Dear Patrick Lynch, NYPD police benevolent union head

Patrick Lynch, head of the New York police department benevolent union, recently claimed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was responsible for the Saturday deaths of two Brooklyn cops who were murdered by a lone gunman from Georgia. Note that the killer was known to be mentally unstable.

Patrick Lynch is a prime example for why even white, middle-age, males like myself now view all police officers with suspicion. My brother is a police officer. They have a difficult job. Yet it’s reached the point that whenever I see a police officer interacting with someone else I automatically put my phone on “record” and walk toward the situation to help ensure there is a record should the police abuse their power. Because we can no longer assume, even in San Jose, CA, that the police will treat all citizens equally.

See also Charles P. Pierce.

Abortion clinic escorts and protestors

I don’t have a lot to add to this article about abortion clinic escorts. What I do know is that the protestors never, and I do mean never, consider that their might be good reasons for terminating a pregnancy. Such as a genetic defect that guarantees the fetus, assuming a live birth, will have a hideous and short life span. Furthermore, the people who protest at abortion clinics are almost guaranteed to distort reality; e.g., with respect to when a fetus has a beating heart or has a nervous system that can “feel” pain. Not to mention that almost all abortions are done during the embryonic stage (or would be if the anti-abortionists weren’t able to delay the procedure).

There is plenty of room for honest disagreement for when an abortion should not be allowed. But the people who protest and vote against allowing any abortions, regardless of the circumstances, aren’t interested in an honest and open discussion. They’re blinded by their religious faith. Proving yet again that religion poisons everything.

A police chief who understands his job

Talking Points Memo brought to my attention that there are, even in the deep south of the USA, police chiefs who recognize that their job isn’t to pander to the frightened, bigoted, citizens they protect. Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson wrote a marvelous response to someone who sent him an email essentially demanding that he use excessive force in dealing with non-violent protesters.

The person who wrote that email is, among other things, annoyed that the protests adversely impacted his activities (e.g., getting to work on time). I share that sentiment. In as much as I’d be annoyed by protesters whose actions get in the way of me going on about my business especially if I am not sympathetic to their views. But being inconvenienced does not warrant having the police assault and arrest the protesters.

I am thankful that many police officers can do their job with the understanding that their personal biases regarding who is a “good” or “not good” person is irrelevant. I am sad that there are so many officers who clearly cannot do so and are not held accountable for their irrational behavior.

Why Would Anyone Vandalize a Nativity Scene Like This?

I agree with Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist: why would anyone vandalize a nativity scene on private property? Whether or not the offender is an atheist they should be prosecuted by the, secular, civic authority. I vociferously support the “separation of church and state” but will equally support the rights of religious people to promote their views as long as that does not involve government forcing me to adhere to those religious views.

Answers In Genesis, Ark Encounter, whine some more

After Kentucky informed AIG they would not be receiving $18M in tax incentives due to their discriminatory hiring practices AIG responded that they are being discriminated against. You’ve got to love this statement in their whine:

Nobody seems to want to force the group American Atheists to hire Christians (and we do not advocate it).

American Atheists and every other secular organization doesn’t require “statements of faith” (or non-faith) in order to be hired. They only require that you are competent to perform the duties of the job. Regardless of whether or not you believe in a deity.

If AIG/Ark Encounter had their way it would be legal for businesses to refuse to hire (i.e., discriminate) based on the color or your skin. Sorry, but religion does not deserve that secular privilege.

AT&T continues to fuck me without lubricant

Three months ago I wrote about my unhappiness regarding the obscene increase of 70% in my bill in a single year. That resulted in a temporary, as in one month, decrease, in my bill. Yesterday I received my most recent bill which was back to the absurd amount of $31.09; which is greater than it was in September. As before it included more than $3 for long-distance service which I’ve never authorized or used. AT&T is making it really easy for me to decide to switch to Comcast. Yes, I recognize that Comcast is only slightly less evil than the Nazis. However, they’ll give me (in theory) a faster Internet connection than AT&T for the same amount of money. My neighbors are either happy or at least not so unhappy with Comcast that they’re willing to change to another ISP. And AT&T seems to be almost as willing to fuck me without lubricant as Comcast. It’s sort of like the decision to vote for a Democrat or the Republican opponent.

Hackers and the security arms race

A hacker finally noticed that if they don’t include the expected HTTP headers (specifically the wordpress_test_cookie=WP+Cookie+check cookie) then attempts to exploit the WordPress /wp-login.php URI are trivial to block. Up until yesterday 99.9% of the attempts to hack my WordPress blog by logging in were caught by my .htaccess rule that forbids POST commands if the expected cookie wasn’t present. I’m still seeing a lot of obviously bogus requests but since yesterday superficially valid requests make up a significant fraction of the attacks.

Until I can do something more intelligent I’m going to block all failed login attempts. I used to use a three-strikes rule to allow for real people making typing mistakes. But it looks like the hackers have realized that making repeated attempts to login also makes it really easy to block the attacks. So they’ve reprogrammed their malware to stop the attack if the first login attempt fails. Fortunately, that too is a signature I can use to automate the blocking of attack sources.

Once I’ve refined my rules to handle the more sophisticated attacks I’ll write another article describing how my defenses work and showing the code.

NPR refuses to say “torture” except when other than Americans do it

As reported by FAIR, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, the only time the word “torture” is acceptable is when a country other than the USA uses “harsh interrogation tactics”. I already knew this given that I have listened to NPR nearly every morning for the past ten years. But to see it documented so clearly made me retch. Sorry, NPR, but you’ll never get another donation from me.

I gave up on OPB several years ago when they started promoting hucksters like Deepak Chopra on a regular basis. Yet I still clung to the hope that NPR would, most of the time, provide straight news. Yes, I frequently gagged when I heard NPR give, without any critical questioning, someone from the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, or other right-wing institution a few minutes to spout lies and nonsense. This latest revelation regarding their taking sides (i.e., the side of war criminals) while claiming to be impartial guarantees I will never give them another penny.

P.S., The ACLU talks about the CIA agents who raised concerns or refused to participate in what was clearly torture, not “enhanced interrogation”.

Kim Jung-un, Korea, and self-censorship

I just sent the following message to the advertising department of my favorite local theater: Camera Cinemas

If you manage to force Sony Pictures to let you show “The Interview” I’ll pay you $1,000 for a single showing or $200 per showing up to a maximum of $2,000. If you think I’m not serious I’ll be happy to hand you a check for that amount contingent on screening the film at least once.

I appreciate that you can’t show a movie that has not been released by the movie studio. But I hope you do the right thing and tell Sony that self-censorship out of fear of offending some people is a dangerous precedent. Almost every film you show is likely to offend some group. If a group might be offended (especially for religious or national pride reasons) by a film and threaten boycotts or worse will you show it or cower in fear and refuse to show it? I’ve seen an average of between one and two movies per week at your cinemas for seven years. It would make me sad if this type of self-imposed censorship resulted in bland, inoffensive, films that aren’t worth paying cinema prices.

H/T: The Friendly Atheist

Gay teen commits suicide and devout xtian parents claim surprise

This article breaks my heart. Her parents assert they had no idea their daughter was unhappy, let alone suicidal, and would have been accepted:

During the inquest Lizzie’s tearful father Kevin, an engineer, said he and her mother Hilary had no idea about the issues their 14-year-old daughter was grappling with.

He said: “She was just normal and seemed happy. There was nothing to suggest she was distressed or had any issues. She was very mature, she knew what she wanted and she knew her own mind.”

Asked how the family would have reacted if she had spoken to them about her sexuality, Mr Lowe said: “It wouldn’t have come as much surprise. She was very much a tomboy. In fact she was more of a boy than some of the boys were, so it would have been no surprise at all. We would have been very supportive.”

Holy shit! How clueless and delusional do you have to be to say those things when your child committed suicide? When she had a history of “cutting” herself? When it is clear she killed herself because she did not believe you would accept her due to your screwed up religious beliefs?

H/T: The Friendly Atheist