Pluralistic: 17 Aug 2020

Today's links

Post Paladin (permalink)

When Trump's millionaire crony Louis DeJoy was appointed postmaster general and began vigorously dismantling the US Postal Service, we could only speculate about the underlying reasoning: was it all a plot to suppress postal voting?

Of course, Trump can't keep it in his pants literally or figuratively, so he quickly erased all doubt by announcing that destroying Benjamin Franklin's postal service was all part of a plot to steal the election.

As we scramble to save the US mail, roleplayers can work out some frustration with Ashton Duncan's new character class, the Post Paladin.

Your paladin becomes a Post Paladin by reciting the Oath of the Post:

Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life

Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.

(also inscribed on the cornerstone of the Smithsonian's Postal Museum)

You get spells:

5th level: animal messenger, skywrite
13h level: freedom of movement, locate creature

And two channel divinity options:

I. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor… (weather control)

II. Deliver Deliverance (travel unimpeded)

Starting at Level 7, you get the Aura of Haste, which lets you and your animal companions travel faster.

At 20th level, you become Postmaster General, which includes wings and a 30m aura of benevolence.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (permalink)

I just posted the latest episode of my podcast: it's the 13th installment of my longrunning reading of my 2006 novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, a book Gene Wolfe called "a glorious book unlike any book you've ever read."

This is one of my favorite parts of the book! A lightly fictionalized account of the worst internet access of my life: trying to get wifi from Swisscom while attending a Geneva UN meeting for EFF in 2003, an experience that is still darkly comic all these years later.

Here's the MP3 of the episode:

Here's previous installments:

And here's the RSS feed for my podcast:

No one wants an H1B visa (permalink)

Despite the potential for labor exploitation, the H1B visa highly prized by skilled workers hoping to come to the USA (skilled workers being precisely the sort that Trump and Bannon promised to preferentially admit to the country).

H1B demand is so high that the US Customs and Immigration Service holds an annual lottery to decide who will get one.

This year, for the first time ever, the lotto was so undersubscribed that they had to hold a second lottery to find enough people willing to work in the US.

While 275,000 people applied for lotto admission in April, so few of those people followed through with documentation that the lotto's quota of 85,000 H1B visa went begging.

US anti-immigration bigots insist that they're not opposed to immigration per se, they just want to ensure that those who come to the US follow the rules and "do it right." But the Trump admin has made the rules literally impossible to follow.

For example, say you've attained a Green Card, something that many people only get after literally decades of paperwork filing and patient waiting. Green Card holders are supposed to carry around their cards with them.

But the US government is no longer issuing the cards, having allowed its contract with the company that prints them to expire in June.

This means that legal immigrants who have gone through the most stringent, protracted, expensive and intensive process to gain the legal right to reside in the USA are now literally undocumented immigrants, out of compliance with the rules they must follow.

There's a backlog of 50,000 Green Cards and 75,000 other visa documents for legal immigrants to the USA. Some of those documents are for people who've lived in the US for decades, dutifully renewing their visas when they expired.

One important note: when you get a visa or a Green Card, you pay very high filing fees, and included in those fees is a line-item for the printing of your paperwork.

In other words, all those undocumented workers paid USCIS to print their papers, and the USCIS blew the money without delivering the goods.

(Image: Minseong Kim, CC BY-SA, modified)

This day in history (permalink)

#5yrsago NSA kremlinology: spooks outsourced lawbreaking to AT&T;

#5yrsago German chefs can claim copyright over the arrangement of food on plates

#5yrsago LAPD & Chicago bought "Stingrays on steroids" with asset-forfeiture & DHS money<?a>

#5yrsago Massive Star Wars lands coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

#1yrago The case for allowing children to vote

#1yrago Washington state rep Matt Shea secretly backed and organized terror-training camps to create child soldiers to fight in a race war

#1yrago Call for boycott after the actor who played Mulan in the reboot supports Hong Kong's brutal police crackdown on pro-democracy protestors

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Super Punch (

Currently writing:

  • My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 570 words (50048 total).

Currently reading: Null Set, SL Huang; How to Argue with a Racist, Adam Rutherford.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 13)

Upcoming appearances:

Latest book:

Upcoming books:

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla