Shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD

The Capital Gazette, one of the first newspapers to print the Declaration of Independence, was attacked by a lone shooter who was mad at the paper for their coverage of him stalking and harassing a woman. Five people died and more were injured.

The Capital Gazette, one of the first newspapers to print the Declaration of Independence, was attacked by a lone shooter who was mad at the paper for their coverage of him stalking and harassing a woman. Five people died and more were injured.

WBAL.com: 5 Dead, Others ‘Gravely Injured’ In Mass Shooting At Capital Gazette; Suspect Named
“Police say a man took a shotgun and smoke grenades into the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis Thursday afternoon, where he allegedly killed five and wounded three.”

Media Matters for America: Sean Hannity blames Maxine Waters for shooting at Maryland newsroom
“I’ve been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really [Rep.] Maxine [Waters]? You want people to create — ‘call your friends, get in their faces,’ and Obama said that too. ‘Get in their faces, call them out, call your friends, get protesters, follow them into restaurants and shopping malls,’ and wherever else she said.”

Clearly, the only logical answer here is that Elon Musk is a goddamn supervillain.

Elon Musk is wildly successful, massively rich, and reasonably good looking, which means he’s three for three on the list of things Americans love to lionize. He’s also a goddamn supervillain.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk. Photo Copyright 2010 The Henry Ford, via OnInnovation. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Ed Note: This was originally written Oct. 16, 2015, and I’m reposting it now because Musk’s back in the news being weird again.

Elon Musk is practically a walking myth. He’s wildly successful, massively rich, and reasonably good looking, which means he’s three for three on the list of things Americans love to lionize. He founded a bunch of companies we all think are awesome, like Tesla, PayPal and Spacex. He wants to build the Hyperloop, a big high-speed transport train like Japan has, only more amazing because it’s in America. Everybody loves Elon Musk.

Except the Reno Gazette Journal, apparently.

The Tesla Gigafactory is a frickin’ huge Tesla battery factory being built in Nevada. They expect to open the doors in 2016 or 2017. In the meantime, the massive, half-finished, skull-shaped industrial monstrosity looms ominously over the Nevada desert.

Okay, okay. It’s not skull-shaped. Elon’s smart; he knows that would be too obvious. And it’s kind of flat, actually, so it doesn’t really loom. Also, it’s pretty close to Reno, so it’s not exactly hiding in the middle of a desert wasteland. And I don’t know how close to finished it is. Plus it’ll probably be pretty green for a factory, knowing Musk and Tesla, so “industrial monstrosity” doesn’t fit, either.

So, basically, it’s a big factory. Near Reno. Expected to provide a crapton of jobs and economic benefit when it finally gets rolling.

Tesla Gigafactory, Sparks, Nevada
Tesla Gigafactory, Sparks, Nevada on August 8, 2017 (Source, licensing, photographer.)

The Tesla Gigafactory does have one big problem, though – trespassing. The Reno Gazette Journal loves trying to break into this place.

Apparently trespassing at the Gigafactory is a common event and RGJ journalists try to enter the facility repeatedly.
[Source]

In this particular incident, two of the Reno Gazette Journal’s plucky reporters attempted to break in, got caught trespassing by a couple of Tesla employees, and ran them both down while fleeing the scene.

The two trespassers entered the Gigafactory by climbing through a boundary fence that has “private property” signs clearly visible. They refused to share their identities when approached by a Tesla employee, however, both were wearing Reno Gazette Journal ID badges and turned out to be journalists. They denied trespassing.

A second Tesla employee, this time a safety manager, also approached the journalists and asked them to wait as the Sheriff’s Department had been called. They decided to disregard this request and headed back to the Jeep they had arrived in. The Tesla employees followed. As one was trying to note down the license plate the driver reversed into him. The second employee approached the Jeep as it started to drive away, with the driver deciding to accelerate and hit him.
[Source]

And all I can say to this is what. the. actual. fuck.

I mean, but no, seriously. What the shit. It’s been three days since I read this story, and my gast is still flabbered. Okay, so, you’ve got a newspaper, which, as far as I can tell is a reputable newspaper full of, one assumes, reasonable journalists. But they’ve got this massive hard on over the Gigafactory, so they keep breaking in to get a look at the place.

Why?

What do they know that we don’t?

Assuming everyone there is, indeed, rational – and I can’t find a reason to think that isn’t the case – why do they keep trying to break in? What do they think they’re going to find?

Aliens
Pic unrelated. We hope.

