Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Don't feed the trolls: Daddy edition

Don't negotiate with hostage takers.

Unless you have to. And that is the twisted moral jujitsu that hostage takers use against their targets---use the moral conscience and concern of decent people by threatening the lives and welfare of those in your control to get what you want out of them.

Trump and his crew use this tactic as expertly as any gang of terrorist kidnappers. Last fall Trump unilaterally ended DACA, taking hostage the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of  our population, in order to force the creation the border wall and restrictive immigration policy that he wanted. It didn't work. So now he takes a new population, infants, toddlers and children hostage, held in hidden locations, in order to work his will.

Trump's actions shock the conscience of all who still have a conscience, and emotionally outrage the majority of Americans. But this is what the Trump crew is using as leverage. Emotional responses to the horrifying fate of the hostages plays into their twisted, yet effective, tactics. Emotionalism reads as 'mommy voice'---soft, emotional, unreliable, weak. The hostage takers rely on toughness, the 'daddy' voice of those strong enough to do what is necessary, no matter how painful. The worse the situation that they create, the tougher, more 'daddy' * they appear.

But the real voice of the hostage takers that of Corey Lewandowski--- that of an unpleasant, not so smart 12 year old who mocks his classmates, steals their lunch money, punches them in the stomach and laughs when they cry.

How to respond?  Dealing with these assholes is tricky. Emotional responses feed their trolling. But ignoring them while the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of the DACA population and now thousands of vulnerable children and their parents seems impossible. What to do? What is the policy counterpart to Plath's outcry?

There’s a stake in your fat black heart   
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.   
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

*admittedly, 'daddy' of the abusive kind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump's flying monkeys

In the fictional Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West relies on flying monkeys to carry out her nefarious plans; without them, her powers to harm are much more limited. In the non-fictional United States, Trump also needs flying monkeys to exercise his malign powers. Sadly, he has them. As Paul Krugman notes: 
this isn’t a column about Trump. It is, instead, about the people who are enabling his betrayal of America: the inner circle of officials and media personalities who are willing to back him up whatever he says or does, and the wider set of politicians — basically the entire Republican delegation in Congress — who have the power and constitutional obligation to stop what he’s doing, but won’t lift a finger in America’s defense.
He speculates about their motivation:
Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? Relatively few of them, one suspects, actually want a trade war, let alone a breakup of the Western alliance. And many of them, one also suspects, are well aware that a de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office. But they are immobilized by a combination of venality and cowardice.
 Here are the facts: if the members of the GOP (looking at you, Susan Collins, and you, Jeff Flake) who deplore Trump's trashing of Canada and the G7 (now 6 since Trump's tweet storm?) or his cruel and pointless policy toward refugees, ripping children from their parents' arms, or now, his servile surrender to North Korea but adopting its (and China's) preferred language, or about a million other destructive and corrupt plans, they have the power to ally themselves with the democrats in Congress and overturn them. That they do not, that they will not, that they seem to see the harms and horrors being done yet continue to fly in the monkey squad, is, I suppose a matter for their psychiatrists to figure out.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Spam from OAtext

New month, new spam from a fake academic journal:

I am following up to my previous mail.
 I had posted about a similar solicitation, equivalently spammy, from this operation last November.

Research and Review Insights (RRI) under progress of new issue design (Volume 2, issue 2) and we expect your work which helps us to release best quality of articles.
This is to inform you we are celebrating 2nd anniversary for our journal. On this occasion we are inviting manuscripts and current researches are welcome for this week with Special Discount (40% reduction on Article Submission and 50% reduction on Annual Member Ship).
That's good news, since a price list online has you charging authors  £810 

So, we are requesting you to avail this opportunity by submitting your article to this mail or to on or before 20th June.
Do not hesitate to ask if you have any concerns.

Katie Tia
Managing Editor
T: +44 203 657 9099
This source from 2015 found Oatext,, the publisher of this journal, registered in the UK, which is consistent with the phone number.

I don't think so, not even if they offer DSW style green dot 70% discounts.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Stubblefield sentenced to time served

Anna Stubblefield has been sentenced to time served, as expected, as well as lifetime parole and registration as a sex offender.
At the sentencing hearing Friday, the victim's brother voiced his objection to the plea deal and sentence.
He echoed those concerns at Friday's sentencing, as he read a statement aloud to Judge John Zunic, who was assigned the case following the appeal's court ruling. D.J. stood beside his brother, gripping his arm at times.
"Anna Stubblefield took advantage of (D.J.'s) vulnerability," he said. "Indeed the thing that she was supposedly saving him from was the very thing she needed to get away with her crime: (D.J.'s) silence. ... It feels like a scab of an almost healed wound has been ripped off. I do not feel there is justice in this plea deal."
D.J.'s brother implored that Zunic vacate the plea deal and take the "unprecedented" step of reimposing her original charges.
Zunic did not.
"If there were a plea agreement that really shocked my conscience, I would vacate it under the ruling," he said. "I don't see that in this case, though."
He added that he sympathized with the victim's family and that the sentence imposed "certainly does not bring any finality to the victim and his family."
I sympathize with DJ's brother, though I don't agree with him. There is a difference between justice and healing---justice is impartial and impersonal, while healing requires the opposite. We shouldn't expect the fair application of laws to heal the traumas that criminal offenders cause, nor should we want punishment to be determined by the amount of hurt caused by the crime. After all, murdering or raping a person with no family and no social connections is no less wrong, and requires no less sanction, than doing the same to someone with many familial and social connections. There should be (though there seldom are) other mechanisms outside of criminal law and sentencing to help those harmed by criminal offenders.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Caravan of the Damned

