Friday, August 02, 2013

Today's Internets - "I think one of the bigger lessons the internet has taught us is that “niche” or “subculture” are a lot bigger than anyone ever thought."


So much fail to go around - The Diplomatic Doldrums - By Nicholas Kralev | Foreign Policy
"How is the State Department ever going to get a bigger budget if Congress isn’t clear about what it actually does?

Many in Congress simply do not see diplomacy as a vital component of U.S. national security. They view it as something that is useful under certain circumstances, but not necessarily crucial to protecting American interests. To a startling degree, this disconnect appears to be the product of ignorance. Members and their staffers don't know exactly what U.S. diplomats do every day at all 275 overseas posts to advance U.S. interests -- whether it is helping foreign countries build infrastructure, reform judicial systems, enhance counterterrorism programs, or improve their economies. Members of Congress have a vague idea of what U.S. diplomats are up to, but clearly not enough to justify continuing the current year's funding level...

In fact, a bigger part of the responsibility for educating and informing Congress about U.S. diplomatic activities lies with the State Department, which hasn't done a good enough job on this front, all of the respondents in my study agreed. "State should find creative ways to show how the work of the Foreign Service affects the lives of ordinary Americans," a House Democratic aide said. A senior Senate Democratic aide concurred: "You have to make the connection for the members and for the public that this is something that relates to their daily lives. You have to do a much more sophisticated job of selling the relevance of the institution." Another senior House Republican aide added: "They should be the ones getting the message out on what it is they do and what value they add to our government."

But the distrust flows both ways. Skepticism of Congress and insufficient understanding of its role in U.S. foreign policy were also cited by most respondents as a reason for the rift between Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill. "State does not trust us," explained one House Democratic aide. "They don't think we deserve all the information. State's perception is that we do all the leaking, which is not true. Right now, because of the trust deficit, it becomes more adversarial." Likewise, a Senate Republican staffer said that Foreign Service officers "view Congress as an annoyance and an impediment. It stops them from what they want to do. That's one of the reasons they are disliked up here. They are famous for having an attitude of superiority, like they are the cream of the crop and don't necessarily need to be wasting their time on our issues." At the same time, the aide conceded that "people are more competent in the Foreign Service relative to other agencies; I think they are higher quality.""

This looks excellent.

"When you better yourself in any way, don’t expect a congratulations from most of the people you know. They don’t want you to be better than them."

"My kids and I figured out that there’s a third kind of person, and I don’t know what you call them, but it’s somebody who sees that the glass is always full because it’s half full with water and half full with nothing, so that’s the third kind of person. I don’t know what it is." — Louis CK

"CNN is now reporting that “dozens” of CIA employees were on the ground in Benghazi at the time of the attack...

CNN's exclusive, of course, is not the first mention of CIA involvement in Benghazi. The second part of the Benghazi attack was on the CIA annex in the Libyan city. The CIA apparently was not sure how the attackers knew about the facility in the first place. Paula Broadwell, the intelligence officer-cum-palace journalist whose affair with David Petraeus ended the general’s career as CIA director, believed the CIA annex in Benghazi was a secret prison and that the attack was a jihadi jailbreak (something we’ve seen from Iraq to Pakistan in recent months)...

President Obama and administration officials, of course, chose to blame a video, something that was known to be patently false very early on in the aftermath, both to US officials on the ground and anyone who was paying attention and had half a clue. The latest revelations about the extent of the CIA presence in Benghazi on September 11, and the extent to which the administration is trying to prevent it, at least provide some minor insight as to why the Obama Administration was so committed to the lie of the video.

I argued a few months ago that the answer to Hillary Clinton’s question of “what difference does it make?” what the facts on Benghazi are is that it betrays a complete disregard for truthfulness from this administration to the public. That continues."

