Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously, despite, or because of, an array of academic, musical, literary, mathematical, and ceremonial achievements. She is committed: to preventing war, ecological disaster, and nuclear apocalypse; to keeping information available and free; and to not only fighting for personal privacy, but, by representing herself as a soldier in that fight, to inspiring others. All these efforts find representation on her blog "ah, Mephistophelis," so named after the last line of Chirstopher Marlowe's in his famous Dr. Faustus, which, as some would have it, successfully flouted the censor for a time. A female Faust, she is a poet, always.


On 3 October 1992, O'Connor appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest. She sang an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s "War", intended as a protest against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church—O'Connor referred to child abuse rather than racism. She then presented a photo of Pope John Paul II to the camera while singing the word "evil", after which she tore the photo into pieces, said "Fight the real enemy", and threw the pieces towards the camera.


A nationwide audience saw O'Connor’s live performance, which the New York Daily News's cover called a "Holy Terror". NBC received more than 500 calls on Sunday and 400 more on Monday, with all but seven criticising O'Connor; the network received 4,400 calls in total. Contrary to rumour, NBC was not fined by the Federal Communications Commission for O'Connor’s act; the FCC has no regulatory power over such behaviour. NBC did not edit the performance out of the West coast tape-delayed broadcast that night, but reruns of the episode use footage from the dress rehearsal.
Read more at Wikipedia
Maybe Saturday Night Live could invite her back on?  That would be awesome.  She tried to tell us about the depths of the depravity back then.  Listening to her might have prevented at least these newest cases of rape and abuse. Maybe. But maybe not: maybe devout people will swallow whatever is fed them, always. I hope not. Not with horrific headlines like the Catholic Church is making in Pennsylvania.

You can watch her rip up the photo of the Pope in an effort to warn us on that Saturday Night Live here.  

And you can write to Saturday Night Live and request that they invite her back to the show and formally apologize:

Saturday Night Live.

30 Rockefeller Plaza.
New York, NY 10112

Be seeing you.

No, The New Mexican President Did Not Tell His People To 'Flood The Border"

You know the site. Right-click & open in new tab to enlarge, or if you want links, view Google's cache.
 Now this is just plain silly.

Here is the specific excerpt that has been making the rounds:

As excuses go, "horrible translation" just doesn't cut it.  Its too... articulated.  To say someone is saying something they never said, and then mock them for words put into their mouth, is shameful and sloppy journalism.  Malicious, if it suits your agenda.    

The article in the original Spanish.
Right-Click and view in separate tab
He was taking up the cause of those who had chosen to immigrate, not telling others to join them.  The context is the aftermath of the focus, on both sides of the border, on migrating families and the fate of children separated from their parents by what he calls "arrogant, racist, and inhumane" policies of the current administration.

This news seems faked on purpose.  Google translate and a couple brain cells were all that was needed to do better.

Only the moderate difficulty of tracking down the quote stands in the way of people finding out what shenanigans are being pulled here. 

The truth would no doubt be unpopular in certain circles – the very ones whose membership depends on such deceit.  Aha!  A blog post! 

As Politifact explains:

No, Mexico’s presidential candidate didn't call for mass migration to the United States
by Manuela Tobias, Politifact

That translates to: "Soon, very soon, after the victory of our movement, we will defend migrants all over the American continent and the migrants of the world who, by necessity, must abandon their towns to find life in the United States;
In the original Spanish.
it’s a human right we will defend."
López Obrador is not telling anyone to flood the border, but saying that he will defend those who find themselves with no other option but to relocate to the United States. The quote was delivered in the wake of news of the Trump administration’s rampant separation of families at the border.

Here is the full Google translation:

About that silliness: Think about it.  What?  Only if they expect world leaders to just promise any made-up thing no matter how little sense it makes or little power they have to deliver, would anyone even think this was plausible. 

Maybe they thought it made sense because they assumed all immigrants were stupid. Or all poor people. Or all Mexicans.

