Surveillance

Google Releases Very Small Batch of National Security Letters to the Public

Secret snooping gets slightly less so.

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Google
Vincent Jannink/EPA/Newscom

For the first time in 2015, Americans were able to see the contents of one of the extremely secretive federal National Security Letters (NSLs). These letters from the Department of Justice have been used to obligate tech and telecom companies to provide some metadata (name, address and other info) about specific users or customers to the government.

The NSLs became a point of contention during the surveillance debate during the war on terror because of how secretive they were. Companies like Google or email providers could not reveal the existence of the letters at all. The secrecy was much broader than just concealing the information from the targets. Companies weren't even able to adequately disclose how many NSLs they'd receive. And there wasn't any timeline to indicate how long they'd have to keep the letters a secret.

Some tech companies have challenged the secrecy of the system in courts, and with the passage of the USA Freedom Act, the Department of Justice is now obligated to review the gag orders periodically and lift gags that are no longer necessary.

Today Google released the content of eight NSLs the DOJ had sent them demanding info about Gmail users. The dates of the NSLs range from 2010 to just last year. Google has redacted the actual email addresses and any information identifying specific people, but has served up the letters mostly intact. Google notes:

Our goal in doing so is to shed more light on the nature and scope of NSLs. We minimized redactions to protect privacy interests, but the content of the NSLs remain as they were when served. We are also publishing the correspondence reflecting the lifting of the nondisclosure restrictions. … In the near future, we will establish a more permanent home for these and additional materials from our Transparency Report.

Of potential interest, a single NSL may contain several user accounts the government is investigating, so even if we knew how many NSLs the government sent out, that's not the same as knowing how many different people's data they asked for.

Google's report and the letters may be viewed here. It's a small but important win for government transparency and evidence that at least some good came out of the USA Freedom Act, even if it didn't really rein in mass surveillance the many wanted it to.

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  1. Are we going to see even more of a pushback now that we have an undesirable taking over the White House?

    1. To the left, it’s going to be like being touched for the very first time.

      1. Only touched, or grabbed… by the pussy…

        1. When you grab them by the pussy, their hearts and minds will follow.

      2. Awkward at first and then not so awkward?

    2. He’s going to fill the White House with a basket of deplorables.

    3. GOOGLE IS HELPING TRUMP MAKE OBAMA LOOK BAD!!!! RACISM!!!

  2. Jesus H, Corporate America, how hard is it to release a National Security Letter?

    Post that shit to the internet and claim you were hacked by the Russians.

    1. I honestly think Google could just get away with this. Maybe I’m wrong, but if it came to a power struggle between Google and the NSA, I’d put my money on Google.

      1. Google definitely pays better, so their people are probably more competent.

      2. It came to my attention today that Google is taking on China by refusing to recognize CNNIC issued certificates.

        Unfortunately it becomes my headache.

        1. Just take Ruby off the rails, run it through some macros, add in some turtle graphics, and BAM! You’re good to go.

          1. *narrows gaze*

    2. Leak it to the Russians, let them post it, and claim you were hacked. Post it illegally, flee to an international zone in Russia.

      As long as word gets out and Russia’s involved, you’re good.

  3. Progress, at least.

  4. I’ve often wondered what would happen if yuuuge companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo actually violated the law and published the NSLs they got, redacted for privacy of course. Of course the government would go bananas, but those companies are too big to collapse and lawyers would be all over themselves trying to help. Some of the public would consider them as traitors equivalent to Snowden, btu I bet most of the public uproar would be against the government.

    1. The only constraint they would face is consumer confidence. If they did it on the grounds that they are protecting their users from unlawful search and seizure, they would win. If every individual could sue the government for violation of privacy, and did so separately instead of as a class action, wouldn’t that basically shut down the court system? Even if the NSA could win every individual case, they couldn’t afford to defend themselves.

      1. The only constraint they would face is consumer confidence.

        Direct constraint, maybe. Indirect, IDK. Suddenly the people of Portland aren’t so gung ho on having Google Fiber in their town if Google isn’t willing to work with TOP MEN. Google is repeatedly named by torrent search/indexing sites that are taken down, no reason that association has to be perpetually dismissed.

      2. So, it would be like a courtroom version of the climax of the movie “Hackers”?

    2. …most of the public uproar would be against the government.

      That may be the crux of the issue. We don’t live in villages of two hundred people anymore, where everyone knows everyone and has forever, and if you don’t stop that right this second, Jimmy, I’ll give you the flat of my hand first and call your granny second!

      It’s a big, big world now. Public uproar isn’t public until the media says it should be so. And then, coverage is generally of the “Here is what you should conclude from the limited facts presented here” variety. To say that the mainstream media has a pro-government stance is to say that Noah built a boat and then it rained some. They can’t even bring themselves to be upset at Castro.

      People want to point out that they’re not okay with the status quo. It’s gotten better as the internet evolves. Now, things can go viral. They don’t even require access to mainstream sources; open publishing, such as Youtube and Livejournal and Facebook and even message board posts have gone across the world. It’s going to be interesting to see what evolves from there.

      1. Interesting angle, hadn’t thought of how it would go public and who controls that.

        Now if the NSL was for some even bottom run blogger who could pass for a journalist if you squint enough, that might do the trick.

    3. Well, Yahoo could collapse and few would notice….

  5. Tangent: I see all these ads for Alexa, the Amazon voice-activated thingy, and I ask myself – who the fuck would give Big Data an always-on microphone in their house? Leaving aside the ability of the government to turn it into a bug with one of these letters, WTF, America?

    1. You’re probably carrying one around in your pocket.

      1. As long as the intervening network isn’t any better, I think I’m okay with that.

      2. Pretty sure my phone mic isn’t always on, but I don’t know how to check.

        1. Like I… aid, …sidering the… arity it gets about half the time bei.g right… ext to my fa… I’m ok with it in… ocket.

        2. I believe the phone has the capability of being programatically turned on, and can be done so by the carrier. But I’m not sure.

