funding for NASA's climate change research. ( The Guardian Deutsche Welle )
      1. The current warming projections depend on massive investments in carbon-capture technology. ( International Energy Agency Global CCS Institute The Guardian Springer )
        1. Carbon capture technology does not exist yet. ( The Verge Carbon Brief MIT Technology Review MIT Technology Review )
      2. Without NASA's research, we will see warming of at least double what is agreed to in the Paris accords. ( EPA The White House )
        1. The Paris accords have already been adopted by other major polluters such as China. ( Scientific American NY Times )
        2. The US is the largest polluter, without our action all other nations' actions are largely useless. ( The Atlantic )
    3. His Cabinet is filled with the very corrupt people he promised to eliminate from Washington. ( NYTimes Washington Post The Intercept )
    4. He will have complete control over the most powerful spy agencies in the world.
      1. The NSA can literally record all text and voice communication across the country. ( Wired Schneier on Security The Guardian CNET Vice )
        1. This information can end up in the hands of the FBI, the IRS, and local police. ( Reuters Techdirt Techdirt Extreme Tech )
        2. The potential for blackmail and other forms of control is limitless. ( Business Insider The Telegraph kieran healy NY Mag EFF The Intercept WashingtonsBlog Reuters Huffington Post )
      2. We have already built the nationwide apparatus for totalitarianism. The only thing we are missing is a strong leader to come into power and use it for ill purposes. ( University of Chicago Press Daily Kos McClatchy DC Wired )
      3. Donald Trump has a history of petty and vindictive behavior. ( )
  2. President-Elect Trump does not have a mandate.
    1. He lost the popular vote. ( Inquisitr CS Monitor USA Today IBT )
    2. Polling during the primary process showed he would have lost to Bernie Sanders by a landslide. ( Huffington Post Real Clear Politics )
      1. Those same polls predicted a very close race between Clinton and Trump, which is exactly what played out in the general election.
  3. The Electoral College is not legally bound by the popular vote. ( Politico )
    1. If it were, George W. Bush would not have been allowed into office his first term, he lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote.
  4. The Electoral College was originally intended to be a final government check on blind public sentiment.
    1. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that the Electors were meant to be men of conscience and wisdom who would select an appropriate leader without being swayed by the passions of capricious public sentiment. ( Wikipedia )
  5. We cannot elect Donald Trump.
    1. His stated positions and actions match the textbook definition of fascism. ( The New Yorker Salon Slate Newsweek )
      1. Our grandparents died by the millions fighting fascism in Europe. To allow it to take hold in the US is to spit on their memories.
    2. Russia ran a concerted campaign to support Donald Trump. ( Associated Press USA Today CNN )
      1. Eighteen different national intelligence agencies have all said Russia was openly and deliberately trying to sway the American election for Trump. ( Chicago Tribune NY Times FactCheck.org )
      2. When Trump's victory was announced, the Russian parliament broke into a raucous ovation. ( The Independent Public Radio International The Daily Beast )
      3. Russia spent millions on propaganda efforts to smear Clinton.
        1. The claims that Clinton would start war with Russia originated in Russian-spread propaganda. ( Fortune Forbes The Gateway Pundit Foreign Policy Russia Insider )
      4. Russia hacked every one of Trump's opponents' campaigns, but did not hack Trump's campaign. ( Raw Story NBC News Wired )
      5. Allowing Trump to gain office is to allow Russia to succeed in their plan to subvert American democracy.
  6. We cannot elect Hillary Clinton. ( Salon Daily News Bin )
    1. Clinton's disapproval ratings are second only to Trump's. ( ABC News Gallup )
    2. A huge swath of the population voted specifically to deny Clinton the Presidency. ( Politics USA Hillary Men )
  7. The Electoral College must elect Bernie Sanders.
    1. The people have expressed a clear anger with the establishment parties.
      1. Both parties had "outsider" challengers that received huge public support.
      2. Electing any of the establishment Republican leadership will anger the majority of voters.
        1. Kasich is not a choice the public will accept.
        2. This anger will be bi-partisan.
    2. Bernie Sanders has bi-partisan appeal. ( Observer )
      1. He is a choice the public will accept.
    3. Bernie Sanders ran on a platform of economic populism that was very similar to Donald Trump's.
      1. There was a lot of overlap between those who supported Sanders and those who supported Trump. ( US News The Daily Beast The Atlantic Washington Post )
    4. Bernie Sanders' campaign was undercut by underhanded tactics by the DNC. ( Time Politifact Politico Washington Post )
      1. The DNC scheduled the fewest debates in recent history. ( Huffington Post Daily Caller )
      2. The DNC scheduled debates for low-viewership nights. ( Washington Post Politico National Review )
    5. Sanders is not a Democrat.
      1. Electing Sanders does not validate the DNC. It is a scenario the DNC specifically tried to prevent.
    6. Sanders is not endorsed by Vladimir Putin and the KGB.
      1. Electing Sanders is a strong rebuke of Russia's attempts to control America's democratic process. ( NY Times )

