Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously. 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 exhorting others to do the same. 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.

What You Are Not Being Told About Google's Leaked Document "The Good Censor" | FULLTEXT DOWNLOAD PERMALINK

Actually if you read the leaked PDF Google does not want to be anyone's mommy, and appears to be acting rationally.  

Unlike Twitter.

Just sayin'. 

I saved it on a post at my anti censorship blog, MINUS 102in case something happened to the original, which is at:

Check it out: 

It is by no means the stuff of tyranny, and we have much scarier things to worry about.

I am, of course, not telling you what to think, my dear Reader.  I am, however, stipulating that you don't get to continue on about Google's being a representative of the 'Nanny State' unless you actually read the document.

That is, if you will allow me such a stipulation.  It's for your own good, really.  Think of it this way: On the one hand, what could it hurt?  Besides, it's a PowerPoint presentation, so it's mostly pictures, a quick read.

And on the other hand, not basing your educated and voiced opinions of the document could likely end badly.

I hate to see my people taken in by propaganda.  Especially dumb propaganda.

Be seeing you.

Pat Robertson On How We Shouldn't Overreact To The Khashoggi Kerfuffle – It Might Be Bad For Business | VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT

a faustian original meme
Pat Robertson weighed in on the recent, gruesome, state-sponsored, -planned, and -executed, murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi-national-living-in-the-US Jamal Khashoggi.  

The so-called "Man of God" didn't want anyone to let their sense of right and wrong mislead them into supporting such impractical ideas as retaliatory sanctions on the House of Saud (full transcript of this unbelievable video clip below):

I just want to cool down the tempo of those wanting blood from the Saudis. 

These people are key allies.  Our main enemy in the Mideast is Iran, and the Saudis stand up against Iran, and I know that the that the Wahabi faith that they practice is obnoxious, and what they've done in relation to women is obnoxious, and some of their courts are obnoxious; nevertheless I don't think on this issue that we need to pull sanctions and get tough.  I just think its a mistake.  Behind the scenes the President can talk to the King and say 'Look you, you better cool this thing and get it straightened out,' but, as he said, we got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of, its like, what is it? 190 billion dollars? Its huge! And it will mean a lot of jobs, and it will be a lot of money coming into our coffers, and, uh, it's not something that you want to blow up willy-nilly!

So I think the presidents playing it right, and he should do... We shouldn't jump to some wild conclusions with 'Let's just get them so and so's and do it and,' no way! We havent got many friends around the world and we can’t offend all of them...
(h/t Boing Boing)

If you need background on Pat Robertson, Wikepedia is a good place to start.  The above disregard for what many would consider basic Christian principles is nothing new; mix in with racist and sexist and otherwise homophobic and otherwise repugnant beliefs stereotypical of the far right and you have a pretty good idea of where he, and by extensions any one of his devoted followers, is likely coming from.  

Here are a few screenshots of the Wikipedia page on Robertson’s controversies (for some reason on a diffrent page than his regular write-up):

A few last details are in order.

On that notorious edition of Crossfire, the late and great Mr. Frank Zappa prescient statement about the dangerous future for the government of the United Sates: 
(ZAPPA) “Can I make a statement about national defense? The biggest threat to America today is not communism, its moving America towards a facist theocracy, and everything that’s happened since the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pike.

(HOST, laughing) “Fascist theocracy?

(ZAPPA) “That’s right, we are.

(HOST) “Give me one example...

(ZAPPA) “When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view and if that code happens to be very very right wing...

(HOST) “Well then you are an anarchist! Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality, Frank!”

(ZAPPA) “Moraliy in therms of behavior –

(HOST) “Well of course –

(ZAPPA) “Not in terms of theology.”
Great interview with a legend.  Pearls before swine ---– wait, that's unkind to swine.  Do yourself a favor and see the whole thing – if you have not. (this clip is about ten minutes in, so be sure to skip back if you have time.)

Whenever I think of those specific remarks by Zappa, I am reminded in short order of what Trump said about the Evangelicals:

For an excellent post on the topic from an avowedly Christian perspective, see this poor man's word.

...& of Robertson on election night, telling his flock what to think.  It was chilling. I consider them likely a large factor in his 2016 win.

I will leave you, my Gentle Readers, with a song, by Mr. Zappa; I make no promises, but recently, reading the lyrics as I listened, I started to feel better about our ability to make our America actually great.

Be seeing you.


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.

Such as these.

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.