January 2016

Perp walk politics

by Limbic on January 24, 2016

I know I have lost

Photo by Sarah Galasko (cc)

When the most hated man in America – Martin Shkreli – was arrested on securities fraud charges, I thought to myself that I bet there is a politico-performance element to it.

What are the chances that this hate figure just happens to come to the attention of the federal authorities shortly after making himself widely “hated” for increasing the price of a drug he owns by 700%?

What are the chances that Reuters just happened to be there when he was arrested?!

Turns out I am not alone in wondering this, from Popehat:

Based on my experience with perp-walked clients1, I think the more likely scenario is that a government agent responsible for investigating and prosecuting Mr. Shkreli tipped Reuters off about the arrest — that someone told Reuters to be there to catch the perp walk.

If Reuters was there through independent investigation, then good for them. But if Reuters was there because of a tip from law enforcement, then I’d like to ask a couple of questions.

There are two subjects on which Reuters could have informed its audience, two sets of questions it could have answered:

Subject One: Who leaked the time and place of the arrest? Was it an FBI agent, a prosecutor, staff, a coordinating local cop? How high up in the government did the decision to leak the arrest go? Did the leak violate the law? Did it violate the defendant’s rights? What was the government’s purpose in leaking the time and place of the arrest? How does this instance fit into the pattern of which arrests get leaked and which don’t? Which nonviolent defendants without records get arrested, and which get summonsed in (or self-surrender through arrangement with their lawyers), and why? What impact does a front-page picture of a defendant in handcuffs have on the jury pool? Is that impact a feature, or a bug, of leaking it? Was the leak intended to inflict extra-judicial humiliation and punishment on the defendant? If the government lies about whether or not it leaked, would you still keep it secret?

Subject Two: What would Martin Shkreli look like being led away in handcuffs?

It seems Reuters chose to address the second subject.

The authorities are want to look good by going after this hate figure. I believe there probably is a case to answer, but I also think there are large dollops of “extra-judicial humiliation and punishment” being dropped on the defendant.

More: https://popehat.com/2015/12/17/an-open-letter-to-reuters-reporters-nate-raymond-and-david-ingram/

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Periodic Table of DevOps tools

by Limbic on January 23, 2016

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Laws as licensed political weapons

by Limbic on January 11, 2016

This was stuck in my drafts folder. I have published it on the date of creation. It is half baked and unfinished, so forgive the roughness. 

Few argue with the stated objective of hate speech legislation, but it is widely abused for political means, interferes with free inquiry (needed for science and democracy) and is often counter productive (inflames rather than reduced ethnic tension).

Countries like Australia are ditching it. We have ancient and effective laws against incitement that are enough to handle direct harms. Look at Sweden. It has the most draconian Hate Speech legislation and has an exploding problem with extreme far right nationalism. A significant part of the problem is that honest dialogue is impossible because the laws are used a a political weapon.

Here in Denmark where we have great free speech, we have no such problems. People speak freely, there is a marketplace of ideas, pragmatic and fair solutions are created where all stakeholders – including the often silenced minorities – are considered. This leads to increased social cohesion, not less.

In Europe we waged a 1000 year fight against religious and state authorities to establish rights that you take for granted and are the underpinnings of liberal democracy. People are entitled to believe what they want, even if it is that certain groups are sub-human (Freedom of though). They also have the rights to express those beliefs (freedom of speech). Those natural rights are, as you say, constrained by the harm principle (You should not hard others with your actions). The argument since WW2 has been what harms come from certain kinds of speech. We have gone from direct incitement (“Kill that man!”) to a situation where merely insulting people is now criminal.

In our desperate effort to contain the problems arising from mass migration and botched multiculturalism, we are destroying our rights. The second order effects are damaging to democracy and ruinous if not utterly destructive to minorities. We are like rats gnawing on the ropes that keep us from falling into the sea. In our short-sighted effort to address the symptoms of our problems (Hate speech, rising social tensions, erosion of democracy, radicalism) we damage the the tools we will need to fix them (like freedom of speech).

It is impossible to explain the subtleties here, but please read the magnificent book Kindly Inquisitor’s by the gay rights activist Jonathan Rauch. It is one of the finest books on the subject.



http://www.forbes.com/…/jonathan-rauch-reminds-us-that…/

 
Slavoj Zizek has a revealing take on  the role of racist jokes in the former Yugoslavia:

This tell us something important. When you silence the jokes, the satire, the free speech, you know the situation is really bad. Killing free speech and humor are the death signs of a stable society liberal order. 

Another example – from the Tito era – is the perpetuation of social and political silliness because people want to avoid offending other’s beliefs or are too scared to say things out loud. This wonderful RSA animated presentation by Professor Renata Salecl on The Paradox of Choice. Check out her description of people in Yugoslavia pretending to believe in Communism despite almost no one really believing it. 