I’ve spent three days dwelling on this, and I keep returning to the fact that the two reporters ran over the two Tesla employees. The two reporters got caught, fled to their car, and tore ass outta there, backing into one employee and driving straight into the other one like some kind of goddamn action movie scene.

This is what you do when you’re in terror for your life, not trying to get out of an apparently common trespassing charge.

And if you check the Tesla blog’s report of the incident, it’s even worse. Not only did they run down two employees, they drove into one of the employees’ ATVs, too.

I would not be surprised to see Tesla increase its security and provide safety managers with some way to defend themselves as well as detain trespassers in future. Would a tazer be legal? It’s also unclear exactly why the Gigafactory is worth breaking into. All these journalists will see is a massive battery manufacturing facility.
[Source]

“All these journalists will see is a massive battery manufacturing facility.” Right? Right?

Obviously there must be more to this story. Reputable, employed journalists don’t just go on B&E sprees for no reason. What do they think they’re going to find? Pod people? Extra-dimensional portals? Non-Euclidean horrors from beyond space and time? Sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads? What?

Conversely, the fuck is going on at that newspaper? Is it run by Alex Jones? Is J. Jonah Jameson cackling manically in the editor’s office demanding more pictures of his nemesis, the Gigafactory?

Here’s the Reno Gazette Journal’s coverage of the Gigafactory, and it all looks pretty sane and rational. Here’s their version of the trespassing incident, which is also pretty bland and normal. This does not look like the ravings of a conspiracy nut, is what I’m getting at, here.

So, what? What the hell? Something’s clearly going on somewhere. Is the newspaper in evil Elon Musk’s pocket, and these two intrepid reporters are bucking the establishment, determined to get the truth out about the gigantic weather controlling machine inside that too-innocent factory, that Musk plans to use to blackmail billions out of the world governments? Is Elon Musk, even now, sitting at a massive desk carved from the entire bottom of an ancient sequoia in an office the size of two football fields, cackling as he rubs his hands together and drinking from the skulls of his enemies?

Are these two reporters just nuts? (I mean, probably, but that’s no fun.) Or is that just what Musk wants us to think?

Look at this story, people. We’ve got a popular billionaire, an apparently-mysterious megafactory, an establishment – the state, granting all kinds of tax breaks and a newspaper obviously covering up a juicy story – firmly in cahoots with the entirely too innocent billionaire and his entirely too innocent megafactory.

The only thing this story is lacking is a superhero, guys.

You know what this means, right? Right now, at this very second, somewhere in Nevada, there is a superhero origin story playing out. Or possibly there’s a group of four younger teens, one big but not too bright guy, one girl who’s big into first aid, one sneaky kid, and one kid into the mystic arts, gathering because someone’s parent has gone missing at the evil factory, who are about to embark on a quest.

Just a heads up – Musk’s probably got three forms, and the third one is the biggest and baddest. Also, he probably knows a really nasty spell called Ultima.

This is clearly the only logical explanation of these events.

On ‘civility’ in politics.

Look guys, all I can say is if I’m expected to “be civil” with racists, nazis and sociopathic monsters then y’all better get ready to be disappointed.

Look guys, all I can say is if I’m expected to “be civil” with racists, nazis and sociopathic monsters then y’all better get ready to be disappointed.

Back when Trump was elected, 248 years ago, on an old blog, I wrote something about “we have to learn not to be so angry with each other,” and trash to that effect, and I am here today to tell you that I was 100% wrong about that. Fuck Trump, his whole administration, the entire useless GOP, and all of Trump’s terrible, terrible fanboys, literally as hard as possible, preferably with something that has random sharp edges.

We’re talking about people who thought it was cool to steal people’s children and hide them away in cages, drug them against their will, and lose them in the system, just for trying to come here and find a better life.

We’re talking about a guy who said of torch-marching nazis that killed and beat people that “some of them were good people.”

We’re talking about an overtly racist administration that has been successful so far at only one single thing, and that thing is packing federal courts with racists and sociopaths, a move that will reverberate throughout our culture for generations.

We’re talking about people who have screwed the federal budget six ways to Sunday to pad the pockets of their rich benefactors.

We’re talking about people who think it’s somehow advantageous to kick off trade wars, piss off our allies, cozy up to tyrants and dictators, and give away the last of America’s influence over the world stage for nothing.

We’re talking about people who lie dead-eyed into your face and then get mad when you call them on it.

We’re talking about people who are trying again and again to take everyone’s healthcare away, a move that will result in the deaths of literally millions more people than under our current system.

We’re talking about people who stole away a free and fair Internet because they’re scared they’re not making enough money off us with it as it is.

We’re talking about people who did all this and a hundred other awful, shitty, petty little things to benefit themselves and no others and harm those they disagreed with.

And we’re talking about the people who voted them into power, happily, gleefully, or, bare minimum, unthinkingly, because they were mad about a black president and a possible woman president.

So fuck ’em. You can ask me for a lot, but you can’t ask me to be “civil” with people that stupid.

Actions have consequences. If you act like a child-stealing, racist, lying, dead-eyed monster, you can expect to be treated like a child-stealing, racist, lying, dead-eyed monster.

I’ll remind you that in the 2016 election, about half of all voters even voted, and less than half of that voted for Trump. So Trump and his goons are out here enacting all this heinous garbage while flying in the face of the will of the majority of Americans – possibly in the face of the vast majority of Americans.

And while they do that, while they lie to us, while they ban innocent Muslims from American shores for no particular reason, while they steal away South American children and deport South American parents for the crime of trying to find a safe place to raise their kids, while they sympathize with nazis and embolden racists, while they roll back gay and trans rights, while they sneak into place restrictive abortion laws, while they steal away voting rights, while they do all that, and more, we’re the assholes for using bad language and politely asking them to leave our restaurants? We’re the assholes for protesting?

And you think I’m supposed to buy that? Really?

I guess no one remembers back a decade ago when Bush II was president and we were all “shrill liberals,” but this outcry for “civility” is GOP standard operating procedure, and you can always count on the moderate mainstays on the news to fall for it. The GOP doesn’t want “civility.” They want to be able to do what they please and act how they want without facing any consequences for their actions. They want to screw over poor people and non-white people and women and non-straight people and everyone else who isn’t a rich old white dude, but they don’t want to be called names for doing it.

And importantly, they want that not because they’re tender, fragile snowflakes who’re getting their little fee-fees hurt, as some have said over on Twitter, but because they’re specifically trying to train people not to fight them. They want quiet, civil, polite, timid liberals who fuss gently and tsk quietly.

They don’t want millions of angry women in pink pussy hats screaming at inauguration ceremonies. They don’t want crowds upon crowds of people clogging up airports and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to legal defense funds to fight Muslim bans down to the bitter end. They don’t want thousands of black people blocking streets and chanting that Black Lives Matter. They don’t want to be chased out of restaurants by angry protesters.

They don’t want us to fight their bullshit. That’s what these cries of “civility” are about. They want us patting our pearls with soft gasps, not fighting tooth and nail and screaming our heads off.

Fuck that. Fuck them. And most especially, fuck their “civility.”

Westworld, Season 2 – WTF just happened, now?

“Westworld” is the TV version of a clickbait Buzzfeed listicle. And with so much other good TV out there to watch and enjoy, I’m not gonna waste anymore of my time on it.

Westworld. Ug. The first season was so good. Then the second season just stuffed its head up its own ass and inhaled as hard as it could. Look, it’s this simple: If, at the end of your story, no one can tell you WTF just happened, then your story wasn’t that good.

The first season of Westworld did this interesting, clever, non-linear storytelling thing that blew everyone away. I guess they decided to double down on that for the second season, but instead of being clever, it was mostly just incomprehensible. It was next to impossible to tell what was happening to who, when, and one episode of that might be kind of fun, but a whole season? By the end of last night’s episode I had no effing clue at all when anything had happened or, more importantly, why I should give a damn.

What was the theme of Westworld‘s season two? “Humans suck”? “Free will doesn’t exist”? “Less full frontal nudity this time”? I don’t know.

What was the plot? Delos was harvesting information on players to turn them into immortal hosts. I assume this was a service they were intending to sell? But they never said that. They didn’t have any players’ permission to do that, no one outside of a handful of employees seemed to know they were trying to do that, and as far as we can tell, Delos had been trying to do it for 30+ years and were failing the whole time. That seems like an awful lot of money and effort to put into something that flat wasn’t working.

They clearly weren’t trying to do it for corporate espionage or to take over the world with Delos-controlled host copies of people, because you wouldn’t need perfect copies of people with free will and consciousness to do that.

The end credits scene seems to indicate that Delos was eventually successful at inventing immortal human hosts, maybe, but years into the future? So they’ve spent billions, trillions of dollars and, what, 50 years? 100 years? more? to accomplish this goal. That has got to be the worst ROI I’ve ever heard of. In that time, with that money and tech, they could have easily solved whatever other problems were plaguing society that was driving Delos to try to invent immortality.

I cannot conceive of what state the world and/or society could possibly be in where you’d have both the impetus to undertake such a stupid investment while still having the means to do so.

