July 2, 2018 in 3,108 words

The Right Abandoned Civility a Long Time Ago

So why is it always the left that’s being told to pipe down

Pictured above: A protester in front of the Supreme Court, January 15, 2014.

Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, made a fatal mistake when she politely ushered White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders off the premises. Instead of basing her objection on the discomfort of her LGBT staffers, she should simply have said serving Sanders was against her religion. She could have quoted Psalm 101:7: “No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.” Or 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” If there’s one thing the Bible has plenty of, it’s fulminations against putting up with bad people who are doing bad things. Like lying to the American people about why thousands of children were being ripped from their parents and sent hundreds of miles away with no plan to reunite them.

Freedom of religion is the right’s legal superpower. Right now, if your religion, as interpreted by you, says it’s a sin to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, and your religion says you should humiliate a woman in front of her 7-year-old rather than fulfill her prescription to end a nonviable pregnancy, and your religion says your employees shouldn’t be able to get birth control through their health insurance because God told you it was really abortion, although science says it is not, the Supreme Court says go right ahead. Your right to act like an uninformed bigot trumps the rights of LGBT people and women and workers and anyone else who gets in the way of your own personal Jesus.

Religion gives you freedom of speech denied to your opponents; the Supreme Court just struck down a California law requiring Christian “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPC) to inform women of their right to an abortion, a legal procedure, even as states force doctors to read their patients scripts falsely claiming that abortion causes breast cancer, depression, and endless regret. State legislatures cannot force a CPC volunteer from the Church of the Holy Embryo to go against her conscience, but they can definitely compel an actual doctor who has performed hundreds of procedures to go against hers.

Will Michael Cohen Join the Ranks of Trump Turncoats?

The wave of former lieutenants working against the president is not unprecedented, but its timing is.

Every president exhausts some aides’ loyalty eventually, but it usually doesn’t happen before his first midterm election. In his second summer in office, however, Donald Trump is facing a wave of defections—including tantalizing comments by Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization lieutenant and attorney, that suggest he might cooperate with prosecutors.

“My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a new interview conducted over the weekend. “I put family and country first.”

As Stephanopoulos noted in the interview, that’s a shift from previous comments Cohen has made about his allegiances—saying he’d “take a bullet” for Trump, or that he’d rather jump from a building than turn on him. Cohen replied, “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Since the April raid on Cohen’s home and office, amid a probe into several business affairs, the relationship between Trump and his former aide has become the subject of scrutiny.

‘It stinks’: Twitter gets wind of oddly named Trump tariff bill draft

Leaked Fart Act draft reportedly suggests US abandons WTO rules.

Donald Trump waves as he walks with First Lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House.

A report that Donald Trump is looking to walk away from the World Trade Organisation and instead adopt a United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act, or Fart Act, has been greeted with loud amusement on Twitter.

Axios reported that it had received a leaked early draft of a bill ordered by the president, that would see America take the unlikely step of abandoning WTO rules, allowing Trump to raise tariffs without the consent of Congress.

The bill – the existence of which has not been independently confirmed – would be a dramatic shift in trade policy with wide-reaching impacts, but it was the name of the proposed bill that caught people’s attention.

There were debates about whether the name of the act was intentional, while internet users responded with jokes, memes and even poetry.

When your personal data is stolen, you’re the last to know


By the time you’re told to change your password, it’s probably too late.

It’s a process that’s become depressingly routine. First, hackers steal a trove of personal data. Later, you are told to change your passwords and monitor your accounts for unusual activity. But by then, the damage has probably already been done.

A recent example is Ticketmaster UK, which disclosed on June 27 that personal information and payment data had likely been stolen by hackers. The ticket seller blamed malicious software that had penetrated a customer support product. However, the announcement may have taken longer than it could have: The company was warned of a likely intrusion more than two months earlier.

Monzo, a digital bank, says it detected suspicious activity stemming from some Ticketmaster customers’ accounts as far back as April 6. The London-based firm says it met with Ticketmaster to disclose its findings on April 12. A few days later, the ticket seller said its investigation hadn’t turned up anything, even though Monzo was still discovering compromised cards.

“When a bank or credit card provider alerts us to suspicious activity it is always investigated thoroughly with our acquiring bank, which processes card payments on our behalf,” a Ticketmaster spokesman said in an email. “In this case, there was an investigation, but there was no evidence that the issue originated with Ticketmaster.”

Governments can’t handle tech regulation. It’s time for companies to take over.


How do we build the systems we need to cope with and regulate the new economic and social challenges we are facing?

As anxiety mounts about the risks we face from driverless cars, artificial intelligence, and social media, it is increasingly common to hear calls for regulation, not only from legislators, but also from the corporate titans that are inventing our future.