          1. Mine has a capability of being problematically turned on inadvertently by the user.

        3. There is no way to check. A determined hacker can turn it on and off at will without any noticeable sign. So the distinction between ‘always on’ and ‘off sometimes’ is kind of arbitrary.

          1. A determined hacker can turn it on and off at will without any noticeable sign. So the distinction between ‘always on’ and ‘off sometimes’ is kind of arbitrary.

            Not to mention that, nature of the beast, you aren’t going to collect hours and hours of dead silence. That is to say, even if you confirm the mic to be dead when desired to be dead, that’s just the beginning of assuring you aren’t being eavesdropped upon (esp. by fedgov types).

    2. I’m sure someone at the Federal Level will notice this *cough*Shumer*cough* and regulate the shit out of it. The Feds don’t like the competition.

    3. There’s a laptop manufacturer, Libre I think, that’s designing secure laptops and hardware. The mics and camera have a hard toggle on/off switch so that they can’t be turned on by software.

      I think you’re going to see more companies like that springing up in lots of industries.

      1. I like it.

      2. or just don’t have a built in webcam on your computer? you know, one you can unplug?

        1. So many come with it built in– and microphone too. Not a lot of laptops these days being sold w/o built-in accessories like that.

        2. Well looking at their website, they build the entire laptop chip by chip with the idea that no one should be able to track you. So it goes a little bit deeper than just the webcam and mic.

          And I like the idea of having a hard wired kill switch on the webcam/mic and the wireless. If you have the hard wired switch, it saves you from caring something extra around with you.

          1. And being [more] confident that the software can’t be overridden or have back doors.

        3. My HP’s camera is tucked into the monitor on a spring-loaded thingy. I thought that was a nice touch. But yeah, designing for security from the start is a good thing.

      3. Ah, Purism is the company.

    4. ” who the fuck would give Big Data an always-on microphone in their house?”

      I had the same thought when I saw the first Alexa commercial. You know that thing is listening and when your kids or wife are talking about the latest toy or movie or whatever, that whatever will be front and center in every ad on your browser or your Amazon recommendations until you buy one.

      1. “Honey, why does Amazon keep suggesting I buy sex toys…?”

        1. For the same reason I got a complementary copy of Hogtie magazine.

      2. If you use Chrome, that’s how google got a lot of speach to train their “OkGoogle” program

    5. Yeah, honestly, the incremental privacy risk of having one of those home assistants is probably negligible if you’re already carrying a smartphone around.

    6. Eh. “Please God, Alexa! Play the fucking Daniel Tiger potty episode!”
      — Parent of two toddlers
      (I haven’t tried this on my Fire TV, but I will in the morning when I get up with the kids and let you know what happens.)

  6. The unwanted animal kitchen

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure…..orse-meat/

    1. “They don’t sell well because people do feel bad about the idea of eating horse,”

      Is the horse less dead if you don’t eat it?

      1. You don’t have fond memories of feeding it apples through the split rail fence.

        1. Just fattening the bugger up before the feast.

      2. Is the horse less dead if you don’t eat it?

        Neigh!

    2. the patty itself is made from the meat of butchered, aging horses that have worked at a local amusement park

      This hamburger tastes funny!

    3. Just add “Tuscan” to the name instead of horse and you are golden.

    4. I have read that the tastiest french fries are fried in horse fat.

    1. In addition to inclusive nomenclature, Kessler suggests avoiding any “religious symbolism, such as images of Santa Claus, evergreen trees, or red-nosed reindeer.”

      Things that make Derpy sigh like Kiff for $800, Alex.

      1. Hey, the religion of American Consumerism has a proud theology!

      2. And yet Christmas is very popular in places like Japan and Taiwan.

      3. Nothing says “inclusive” like leaving out the symbols that hundreds of million of Americans consider part of the holidays.

        1. Being exclusive of the traditions of Christians is what defines inclusiveness.

  7. file under: facepalm forever

    The four-credit course fulfills Berkeley’s “reading and composition” general education requirement, and is offered through the Theater Department, which also has a course on the “impending climate-related apocalypse.”

    Last Summer’s heated debate over North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” inspired the University of California, Berkeley to devote an entire course to the “politics of needing to go.”

    A course description for the four-credit class confirms that students will spend an entire semester discussing how “a public restroom is a charged social site,” addressing questions such as: “Who has access to it? Who cleans it? How have public restrooms segregated people into strict categories of gender, race, class, and ability? What does it mean for a public space to be designed for private activities? [and] Who are we socially when our bodies need to go?”

    1. Burn it down, burn it all down, we’re done here.

    2. Theater department?

    3. If you want a picture of the future on American campuses, imagine a facepalm on a human face ? forever.

      With apologies to Orwell.

      The decline of American higher education is astonishing to behold. I’m surprised that anybody still donates to their alma mater. STEM scholarships, maybe, but much of that tuition help just subsidizes the ridiculous “affinity-group studies” departments.

  8. file under: sore losers

    This winter, students at Oregon State University will have the opportunity to take a new class that promises to teach them about how African Americans have historically resisted the “white supremacy.”

    The class, titled “African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” will be taught by Dr. Dwaine Plaza, a professor of sociology and current Chair of the Sociology Program in the School of Public Policy.

    Plaza announced the new class last week in an email sent to some Oregon State students and obtained by Campus Reform, explaining that “The goal of the course is to give students an understanding for how racism is deeply embedded in social media, movies, television shows, music, art, literature, and sports.”

    1. Plaza announced the new class last week in an email sent to some Oregon State students and obtained by Campus Reform, explaining that “The goal of the course is to give students an understanding for how racism is deeply embedded in social media, movies, television shows, music, art, literature, and sports.”

