darkoshi: (Default)
I've been trying to support independent journalism by getting paid accounts on some news sites whose articles I occasionally read (even though most of the time, the pages I read are ones that other people have linked to).

I had made a note that Slate.com charges $49 for a year's subscription. Today the site even shows an introductory price of $35/year. So I decided to sign up. But after fighting with their website for the last half hour, I've changed my mind.

First problem: The Join Slate Plus page says what the membership costs and what special perks you get. But there were no fields for signing up, and no link or button for any sign up page. I had to click NoScript's "Temporarily Allow All This Page" icon 4 times for the fields to finally be displayed. (Each time you click that icon, NoScript allows JavaScript for the domains that were previously blocked, but then encounters additional domains which the page indirectly references, and for security reasons, NoScript doesn't allow them until you click again. And so on.)

Furthermore, the fields that show up aren't for buying a paid account, but rather for "Try it Free for 2 Weeks!" That's not what I wanted.

So instead I used their normal Sign Up page to create an account. It asks for an email address, display name, and password. It took me a while to decide on a display name to use. Upon submitting my info, the site then brought up the Terms of Service. But there was no Accept button. I repeatedly clicked the "Allow All This Page" icon, until 30 or more domains were unblocked (and my laptop fan started spinning on high speed from all the crap it was trying to load each time, because underneath the ToS, the page showed a bunch of news articles), and still no Accept button displayed. Yet when I tried to go to my account page, it kept re-displaying the Terms of Service, like it was waiting for me to accept them.

Then I tried a different browser without NoScript. That way, I was able to log in and open my account profile. The account page has a "Manage subscriptions" link. But when I click the link, it only opens the slate.com homepage. So I can't see whatever email lists they may have added me to by default. Hopefully I'll be able to unsubscribe from them somehow, supposing they did add me to any lists.

Then I tried logging in from my normal browser again. But when I click the login button, it ...

(oh thank goodness for Dreamwidth's AutoSave. I just closed both browser windows, to see if I was only having trouble because I was still logged in from the other window, not realizing that I was also closing the tab where I was writing this post.)

When I click the login/account icon, nothing happens. I have to again allow JavaScript from a bunch of domains, just to get the login fields. But then when I enter them, I still don't get logged in. Sigh.

This is way too much trouble. I no longer like their website, so I don't want to give them any money after all. The articles I see on their site today don't seem so great either (or is that sour grapes speaking?).


Monday, June 26th, 2017 12:00 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Several news articles were posted to the Yahoo Androgynes list recently about legislative progress on allowing people to get identification documents that specify their gender as "non-binary".

California moves closer to recognizing third gender - ... The state Senate passed a bill that would allow Californians to choose gender non-binary for identifying documents like drivers licenses and birth certificates...

Oregon becomes first state to allow nonbinary on drivers license - ... Beginning July 1, Oregonians will be able to choose "X" for sex Instead of "F" or "M" on their licenses and identification cards...

D.C. to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses - At the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents on June 26. ...
on the same day that six members of the D.C. City Council introduced a bill that would enact the gender neutral I.D. policy proposed by the mayor administratively into city law. ...

Activist vying for non-binary birth certificate taking N.L. to court

While reading the first 2 articles, I wondered if it's possible that in the not-too-distant future, I could even get a driver's license here in South Carolina which says non-binary. It seems quite unlikely to happen here, but then again, that's what I thought about gay marriage.

But with the Republicans in control of the federal government, it seems likely that there will be some kind of backlash first. Like a "defense of gender act" which would make it illegal for states to issue IDs with non-binary markers.

When the second article mentioned the California legislation again, it suddenly hit me. I was born in California. If the bill passes, I could conceivably get my birth certificate updated. !!! I wouldn't have to wait for SC to pass such a bill, at least not for my BC.

But then that might present other difficulties. Like, "You can't renew your driver's license (or sign up for XYZ), because we only allow M and F, and your BC says X, which isn't a valid value."