What we don’t hear nearly enough, however, is the call to invent the future of regulation. And that’s a problem.

Our existing regulatory tools, like the online terms and conditions that we all blithely accept, and the complex regulations that government bureaucracies pile on, are not up to the task. They are not fast enough, smart enough, or accountable enough to achieve what we want them to achieve, whether that’s greater privacy, data security, or personal safety. And they are too expensive for most people to rely on.

For example, it may be too early to tell, but if the avalanche of new “click to agree” boxes on webpages in response to the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation is any indication, the effective impact on user privacy and control is going to be small because people still don’t know what they’re agreeing to. It will also be costly for individual consumers to monitor and challenge in court what corporations are actually doing with their data.

5 Science Stories The Media Screwed Up Hilariously

Sometimes you’ll see a piece of incredible scientific or medical news that’s so crazy and so unbelievable, you’ll SWEAR it’s not real. But then you click the story and you STILL can’t believe it. “There’s just no way,” you say to yourself. But lo and behold, you poor cynical reader, you’re too afraid to open your eyes and see the light of tru- op, never mind, you were right. The thing you swore was bullshit was bullshit. So how did everyone fall for it?

From journalists totally misrepresenting scientific stories to make them sound cooler to good old-fashioned failures to read the research correctly, here are five recent science stories the internet really bungled, even by internet standards.

5. You Can Survive Without Food! Wait, Nope, All Of Human History Was Right

In 2017, a story went viral about a couple that claimed they didn’t need to eat food because they lived off “the energy of the Universe.” This might immediately sound implausible to you, because you’re one of those crazy jaded skeptics who isn’t a tabloid editor cranking out 40,000 of these stories per millisecond with no regard for how eyeballs get on them, but THERE’S THE EVIDENCE RIGHT THERE IN PRINT, ya ingrate. These human beings didn’t need to eat or drink because the Universe gave them “cosmic nourishment.”

Being able to absorb energy from the Universe would solve about half the world’s problems, but nah, let’s use it to save on groceries.

The story ran in the British tabloid The Sun, then spread to The New York Post and outward into the gossipsphere, with dozens of sites straight up taking these peoples’ word at face value. After all, it’s more fun to print the story, make people mad, cash in on hate-clicks, then quietly retract it than it is to do the many, many hours of exhaustive research it surely would’ve taken to disprove their claim. Who’s telling the truth? Every organism that’s ever lived since the beginning of time, or these two randos? As with any story, we gotta hear both sides.

Turns out the couple was lying. Snopes printed an almost-immediate refutation, and The New York Post then printed two retractions to their earlier story after a full news cycle of eating up those sweet, sweet clicks (not that they needed to eat). The couple amended their story to say that they “do eat solid foods on a regular basis, just not as much as the next guy.” So that’s pretty much the same thing. “We’ve transcended the need for food and water” and “We do eat and drink, but probably less than some people” — same difference. And definitely just as newsworthy. Who knew people ate different amounts?? Get them one of those long-ass Economist profiles.

John Oliver rampages against the hysteria around gene editing on Last Week Tonight

THANKS to HBO and Last Week Tonight for making this program available on YouTube.

Introducing the segment by describing science as “math disguised as dinosaurs and outer space to try and seem interesting,” Oliver himself dressed up what could have been a drier-than-usual science fair presentation with some pretty scary stuff. And while he made merciless sport of the usual, breathless speculation of TV types (who jump immediately to “make me a unicorn!”), Oliver himself laid out some of the more realistically unsettling potential applications of this “Microsoft Word cut-and-paste” technology that has, in the hands of some suspiciously blasé Chinese geneticists, already produced some seriously “jacked, sexy beagles.” (Oliver, never one to let a poked bear calm down, also took another jab at Chinese President and guy who does not appreciate being compared to a human/Winnie The Pooh hybrid abomination Xi Jinping, who recently banned all HBO from China thanks to Oliver’s recent Pooh-bear-heavy criticism.)

As Oliver explained, though, anytime humans have the ability to tinker with the genetic makeup of living things, that whole eugenics bugaboo rears its potentially blond-haired, blue-eyed head. From eradicating “flaws” that members of, say, the deaf or dwarf communities regard as part of their identity, to stoner bing-bongs selling CRISPR do-it-yourself splicing kits out of their garages, to well-meaning but possibly disastrous monkeying around with ecosystems, there are more dangers to genetic editing than even those dingbats at Jurassic Park ever dreamt of.

How Artificial Intelligence Could Kill Capitalism

If you believe the hype, then Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to change the world in dramatic ways soon. Nay-sayers claim it will lead to, at best, rising unemployment and civil unrest, and at worst, the eradication of humanity. Advocates, on the other hand, are telling us to look forward to a future of leisure and creativity as robots take care of the drudgery and routine.

