The Puzzle Universe, City of Stairs, games

 The Puzzle Universe purports to be a History of Mathematics in 315 puzzles. While that's not wholly inaccurate, it's more of an exercise in frustration. It is a beautiful book with bold, colorful illustrations. Alas, one or two of them are inaccurate and ruin the puzzles. A number of the puzzles suffer from setups that are not clear and unambiguous, and many of the answers are gnomic without any explanation or solution. While these are hideous flaws, there are many things to like about the book. Lots of clever visual proofs and little historical asides. I think my favorite was the Malfatti Marble Problem. In 1803, Malfatti declared that three tangent circles always provided the maximal area in a certain geometric problem. In 1930, it was shown that that's not always true. And in 1967, it was finally proven that Malfatti's solution is never optimal.


I can see why City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett, made several finalists lists for Best Fantasy Novel of the year. It's an engaging read, and the strange 'geopolitics' of its world are a big plus. The two main power-continents are an Indian-esque society and a Russian-oid society, at least so far as naming conventions and cultural touches are concerned. Oh, and there's a sort of barbaric Europe somewhere as well that doesn't come into the story much. There's something of a mystery of how some literal walking-the-earth gods have been slain, but echoes of the divine are still hidden here and there. The only drawback of the story is that our heroine and her burly companion are just too perfect. Too smart, too knowledgeable, too skilled, too fatally dangerous to be taken completely seriously. Or to fear for their safety at any point.


On the Playstation, been enjoying the fact that Katamari Damacy (Reroll) has been released for PS4. Still as delightful as ever.

Spirit of the North was a pleasant game, letting your little foxy dude run around and leaping about. While some instructions and guidance might have been useful at times, I like that they stuck to their guns and just let you experience it and figure it all out for the most part.

PSPlus freebies Concrete Genie and Control have also been fun. Control's delightfully loopy mind-bending story is a blast.


Polyphemus, by Michael Shea

 Polyphemus is a collection of horror-tending to sf, or sf tending to horror stories, with one Nifft the Lean tale thrown in. I wasn't a fan of the title story, but the rest are good, with the standouts being "Uncle Tuggs" and "Horror on the #33". For the popcorn value, "The Extra" isn't bad. A nasty dystopian tale where being an extra means being tossed into an 'alien invasion' movie shoot where the robotic aliens are programmed to hunt and kill you all across the backlot, while robot cars and planes smash into each other.
internet Disease

The Raven Tower ; Forever Azathoth

The Raven Tower is another fine work by Ann Leckie. Her first fantasy novel is quite a departure from... from anything, really. At least half the fun is just discovering the world and its rules, so I won't spoil it all. But this fantasy world is home to various gods; beings with very peculiar natures and bound to peculiar rules. Half of the story is sort of palace intrigue type story, while the other is a history of history through the eyes of one of the gods. The story itself is so-so, but unravelling the mystery is the real draw.

Forever Azathoth is a collection of mostly humorous or parodic Lovecraftian stories by Peter Cannon. I very much enjoyed his Scream for Jeeves when it came out back in the day, and I longed after this collection when it was issued by the Tartarus Press ages ago. But it came with a large pricetag. Luckily, now there's a softcover edition by Hippocampus Press (with slightly different contents) following an edition from the Subterranean Press. Certainly I think the lower pricetag is more appropriate. I mean, these are parodies and pastiches, so I'm not looking for eternal greatness, but sometimes the in-jokes and leg-pulling gets a little extreme for my taste. 

Saturn's Children, by Charlie Stross

An homage to Heinlein's Friday and Asimov's robots, Saturn's Children sets up an intriguing idea. What happens to the servants of humanity after all the humans have died. Robots have strict rules about harming humans, but when it comes to treating each other... it's anything goes. With predictable results. A highly stratified society of have and have-nots and slavery. Our heroine, a sexbot-turned-Mata Hari, slowly works her way into something big, at the behest of employers whose motives she only dimly understands. Clandestine labs are looking to produce a real-live human. Such a human would be able to order any robot to do anything. So whoever rules the human, rules the world. Along the way, gratuitous sex (see also, Friday). Reasonably fun read and less cringey than I remember Friday being.

