Pluralistic: 14 Jun 2020

Today's links

Nnedi Okarafor and me in conversation tonight (permalink)

Today is the last day of TorCon, the free online sf convention from @TorBooks, and for the closer, Nnedi Okarafor and I will be in conversation at 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern, moderated by Kayti Burt from Den of Geek, discussing sf and politics (what else?).

Other Torcon events today:

  • Readings from Jenn Lyons and Nathan Makaryk
  • A panel on challenging the traditions of sf/f with Kate Elliott, Andrea Hairston, Alaya Dawn Johnson and Ryan Van Loan

LA schools returned grenade launchers, kept assault rifles (permalink)

The Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office operates the 1033 program, through which the US military buys weapons it doesn't need, then passes them on as "surplus" to police departments, including school police departments.

So it's not just big-city police departments that have MRAPs (gunless tanks), assault rifles, and the other trappings of an occupying army; nor is it merely small town forces that go about like they're patrolling Mosul.

It's school cops.

The LA Unified School District is one of the districts whose cops get military weapons to use in connection with schoolchildren.

In 2014, LAUSD returned its 3 grenade launchers.

They kept their assault rifles, though.

LAUSD had procured 61 M-16 rifles through 1033. They also got an MRAP, and they kept that, too.

They called the rifles "essential life-saving items."

Writing in the LA Times in 2014, Stephen Ceasar interviewed Stockton school police Chief Bryon Gustafson about his school's stockpile of AR-15s. The Chief's response is as good an explanation of why we need to defund the police as you're apt to see.

"The job of police officers and the standards are the same whether you are Stockton police or Stockton school police … even if we have very different missions. My job is about facilitating education and making sure that students are safe at school."

If you think that "facilitating education" involves an AR-15, you should not be allowed within 10 miles of any educational institution, for the rest of your life.

Black box voting (permalink)

At least half of the voting machines in use in America come from Election Systems & Software, including the systems used by Broward County, whose Supervisor of Elections is ultimately responsible for running the county's polling places.

Investigative data analyst Perry Busby asked the SOE about some discrepancies discovered by the nonpartisan Broward Citizens Audit initiative's investigation of the March 17 primary. He was seeking details of the way the system's SQL databases tabulate the vote.

This is the most fundamental question about how a voting machine works, and Busby naturally assumed the SOE Pete Antonacci and his team could answer his query, but instead, the SOE's office told Busby that ES&S; does not give them a working login to their own voting machines.

"We can log into the server where the SQL Server database files are located, but we don’t have user access to the database." – John Wolf, Broward County election office IT Director.

ES&S; is owned by the secretive private equity giant McClatchy Group, and processes some 70m US votes in national elections. It has a long history of suing cities and competitors when ESS contracts are canceled in favor of a rival's products.

The company has also sued citizen groups calling for voting transparency, and, as Busby points out, ES&S; systems have been at the center of many scandals, especially in predominantly Black precincts, with hundreds of thousands of votes disappearing.

And yet the company refuses to provide the election officials that buy its products with logins that allow them to verify the most basic functions of its machines.

As Busby discovered, ES&S; threatens to cancel the contracts of any election official who independently audits their machines and "automatically revoke all results pending certification."

ES&S; says it's "a preventative measure to reduce the risk of record tampering."

This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago Music industry lobbyist calls for death penalty for piracy

#10yrsago Pinkwater's BEAUTIFUL YETTA: touching picture book about a country chicken and feral Brooklyn parrots

#10yrsago Tortured Canadian that US deported to Syria will not get justice

#5yrsago Kate Milford's Greenglass House: lyrical, tense YA mystery

#1yrago Porno copyright troll sentenced to 14 years: "a wrecking ball to trust in the administration of justice"

#1yrago Ukrainian oligarchs accused of laundering $470b, buying up much of Cleveland

#1yrago Empirical review of privacy policies reveals that they are "incomprehensible" drivel

#1yrago Beyond lockpicking: learn about the class-breaks for doors, locks, hinges and other physical security measures

#1yrago Hong Kong's #612strike uprising is alive to surveillance threats, but its countermeasures are woefully inadequate

#1yrago Reverse mortgages: subprime's "stealth aftershock" that is costing elderly African-Americans their family homes

#1yrago Maine's new ISP privacy law has both California and New York beat

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: JWZ (

Currently writing:

  • My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 505 words (26982 total).
  • A short story, "Making Hay," for MIT Tech Review. Friday's progress: 334 words (657 total)

Currently reading: Adventures of a Dwergish Girl, Daniel Pinkwater

Latest podcast: How Big Tech Monopolies Distort Our Public Discourse

Upcoming appearances:

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: Get a personalized, signed copy here:

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:; personalized/signed copies here:

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