I wonder how non-binary gender IDs will affect things that are segregated into M and F. Obviously, there's the bathroom thing... if a state like NC has a law saying that you have to use the restroom which matches the marker on your DL, and your marker is X, can they legally keep you from using both restrooms? And what about prisons... For a non-binary person who is convicted of a crime, how will they decided whether to send them to a men's or women's penitentiary?

For that matter, what about selective service? That will be a can of worms. Suppose that anyone could get out of the draft by changing their gender marker to X or F, because only males are required to sign up? (I'm against the draft and selective service in the first place - I don't think anyone should be required to join the military, regardless of their sex or gender.) I imagine that they'll eventually change the selective service rules to require everyone to sign up, regardless of gender.

Another problem - what about sporting competitions? Will non-binary people not be allowed to compete in men's or women's competitions? But that's already an issue for trans athletes, even without considering non-binary people.
darkoshi: (Default)
This is very disturbing: Chechnya’s president: I will eliminate the gay community by the start of Ramadan

Rainbow Railroad - a Canadian organization that helps LGBT people escape persecution and violence. They are making Chechnya a priority right now.

American Friends of the Rainbow Railroad - if you are a U.S. tax-payer, this site lets you make tax-deductible donations to the Canadian organization.

Other ways to help

lilac twist

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 10:15 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Best headline I've read so far, this year (via andrewducker):
75-Year-Old Texas Woman Flies Through Tornado in Bathtub, Lands in Woods Unharmed

Actually, both she and her son flew in the tub after having taken refuge in it. This article has a video interview with them:
A 75-year-old took a bathtub ride to survival during ETX tornado


Good cover of a good song:

Video title: kriill - Lilac Wine
Posted by: kriill music
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwXtKECKaLs

Their Facebook page: kriillmusic
darkoshi: (Default)
Ever since learning of these conservative fake "news" websites, I've wondered about them. There are many other similar sites, not only the ones mentioned on that page. I wondered whether there were also liberal fake news websites, and it turns out there are.

Some of main things I wonder:
Who is behind these sites?
Are many of the sites owned by the same people? How many people are there behind these sites?
Are some of the conservative and liberal leaning sites both owned by the same people?
What do they hope to accomplish by spreading fake news?
Is the purpose of the sites simply to earn advertising revenue, or something more sinister?

Do they hope to gain certain candidates more votes and support?
Do they hope to incite anger or violence?
Do they hope to destroy democracy in the United States? (Putting aside the question as to how much of a democracy we have at present, and how fair/just/etc our society is)

The more such fake news sites proliferate, the harder it may become to find reliable news. It may cause us to question any news we read, even on sites that we think are reliable. How can we know if what we read and hear is really true? Without knowing what is true or fake, how can we make good decisions? How can we have a good democracy, if the people do not have good information?

It seems obvious that the stories on many of these sites are not trustworthy, simply by the style of writing. But it wouldn't be hard to write fake news in a more convincing style. How many of the more convincing stories that I read on other sites, may actually be fake or misleading too?

People don't have time to do research on everything they read, to determine if it is trustworthy or not. They rely on other people to do that for them. If you read something on a "real" news site, you trust that it is at least somewhat reliable. You have to trust somewhat. And if multiple "real" news sites report the same thing, you have to trust that they did some research on their own, and aren't just all repeating the same story from a single source.

There have been tabloid magazines for a long time, with questionable stories. But it seems to me those were always more focused on Hollywood celebrities, not on politicians and politics. But maybe this has been going on a long long time already, and I just never noticed it much before now.

Ahah. These articles were posted just recently about the phenomenon:

Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem?

A lot of your fake Donald Trump news is coming from millennials in Veles, Macedonia

Yet that can't explain the "conservative daily post" website described in my first link. Surely people in Macedonia wouldn't be hiring Americans to write fake news stories at $15 per article. Unless it is a scam and the writers don't get paid.

The plague of fake news is getting worse -- here's how to protect yourself - Oct 30, 2016.

Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine - Aug 24, 2016.

Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate - Oct? 2016.
The bottom line is that people who regularly consume information from these pages — especially those on the right — are being fed false or misleading information.

The nature of the falsehoods is important to note. They often take the form of claims and accusations against people, companies, police, movements such as Black Lives Matter, Muslims, or "liberals" or "conservatives" as a whole. They drive division and polarization.

This is an older article about Russian-based misinformation programs:
The Agency - June 2015.
From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid "trolls" has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.
darkoshi: (Default)
It surprised me to read that the creepy clown phenomenon has already spread to Europe and beyond:
'Scary clown' craze prompts UK police warning to fancy dress shops

Attacker in clown mask stabs man in Sweden

Clown With Axe Arrested In Australia: Creepy Clown Scare Spreads Down Under

The first article at least provides an idea as to what may have started the craze:
Meanwhile, the film studio behind an upcoming Stephen King movie, It, has been forced to deny it sparked the craze, which began within weeks of the first published images of the fictional killer clown Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård, in the US.

creeping clowns

Thursday, September 1st, 2016 10:34 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
This is the weirdest news story I've heard in quite a while.

Investigation continues in multi-county clown sightings

Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating a rash of incidents involving clown sightings at apartment complexes and other areas of Greenville and Spartanburg counties. ...

According to an officer speaking on the news clip on that page (@ 3:40), there's even a state law that prohibits people over the age of 16 from dressing in clown outfits. "We will charge you. We really don't want to, but we will... We want to encourage people who may be inclined to dress in clown outfits not to do it." ...
"The clowning around needs to stop. It's illegal. It's dangerous. It's inappropriate."

At 9:25 he mentions it might be related to a movie release (what movie?).
darkoshi: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] mickeym found a Craigslist want-ad showing just how easy it is to pay people to produce misinformation these days. In this case, it is being done by a "news" site called "Conservative Daily Post".


Also, [livejournal.com profile] mickeym has a GoFundMe if anyone wants to help her out. (I feel I should post that, as it is the reason I came across her journal today, as it was linked to by someone else spreading the word).

odds, ends

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 05:12 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
The house's side door has a motion-activated light fixture mounted by it. The lights always attracted moths and other flying insects. To prevent the bugs flying into the house, I always had to slip inside the door and shut it quickly, but sometimes moths still got in. Now I've replaced the two bulbs with LED bug light bulbs. It's amazing the difference that makes. Light! And yet absolutely no bugs flying around in the light! The light is yellow, but that's no problem. I should have done this years ago.


Qiao bought a set of lithium battery-powered yard tools. At first the hedge trimmer looked scary to me, with all the sharp teeth. But it is easy to use. So easy that I have to remind myself to be careful with it. It's so much easier than using clippers to cut individual stalks, especially for the jessamine bushes on the fence.


Cyber bank robberies... North Korea to blame?

North Korea Linked To $81 Million Bangladesh Bank Heist
Obama strikes back at North Korea

...or maybe not North Korea, exactly?
Vietnamese bank hit by cyber heist
North Korean Cyberhacking Redux: The Bank Heist Cases


The unstoppable march of the upward inflection?
High rising terminal
(aka "upspeak")

A lady was talking on TV a while back, and I wasn't interested in whatever she was talking about, but was fascinated by her manner of speech. Her sentences kept ending on a rising note, as if she was asking a question even though she wasn't. It was much more pronounced than the audio samples on the first link above. When I recently came across that page, I realized that maybe it wasn't a peculiarity to her, but a common way of speaking, where ever she was from.

Then I realized the similarity of that to another manner of speaking which at first struck me as odd. Some people insert phrases like "you know what I mean", "you get me", "you know what I'm saying?", "you know?" in the middle of each sentence and/or after each sentence. They don't necessarily pitch it as a question, nor even slow down waiting for feedback - it just seems to be how they are used to speaking.

The rising pitch is similar, in that the speaker sounds like they are asking the listener if they understand or agree with what is being said, except without adding any extra words in.

Then again, maybe that is just my biased impression of it, and not what is actually intended by the speakers.

Vocal fry register : Speaking in the lowest register of your voice, where it makes a creaky grating sound. I do that sometimes, and didn't realize there was a term for it.

Apparently there's been a lot of criticism of how young women speak these days.

From Upspeak To Vocal Fry: Are We 'Policing' Young Women's Voices?

From the audio samples given in that NPR broadcast and elsewhere, women using vocal fry in their speech sounds totally normal to me, and not bad. The upspeak can be a bit disconcerting to me, but not much so. That one lady I mentioned hearing speak on TV had a much more pronounced and unusual version of it, which is why it fascinated me so much. I wish I had written down who the speaker was.


Sunday, April 12th, 2015 02:13 pm
darkoshi: (herne)
I was dismayed to read about the Walter Scott shooting, particularly as it happened here in SC where I live. I'm just glad that someone caught it on camera; otherwise it might not have even been reported.

I only found out about it on Thursday night, after seeing it mentioned on the BBC website while browsing something else. I don't regularly watch the news, and I haven't had the TV on since last weekend... and that was for watching a DVD, not TV. I wonder if our household is unusual in that way, or if many other people don't watch much news/TV either.
darkoshi: (Default)
Terrorists used false DMCA claims to get personal data of anti-islamist YouTuber

First, I'll mention a few items from the original German article that I didn't see mentioned in the other English posts I read.

The automated emails sent by YouTube to the channel owners clearly stated that 1) the channel owner had to provide their personal data in order to counter the copyright infringement claim, and 2) that this personal data would be shared with the person who submitted the claim.

YouTube alternately allows you to provide the contact information of an authorized representative (such as a lawyer) rather than your own, but the channel owners didn't discover that until afterwards.

Neither of the 2 main presenters of the channel were willing to share their contact information. Sabatina James (not her real name) was already in a victim's protection program, and in the habit of moving every few years for her own protection. In the past, she received death threats from her own family after fleeing an arranged marriage in Pakistan.

They suspected that the person making the false claim was an Islamist, and they repeatedly tried to tell YouTube this. But they were ignored.

After YouTube received 3 copyright infringement claims and no counter claim, the channel was shut down. After the channel was shut down, one of the channel's collaborators offered to provide his contact information in order to get the channel reinstated. It was this person's personal data that was provided to the false claimant and subsequently made public.


According to Google's help pages, one can submit a copyright infringement complaint by web-form or email. The web-form requires you to enter your full legal name, address and phone number. But curiously, the email option only says that it requires your contact information "such as an email address, physical address or telephone number".

Whereas, when submitting a counter-notification by email, you are required to include a full legal name, email address, physical address, and phone number.

So it sounds like someone can file a claim by providing only an email address, whereas to fight a claim, one has to disclose much more.
darkoshi: (Default)
From reading these reports, it sounds like the election fiasco here last November was due to purposeful(?) sabotage by one person, as well as to a lack of oversight and checks & balances.

But why did this person do what they did? This still seems a mystery, and hopefully law enforcement will be able to find the answers.

Report: Plenty of Blame for Richland County Election Mess (Dec 7, 2012)
In the summer, the election director and staff decided that 864 machines would be needed to keep to a state mandate requiring one machine for every 250 voters.

He [Hamm] then discussed a spreadsheet which had been presented as evidence at an earlier meeting of the Richland County delegation. The spreadsheet shows a listing of precincts, a column that states "number of machines" that's filled in with numbers in black. It also has a third column with handwritten numbers in red with different numbers than the previous column.
The report states the numbers in black added up to 864, and appear to be the number of machines that should have gone out on election day. The numbers in red add up to just 605.

Hamm said an e-mail written by an employee to several staff members on July 3rd stated that McBride had given that person a revised list of machines. However, Hamm said he has no evidence that McBride actually revised the number.

In fact, Hamm believes the employee who sent the e-mail wrote the numbers in red. But right now, he's not sure why the employee changed the number or where he got his information.

According to Hamm, that spreadsheet became a "roadmap to the election" and directed employees to distribute an inadequate number of machines.

So how did no one notice there was a problem? Hamm says in his report that a lack of communication among election staff was part of the breakdown. He said it wasn't that staff were indifferent to doing their jobs properly; instead, there was a failure to employ a review and checking of procedures.

Eight Months Later, Richland County Election Mess Explained – Kind of (Jul 3, 2013)
That one elections worker, Hamm found in his investigation, had coaxed another employee into writing down wrong numbers on a spreadsheet, drastically reducing the number of voting machines that would be allocated to Election Day precincts.

Interim Report on the Nov 6, 2012 General Election (Dec 6, 2012) - The appendix of this report includes copies of the afore-mentioned email and spreadsheets.

... no record of on-going and regular Director and staff reviews of voting machines allocations in the months and weeks leading up to the General Election despite the fact that the voter registrations for Richland County were continuing to increase right up to the day of the Election. It is hard to reach any other conclusion or judgement other than the fact that a part-time election staff worker was allowed to proceed and to establish the distribution of the number of voting machines without any system of checks and balances as part of the election preparation process. This situation reflects an unfortunate application of the concept of an assumption "someone else" had specifically approved a voting machine usage number well below the 864 machines total initially identified in June.

Based on the spreadsheets, my precinct was supposed to have 9 voting machines. But (because of the numbers in red) only 4 were originally provided, while 2 more were sent during the course of election day.

Even ignoring the sabotage that occurred, while the law indicates that there should be at least one voting machine for every 250 registered voters, the spreadsheets show that the number of machines is often rounded down rather than up. For example, a precinct with 956 voters was allocated only 3 machines rather than 4 (although 2 other precincts with 995 and 998 voters were each allocated 4 machines).

I also want to make clear that my on-going review of the General Election, with all the problems, continues to lead me to conclude that the results of the November 6th elections reflect the will of the voters and that a new election, as some believe appropriate, is not required based on my application of state law and Supreme Court decisions. This initial conclusion is also supported by the election data when you compare the actual number of votes cast against the number of signatures by voters appearing at each polling location to case their ballot. See Exhibit C.

In saying this, Hamm seems not to realize that at many precincts, you have to wait in line for a considerable time before even getting to the tables where you sign your name. During the last election, I estimate that half to two-thirds of my (over 2 hours) time waiting in line was even before I got to sign my name.

Final Summary Report (Jun 27, 2013)
Prior to the November 6th General Election, Richland County poll workers and others repeatedly expressed their concerns to election staff orally and in writing regarding the number of voting machines assigned to various precincts. Despite these repeated expressions of concern, NOT ONE ADDITIONAL VOTING MACHINE WAS ASSIGNED TO ANY PRECINCT prior to the General Election. Just as important, there was no established procedure to log or record those contacts in order to follow up and confirm that anyone actually did anything to assess the actual merits of the issues raised.

This Report lists a set of guidelines that should be implemented to prevent election problems. I hope they do end up being implemented.

Next time, voting in about an hour in Richland County? (Jun 27, 2013)
Attorney Steve Hamm on Thursday gave the Richland County Election Commission a blueprint on how to run a smooth election, saying it is crucial that the office regain public trust after November’s election "disaster."

"As we now know, there was a significant failure to place a sufficient number of voting machines in precincts," Hamm said in an afternoon meeting at the county administration building.

But he also said that a former part-time staffer’s decision to reduce the number of machines at precincts, even if that person’s actions did not change the outcome of any race or ballot question, was serious. He said he passed what he learned along to law enforcement agents, confirming what many have suspected since an FBI agent attended a public review of the botched election in December.

(no subject)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 11:49 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
It bothers me that they declare the election won so early. Why can't they wait until most of the numbers are in?
From what I currently see, Ohio has 49.2% Obama, and 49.1% Romney, with 80% of precincts in. A 1500 vote difference. And yet they already declared it won by Obama, therefore determining the whole election. What if they are wrong? What if it goes .2% the other way? Crowds of people on TV jumping up and down, cheering, crying... Why can't they wait to be sure?

Oh, look at it now. 49.2% vs 49.2%. 1046 vote difference.

I'd be less anxious if they hadn't called it already.