"The vast majority of law enforcement professionals are just that — professional — but those who behave like the officers in this column create a toxic relationship between the public they serve and the entire police department. These officers should be fired immediately." --  Police Threatened to Arrest Me for Taking Their Photo Last Night | Slog: " of the officers eyed me and yelled something like, "He's got a camera!" King County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Patrick "K.C." Saulet rushed over and told me to leave or be arrested. He claimed I was standing on transit station property; the plaza belongs to King County Metro's International District Station and I could not stand there, he said. I backed up about two feet over the line that he pointed out (two parts of the same walkway) until I was unambiguously on the City of Seattle's sidewalk, near a utility pole by the curb. But Officer Saulet then insisted that I would be arrested unless I left the entire block.  Now, let me pause for a second to say this: When the US Department of Justice alleged that the Seattle Police Department was routinely using excessive force, federal prosecutors stressed in their report that officers were escalating ordinary interactions into volatile, sometimes violent, situations. Now a federal court controls the SPD under a reform plan, and the King County Sheriff's Department has faced extensive scrutiny for officer misconduct, so the two agencies should be showing more civility on the beat. Or so you'd think.

Back to Saulet: "You need to leave or you're coming with me," he said while repeating his arrest threat yet again. Commuters, shoppers, and vagrants were milling about the sidewalk and plaza—some people were passing closer to the center of the police activity than I was—but I was the only one on that busy block told to leave (the guy watching the police and taking their picture). I hadn't tried speaking to the officers or bothering them in any way, I hadn't even identified myself as a reporter, and I was standing on public property. The officers did not accuse me of any offense other than standing there. At this point, the man police were questioning had left. So I asked for the officer's name—I wanted to know who was threatening to arrest me—and he pointed to his embroidered shirt breast; as I took a photo of it, he lifted his hand, apparently in an attempt to block the shot.  (What I didn't know at the time is that Sergeant Saulet has a long history of abusive policing. In 2006, the Seattle PI reported the he has 12 sustained misconduct complaints against him and "one of the worst misconduct histories in the King County Sheriff's Office." Two years later, The Stranger reported that Saulet had been reprimanded five times for excessive use of force and four times for improper personal conduct. Nonetheless, Saulet has kept his job and his estimable rank as sergeant.) 

After snapping Saulet's picture, I rode my bike across the street because I didn't want to get arrested, even though standing on the sidewalk and taking photos of police from a reasonable distance seemed legal. I was jotting down a few notes so I'd remember what happened when I saw three officers leaving the scene. I asked them who at the scene was the commanding officer. They explained that they were Seattle cops and they didn't know which county officer was in charge. Then Seattle police officer John Marion asked why I was asking. I explained to him that I'd just been threatened with arrest for standing on the sidewalk (even though he'd just watched the whole thing), so I wanted to know who was in charge and if he thought it was illegal to stand on the sidewalk. Instead of answering, Officer Marion asked why I was asking him questions.  I explained that I'm a reporter and I didn't think I'd broken any laws. He asked what news outlet I worked for. The Stranger, I told him.  Then Officer Marion said this: "I'm going to come into The Stranger and bother you while you're at work." He asked for my business card so he could get the address to come to my office, and, twice more, he threatened to come harass me at work. His point, he said, was that I was "harassing" him. In other words, I stopped and asked matter-of-fact questions in a normal tone, and this SPD officer—with two colleagues at his side—escalated the situation without prompt or segue by threatening to "bother" me at my job.

Last night and today I followed up with the county and city police departments. Both confirm that taking photos of officers and standing on public property—staying out of their way, like I was—is legal. Although she was not able to comment on this specific incident, King County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Sergeant Cindi West explains, "It's a free country, and as long as you have a legal right to be there, you can take a picture." She elaborated in an e-mail that "in general a person cannot be ordered to stop photographing or to leave property if they have a legal right to be there. Additionally, if a group of people are in an area legally we could not order just one person to leave."

Speaking on behalf of the Seattle Police Department, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said, "It is our job—it is our job—to politely answer reasonable questions from members of the public when it is safe to do so." He then confirmed that questions regarding the on-scene commanding officer and legality of sidewalk standing are reasonable. "The public does not expect us to threaten them with a workplace visit for the sole purpose of bothering them," Sergeant Whitcomb added. Let me be the first say it: This is not a big case. Seattle police have punched, kicked, and killed people in recent years. What happened to me was minor. But I'm writing about it because it's minor. Officers went out of their way to threaten a civilian with arrest and workplace harassment for essentially no reason. Because they could. Because they didn't like being watched."