Oct. 23rd, 2016

08:47 pm - The Fourth Amendment

Yaay. My little history note actually got moderated up on Slashdot.


Jun. 25th, 2016

06:33 am - Previous post hidden

In an unsurprising development, it seems nobody who read my last post actually captured the message I was trying to convey. Consequently, I am pulling it. The intended viewers were people who watched The Daily Show, The Nightly Show, and Full Frontal regularly and had seen the last few episodes about gun control and the Orlando shooting.

Context really is everything. Without that context, the post made no sense. It gave the impression my political views were the opposite of what they actually are, and rather than try to explain all the discrepancies I am just going to pull the thing and forget it.

Current Mood: depresseddepressed

Jun. 14th, 2016

07:24 am - Serious question of the day

Come up with gun control legislation that would have prevented the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. without disarming everybody in the Civil Rights Movement.

Note that all the major figures of the movement were investigated by the FBI, so that cannot be used as a metric for denying access to firearms.

Please, I would really like to see what solutions people can create.

May. 16th, 2016

12:31 am - Beware the bison!

And in today’s “You sweet, sweet dumb-ass” story, a father and son visiting Yellowstone put a bison calf in their SUV and drove it to a ranger station because they thought the calf was freezing to death.

I admire the duo for their compassion, but I call them morons for not understanding how well bison hide and fur insulates, and for thinking that separating a calf from its mother is a good idea. I'm also a tad surprised the mother did not destroy the SUV. Next time, just try to bring a ranger with you to the calf.

Here is the Fark thread.

May. 15th, 2016

02:34 am - Oracle v. Google

The copyright case being waged between Oracle and Google right now is possibly the most critical court case to affect general-purpose computation that has ever happened. It cuts to the core aspect of software. Basically, can you use copyright law in order to apply patent-level prohibitions on what computations other people can perform.

The question is so fundamental that trying to explain its importance is like trying to explain the importance of clean air to breathe. Without it, everything stops. However, right now the case is being heard and tried by people who apparently do not understand what makes mammals function.

I have come up with a much better analogy to what an API is than the lame examples used in the article and apparently in the courtroom. A programming language is a language. It defines how we articulate thought and reason. An API is a lexicon, a vocabulary. A lexicon is not the language, but a language is useless without a lexicon. Expressions in a language are composed of invocations of the lexicon.

A lexicon cannot be restricted by copyright. It creates the semantic meaning that language is there to communicate. If people are restricted from using the lexicon, the language might as well not exist, its entire purpose is rendered void.

If Oracle prevails, then essentially the courts are saying that a company can prohibit others from using words from their lexicon. Note that this is not like a dictionary. A dictionary provides definitions for a lexicon, but it is not the lexicon itself. Many people can write dictionaries. These dictionaries will be different. But they will be very similar, because they are expressing the semantics of the lexicon. A dictionary can be covered by copyright. But the vocabulary itself cannot be. Any other person can come along and write their own dictionary that offers definitions of all the words in the vocabulary, and Merriam-Webster can do nothing to stop them. Anybody can come along and invoke the words from a dictionary, and there is nothing Merriam-Webster can do to stop them.