Qanon Quickie

 ‘My faith is shaken’: The QAnon conspiracy theory faces a post-Trump identity crisis
President Trump’s defeat and the week-long disappearance of its anonymous prophet have forced supporters of the baseless movement to rethink their beliefs: ‘Have we all been conned?’

President Trump’s election loss and the week-long silence of “Q,” the movement’s mysterious prophet, have wrenched some QAnon believers into a crisis of faith, with factions voicing unease about their future or rallying others to stay calm and “trust the plan.”

Some QAnon proponents have begun to publicly grapple with reality and question whether the conspiracy theory is a hoax. “Have we all been conned?” one user wrote Saturday on 8kun.

“The majority reaction from QAnon followers has been outright denial,” View said. Many expect Trump will seal his reelection through his team’s so-far-unsuccessful legal skirmishes, and “if that doesn’t happen and Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, the cognitive dissonance will be absolutely as big as it’s ever been for QAnon followers.”

“Do not worry. Do not be afraid. THERE IS A PLAN. IT IS A GOOD PLAN,” the QAnon supporter Major Patriot tweeted last week.

I think it will be very interesting to see how this shakes out. The conspiracy theory has seemingly gotten a lot of people tightly in its grip. Some will be disillusioned and fall away, but I think it will not completely dissipate. In Leon Festinger's famous 'When Prophecy Fails', the main evidence is drawn from a UFO cult, which prophesied that our space brothers would come meet them on a certain day to save them from the apocalypse. Needless to say, neither the apocalypse nor the aliens arrived.

In response, one might think people would leave the cult in disgust due to the failure of prophecy. But that didn't happen. Festinger theorized that to relieve the cognitive dissonance of the failed prophecy, the group became even more 'evangelical' in spreading the news. If more people believed it, certainly it can't be wrong. The 5 criteria Festinger lists for when this might happen certainly seem to apply or potentially apply to Qanon:

  • A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he or she behaves.
  • The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.
  • The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
  • Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
  • The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that has been specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief may be maintained and the believers may attempt to proselytize or persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

So how would such a thing manifest? The belief in Trump's reelection (and the subsequent arrests of bad people) is sufficiently specific.

Obviously, at the moment Trump remains president and is showing a brave face about winning the election, despite the facts on the ground.

Ultimately, I deem that supporters will have to face the facts and it will become clear on Inauguration Day if not sooner. Over the next weeks, the cognitive dissonance is going to grow, twisting the screws on their psyches.

If I had to hypothesize, the ones who 'keep the faith' in the conspiracy theory will decide that Trump has become transformed into some sort of esoteric President. A secret president, still bent on his mission. And of course, they will continue to need to convert others to their conspiratorial beliefs. And sadly, they will see themselves as Trump's esoteric army. There's a potential for danger.


There are dozens of reports from family members of QAnon supporters showcasing how the election result has not diminished their beliefs, but has in fact reinforced them.

Right in line with the theory.

[M]uch of the real harm being done by QAnon is being seen by friends and families of believers. On the QAnonCasualties thread on Reddit, for instance, people talk about how the narrative that the election was stolen is having horrific real-world impacts. 

Under the headline “I hoped I’d never have to write this” one Reddit user wrote: “My aunt who was ultra QAnon shot herself earlier today, she left a note saying she was terrified the cabal was coming for her and her kids because of Trump's loss.”


Warm Worlds & Otherwise, The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Last of Us II

 Warm Worlds & Otherwise is a 1975 collection of science fiction short stories by James Tiptree, Jr. For those not in the know, Tiptree is a pen name for Alice Sheldon, from back in the days when many women authors of SF were still using initials. I guess I didn't realize the extent to which Sheldon disguised her real identity, which was only know after this collection was published. Which makes Bob Silverberg's introduction that much more amusing, as he discusses the speculation about 'Tiptree':  "It has been suggested that Tiptree is female, a theory that I find absurd, for there is to me something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree's writing." It's so over the top, one half suspects Silverberg is providing camouflage, except that he's probably some small part of the reason why female authors were disguising their names.

Anyway, to the stories. Some of them have a bit too much of the 1960s/1970s experimentation with language for my taste. I adore Stand on Zanzibar, so it's not an automatic turnoff, but not everyone is John Brunner.

"The Girl who was Plugged in" won the Hugo for novella, and deserved it. Some of the stuff we take for granted today -- say that if you were in a VR rig and 'controlled' an android, you would come to identify with the android -- is carefully earned here in the story. And while some of the setup is absurd (advertising becomes illegal), some of the details (that influencers 'advertise' the products they use to their fans) probably rings truer now than in 1970.

"The Women that Men Don't See" is pretty astonishing. I can see the Heart of Darkness-y or Hemingway-ish slant that might have confused Silverberg, but.... I'll stop short of saying that no man could have written this story, but I will say that no male science fiction author in 1975 could have written this story. It takes a special sort of genius to craft a story like this and choosing the narrator to be someone torn from the cover of a men's adventure magazine. 

Both stories are decades old, but both still resonate.


The House in the Cerulean Sea is a lighthearted look at a world where magical, human-ish creatures exist and when these children are located they are sent off to 'orphanages'. Really, they are more to keep them out of the sight of polite society. Our hero is a mild-mannered government functionary at the ministry of magical youth, who makes sure these orphanages are properly run and the children properly cared for. The best part of the book just sets up how meticulous and fair he is at his job. While many in society are prejudiced against magical youth, he just isn't. So he goes about his job assiduously, everything by the book. Great character study in the set-up and early parts of the book.

Ultimately, he's sent to inspect a facility on the extreme end of the spectrum, where some of the most difficult cases are housed. And now that the stage is set, the plot moves dutifully along to its necessary conclusion. Over time, his heart is warmed by his connection with the little inmates, and his heart is stirred still more by the mysterious proprietor of the home.

It has a bit of an Auntie Mame feel about it -- to accept and enjoy our differences in the face of conformity -- done with charm and warmth. But the predictability of the story is a bit of a let-down.


The Last of Us Part II obviously picks up a bit after the events of The Last of Us. Let me quote a bit of that previous review: "[Ellie] slowly learns survival skills from you, and ultimately becomes a psychotic killing machine just like you"

In some ways, that's where the story takes off. In the sequel, you are now playing Ellie, and you are kind of a monster and grow more monstrous.

A lot of people complained that after about half the story, your viewpoint shifts to another character, an antagonist to the first. I guess I complain, too. I wanted some completion on Ellie's story, and the shift to someone else was not what I was looking for. Abby's story is also well-realized, and obviously you can sense the parallels being drawn, but it seemed a bit of a cheat.

My biggest disappointment? No Road Trip. The first game took us on a journey halfway across America. This one is largely a tour of Seattle. There's a lot of great variation in Seattle, but I missed that. I perked up when there was a mention of Santa Barbara. But I figured the plot was too far advanced for a trip down the coast from Seattle to California to be coming. And I was right. BUT I WOULD HAVE EATEN THAT SHIT UP WITH A CORDYCEPS FUNGUS COVERED SPOON.


California Props 2020

There’s a whole mess of propositions on the ballot this year, and it certainly is a mess. As a reasonably smart and politically informed dude, I am at a loss on a lot of these. Having blogged my opinions on props many times, I have never been this at sea. In some ways this suggests a strategy. If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it, regardless of what the supporters are trying to tell you. 

I reserve the right to change my opinions, especially if one of you other smart informed people can sway me in a no-holds-barred intellectual cagematch. Polite emails also acceptable.

Prop 14 – Continues the funding for stem cell research. When Prop 71 passed in 2004, it was a necessary poke in the eye at federal bans on stem cell research funding. As we often do, California led the way with a promising form of research, and the country has followed. It’s no longer quite so necessary to be the only voice in the wilderness, as the Obama era relaxed various bans and limitations. Also, as a bond measure, we have to consider costs. True, it’s not a big one. If you look at the bond debt graph near the end of the election phone book, this would only add a tiny sliver to the state debt mountain. On the other hand, COVID-19 is messing up budgets all over the place. We don’t need more debt. So in the end a No from me.

Prop 15 – This is probably the most contentious item. I think removing prop 13 protections from commercial properties is a great idea. I am concerned that it all seems to happen ‘at once’. A $10 million property owned since 1978 (or 1878 for that matter) will, when it gets reassessed, jump from a relatively small amount to $100,000. I guess I would prefer it to ramp up over a few years for an easier adjustment. And the detractors are right that some/all of this will get passed along to renters and consumers. Nevertheless, I am a YES.

Prop 16 – Undoes Prop 209 (1996), which banned the state from using race-based criteria in certain circumstances, notably college admissions. While I get itchy about the idea that some races are more equal than others, it’s certainly true that racial discrimination is illegal under lots of other state and federal laws, so the effects of any thumb-on-the-scale activity is already limited by these laws and the Bakke decision. Viscerally, I can remember what happened after 209 passed. Applications from black students to the UCs dropped by a huge amount. Right or wrong, they thought the state schools were no longer for them, and didn’t even apply. That discouragement may have had a greater effect on the lack of diversity at the UCs in subsequent years than the proposition itself actually did. Anyway. Yes.

Prop 17 – Serve your time, get your vote back. Yes.

Prop 18 – 17-year-olds to vote in certain elections. Look, it’s an arbitrary limit. Used to be 21 nationally. Now it’s 18 after the 26th Amendment. Could be 11, could be 19 and three months. This looks like a solution in search of a problem. Let’s just keep it simple and 18. No.

Prop 19 – A boon to old rich people with only one house who want to buy a bigger house – this was something like Prop 5 in 2018 that I voted NO on. This sweetens the deal with a disadvantage to rich families with multiple properties when they inherit. While it’s a bit of a shell game, I think overall it closes a loophole for the ultrarich, and will raise tax revenues, so YES. 

Prop 20 – This mofo does 4 different complicated things. No.

Prop 21 – Expands ability of local government to implement rent control. This is very similar to prop 10 from 2018, which I opposed. I think the main difference is this only applies to buildings at least 15 years old. So this would dilute my objection that this would dissuade new construction of housing (which we need). Also, since this doesn’t mandate rent control, but merely allows localities to consider it, this might allow for more experimentation with different types of rent control, and we’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. Yes?

Prop 22 – These apps want to exploit their workers, and their workers want to be exploited. Who are we to stand in their way? Well, maybe we’re the kind of people who don’t think exploitation is good, even if it’s desired by both sides. No.

Prop 23 – Kidney dialysis. Having medical professionals present at dialysis clinics seems like a good idea, but the same is true about abortion clinics. The question is, are they really necessary? How many people are dropping dead due to substandard care at these places? Beats me. That would be something the supporters should have provided. I had thought this was some play by the big dialysis companies (Davita, Fresenius) to squeeze out the smaller players who might be less able to afford a doctor on staff. But it turns out the truth is even weirder and more twisted. It’s a play by a medical union to get their members employed, and then unionize these facilities. No.

Prop 24 – Internet Privacy changes. I’m a pretty savvy netizen, but no expert in internet privacy. I have no idea what this does, or what will result. No.

Prop 25 – Cash bail thing. I’m torn. For once, our legislature has actually passed a law. This prop is (I assume) an attempt by the bail industry to have a do-over. But looking at the proposition (and SB 10), I don’t know that I like it. At the bottom line, we are creating a new bureaucracy that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars (to assess flight risk) in order to save tens of millions of dollars in jail costs. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. If we took half of the proposition – that most misdemeanors require no bail – that would cost us nothing to implement, and save us some money. But the other half – an untested bureaucracy that will declare some people free and some people not... Alleged murderers would have to stay in jail, no matter what. Arg! I vote No.


The Things That Are Not There; The Book of Merlyn; On the Map

The Things That Are Not There, by CJ Henderson is hard-boiled private eye mashed with the Cthulhu Mythos. This is I guess the first of a series and ultimately this first story brings together a Doc Savage like crew of improbable people to fight the mythos. Not my cup of tea. More interesting was trying to figure out when it was set/written. It seemed contemporary, but there were no cell phones. Check pub date: 2006. Hmmm.... maybe it's set historical, but it doesn't read like something that's being set in a different time. And then Oriental is used to describe something that's not a rug. A deeper dive shows that it was first published in 1992 under a pen-name. Even that date is pushing it for unpreferred nomenclature.


The Book of Merlyn by TH White was originally a fifth book of The Once & Future King. On the whole, I think the publishers were right to 'exclude' it, though some of the best parts were inserted into the earlier parts of the book. It is a bit too polemical as an antiwar manifesto, as perhaps could only be the case when the pacifist White was facing WWII.

Pray for Thomas Mallory, Knight, and his humble disciple, who now voluntarily lays aside his books to fight for his kind.

The story, such as it is, is Arthur on the eve of The Battle of Camlann with Mordred, is reunited with Merlyn and some of his other animal tutors, who rag mercilessly on the human race for being horrible warlike monsters. The episodes of Arthur with the ants and the geese are here, and they fit somewhat better philosophically in this argument about warfare and nature, but are much better put into the Sword in the Stone, which I guess White did in later editions when it was clear 'Merlyn' was not going to be published at all.

The version I have is apparently the first publication of it in this form, published by the University of Texas from the TH White papers kept there. The introductory essays are also illuminating, particularly about White's sadistic streak that brings to mind Agravaine. Also, for an academic press, the illustrations by Trevor Stubley are surprising and excellent.


On the Map, by Simon Garfield

An enjoyable romp through mapmaking from the very beginnings to Google Earth and Skyrim. Lots of entertaining details.
mr. Gruff

Altered Behavior Changes Minds

From a Scientific American article on the 'self-domestication' of human beings to be hypersocial.

Love is a Contact Sport

Despite the evolutionary paradoxes of human nature, the perception of who belongs in our group is malleable. H. sapiens as a species has already demonstrated its capacity to expand the concept of group membership into the thousands and millions.

It can be extended further. The best way to diffuse conflict among groups is to diminish the perceived sense of threat through social interaction. If feeling threatened makes us want to protect others in our group, non-threatening contact between groups allows us to expand the definition of who our group is.

White children who went to school with black children in the 1960s were more likely, as they grew up, to support interracial marriage, have black friends, and be willing to welcome black people into their neighborhoods.


Most policies are enacted with the assumption that a change in attitude will lead to a change in behavior, but in the case of intergroup conflict, it is the altered behavior -- in the form of human contact -- that will most likely change minds. The self-domestication hypothesis explains why we as a species evolved to relate to others. Making contact between people of different ideology, culture or race is a universally effective reminder that we all belong to a single group called H. sapiens.
quantum Mechanic

Using your Baloney Detection Kit properly

Most of you know I spend quite some time battling the forces of ignorance and wrongitude in weird corners of the Internet. Young Earth Creationists, antivaxxers, climate change denialists, COVID-19 denialists, flat earthers, conspiracy theorists, Obama birthers, etc.

Often when I report on these shenanigans, I'll point out the errors in fact and inference that people are making, and make some comment like, "Haha, I know that you, Dear Reader, would never fall into such folly. Because, by virtue of being on my friends list, haha, no doubt you are right thinking and virtuous, and would never make such errors."

But I can't say that any more. Because it turns out some of you suck at critical thinking, and I'm here to call you out.

Maybe you were always a dunderhead, or maybe it's a symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome, or Russian disinformation, or the very nature of social media. But if the goal is to get to the Truth, you're not helping when you push falsehoods, even if you are on 'the right side'.  

But I do have a solution to offer. You can learn how to think critically. And you can practice it and get better at it, until it becomes second nature. 'Oh sure, I know how to critically think', you assert. That's just what the flat earthers say who pick away at the arguments of the globetards. So the first, and possibly most important, lesson is this:

The baloney detection kit is not a weapon to be used on occasion to defeat the arguments of people you disagree with, it is a defense that should be always on to protect you from accepting something as true without sufficient evidence. Possibly even a statement you have already accepted, but should reconsider.

If you only pull out your baloney detection kit when you're trying to find some niggling detail in someone else's argument so you can safely ignore it and go on with your life, you are using it wrong. That's exactly what science deniers do. It's just a defense mechanism. Confirmation bias in action.

It's what conspiracy theorists do. Conspiracy theories are a short-cut to proper thinking. The real world is complicated; conspiracy theories are usually quite simple. But there is no short-cut to proper thinking.