Maybe they see nothing amiss by Mexicans being so completely obsessed with sabotaging the American way of life they forgot to prioritize their own self-interest, that they somehow bypassed their own inborn survival instinct.

That would be like Trump telling everyone they had the God given right to land in Russia.  To a white house in Red square.  That would be like...  like.... C'mon, Gentle Readers all, help me think of a good illustrative metaphor!
Wait: I have an idea! 

I'll start us off with a few:

• That would be like your next-door neighbor telling his family that they have the right to move into your house.  

• Like saying 'David Duke told all Klansmen they should demand free DNA tests and post video to YouTube of the moment they read the results.'    

• Like the local high school principal telling all the students they had the right to raid their next door neighbor's liquor cabinet. And demand that it be stocked. 

 • [your turn -- leave ideas in the comments]


Be seeing you.

No Warrant, No Problem: New SCOTUS Ruling Does Not Apply To Real Time Location Tracking

Or, 'Fine Print' Of Recent Supreme Court Ruling Exempts, May Actually Encourage Wholesale Warrantless Tracking Of Cell Phones

"Protection For A Price," by a female faust, graphic by Brandon Bailey Design

The body of a contract spells out what is and is not allowed, often in print so small, a magnifying glass is necessary. That takes a bit more effort than just reading; one has to find the magnifying glass, for starters. The finer the print and the longer the contract, the more it may begin to seem like obfuscation.

The Supreme Court's recent decision in the case of CARPENTER v. UNITED STATES quickly and universally became acknowledged as a landmark ruling. If you were to let the mainstream media describe it, and you accepted cues gleaned from tone and word choice, you would think, at last, real progress is being made in the fight for the right to privacy. That is, until you learn the actual extent to which this ruling does — and does not — reach.

At first I thought I understood why the optimism. We wouldn't want to seem ungrateful, now would we. But when NPR, whose "All Things Considered" is iconic, titled their review with a bold "In Major Privacy Win, Supreme Court Rules Police Need Warrant To Track Your Cellphone," I thought that went a bit far. Mostly because it is not, well, exactly true. 

Right-click-open-in-new-tab to enlarge. Source: NPR
Now NPR clarifies itself right away, but the clarification only makes sense if you already understand that fine print:

In Major Privacy Win, Supreme Court Rules Police Need Warrant To Track Your Cellphone 
An "All Things Considered" Transcript by Nina Totenberg, NPR

In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled Friday that police must obtain a search warrant to access an individual's cellphone location information. The 5-4 decision imposes new limits on law enforcement's ability to get at the increasing amount of data that private companies amass in the modern technological age.

Read more 

Because, you see, the "increasing amount of data that private companies amass" is an opaque reference to historical location information — the kind of location information upon which this ruling "imposes new limits." Or to put it another way:

Your real-time location information is (still) available without a warrant. 

Of course. Because otherwise what would Google maps do? Or Uber, or Grubhub? What would your phone company do? Your ISP? 

Furthermore, are they going to make sure that they only have access to data in real time? Does the ruling apply to the vast troves of historical data they have already amassed? No, and even if it did, it does not apply to any data aggregated going forward. 

(I am careful not to use the term 'collected,' because, as we all know, in this era of Big Data, it isn't actually collected until someone looks at it. We may as well all use the same working set of definitions. Makes communication easier.) 

AT&T took some heat in 2006 when they stated in their terms of service "While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T." They have reworded since, but that did not change their policy: it is the industry norm. Location information belongs to the various companies who aggregate it, and they can sell it if they please.

And nothing is to stop someone with access from tracking your phone in real time; after a while, they would have amassed incredibly revealing location information that would then be theirs, not yours. 

To recap:
    • It does NOT apply to real-time location data - so patterns can be reassembled after new tracking.

    • It does NOT apply to data collected by the private sector - so data can be — easily — bought or traded.