This is how fundamental the question of copyright applying to APIs really is. How insanely convoluted would communication be if languages were never allowed to inherit or appropriate words from other languages? What if every country that shared a language had to invent its own vocabulary completely different from every other country's vocabulary? The idea is laughable on its face.

Nevertheless, right now that very question is being decided in a courtroom, and it is going to be decided by people who do not understand what the word lexicon even means. And people who do not want to know, who denigrate the very idea that they should be cognizant of the concept.

(The saddest part of this for me is that I hate what Google did with Android and the Android RunTime. I think it was a despicable, slimy thing for them to do, and if not for that then Sun might very well still exist today. Despite all that, the case Oracle brought threatens to destroy the entire industry as collateral damage, and that is not an acceptable cost. Please consider that every other industry on Earth now depends on computing in some way. Do you really want to go back to a time when banks employed thousands of people to do interest calculations instead of having a machine to do it automatically? A world where no factories are automated and every single stitch of clothing, every morsel of food, every inch of metal or fiber is fashioned by a human hand? I sure as hell do not.)

(While I personally would not shed a tear if the stock market went back to paper-only, the world financial systems would collapse without the constant churn of high-frequency trading, according to bankers and economists.)

Current Mood: discontentdiscontent

Mar. 10th, 2016

09:00 pm - Fuck JavaScript

I am so sick and tired of every website I ever try to visit demanding that I let it run tons of arbitrary unknown code on my computer before it will show me static text. It is entirely unnecessary, 99% of what I see is just over-complicated veneer over the exact same functionality that plain HTML provided in 1997. And worse, the damn interpreted JavaScript that mimics code the browser already contains also slows down my browser by an order of magnitude as it goes through the heavyweight process of parsing the JavaScript, generating machine code for it, loading that code and then executing it; tons of memory and CPU time that is utterly wasted because what the script is doing is the same as what the browser could have done with already-loaded native code, only without all the nice features provided by modern systems such as internationalization and localization, focus control, integration with assistive technology, and so on. And worst of all, apparently Firefox cannot handle paging all of this used memory (despite my having enough RAM that paging is completely unnecessary) so whenever I try to actually use this "dynamic functionality", my entire browser window locks up completely for either a second or a minute, no clue which it will be.

Fuck you, Web Developers. I hate you and everything you do.

Current Mood: angryangry

Dec. 4th, 2015

12:32 am - I just had to turn off The Nightly Show.


I just had to turn off The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore again. The stupid fucking media is going apeshit over the latest mass shooting again, and so all my favorite late-night comedy news shows are going apeshit over guns again. Normally I try to grit my teeth and just get through it, hoping they get to something reasonable quickly. Sometimes I just cannot. Tonight I lost it when Larry had a Santa come on and say he wasn’t coming to the United States this year because everybody had guns and he was scared. He then said that it used to be so easy, he would deliver dolls and toys and nice things—<click>

Fuck you, Larry. That is not even remotely reality. Children have been asking for toy soldiers and toy guns for Christmas for far longer than you have been alive. It’s in our Christmas carols. It’s in our movies. It’s a fucking huge plot point of “A Christmas Story”! That movie is set in the 1940s, and it was based on stories written in the 1960s. Even five minutes looking around online will provide references that toy guns have been widespread for well over a century, and world-wide, not just in America.

Get off your high horse and just admit that you hate guns and want to ban them. That is really what underlies your entire refrain. Everybody loves to claim that Nobody wants to take away your guns, and that they only want common-sense restrictions. Fuck you. Taking away everybody’s guns is exactly what you want. Nothing less. As for common-sense restrictions, common sense knows that after every single media frenzy over a shooting murder, the legislation that is put forward would not have stopped that shooting! Not once has anybody responded to a shooting with legislation that would have prevented it. Not once.

Stop lying to us to further your agenda. You’re supposed to be better than the Republican party. Act like it.

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

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