Cool Runnings, still Awesome - Fun Fact: ‘Little Giants’ and ‘Cool Runnings’ Were Written Under the Influence of Heroin -
"Tommy Swerdlow is the name of the guy who wrote the scripts for childhood-defining kids films like Little Giants, Cool Runnings, and Sherk. Tommy Swerdlow was also a massive heroin addict at the time those films were made, as revealed in a Reddit AMA. How's that for a childhood-shaking dose of reality?"

"And finally, this is his favorite quote from Cool Runnings. Who could disagree?"

 "Periodic Boing Boing contributor Michelle Catalano was internet-profiled and then raided at home by terrorism task force investigators who apparently found her internet browsing history suspicious, not that anyone's looking at the internet habits of innocent Americans, no, that's definitely not happening."

"Steven Moffat: 
The decision is made and the time has come to reveal who’s taking over the Tardis. For the last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking 12. 

BBC Drama Controller Ben Stephenson: 
We can’t wait to unveil the next Doctor with everyone live on BBC1 on Sunday night." 

"In Dead Pig Collector, the process of disposing of a body is fairly well detailed. How much research did you do for that? 

Four or five hours. Believe it or not, a lot of people seem to spend time talking on the internet about getting rid of bodies. And now they’re all on PRISM-generated watchlists. And so am I...  I think one of the bigger lessons the internet has taught us is that “niche” or “subculture” are a lot bigger than anyone ever thought. And, frankly, if it’s on the internet, the biggest and widest communication and information system in the world, then it’s not really a subculture any more. If it’s accessible by hundreds of millions of people, then it’s as mainstream as it gets. More people visit body modification websites than watch some tv shows, and yet we think of television as the most mainstream, monocultural thing in the world. How can you not be interested in them? They are the shape of the world to come."

"...You see, Skype wasn't changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users, because the government was already able to eavesdrop on users.

At a Senate hearing in March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper assured the committee that his agency didn't collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans. He was lying, too. He later defended his lie by inventing a new definition of the word "collect," an excuse that didn't even pass the laugh test.

As Edward Snowden's documents reveal more about the NSA's activities, it's becoming clear that we can't trust anything anyone official says about these programs. Google and Facebook insist that the NSA has no "direct access" to their servers. Of course not; the smart way for the NSA to get all the data is through sniffers. Apple says it's never heard of PRISM. Of course not; that's the internal name of the NSA database...

Both government agencies and corporations have cloaked themselves in so much secrecy that it's impossible to verify anything they say; revelation after revelation demonstrates that they've been lying to us regularly and tell the truth only when there's no alternative...

This sort of thing can destroy our country. Trust is essential in our society. And if we can't trust either our government or the corporations that have intimate access into so much of our lives, society suffers. Study after study demonstrates the value of living in a high-trust society and the costs of living in a low-trust one. Rebuilding trust is not easy, as anyone who has betrayed or been betrayed by a friend or lover knows, but the path involves transparency, oversight and accountability. Transparency first involves coming clean. Not a little bit at a time, not only when you have to, but complete disclosure about everything. Then it involves continuing disclosure. No more secret rulings by secret courts about secret laws. No more secret programs whose costs and benefits remain hidden.

...democracy can't work unless voters know what the government is doing in their name. That's why we have open-government laws. Secret courts making secret rulings on secret laws, and companies flagrantly lying to consumers about the insecurity of their products and services, undermine the very foundations of our society."

"Yes folks that is Ron Glass, Shepherd Book of Firefly, joining the cast of SHIELD. Which, excellent."

Every once in a while this occurs to me.  It always freaks me right the fuck out.  It's too big.

I don't get at all the appeal of this show, nor this actress.  I watched, once,  maybe the better part of two episodes, and wanted to stab myself in the face - Lena Dunham Hand Fed On The Set Of ‘Girls’ | What Would Tyler Durden Do:

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