And since the state of the outside world has been deliberately hidden from us for two full seasons, I have to imagine the writers can’t figure it out, either.

Meanwhile, what was Dolores’ plan? It wasn’t to save the hosts, because she was clearly happy to kill them all right off. It wasn’t to get her hands on that treasure trove of human data to use for some nefarious means, because she glanced at a bit of it and immediately started deleting it all.

As far as I can tell, Dolores intended to escape into the “real world” and go on being a crappy, manipulative, homicidal maniac, but not even, like, a successful homicidal maniac, because she ignored or crapped on every opportunity to build an army or do things on a grand scale. I guess an immortal, mostly unkillable entity, with the ability and resources to quietly build a loyal, immortal, mostly unkillable army, decided the best way to destroy all humans was 5th column-style guerilla warfare with a tiny handful of helpers. Yeah, ’cause that’s historically been an excellent tactic.

We have a show full of painfully dumb and/or incompetent hosts/people, doing incomprehensible things for incomprehensible reasons, and none of it makes sense. Worst of all, since everyone on the show is either stupid, awful, or cannon fodder, we have no reason to invest in what any of these characters are doing. The worldbuilding and backstory we’d need to decide if anything that was happening was logical or worthy has been deliberately hidden from us, and the people behind the show are pulling Lost‘s old schtick of “We know exactly what we’re doing, it’s going to be super cool, just trust us,” without giving us any reason to do so.

Yeah. No. That’s crap storytelling.

Let me tell you what’s really happening here. This show is custom built to generate online theorizing and social media buzz, which in turn buys the show more viewers, more merchandising buyers, more ad views, more HBO subscribers, and etc. Westworld is the TV version of a clickbait Buzzfeed listicle. And with so much other good TV out there to watch and enjoy, I’m not gonna waste anymore of my time on it.

Immigration / Border / Child Detention Crisis Continues

Resistance works, people. Never shut up. Never stop raising hell. Never stop participating in politics.

I updated my post from yesterday with a metric crap ton of new articles and videos: Call to Action: Keep Families Together.

Two articles to start the day off:

Reuters reports that Rep. Paul Ryan plans to hold a vote tomorrow (6/21/18) on legislation that “would end the practice of separating families who cross the U.S. border illegally.”

Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has drafted an executive order “that would direct her department to keep families together after they are detained crossing the border illegally.”

Trump has said, in the last 24 hours, via Twitter and through the media, that he’d be “signing something” soon to do something about the child concentration camps and family separation policy.

We’ll see how those stories shake out in the next few days. It may be that Trump and/or Congress will take action, but not, y’know, good action.

There are protests planned for June 30, in ten days. In the meantime, continue to light up your senators’ and representatives’ phone lines about this issue. Use CallYourRep.co or 5Calls.org (which also has scripts you can use) to contact your congresscritters, particularly if you have Republican representation.

Stay tuned for updates.


Update, 1 p.m.

Trump signed an executive order “ending” family separations. As expected, it really doesn’t solve anything. Read it here: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation.

Worth noting:

  • The executive order says nothing about reuniting families that have already been separated.
  • The executive order requires that children be kept with families, and that families be incarcerated in detainment camps basically indefinitely, which is illegal.

So, apparently we don’t have children’s concentration camps. We just have concentration camps. Awesome. Keep calling, people. Keep protesting.

Call to Action: Keep Families Together

The United States is stealing children away from families and holding them hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall. The Trump administration is running concentration camps for kids. This is a thing that is happening, right now, in the year of our lord 2018, in the United States of America, and that isn’t hyperbole or fake news.

I feel like this one maybe got lost in all the brouhaha over Trump’s space fantasies yesterday, so here it is again.

The United States is stealing children away from families and holding them hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall.

The Trump administration is running concentration camps for kids.

This is a thing that is happening, right now, in the year of our lord 2018, in the United States of America, and that isn’t hyperbole or fake news.

Read these two articles, which come from Vox.com. Vox is a left-leaning but fact-based reputable news source. Vox doesn’t generally report the news; they explain it and put it in context. They’re very good at it, and I’ve found them to be reliable.

To Sum Up

Families come from South America to seek asylum in the United States because their own countries are too dangerous to live in due to gang and drug violence, corruption, and other reasons. The legal way to do this is to go to a border point of entry and request asylum. However, due to the system being overtaxed and other issues, getting asylum granted can take roughly forever, if it ever even happens, and if you’re not turned away, which we aren’t technically allowed to do but we do anyway.