      Sounds like it’s going to skip the most interesting bits, (everything from the Underground Railroad through armed resistance during the KKK era to the civil rights movement).

    2. how racism is deeply embedded in […] sports

      I have noticed a distinct statistical deficiency of whites and Asians and Jews in professional sports. Is that what they mean?

    3. I think they should definitely flee slave-owners so they can experience being captured by federal agents and returned to slavery.

  9. Holy, shit the Freedom Act actually had an effect on something.

    I’d assumed the executive branch lawyers would retcon it into meaninglessness.

    1. So goes Pamona College, so goes America.

    2. Sounds like a Title IX violation to me.

  10. file under: Trump Derangement Syndrome

    Why We Can’t Be ‘Friends’ Any Longer After You Voted For Donald Trump

    Every day that goes by since the election I become more despondent and more infuriated about your having supported Donald Trump.

    The thought of speaking with you, just when maybe the anger has simmered somewhat, becomes more unsettling ? and enrages me further ? as each day’s news breaks.

    I now realize I never really knew you.

    In thinking back there were the hints, which surfaced over dinner, or in a chat on the phone, that perhaps you supported Republicans, or were unsatisfied with President Obama.

    1. Some have said in the days since the election that they can’t believe people are ending friendships and family relationships over “politics.” They’d say that I’m being silly, petty, or overacting.

      Or, some would say you are being a sore loser, a fucking moron, and down right douchebaggish.

      1. To be fair, I have ended friendships over politics… usually because their shift in worldview made hanging out with them arduous and unpleasant. Sometimes politics fucks people’s personalities up.

        1. I have friends that suffer from Obama personality worship. It is weird, but I would never send them a letter saying we shouldn’t be friends because the man is a self absorbed delusional tool. We remained friends because, well, he won and I accepted it.

          If they become unpleasant and idiotic, ya, I see your point.

          1. Yeah, my comment is limited in scope. Generally, I stop being friends with people when they’re no longer good friends. For example, an old college buddy has gone off the deep end since he moved to silicon valley. When I last spent time with him, I wanted to just get up and leave after less than an hour. It also happens that he had turned into a BernieBro, and that he wanted to talk about it. It wasn’t necessarily the BernieBroism that annoyed me, but it was certainly a symptom of the larger personality rot that had occurred.

            If somebody is otherwise pleasant, but just has really weird politics/worldview, I’m cool with it. A couple that are friends of my wife and I are like that. They’re unthinkingly progressive, but they’re really fun to get a beer with.

            1. I think I’ve mostly just gotten used to dealing with people’s weird politics. If I ever tell them I voted Libertarian, they tell me, “You’re just voting for [the candidate I don’t like], you know.” At which point I have to explain that neither major party “owns” my vote, so their opponent can’t gain it by my decision not to vote for them.

        2. This is a person who has never thought that someone can have the same principles, the same values, and the same concepts of right and wrong, and still hold different opinions about how to approach them.

        3. Yeah, I ended a close friendship of 10+ years awhile back, after my friend abandoned a science career to be a Senate staffer in DC. It was more sad than anything; 2 years in that environment turned him from a good hearted if tightly-wound person into a bitter, entitled, miserable workaholic asshole.

  11. file under: Top. Men.

    A single typo may have given Russian hackers access to the Clinton campaign chair’s emails

    “This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”

    With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account ? a total of about 60,000 ? were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.

    1. Yeah, he’s ass covering.

      If he paid attention, he would have said “this is NOT a legitimate email”, with 20 point bold font and (if it wasn’t deprecated) a blink tag.

      1. I was going to ask the computer geek commentariate about that. Has it not been known, since I don’t know, 2000 or before to not change a password by linking through an email? Were not phishing emails around then, or am I remembering wrong?

        1. It has been known and is known by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of anything that if unsolicited people start asking you for your bank accounts, routing numbers and credit card numbers to random callers on your bakelite phone on the wall, you hang up on them.

          Why this was magically different when people used email, I have no idea why.

        2. Yes, it is generally known. No, people still click on it. Doesn’t matter how many times you tell them, how experienced, how old or how smart.

          It’s some weird black magic, I think.

          1. So all this hubbub about Russian hacking involved a Phishing email that Podesta and his staff were too stupid to avoid. That is some super slueth blackhat shit there. We should probably redo the election and launch nukes. Because I am sure there are no other IP addresses in that region that would do a phishing scam.

            Not to mention the most damning info in the Podesta emails was proving Clinton and the media fucked Bernie. Ya, that handed it to Trump. All those Bernie voters switched to Trump.

            1. Most people, or at least most TV show writers, think hacking involves quirky geniuses who type very fast on computers that make beepbeepboop noises- which might have been excusable in the days before computers were household items.

            2. This is literally how it always happens. My company employs Kevin Mitnick’s company to do basic computer security training. He points out that he can train a company (including corporate officers), tell them he will be following up with phishing attacks, and still routinely gets email passwords and bank accounts. I mean, literally send the administrative assistant a fake email that says, “Hey its [CIO], I had to make up this account real quick because I’m locked out of my email and phone do [something like send me my password].” And it works WAY too often.

        3. Depends. I have had legitimate emails prompting me to change passwords (one from I think Steam, for example). But you have to look at the URL you’re going to.

          1. I get those when I’m on a website where I can’t remember my password and click the “forgot password” link. But that’s different, of course.

          2. I got about halfway through an Amazon phishing that was REALLY GOOD before I realized I had just done something stupid. So I changed my email address for my account AND the password. It takes one dumb second to screw up, but you can limit the damage pretty quickly.

      2. Does the blink tag work on reason.com?

        (I guess not)

        1. I have heard legends of days of old, when giants bestrode the earth, there was no registration to comment, threading did not exist, and blink tags ruled the blasted lands…

          1. Yes, until it all ended after the Day of the Commenter

          2. Registration was put in place to curtail high plains drifter… or whoever that was that gamboled about the fruited plains.