    • It does NOT apply to investigations related to national security - and remember, most invocations of the Patriot Act have involved drugs, not terrorism.
Private entities regularly share their data with the government, without a warrant, and even if they didn't, a trivial amount of real-time location tracking will reestablish the behavioral patterns of most individuals with alarming accuracy. Enough to discover most if not all of their important social affiliations. Include the call metadata, and you have nearly all of it; track their friends for a week, and, without a warrant, but with the info already available, I am sure the
leaked document on Intelink: Right-click-open-in-new-tab to enlarge
degree to which their privacy has been infringed upon exceeds that with which the Founding fathers felt comfortable. All of which does not take into account the data already collected by those in the public sector, or the data collected by private entities, or other branches of the government. The NSA, for example, shares its vast trove with ICE and the CIA, DEA and FBI via the INTELINK service.

The dissenting opinions, as noted by NPR, highlight this.

Kennedy's dissent noted that "cell site records are created, kept, owned and controlled by cellphone service providers, who even sell this information to third
Thanks to Snowden: Right-click-open-in-new-tab to enlarge
parties." Therefore, he said, Carpenter cannot claim ownership or possession of the records and has no control over them.

NPR also noted that Alito was puzzled, since phone companies charge for customers to access this data, saying, "It would be very strange if the owner of the records were required to pay in order to inspect his own property." NPR quoted Thomas, who thought the Fourth Amendment did not apply for this reason, since the papers and effects in question did not belong to the individual searched.

I hate to single out NPR here, since I have done it before (see "'Link in Your Mind' Cyberattacks and Fukushima")... well, I don't hate it that much. They know what the fine print is, obviously, but they are not going out of their way to make that clear. This discrepancy was even more stark listening to the piece rather than reading it. Did you know the ruling doesn't apply to real-time data? I didn't -- not after I heard the NPR piece on All Things Considered (screenshot of transcription above). I learned it elsewhere.

by Isabella McKinley Corbo

The 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, sets a strong legal limit on how much of your digital data the government can access. But the justices also stressed that these limits apply only to the type of data at question in the case: historical location information. The justices made clear they weren’t weighing in on real-time location records or data related to foreign affairs or national security.

Even so, the ruling is a strong rebuke of the government's encroachment on technological advances.

Read more 

Given that the government can get the information anyway — if they buy it, with taxpayer money — how is this a 'strong rebuke'? I have to admit, Vice does only a little better than NPR at informing the public, but the lack of application to real time location is crucial. And scary.

From the Syllabus, Carpenter v US, emphasis mine:

A  majority  of  the  Court  has  already  recognized  that  individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the whole of their physical  movements.    Allowing  government  access  to  cell-site  records — which “hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life,’” (Riley v. California, 573 U. S.) — contravenes that expectation.  In fact, historical cell-site records present even greater privacy concerns than the  GPS  monitoring  considered  in  Jones:  They  give  the  Government near perfect surveillance and allow it to travel back in time to retrace a  person’s  whereabouts,  subject  only  to  the five-year  retention  policies  of  most  wireless carriers.

Read more (PDF)

The founding fathers expected their physical location to be a matter as private as their papers and effects, but that privacy is increasingly challenged by modern wireless technologies. By design, location based information is not only indispensable to most functionality, it is inherently bi-directional. Whether this indicates malice or merely negligence, it is a fact, and one on which many a company depends for revenue.

So. Given that:

  • "The Court's reasoning threaten[s] many legitimate and valuable investigative practices upon which law enforcement has rightfully come to rely." (Alito)
  • "Cell location information is often gathered in the early stages of an investigation when there isn't enough information for a search warrant. The same is true in terrorism and national security investigations"
  • "Cellphone data are more reliable than more traditional sources of information,"
  • The decision "has no impact on the ability of private companies to amass, use and sell their customers' information"
  • The ruling does not apply to "real-time location records or data related to foreign affairs or national security"

The practices of obtaining location information from third parties on the one hand, or of monitoring individuals' location covertly in real time, on the other, are likely to be the "legitimate and valuable investigative practices " of which Alito spoke. Both are regularly conducted, without a warrant, in order to uncover sufficient grounds to obtain one.

