More interesting attention economy thoughts, this time occasioned by the horse_ebooks reveal.
This is some truly epic and well-targeted hating.
In his 1999 book No Equal Justice, David Cole quoted Judge Marshall of the Northern District of Illinois:
Few of us, [confronted by] armed police officers…would feel free to tell the officers to mind their own business. ”… Implicit in the introduction of the [officer’s badge] … is a show of authority to which the average person encountered will feel obliged to stop and respond. Few will feel that they can walk away or refuse an answer.
I’ve spent the last three years of my life studying police misconduct and criminal defense, and even I get nervous when a police officer approaches me or pulls me over. The knowledge that legally, he or she has the right to control my body or kill me is enormously unsettling. The knowledge that he or she can also make my life miserable if I question their legal authority also quiets my actions. For most people, it’s just simply not worth the effort to put up a fight, even if you think the officer is dead wrong.
When someone with a gun and a legal monopoly on the legitimate use of violence enters your personal space, the parameters of ordinary human conduct change. The Supreme Court’s hilarious legal fiction that people are free to walk away from police officers who simply approach them for questioning is absurd. Here’s Justice Alito, writing for the Court in Kentucky v. King, 131 S. Ct. 1849 (2011):
When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do…the occupant has no obligation to open the door or to speak…and even if an occupant chooses to open the door and speak with the officers, the occupant need not allow the officers to enter the premises and may refuse to answer any questions at any time. Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame for the warrantless exigent-circumstances search that may ensue.
To be frank, this is a big heaping pile of bullshit. Technically speaking, it is a correct statement of the law. Practically speaking, this is not how most interactions with police go: if you put up a fuss, or “assert your rights,” you’re liable to get treated more harshly. The officer might “notice” a few more violations on your vehicle. They can claim that you tried to assault them when you shut the door in their face. There are any number of ways they can make your life hell for not just going along to get along.
Everybody knows this to one degree or another. Which is why the average person gets scared when they see a police cruiser in their rear-view mirror, even if the cruiser’s lights aren’t flashing. It’s why even the most hardcore individuals often become submissive when a cop shows up at their door. When the other person has a gun and the force of law on their side, you’re bound to act differently than you otherwise would. It’s crazy that we need research to support this. But that’s what happens when you have a Supreme Court with literally zero former criminal defense attorneys on the bench.
Another important thing to add to this is the rise of taser forced compliance. Tasers were supposed to be a replacement for deadly force, but there’s been major mission creep over time, and in a lot of cases their use or threat is employed to get immediate obedience and compliance from anyone who pushes back. In even more troubling cases, it has been used for those purposes against people who aren’t even resisting, or, most barbarically, against people who can’t comply because of sensory or mental deficits, illness, etc. And, of course, if you happen to have an underlying heart problem, you might just end up dead.
In situations that cops may not have escalated in the past because they would have had to forcibly detain you or do other things that leave marks and raise questions, now they’ll simply tase you if you don’t immediately comply and justify it ex post facto. This isn’t exactly official policy, but it happens enough that people are rightly scared of it, and makes the idea that you can just walk away or resist without paying a price even more of a mockery.
there was another mass shooting yesterday. in chicago. see if you, too, can spot the detail that’s kept you from hearing about it with quite the same level of breathless confusion and voyeuristic obsession as the one currently holding the 24-hour cycle in its fiendish grip.
This is high up on the list of most depressing paragraphs I’ve ever read. Also, less than a month of job hunting has made me thoroughly sick of LinkedIn and all it represents.
Zach Barocas on 9/11, from last year. Such a perfect distillation of a tragic event and its complex, far-reaching reverberations.
Even if I was willing to agree for the sake of argument that it was desirable for the NSA to have these capabilities, I really don’t buy that there’s any way to limit them to the NSA. If you purposefully design software and networked systems with vulnerabilities and backdoors, other people are going to find them eventually.
This calls into question the whole history of badware, malware, botnets, and the 0-Day exploits to proprietary software systems that allow these internet plagues to flourish.
How many of those were genuine mistakes that someone exploited, and how many of them were backdoors put there at the behest of intelligence agencies that someone else stumbled upon? Does some of the laxness and slowness about fixing these things come from the push-pull between corporate / user imperatives and pressure from intelligence actors? What if fixing the nasty Windows or Flash exploit that’s letting the latest Conficker-style worm run wild will also shut off the NSA’s backdoor access? Who decides what happens then, and how quickly? What if intelligence agencies actually created said worm to begin with?
We’ll probably never know in full, but these are now questions worth asking. Did the open internet become an increasingly scary, bewildering, spam-clogged and exploitative experience for the average user over time because of human error, or was this at least in part “collateral damage”?
Looking at these image from the original March on Washington in ‘63, as well as those just below from ‘83, what is simultaneously natural and striking is how the people have access to their national grounds.
Looking at the photos from this weekend’s 2013 anniversary in contrast, the visual and physical shift in the civic and expressive relationship to democratic space is shocking to me.
If the middle photo of this last grouping is a powerful representation of how much public assembly and public expression has been bounded, the last photo is even more concerning. Yes, the citizens, their signs advocating for greater rights and expanded freedoms, are penned in. But I’m also thinking about the “I am a man” poster. As a key civil rights phrase originating from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and an enduring affirmation, the word “still” in this context is to strengthen the original phrase and intent, highlighting the continuity of the ideal. In an ironic twist, however — and one that contradicts decades of struggle for advancement — the phrase can be seen to relate to the bounded condition. As in: I am still a man, although here on this Mall in 2013, I am this confined.
If this doesn’t terrify you, then you just don’t get it AT ALL.
Twerking Pictures of Twerking Pictures?
Bad puns aside, Maura wrote a piece about the Miley / VMA fiasco that doesn’t actively make the culture stupider, which is quite an accomplishment in these dark days.
While I was writing this post, the NFL and 4500 former players (about one-third of the 12000 still living) reached a mediation agreement to settle a number of lawsuits over concussions for $765 million.
You see that big number and you might think to yourself “Hey, that’s a pretty decent settlement.” But then…
As Buzzfeed sportswriter Erik Malinowski notes on Twitter: “Holy crap, what a bargain… ESPN pays $1.9 billion *every year* for Monday Night Football alone. 4,500 ex-players will get 40% of that (once) for decades of head trauma.”
So, just part of the cost of doing business. Good to know.
Someone devised a written test that claims to determine whether someone is a likely drug user? Wow, to be a fly on the wall in that committee room.