I've been thinking about the SS St Louis---the 1939 refugee ship that was turned away from Cuba and the US.

Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, some passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never responded. The State Department and the White House had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must "await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." US diplomats in Havana intervened once more with the Cuban government to admit the passengers on a "humanitarian" basis, but without success.
Fleeing the Nazi's, the refugees, mostly Jews, mostly German, originally sought safe haven in Cuba, only to be refused.
When the St. Louis arrived in Havana harbor on May 27, the Cuban government admitted 28 passengers: 22 of them were Jewish and had valid US visas; the remaining six—four Spanish citizens and two Cuban nationals—had valid entry documents. One further passenger, after attempting to commit suicide, was evacuated to a hospital in Havana. The remaining 908 passengers (one passenger had died of natural causes en route)—including one non-refugee, a Hungarian Jewish businessman—had been awaiting entry visas and carried only Cuban transit visas issued by Gonzalez. 743 had been waiting to receive US visas. The Cuban government refused to admit them or to allow them to disembark from the ship.
After Cuba denied entry to the passengers on the St. Louis, the press throughout Europe and the Americas, including the United States, brought the story to millions of readers throughout the world. Though US newspapers generally portrayed the plight of the passengers with great sympathy, only a few journalists and editors suggested that the refugees be admitted into the United States.
Now hundreds of people fleeing thugs and goons who threaten their lives are massing at the US-Mexican border.
Denied passage on Sunday into a pedestrian crossing between Tijuana and San Diego at the San Ysidro port of entry, many of those who had fled El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras hoping for U.S. asylum slept in a square at the Mexican entrance.
Mexican officials late on Sunday allowed a first group into the walkway, about 50 women, children and transgender people, among the “most vulnerable” of the caravan, organizers said.

But they were stopped between the Mexican and U.S. gates, where U.S. Customs and Border agents would need to ask if they feared going back to their homelands, initiating a lengthy and fraught legal process that could end in deportation or asylum.
A movie was made about the St. Louis, titled "Voyage of the Damned". I've never seen that film, but it strikes me that the real damnation belongs to those who locked their ports to these people. Then, and now.

Monday, April 23, 2018

More spam from ARIPD

Maybe they intuited that I was just about to plant some peas in my garden, since"Banner Bansi" using a yahoo email address, emailed me to solicit a manuscript for the fake academic journal Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, published by the fake academic publishing enterprise "American Research Institute for Policy Development" (ARIPD) self described as serving "as a

focal point for academicians, professionals, graduate and undergraduate students, fellows, and associates pursuing research throughout the world" (though "serving as a punchline" would be more apt.)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Suspect publishers: Cambridge Scholars edition

I had never heard of Cambridge Scholars Publishing, so my scam alert level rose when I got this unsolicited solicitation:

I am a Commissioning Editor for Cambridge Scholars Publishing (further details below my signature) with a brief to develop the subject areas in which we publish books. As such I am in the process of developing collections based on key areas of Arts and Humanities. As I believe you already have some experience of academic and scientific publication in this field, I wondered whether you would consider publishing a title with us. We are accepting proposals for monographs and edited collections.
We offer a fast, fair and friendly proposal review. Our titles are distributed worldwide via our international network of booksellers including Amazon, Blackwell, Baker & Taylor, YBP and Ingram, in handsome hardback, as well as eBook formats. We offer an escalating royalty payment – the more we sell, the higher the royalty rate. Your book will never be out of stock, with our unique Print on Time global distribution system. And we never charge for publication.
You can download a Book Proposal Form from our website. Alternatively, contact me and I will gladly send one to you and answer any queries you may have.
We are also developing Editorial Advisory Boards across our publishing fields. If this is something that you would like to learn more about, or apply to join, please do let me know. You can see more details on our website.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
Adam Rummens
Commissioning Editor
They seem to be expanding their offerings from 'journals' to monographs, and expanding their fields as well. This link on 'Flaky Academic Journals' provides more background. On the one hand, they claim not to charge for publication. On the other, they seem to have faced difficulties in recruiting to fill their editorial boards. Smells like a vanity press to me, though they deny it. I haven't figured out how they make money if it is true, and maybe it isn't, that they don't charge authors for publication. Thoughts?