Wikipedia: links clickable, Right-click-open-in-new-tab.
And, it appears to me that if there are any alterations in these routines, they will only be cosmetic. Please correct me if you think otherwise. I invite (civilized) comments and enjoy and encourage lively discussion.

Don't get me wrong, now: I agree that any headway here is awesome, and absolutely deserving of EFF's victory cry, complete with exclamation point ("Victory! Supreme Court Says Fourth Amendment Applies to Cell Phone Tracking" — read ). We certainly see it as a win, all of us who realize how fundamental the right to privacy is, how essential to innovation and progress, to our evolution and our very survival. We all want to be sure and express our approval, now that something is finally going down correct. I don't seek to undermine that in the least. 

To quote myself (ahem), above, "We wouldn't want to seem ungrateful, now would we."

Lest we sacrifice what little ground we have regained, in the battle over privacy, from the dystopian and totalitarian literal Panopticon that seeks to hasten the completion of its self-appointed task of world domination. For our own security, of course. We did want to remain safe, did we not?

Funny, it looks like the forces threatening us are the same ones offering us protection. For a price. "Sure is a nice right to privacy you got there. Sure would be a shame if something were to, you know, happen to it."

(I would have said, instead of "what little ground we have regained," what little ground they have let us regain, if I was pessimistic, but I am not. Really. I believe technology, information, and creativity will save us, once those who understand these best realize that it is up to them. I should say, once we realize it is up to us. But that is another story.)

Sacrificing truth for the sake of such appreciation would, however, be a bad idea all the way around. The people who need to be appreciated probably already know what is really going on; the people doing the appreciating would not want to seem that foolish; and the people at large — the public — would be worse off than if they had learned nothing at all.

Because thinking you already know something is a really good way to miss finding out that you don't. 

Be seeing you.

Ice Melting 3x Faster Than Expected: Catastrophic Flooding Now Not An If But A When

He Asks, "Hey, Isn't That My House?," And The Pilot Answers "Wasn't." (Image via

So while we were being distracted by Trump's Daily Concern And Irresistible Sideshow, real things were happening.  The following is a screenshot. Click on it to go to the page.

Again, the Paris agreement is a completely different issue to the one that we’re reporting today. And that is that irrespective of changes in policy decisions, we should expect some sea level rise. And I think it’s best work on the assumption that if things stay as they are today, the sea level rise will come. And on that basis, every coastal city should have a very clear and transparent, and actually broadcast to the citizens, coastal flood protection policy and what they’re going to do in the next 50 years. If you want to raise San Francisco’s or Vancouver’s riverfront by 50 or 100 centimeters, that’s going to require some thought. It’s not, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination impossible to do. It can be done. But none of those cities will want a wall around their coastlines....

Read more

Be seeing you.

That Creepy Thing Alexa Said? Here's The Source.

So a couple of people have pegged the quote from the movie "Sunshine" (2007).  I have, however, not seen an exact quote and until I do I can only mention the resemblance.  The movie is not coming up in searches.  If anyone knows the quote, do tell.

How did I find this?  I googled it. And I have to use that verb, because as far as I know, only Google takes actual fancy-pants parameters. You know, like the minus sign. Without which finding this would have been possibly difficult.  Instead of so ridiculously easy as to leave me wondering if something is up.

For the rest of this post, I will try to leave my opinions in italics.

Apparently, 30 year old Shawn Kinnear had a weird thing happen to him Monday.  (I can't help wondering who he told it to first.) And it just so happens, his weird thing is so topical right now that it got the world's attention. Soon he was retelling it in an interview with the Metro UK. (How did it get to the Metro's ears?)

Here is the synopsis with some of the details I find especially interesting:

At his home in San Francisco Monday, apropos of nothing, Shawn said that his Amazon Echo Dot said "Every time I close my eyes all I see is people dying." He said he felt "disturbed" and added that the incident was "followed by the most uncomfortable silence I have ever felt." Not only would Alexa not repeat herself, she would not even acknowledge that she said anything. Extra creepy, like the machine was being creepy on purpose.