On Law as a licensed political weapon
Laws are weapon we voluntarily license to the state to constrain our freedoms, with our consent, for our collective benefit. If those weapons are used responsibly, and achieve their stated ends (the spirit of the law) they ought to be kept.  If those laws are corrosive of the commonwealth or harmful, they need to be repealed. Hate statutes have failed this test on both counts. They have been used irresponsibly to prevent open discussion, not encourage it and this has, in my opinion, caused more harm than good. Large scale migration, and how we manage it responsibly, are arguably the most important political subject of the era. It is an existential question for European culture. With a topic of such importance, pieties  and possible harms are secondary to forging a workable politico-social response to this phenomenon.
The question is not how to stop it – it is effectively unstoppable in an unequal world – now how to reverse it, that is barbarous and impossible without genocide. The question is how we can all live together forever. For 50 years we have trusted elite paternalism. We trusted the political classes to manage the problem and act in out best interests. The Financial Crisis has reminded us forcefully the elites act in their own interests, even to the point of fomenting ethnic tension to maintain disunity between groups who should be natural allies (US blacks, Hispanics and the white working classes).
The largest social experiment in history – mass immigration managed by official multiculturalism with hate speech and obscurantism about the effects of immigration or the behavior of immigrants being central to the strategy (“Everything is fine here, move along, asking questions is racist”). The internet threatened that. If the masses could collaborate directly, it would undermine efforts to manage the message on the effects on immigration (the chief of which is diminishing social cohesion). This threat was neutralized by what the internet actually unleashed: A cacophony of disagreement and disinformation (as David Weinberger says “a tsunami of disagreement”).
Europeans and other populations being subjected to large scale disruptions from immigration could not organize a cohesive response to try and stop it but could not even discuss how to respond to it beyond the state sanctioned mandates of banning racism, insults, ethnic humor and effectively forbidding the discussion of immigration in terms other than the benefits of diversity and the enrichment of society.
This towing of the official line on immigration has seriously damaged people trust in politicians. The problems with immigration and immigrants are obvious, yet acknowledging them was ruinous to carers and in some cases illegal. Almost anything cold be sacrificed to maintaining “community relations”. Riots in the summer of 2001 in the UK were blamed on the tiny and politically marginal British National Party (BNP) when after 9/11 it became obvious it was internal community radicals that were stirring up the riots. Those who said so at the time were banded racist.
In the North of England gangs of British-Pakistanis groomed and systematically raped thousands of white children. The authorities knew about the problem for 10 years and did next to nothing due to being paralyzed by fears of being branded racists (thereby ending their careers) and “inflaming community tensions”.  This is just one of countless examples where mainstream political forces and civil servants toed the line on immigration and its effects, handing the role of truth-sayers to far right populist parties and groups who were willing to acknowledge the truth (then offer a simplistic and chauvinist interpretations) and promised these disenfranchised whites something the lacked and craved – political representation.
Now we have a perfect storm for fascism. Weak and politically paralyzed western governments. Aggrieved minorities fed a relentless narrative of racist oppression and discrimination. Provocative terror groups “representing” minorities. High crime among some  immigrants and minority groups fueling majority anger. Discrimination against the majority in law to help minorities. We also have growing working class political consciousness and awareness of the elite swindle as manifested by the populist surge. This is a recipe for revolution. Will you stop them with hate speech laws designed to suppress knowledgeable of real problems? Did not work for Soviets in the pre-internet era, it will not work where everyone has a video capable smartphone phone either.
 
So what do we do then?
 
We protect free-speech as fiercely as we can.
Fist we believe we can find a political solution – no more fatalism and pessimism.
We do not leave this to the state, it has failed to manage this and cannot be trusted. We address it at a civic level.
We use the ancient tools of building trust: Honest dialogue, acknowledgement, the truth
We make it safe for people to speak up. We establish genuine politico-cognitive diversity
We (Europeans) accept immigrants as 100% equals as citizens and stakeholders (like in the USA)
We repudiate essentialism. You are defined by what you espouse and electively support e.g. you may be judged for supporting slavery, not because you are white. 

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Swale by Pavel Proskurin

by Limbic on January 3, 2016

I like Pavel’s gloomy post-apocalyptic style.

Swale by Pavel Proskurin

Source: Swale on Behance

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Natsumi Hayashi – Tokyo’s Levitating Girl

by Limbic on January 3, 2016

“Natsumi Hayashi is a Japanese artist known for her fixation with levitating.”

Source: The Surreal And Beautiful Photography Of Tokyo’s Levitating Girl

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Know Where You Stand

by Limbic on January 3, 2016

Seth Taras, an award-winning, self-taught American artist/photographer…create[ed] Know Where You Stand, a stunning mash up of historical photograph negatives overlaid into modern times.”

Source: ‘Know Where You Stand’: Photographer Fuses 4 Historical Events With Present-Day Images via steves-digicams . 

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Alexey Kondakov

by Limbic on January 3, 2016

Alexey Kondakov beautifully overlays classical paintings onto contemporary scenes.

Source: I need a guide: Alexey Kondakov

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Me Machine by Bruce Riley (2015)

by Limbic on January 2, 2016


2015-10_10_Me_Machine02713

“Me Machine” by Bruce Riley (2015) via Flickr

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Heizer Doubletap Piston

by Limbic on January 2, 2016


“The Heizer DoubleTap Pistol ($450) is the world’s smallest and lightest .45 ACP concealed carry pistol. It features an aluminum frame in an ultra-compact, no-snag hammerless design. It can hold up to two rounds in the chamber and has an integral grip that can house an additional two rounds. While an ambidextrous thumb latch ejects your spent rounds. The DoubleTap is 100% American made and would make  a great concealed carry weapon.”

Source: HEIZER DOUBLETAP PISTOL | Muted

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