            1. White Indian

              *makes sign of cross*

                1. I think she had something to do with it as well.

      3. My thoughts as well. What do want to bet that he was totally unqualified for the job but got hired because he was willing to work for next to nothing. The parties thrive on twenty something political wannabes for labor.

    2. Appoint Delevan to head up U.S. Cybersecurity.

  12. SJWiki. It’s a thing now.

    Proceed with caution.

    1. Wow, they have introduced intersectionalism to the bigotry side of the equation to create new words like transmisogyny. We truly have a generation of useless twats out there who feel they are contributing by inventing words and telling you how you suck.

      And they spend more words on “gingerbread person” than on defining Marxism.

      1. Surprisingly, the libertarianism article does not contain the phrase “Republicans who smoke pot”.

        1. Hey, at least i learned about the dangers of brocialists.

        2. That article on libertarianism was informative in how little I know about what other people think words mean.

      2. O.M.G. That entry is such a rabbit hole.

    2. No nudes? Not interested.

      /Crusty

    1. Yep, not close to just plain wrong.
      Actively and with malicious intent, totally, completely and irrevocably STUPID.

    2. -Amanda Marcotte

      I thought she had choked on a donut or something. My world is a slightly less happy place knowing that she still exists and has a job.

      1. Yeah, but she’s miserable … so there’s the shadenfreude.

        I’ve always thought shadenfreude was an unworthy sentiment, and have seldom been tempted by it, and have resisted it when tempted … until now. Progressive tears are just too sweet.

        1. On the other hand, didn’t Gawker buy and destroy Wonkette?

  13. Now that I think about it, maybe we should be more like Europe:

    Dutch restaurant serves up ‘My Little Pony Burger’ made from real horse meat

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure…..orse-meat/

    1. If they aren’t acting food colouring to the meat they aren’t “My Little Pony” enough.

      1. “Now we are truly one, Twilight Sparkle.”

    2. I just need to throw away the meat sometimes. For people to understand, you really have to explain to them clearly about the unwanted ponies and horse meat. When I’m cooking in the kitchen, I don’t always have time for this.

      Shouldn’t it be “Unwanted Pony Burger”? I see a new toy line. Three legged “My Unwanted Pony”.

  14. Can’t find it, but I read a pretty good review about the Miss Sloan movie and the gun grabber derp therein.

    One of the plot twists is that one of the gun grabbers is saved by a CCW holder, and the team must scurry to bury this fact as they push for the new gun control law.

    It also turns out that one of the gun grabbers survived a mass shooting committed by illegally obtained guns, and this too must be buried. Interestingly, the character himself admits that the law they are pushing for would have done nothing to stop that shooting.

    Of course, all the pro-gun people are portrayed as decrepit old white guys.

    I imagine the movie is basically an long episode of Law and Order written by MSNBC anchors.

    1. “I imagine the movie is basically an long episode of Law and Order written by MSNBC anchors.”

      You make it sound so appealing.

      1. It is totally tanking at the box office.

    2. One of the plot twists is that one of the gun grabbers is saved by a CCW holder, and the team must scurry to bury this fact as they push for the new gun control law.

      And that’s supposed to be a good thing? I would have thought you were describing a movie that was critical of the gun grabbers.

  15. It’s a small but important win for government transparency and evidence that at least some good came out of the USA Freedom Act, even if it didn’t really rein in mass surveillance the many wanted it to.

    It ain’t shit. A list of half a dozen Security Letters? What about the massive effort to capture every email in the world? Fuck these assholes.

  16. Watching Interstellar . Is it so impossibly WE TRIED TO WARN YOU DUMB REDNECKS smug the whole way through or does this get better?

          1. Thanks for getting me to log that in my youtube history. I’m looking forward to the video suggestions I’ll get for the next 2 weeks.

      1. I…

        nevermind

    1. It gets better.

      1. Gotta say, the scene where he leaves the family home on his way to the NORAD facility was pretty good. Truck kicking up a contrail of dust as he rockets away like… well, almost like a spaceship.

    2. I thought it was awful. But I’m not a McConaughey fan.

      1. I wish I could live inside Jessica Chastain’s perfect chin cleft.

    3. I see you didn’t yet get to the point where the sarcastic robotic flees a tidal wave twirling like a Rubik’s cube trying to solve itself.

      1. Still trying to make sense of that fucking thing. It’s like an insufferable throwback from an episode Mystery Science Theater.

        1. That bronze ATM is the most ridiculously stupidly designed robot in movie history. In a movie that tried to be serious as fuck. You had no excuse, Nolan, no fucking excuse. I then rage hit eject.

          Have fun with the rest of the movie.

          1. I am enjoying it, but that thing is godawful distracting.

            1. I should finish watching it. To complete my catalogue of hate. That which does not kill me…

    4. Watch it until Matt Damon reaches his apotheosis

      1. Annnnd those are the backsides of books. FFS really?

    5. I am okay with this movie. It’s superficially stupid. But a lot of that can be covered up with we don’t know what we don’t know. And the idea of a far future humanity with resources spanning more dimensions than we can conceive constructing a crude interface for directing its much earlier predecessor at a crucial junction, well… that’s fascinating.

      It’s also a very dumb movie that pulls at more heartstrings than brainstems, but I kinda like that too. I don’t have children, but it’s obvious the sort of psychological trauma the story could engender. A father leaves his daughter at an early age, perhaps for good; a father deals with decades of change in the span of a few hours; and, reuniting much later, recognizing that she has obligations surpassing his to hers. There’s a lot of emotional content to grapple with. I enjoyed that.