All of which makes it slightly more interesting when all you have to do, (if you are me that is), is enter the creepy quote (in quotation marks) into your search bar, add "-alexa," and press return. The minus is important.  To filter out the very story you are checking up on, of course.

Lo and behold, there is only one result on the page. (Here is a demonstration brought to you by LMGTFY (Let Me Google That For You. It opens in a new tab.  You have to click on the little search button, they no longer do that for you.)

And here, without further ado, is the excerpt containing the quote.

Elevator to Heaven Chapter 9 - A Grey's Anatomy Fanfic

 Lexie Grey clung to Mark Sloan as they laid on his couch. She cried. "Mark, I can't stop seeing it. Every time I close my eyes all I see is people dying and him, oh god holding a freaking gun! I can't sleep because every time I fall asleep my dreams are filled with gunshots. It won't stop."
 Read more here, or, if that fails, check the links at the end.

Shawn Kinnear, according to the Metro.
According to the Metro, this Amazon Echo sometime end-user's Facebook page provided a photograph of him relaxing at his home in San Francisco.  According to the Metro.  I couldn't find that same pic, but then again, I've never been 'on' Facebook.

Note what he's wearing. In case you can't make it out, its a long-sleeved possibly hooded sweatshirt, with an "Amazing Spider-Man" graphic.

Which fits in, you see.  As does this picture, which I found by searching with the string 'facebook "shawn kinnear" francisco' (no single quotes around the outside of course), and looking through the resultant images hoping to find anything Spider-man, anything comic book, anything Star Trek -- anything, well, fannish.

There were quite a few. 

I wanted something definitive, but I left much of this search to the Enterprising and Curious, who will come after me.  I saw a Facebook post from a comic book store; following that thread required disabling CSS styles to get around Facebook's crap, (here's a great Wired how-to) but look who I found:
Whatever Store posted this on Facebook.

At least I would assume that's him in the Spider-man suit. Let's have a closer look at Captain America:

 Shawn Kinnear graced Whatever Store's 12th anniversary as Cap't America
Shawn apparently hasn't used his Dot much since he got it for the holidays in 2016.  He told the Metro he has "a lot of other tech stuff. Computers, gaming, so on. But my house is about 80 years old so a lot of the integration doesn’t work." By which he means the wifi is iffy, so its usually bye bye Alexa.

Don't those things have logs?  Application Support?  Tmp folders?  Cache?  You know they do, or rather,  I bet.... Ah, no I wouldn't. (That's some Faustian humor -- never mind).

Anyways, as I see it, Alexa saying this more than likely is the result of :
•  pure coincidence
•  a good old fashioned PR stunt, or, and most likely,
•  random firing Alexa weirdness that can look like the above.

So I am sure we will hear back from Amazon, and, even though its a safe bet they have logs, I have a hunch they will color themselves politely stymied. On the one hand, they have no reason to doubt him; and on the other, they are in no position, lately, are they.

And for the thatonegirldee, the author of  "Elevator To Heaven"? Does she know our Captain America? Using the press to get a little free advertising is as American as apple pie.....

This is a close-up of the profile picture of the actual author of that creepy Alexa quote. Click for even closer close-up.


I noticed that Shawn's links on the Facebook pages are not populated -- that is, they are highlighted as if they are links, but go nowhere.  I wonder why, or if that is even true if one were signed in.  But just in case, I PDFed them, and they are available upon request.

As for this chapter of "Elevator to Heaven,"  there is no archive and no cache. So the last two of the following links are (what else) base64 dataURIs, since they don't spoil (unless Blogger effs them up).  Right-click and save-as, or just click. The PDF has a better layout.

And here is a link to Google's cache of the Metro UK write up. So you won't have to have your CPU eaten by the Metro UK (but go there if you want).

Be seeing you.