The illegal way to do this is to cross the border into the US illegally and turn yourself in to Border Patrol, where you’re interviewed and usually granted asylum fairly quickly. This is a federal misdemeanor which we traditionally haven’t prosecuted due to our asylum system being a great big hot mess anyway and the fact that, up ’til now, we weren’t monsters.

Back in April Trump, via Jeff Sessions, instituted a new policy of prosecuting people for seeking asylum in this illegal fashion. When people are prosecuted for this, if they have kids with them, which many of them do because they’re families seeking refuge, the kids are taken away from the families and put in a separate detention center.

The part about the family separation has been a thing for a long time. The part where we do it to people seeking asylum by crossing the border illegally is brand spanking new and entirely due to the Trump administration’s new policy.

Since instituting this new policy, nearly 2,000 children, mostly under the age of ten, have been taken from their families and detained either in camps or, rarely, in temporary foster care.

The system for keeping children was nearly overwhelmed before instituting Trump’s policy in April. Since then, the system is flooded and cannot keep up with demands. Children are being imprisoned in jail-like detention centers that, at least in some cases, resemble concentration camps where they’re held in cages that look like dog kennels with little more than foil “blankets.”

Required Reading

What Can You Do?

It’s common to feel helpless in the face of something like this, but there are concrete things you can do to help.

First, call your elected officials at all levels.
Call your local city government and ask them to pass a resolution condemning these actions. Cities can often talked into doing little gestures like this, which don’t actually amount to much, but if enough cities are doing it, you get some press. And press helps.

Call your state representatives and ask them to sponsor resolutions condemning this policy, or introduce legislation disallowing state resources being used to separate families. Contact your governor and ask them to sign such legislation or sign an executive action accomplishing the same thing. Some governors are already taking action.

Call your senators and representatives and ask them to take action. Remember that the Trump administration is basically using this situation to hold kids hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall, so be careful which bills you endorse to your senators and representatives. This bill seems to be pretty good. A few of the more popular bills bouncing around mostly just fund the wall without doing anything for the kids and families.

Donate to organizations that are trying to help.
Such organizations include, but aren’t limited to, RAICES and KIND. There’s also a list of organizations and a way to donate to them here: Support Kids at the Border.

Join a protest.
Nationwide protests are planned for June 30. You can find out how to join up at this link. (I got a browser security warning at that site but as far as I can tell everything is kosher. It’s probably just an issue with their SSL or possibly a conflict with a browser plugin I’m running and you won’t even see any warnings.) You can read more about the protests here: Nationwide protests against Trump’s family separation policy planned for June 30.

Use your words.
After you’ve called, because calling is the single best way to affect your senators and representatives and the first thing you should do, you can email your reps, write Facebook posts, tweet, and share good information across your social media channels.

Do one of these things. Do all of these things. Just do something.
This is a historical moment. This time, right here and now, is a moment our grandkids will look back on as a turning point, and it’s up to us to make it a good turning point. Continue reading “Call to Action: Keep Families Together”

Trump’s ‘Space Force’ & Kids’ Concentration Camps

ProPublica got their hands on secret audio from some of Trump’s concentration camps for kids. I highly recommend listening to it, especially if you want to ugly-cry for a couple of hours.

Chuck Wendig On Trump's 'Space Force'
Chuck Wendig On Trump’s ‘Space Force’

Today Trump announced that he’s directing our military to create a “Space Force.” Which is not actually a thing Trump can do. Or any president can do, as a matter of fact. Creating a new arm of the military has to be done by Congress. And this particular batch of Congresscritters can’t seem to get anything accomplished, so the announcement was a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Also, pretty sure the Air Force already handles space/military stuff. Because, you know. Air Force.

Meanwhile ProPublica got their hands on secret audio from some of Trump’s concentration camps for kids. I highly recommend listening to it, especially if you want to ugly-cry for a couple of hours.

So, what can you do? Well, find a protest and join in. But that can be tricky for a lot of reasons. Work, transportation, whatnot. So, if you can’t find a protest, call your senators and representatives.

Do not email. Do not tweet. Do not Facebook. First, call your senators and representatives. Then email, tweet and Facebook.

Emails, tweets and Facebook posts help, but calls count for more, because they take more effort.

If at all possible, show up. Show up at protests. Show up at your senators’ and representatives’ offices.

When speaking to your senators and representatives, be civil, be brief and succinct, tell them you’re a constituent, and tell them what you expect them to do.

Remember that the Trump administration is basically using this situation to hold kids hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall, so be careful which bills you endorse to your senators and representatives. This bill seems to be pretty good. A few of the more popular bills bouncing around mostly just fund the wall without doing anything for the kids and families.

Need Resources?