A third camp – probably the largest – are happy to admit that the forces of change which are at work are too complicated to predict and, for the moment, everything is up in the air. Previous large-scale changes to the way we work (past industrial revolutions) may have been disruptive in the short-term. However, in the long term what happened was a transfer of labor from countryside to cities, and no lasting downfall of society.

However, as author Calum Chace points out in his latest book ‘Artificial Intelligence and the Two Singularities’ this time there’s one big difference. Previous industrial revolutions involved replacing human mechanical skills with tools and machinery. This time it’s our mental functions which are being replaced – particularly our ability to make predictions and decisions. This is something which has never happened before in human history, and no one exactly knows what to expect.

The treasure hunters on a deadly quest for an eccentric’s $2m bounty

Four people have died seeking a bounty hidden in the Rockies, with only a riddle as a guide. As the casualties mount, the millionaire who buried the treasure insists it’s not a hoax.

Sacha Johnston was inching along a dirt road in a narrow canyon in northern New Mexico. “Just guide me,” Johnston said to her search partner, Cory Napier, who directed Johnston and her white Toyota 4Runner. “This road can be brutal.”

The pair had come to this starkly beautiful place, at the base of the Sangre De Cristo mountains, to hunt for a treasure rumored to be worth upwards of $2m.

Johnston, a 37-year-old real estate agent from Albuquerque, had invited the Guardian along on a search for a 10in-by-10in box of gems, gold, cash and precious antiquities that an eccentric millionaire named Forrest Fenn says he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains in 2009. To find it, one must solve the clues in a cryptic poem written by Fenn, a kind of literary treasure hunt that has inspired thousands of people to take to the country’s wildernesses and has transformed, consumed and even destroyed lives.

In 2016, a man named Randy Bilyeu went missing while searching in northern New Mexico. Since his death, at least three others – some say as many as five – have perished while searching. Bilyeu’s ex-wife blames Fenn for every one of them.

“You created a monster,” Linda Bilyeu wrote in an email to Fenn that she shared with the Guardian. She called his treasure a dangerous hoax – but whatever the case, its allure is irresistible.

The scientific reason you still believe in superstitions


Nothing to fear.

The number 13, black cats, breaking mirrors, or walking under ladders, may all be things you actively avoid—if you’re anything like the 25% of people in the US who consider themselves superstitious.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly superstitious person, you probably say “bless you” when someone sneezes, just in case the devil should decide to steal their soul—as our ancestors thought possible during a sneeze.

Superstition also explains why many buildings do not have a 13th floor—preferring to label it 14, 14A 12B or M (the 13th letter of the alphabet) on elevator button panels because of concerns about superstitious tenants. Indeed, 13% of people in one survey indicated that staying on the 13th floor of a hotel would bother them—and 9% said they would ask for a different room.

On top of this, some airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa, do not have a 13th row. Lufthansa also has no 17th row—because in countries like Italy and Brazil—the typical unlucky number is 17 and not 13.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Robert Reich explains what you can do to get involved to oppose the Trump administration.
Watch More: Trump’s Takeover of the Courts ►► https://youtu.be/81cUgWVA6tg

Vice President Mike Pence delivers a hard-line immigration message in Brazil, and a police dog in Spain goes viral for its ability to mimic CPR.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

The Opposition may be airing its final episode, but Jordan isn’t going anywhere – mark our words.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Opposition with Jordan Klepper for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here’s me commentary on a comical arrest up in Canada.

広々とした新しいお家。This is the new wide house of stag beetle.

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

In honor of the upcoming Purge movie, here’s our whole Purge series strung together!




Just remember all the good the purge does.

In the shadow of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, upon New York Bay, floats the least populated and most disconnected of New York City’s five boroughs, Staten Island. It doesn’t have Manhattan’s status, Brooklyn’s swagger, Queens’s culture, or the Bronx’s grit. Many New York transplants and tourists don’t even bother visiting “the forgotten borough,” as some residents call it.

Bridges connect this suburban borough of blue-collar workers and middle-class families to the urban sprawl of neighboring Brooklyn and the shores of New Jersey. Boats ferry residents to bustling Manhattan.

Both transports can swiftly be shut down, making Staten Island the perfect place for an experiment like the Purge.

In the Blumhouse and Universal Pictures film franchise, Staten Island is where the dark tradition is born. For the uninitiated, the Purge theorizes that humans are violent by nature. One night a year, all crime in the US is made legal, so citizens can purge their inhibitions for the good of the nation.

The fourth film in the dystopian horror franchise, due out in US theaters on July 4, explores the origins of the tradition. It centers on the psychologist, played by Marisa Tomei, who developed the experiment after analyzing centuries of human behavior. The people of Staten Island serve as its test subjects.

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?