      In that vein, the loneliness and uncertainty struck home. The silence and starkness and the introspective sequences were moving. The last-gambit long-shot nature of the whole thing got to me. I had the same reaction reading the first half of Seveneves. The desolation, the unlikely survival of humanity, the absurdity of trying. Nolan captured that feeling. It’s upsetting and unsettling.

      1. It’s not a perfect movie, by a long shot. I’ll probably never see it again. I wouldn’t call it a thinking man’s movie, either. There are too many flaws and too many giveaways to the necessity of Hollywood drama to call it a perfect movie. But it does wed the interpersonal drama with the science fiction premise rather well, and I think it worth a once over. But it’s no Primer, as far as believable sci-fi/drama goes. I’ll watch the shit out of Primer.

  17. Ooh, ‘member that guy who lied about being on a helicopter that got shot at? I ‘member.

    Fact-challenged Brian Williams whines about fake news

    In 2003, Williams and an NBC team were reporting in Iraq when three US Chinooks came under fire ? but he was actually aboard a different helicopter about an hour behind them.

    “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another,” Williams told the Stars and Stripes military newspaper after helicopter crew members came forward.

    Oh, please. You lied about getting shot at to impress people and because you thought no one would call you out on it.

    1. You know who else lied about coming under sniper fire?

      1. My friend who was 16 and trying to buy beer in a convenience store back when the beer purchase age was 18 in CO? He said he was in Vietnam. For the record, it worked. It was quite a performance.

        1. You’d think he’d be able to get more than beer with a con job like that, not that I’d approve or anything.

          1. Oh he could, and did. He has talent. I never approved either. For the record.

            1. You just shut the fuck up and drank his beer, though, right?

    2. Both Dan Rather and Brian Williams have now chimed in about “fake news” without the slightest bit of introspection. That says about all anyone needs to know about how serious this concern is.

  18. “Small batch” what is with that crap? What happened to scaling up artesian quality letters?

    1. Drill down and the letters come up to the surface?

      1. I assume he means “artisanal”. So, lots of beards and authentically restored linotype machines casting free-range organic lead letterforms pressing soy-based non GMO-inks on quinoa-based paper. On something like that.

  19. About a dozen or so graduating classes after 1966 at UT?

    1. That was supposed to be a reply to Ted’S. I’m going to bed, clearly my conscious mind needs a recharge.

  20. Union ‘science’ workers upset:

    “Geophysical Union scientists protest Trump appointments”
    […]
    “We have for too long as scientists rested on the assumption that by providing indisputable facts and great data that we are providing enough of an attack against the forces against science. Obviously that strategy has failed miserably.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/…..794212.php

    No, pal, it’s not your presentation of facts. It’s the presumption that those facts lead to the solutions you prefer.
    If you were a true scientist, you would admit you have no greater standing to propose policy than the guy on the corner.

    1. “indisputable facts and great data”

      Just emphasize that the data is great, just the best, and that Trump is gonna love it.

      1. The data are great. :-p

        1. You forgot to mention that “gonna” isn’t a word.

        2. I really hate that debate. But I love it. There’s the pedantry of insisting on datum that I quite like. And then there’s the reality that data is a perfectly fine interchangeable noun. I want to hatefuck the data is/are debate, I love-hate it so much.

    2. I am so getting a white lab coat to make me look smarter. Why the photo op with the lab coats? Come on people. That is dumb.

      1. Why the photo op with the lab coats? Come on people. That is dumb.

        It’s been done.

    3. “Indisputable” in this case means that they are unwilling to entertain whether the facts actually lead inexorably to the conclusion or not.

  21. A “two freebies” policy? Someone* is going to start looking for a job in the city.

    *I’m that someone.

    1. To be fair, it may be difficult to overcome the “I was accidentally bumping up against someone in a crowded place” defense if it’s just one time.

    2. The first one is called the “Crusty freebie.”

  22. “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” It’s one that’s opposed in Rogue One “by a multicultural group led by brave women,” chimed in Weitz’s co-writer Gary Whitta. Weitz had strongly criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign on Twitter

    NOOOOOO!!!!! NOT MY STAR WARS!!! Keep your filthy SJW hands off my Star Wars!!!

    1. Who cares about Star Wars after Return of the Jedi?

      1. I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I sleep in a Millenium Falcon shaped bed. I also roleplay that I’m Jabba the Hutt with my gf and she’s Princess Leia.

        Okay maybe she’s just a Princess Leia sex doll. SugarFree do your worst!

        1. I did it all for the wookie.

          1. OK, that was… pretty good.

          2. Are your niggles hard?

      2. I tried to like the sequels, but failed.

        1. I liked the first one, but I was in the target demographic: middle school nerd. Any time I’ve rewatched it, I’ve hated it.

        2. Clone Wars CGI cartoon somehow managed to not only be good, but to make ep II and III retroactively better. I guess having 100 episodes led to some character development that movies never managed.

          1. I like the idea of the Clone Wars. I just hate Anakin as a character, and they have to draw influence on his character from the films, which were bad. It really seems like the actual Clone Wars should have been the plot of Episode One, or at least the start of the Clone Wars.

          2. It makes no sense to me that Anakin would have an apprentice he would not mention or think about in Ep 3, but damn does that show make his character waaay more interesting. Same thing with Maul, really: some real stupid fanboy bullshit to bring him back, but they made it work.

            1. Actually, the problem is centered on Anakin, but it’s really the whole Jedi Order. Before the prequels, I pictured Jedi not as emotionless monks, but cultured warriors, which made them much more interesting. They were fairly serene and fairly pacifist, but it wasn’t out of some need to be Vulcans, it was just that they go through so much that it makes them very level-headed. I never pictured them how Lucas did. Lucas makes the whole Jedi into a creepy kind of cult that kidnaps children, breaks all ties to families, and purges their emotions.

              That’s a terrible way to do characterization. What made Alec Guiness work as a Jedi wasn’t just his elder mentor status, but the fact that he had a dry wit paired with some compassionate warmth. I have a hard time picturing the Jedi as functional over millenia the way they’re portrayed. And since that’s canon, everyone is stuck with it, which makes me want to not deal with them.

    2. Do your worst, SJWs, you still can’t make anything worse than Episode One.

      1. Hello, I’m D’JarJariqua Binks-Afrah-Muhammad, an agender lifeform of color.

        1. Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t dare them like that, they’ll take it as a challenge.

      2. Wait until it is revealed in Episode VIII that the New Republic is socialist and the First Order opposes them because they have a universal healthcare system.

        Also Kylo Ren was a great kid until he checked out Atlas Shrugged from his school library.

        1. Speaking of shitty politics in genre works… I was binge-watching ST:DS9 this week and very near the end there is an episode where the Ferengi – always portrayed as if written by a junior-high SJW – were ramped up to 11 and the bartender’s heartless free-wheeling monopolist capitalism was contrasted with his brother’s near-on communism (guess who wins?) in such a manner that I wanted to chuck my TV out the window. It boggles the mind that seven seasons of generally good writing goes tits-up whenever the subject matter of economics comes up.

          1. Yeah Deep Space Nine is my favorite Star Trek series, but I hate what they did to the Ferengi in the later seasons. I loved how the writers took jabs at aspects of Federation society, like the baseball card episode. But man they went full derp towards the end with the Ferengi.

            I really like the Maquis as well. What right did those fascist Feds have to give away the Maquis’ planets? I loved every moment of the Maquis’ anti Fed dialogue. I also liked Garak and the Ferengi dudes conversation about how the Federation were like the Borg and how they pretended to be goody two shoes but were really much more violent and warlike then the Ferengi and a lot of other alien races they looked down upon.

            1. Garak is probably my favorite Trek character ever.

              But yeah, sometimes the Salon-level politics grates. Some of their writers were much better than others, that’s for sure.

              1. “Just plain, simple, Garak.”

              2. Hate to butt in, but it would be a crime if I didn’t mention that DS9 was basically a rip-off of Babylon 5, which had much better writing.

                1. People had done the Babylon 5/DS9 analysis and comparison before. There’s some thematic similarities, and perhaps the initial concept might be a ripoff. But you have to admit that they did very different things with the concept. Deep Space 9 distinguished itself not because of the premise, but because it was well-executed. And Babylon 5 was also well executed.

                  1. I only saw a few episodes of Babylon 5 and liked it. I think it was a time/place thing why I never followed it. Plus it doesn’t ever seem to be in syndication.

                    1. I don’t think you can stream it legally anywhere, but you can buy the whole series on DVD for about $75. Given what movies cost these days, that would be a great bargain.

          2. I know what episode you’re talking about. It outright contradicts things we see at other times by claiming that Quark doesn’t even care about his brother being sick and won’t give him time off to see the doctor. And apparently, this idea that he deserves to be able to take sick days turns into “Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.” Literally he quotes it in the middle of the episode.

            You don’t have to be a Marxist to be in favor of better working conditions. But I’ve had Marxists convince me that the only reason people have weekends off is because of Marxism.

          3. It boggles the mind that seven seasons of generally good writing goes tits-up whenever the subject matter of economics comes up.

            I think that TNG era Star Trek suffered from an attempt to broach complicated topics with simple writing. TOS era Star Trek was still in the Twilight Zone’esque serial format with a “lesson at the end.” While TZ was geared toward a more adult audience, TOS was essentially a kid’s show when it came to the philosophical depth.

            TNG and its contemporaries addressed more adult and nuanced issues, but tended to use technomagic and luck in resolving the conflict in a kid’s show way, despite the adult level conflict. That’s why there are entire seasons of TNG, DS9, and VOY that are horribly written. Part of Roddenberry’s legacy was that the TNG era was supposed to be utopian, and it shows in the early seasons. It wasn’t really until The Best of Both Worlds that the writers even experimented with complicated, adult endings.

            It took until the 2000s for sci-fi TV writers to begin to find the right recipe on a consistent basis. The BSG reboot was adult conflict and adult solutions 24/7. Stargate SG-1 was a great mix of kiddie issues with kiddie solutions and adult issues with adult solutions, and when they mixed and matched, they tended to do so in a meta way that made fun of it.

            1. Now that I’m done with DS9 I started on BSG last night. I bought my first DVD player (that wasn’t part of a computer) recently and wow I’m glad I went with an all-region model. The eurodiscs of these series are like a fraction of the price of the US versions.

              1. BSG is also pretty fantastic, if you’ve never seen it before. It’s great at dealing with stuff on an episode-to-episode basis while maintaining character and narrative consistency. It just sucks that the series creators thought foreshadowing was a beautiful narrative technique but had no idea how to pay off the foreshadowing.

                1. BSG is also pretty fantastic, if you’ve never seen it before.

                  Oh, I’ve seen them all. In fact, I’m less critical about the (second half of the) final season than most around here.

                  I just love that universe and immersing myself in it. The show was SO well done.

                  1. There’s a problem when you start setting up that there’s a big mystery, and something mysterious is going to happen, but then there’s no momentum for it.

                    The freaking Baltar thing that they spent OVER three years foreshadowing. He’s going to pick up a child and walk through a door. Clearly that’s a representation for some decision he will make that has major repercussions. But the payoff was him literally picking up a kid and walking through a door. It literally meant nothing, which is not how you’re supposed to do foreshadowing.

                    And the mysterious stuff and symbolism that was building up? Surely there’s some connection, right? I’m not saying you need to tie up every loose end, but there needs to be at least a logical framework that pays off the fact that it’s a mystery. Just saying, “Oh, God did it. Because he’s God. Sometimes he likes helping, and other times he likes fucking around with you.” It would have been much more satisfying, and LOGICAL, if HeadSix was just Baltar being crazy. It would work if she was a representation of his cognitive dissonance between his immense guilt and the fact that his vanity wouldn’t let him blame himself. I buy him as a very intriguing, brilliant, and flawed human character, but not as some messenger of God.

            2. Actually, you’re slightly wrong. The ENTIRETY of the third season of TNG was fantastic, with maybe just a dud episode or two in there, before it culminated in “Best of Both Worlds.”

              You had that one episode with the dying Romulan on the ship, and Worf turned out to be the only compatible blood donor. Worf hated Romulans so much he absolutely refused to donate, and the Romulan actually DIED.

              There was the episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” which had the alternate history showing the Enterprise in a war with the Klingons, and the solution was to send the Enterprise-C crew to their deaths.

              There was another Romulan episode, with the defecting general. Well-done all around. He pretended to be a low-lever clerk, then turned out to be a notorious butcher, and the Enterprise crew was stuck debating whether or not to trust his information about an impending Romulan invasion. And it turned out the whole thing was a ruse to test the Romulan general’s loyalty, and he killed himself in shame.

              Plus there was the episode with Sarek, and how he was getting old and feeble-minded, but people around him were too concerned with his pride to let him recognize it. Just fantastic performances from Patrick Stewart and the guy who played Sarek (I forget his name).

              1. Shit, you’re so right! I forgot that Best of Both Worlds was the _end_ of season 3, not the _beginning_.

            3. Absolutely love BSG except for the ending. Giving up all that tech to live like cavemen was just a facepalm moment in my opinion. People are going to start dying after scraping their knee.

              1. The whole last episode of BSG was stupid, and that was very stupid too.

                “Because we keep making the same mistakes, let’s destroy all technology that preserves our history so that future generations will not learn from these mistakes, and the whole thing will happen again in 8000 years or so.”

    3. It’s too late, Star Wars is the Mouse’s bitch now. Get ready for yearly, increasingly SJW Star Wars movies until one flops. Then they’ll probably try to SJW even harder for the next two, and when they flop they’ll get a director and writers who are massive Star Wars nerds. And then that movie will be really good.

      …Until they run out of time filming and it ends up being over-edited and rushed.

      1. I began to think that most of the human race is made up of pod people after The Force Awakens recieved such good reviews. That movie lacked all creativity and seemed like it was designed by a corporate board that consisted mostly of human resources types. It had no internal logic and was just a rehash of Episode IV.

        Star Trek and Star Wars have been ruined by JJ abrams.

        I’m really liking the Expanse though. The book series is excellent and the show is pretty good.

        1. I’m not really much of a Star Wars fan, played some of the games, liked the movies as a kid, and the first two still hold up as an adult, but when I saw Force Awakens I had no idea what the hell its appeal was. I came out of the theatre thinking “ok, so that was basically a worse version of A New Hope with slight changes and tons of fanwank. Is this what Star Wars fans actually wanted?”

          Jesus Christ people, just get someone competent to write a Revan prequel and print money. But it’s not like the film did poorly anyway.

        2. When your Star Wars movie is outclassed by a Duracell commercial shown beforehand, you need to not direct more Star Wars.

          At least it got him off Star Trek – the ST: Beyond movie was surprisingly good (Simon Pegg scripting helped a lot).

          1. +1 on The Expanse (at least the TV show, that is all I know). Really liked it and when the hell is it returning? … Ah, February.

            1. The books are just so, so good.

              They do a decent job with the TV show…the problem is that the books are creating an actual sci-fi world, and they can’t accurately portray that on a TV Series. People who have lived out in low gravity for a few generations have evolved to be taller, skinnier, and have less bone density, there’s a lot of world-building about how water and air and recycled, etc.

              The characters and the world-building are what sell it more than the plot, which is what makes it a less-than-perfect book to make into a tv serial. TV serials work best with around 8 major characters, at the most, but the books have a lot of minor characters that are also important.

              1. Cool, I’ll check out the books. Your description reminds me of Alastair Reynolds, who I’m a huge fan of.

                1. I loved the jabs that were taken at the massive welfare state on Earth in the book. When they said Earth had lost all drive for innovation and society had stagnated because of welfarism.

                  It made me look up the authors because I thought they might be libertarian, but no they are progs. Still it doesn’t feel like I’m reading a prog propoganda piece.

                  The belter situation strikes my libertarian strings rather than my prog derp meter. If you know what I’m saying. Don’t want to give too much away. Love the books and I really like the show.
                  It does have a bit of a Game of Thrones feel to it as well. Which I like.

                  1. Thomas Jane has never been better, if you ask me. Now that I’m reading the synopsis of the show again, I’m reminded that there’s a lot of intricacy that kind of flew over my head as I was watching the show.

                    It does have a bit of a Game of Thrones feel to it as well.

                    There is a bit of eye-candy for everyone, isn’t there.

                    1. I meant more the tone.

                      But the actress who plays Naomi is hawt! Same with Julie.

                  2. It doesn’t really strike me as being biased toward any political or economical ideas. The writer is just capable of expressing how different societies create different systems based on their situations. The Belters have that imminent threat of “If we lose one shipment of water, we’re going to have major issues. If we lose two shipments of water, people start dying.” So they’re in a very different economical situation from Earth, where feeding and housing everyone is no problem.

            2. Just looked on Amazon and it’s only on Bluray, not DVD.

              WTF. Is that a thing now?

              1. Oh, never mind. It was just sort of hidden.

        3. I agree with your description of it. Rehash of Episode IV that felt like it was creatively designed by a flowchart and spreadsheet. But it was still pretty enjoyable. It had some fun action, it winked at the camera a few times. It had flaws, too, and people tried WAY too hard to convince me the main character isn’t a Mary Sue (she is), but it’s not bad.

    1. *pours out a little Crown for Dr. Seaver*

      Also, I will probably masturbate to Joanna Kearns before I go to sleep. Respect.

      1. Not Chelsea Noble?

        1. The facts of lif were all about her.

        2. Or – it takes different strokes to move the world.

    1. RIP, Alan. Unfortunately, Kirk Cameron is still with us.

    2. Paul F Tompkins is losing characters fast…

      RIP, you glorious product hawking bastard.

  23. techno, Vivaldi, and a purdy Asian lady. What’s not to like?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8Ja8SqMwM0

    1. She gets really Tartini’d up in this video.

      1. You can’t dance and twirl around glow sticks to that.

        You need Eurotrash techno for that:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d44ykdKvCw

        Featuring a 3 Stooges “whoo-whoo-whoo-whoopwhoopwhoop”!

          1. There really is nothing new under the sun. That’s almost as bad as that Max Martin guy who wrote all those hit songs.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Martin

            Humpback whales have more musical creativity.

            1. I never knew I hated someone that I didn’t know so much.

            2. I rather like humpback songs. I listen to them while I work sometimes. Sometimes I will wail out loud along with them and then have to apologize to my office mates.

            1. Musicians hate Pachelbel’s Canon in D, nobody likes it except the public.

  24. Rerun from late last night: Yawn Vanity’s kung fu stylings. The part where he compares himself to a Navy SEAL around the 0:47 mark is priceless.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fkdv9g5aFk

    He named his signature punch the Iceman.

  25. Sevo and other San Franciscans.

    My sister has a good friend who is from SF and she was telling her how ‘scary’ things are under Trump and that the ‘talk around SF’ is the country is readying for war with Iran. Moreover, she claims the draft is coming that will include woman.

    I know. All left-wing stuff (I remember when people ‘knew’ someone who worked in and around the Bush administration claiming he was preparing for war with Iran) but anything to add here?

    1. You didn’t ask me, but I thought drafting women was a left-wing thing.

      1. Me neither but I suspect his sister’s friend has been steeping in ‘activist’ politics too long.

        1. Pant shitter central.

    2. You know how you never have a draft?

      YOU DO YOUR PART.

        1. I hope that’s a naked co-ed shower.

        2. I only have one rule…everyone fights, no one quits. If you don’t do your job I’ll shoot you. You get me?

          1. A coordinated hockey stick attack only works if everyone is participating.

            1. That’s a climate change joke, BTW.

              1. Cease commenting. Put your hand on that wall, Chipper. PUT YOUR HAND ON THAT WALL!

    3. A number of people I know (especially women) have entered an alternate reality in which we are replaying 1930s Germany. The portal to that universe seems to involve reading DailyKos, Huffington Post, and the NY Times, and listening to NPR.

  26. Alan Thicke just died.

    1. Heart attack while playing hockey. Like a true Canadian. RIP.

      1. Floridians do that playing golf.

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    2. Should I dial that number?

      Should I?

      /picks up phone. Looks around.

  29. Electors Against Trump Are Faithful Not Faithless

    “In his [sic] 1957 Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy celebrated the valor and integrity [wank wank]…

    “In 1972…Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller vetoed a religiously inspired bill that would have outlawed abortion in the state…

    “The following year, Republican Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Republican Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned [wank wank]…

    “In 2002, Republican President George W. Bush boldly signed into law the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Act…

    “Why is any of this relevant today? Next week, the Electoral College will meet….

    “…there are sensible reasons, particularly in light of Hamilton’s explanation of the Electoral College, for the members of the Electoral College to be wary of awarding the election to Donald Trump.

    “First, there are serious questions, raised even by the leaders of his own party, about whether Trump has the experience, the character, the judgment, the knowledge, the integrity or the temperament to serve as President of the United States….

    “…this is where John F. Kennedy and Profiles in Courage enters the picture. If this is the right outcome, then our electors must fearlessly and courageously do right by our nation….”

    (contains autoplay video)

    1. Or how to start a Civil War.

      General Mattis would be only to happy to play the role of Grant in Civil War II, I bet the guy has a raging boner just thinking about it. Most of the military supports Trump and most gun owners support Trump vs. what do the Democrats have? The IRS? The EPA? Social Justice Warriors afraid to leave their safe spaces? I’d give the conflict a week at best with most of the fighting taking place between Hillary supporters in urban areas over who gets to loot what from the local CVS pharmacy.

      1. And, where do all those idiots in the big cities think that their food comes from? (“Well duh, Whole Foods!”)

        1. And their water, electricity, gasoline, natural gas….

    2. Geoffrey R. Stone is a Edward H. Levi Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chicago

      So much for “rule of law”

  30. So I am watching Black Mirror 3.3, where the teenage kid is getting blackmailed because someone recorded him wanking with his laptop camera. Would that really work on anyone here? I would just be like, fuck off, go ahead, post that shit.

    1. Nope. It would be sort of like recording someone taking a shit. We all do it. Whats the big deal?

      1. Sextortion is a real crime. People don’t want to deal with the embarrassment.

        1. You know what else is a real crime?

          Not paying me royalties for the broadcast of one of my ‘performances’.

        2. Sure, extortion and blackmail are crimes. But it depends on the sex act. If someone just recorded me masturbating thats not really all that embarrassing. We all do it. If some recorded me with my anime sex bot 3000 while she was pounding me with a strap on that would be embarrassing.

          1. Seriously. 3.3K series is such a major leap forward, there’s no reason not to upgrade!

          2. Skay. Who hasn’t been pegged once or twice?

    2. [SPOILER ALERT]

      Look at his browser history.

    3. It wouldn’t work on most of us here due to our being 18+ But in real life, the blackmail hook against the teen wouldn’t be “I can reveal that you were fapping,” but “I can have you charged with creating child porn.”

  31. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rPf8OsjfwE

    I don’t know. /scratches back of head.

    I don’t know but Alex Jones is starting to sound normal to me.

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