The Baloney Detection Kit was the catchy (and work-safe) coinage of Carl Sagan in his book, The Demon-Haunted World. So you don't have to learn some aspects of critical thinking from me, you can learn them from him, either the full text of that passage, or this excellent condensed summary. But allow me to quote and amend a bit here.

These are all cases of proved or presumptive baloney. A deception arises, sometimes innocently but collaboratively, sometimes with cynical premeditation. Usually the victim is caught up in a powerful emotion—wonder, fear, greed, grief.  [to which I would add anger] Credulous acceptance of baloney can cost you money; that’s what P. T. Barnum meant when he said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But it can be much more dangerous than that, and when governments and societies lose the capacity for critical thinking, the results can be catastrophic—however sympathetic we may be to those who have bought the baloney.

...In the course of their training, scientists are equipped with a baloney detection kit. The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. [my emphasis, it is always on] If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. ...

What’s in the kit? Tools for skeptical thinking.

What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and—especially important—to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion follows from the premise or starting point and whether that premise is true. [we should be particularly careful of our own biases]

To add to Sagan's kit of tools, I would suggest the related ideas of 'reserve judgment' and 'keep a long memory'. You don't have to decide right away if something is true or false. If the evidence is ambiguous or scant or of poor quality, you can just reserve judgment. But if it's an important issue, keep it in mind, and look for follow-up evidence.

Anyway, before I get to some cases where some of you fucked up and pissed me off, I'll describe my own fuckup.

Jussie Smollett. A gay black man says he is assaulted by "
two men in ski masks who called him racial and homophobic slurs, and said "This is MAGA country""

As a Trump-hating SJW, the story punched all my buttons and I was incensed. I don't know that I can accurately remember how much I believed the story, but I expect it was very close to 100%. It would seem to be (and has proved to be) a very stupid thing for someone to lie about. And we do want to not-ignore victims, if not quite automatically believe them. But despite my justifications, I believed something false. That's a mark in the loss column. I suck.

The usual racists and homophobes on the Christian Forums were more dubious straight from the get-go. I could have gotten huffy and not listened to them and called them racists and homophobes. But instead, I played the long game of 'keep a long memory'. Keep an eye on developments and see what transpires. And as I did so, strange details appeared, and I started tending back toward reserving judgment (because remember what Sagan said -- we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. My tentative acceptance was being challenged by new information. Once Smollett identified two black guys as the attackers, the needle had flipped in my mind. 99% one way had now moved to 99% the other.

OK, now to you dummies.

Case 1: Umbrella Man is an object lesson in 'reserving judgment' and 'keep a long memory'. No not this Umbrella Man. That's a totally different conspiracy theory. This one was the guy instigating rioting in Minneapolis in the wake of the George Floyd killing at the end of May. Early on, there was wild social media sharing of this fucking bullshit, I mean baloney. Anonymous texts from an anonymous person, posing as the ex-wife of Umbrella Man identifying him as a member of police. This is crap evidence. Did I get any thanks for pointing out that this is crap evidence? Of course not. It's just like telling a young earth creationist that Mount Saint Helens is crap evidence that the earth is 6000 years old. They don't thank me either.

As they say, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”. This lie about wicked policeman guy flew for most of two months, until we found out the truth, that Umbrella Man was a white supremacist asshole. Even when we knew that the particular policeman pointed out in the bullshit had an alibi, the believers implausibly sidled over to "well, it wasn't him, but it was some other cop". How can that even make sense, you chowderhead? Your bullshit evidence fingered a particular cop by name. How does he suddenly morph into a random cop based on the same evidence? If OJ didn't do it, it doesn't mean some other NFL running back did it. It only makes sense if you've been infected by some kind of conspiracy theory. A simplification of a complex world. Something like ACAB.

Now let's get something straight. Just because I don't believe All Cops Are Bastards, doesn't mean I believe All Cops Are Beneficial. Both are simplifications of a complex reality. To presume I do would be to commit the fallacy of a false dichotomy

Case 2: Lynching in Palmdale?

in the middle of June, Robert Fuller, a black man, was found dead hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California. It was initially considered by the city as "an alleged death by suicide."

My initial response was "A terrible thing, but I hope the initial determination of suicide holds up, because the alternative is horrible."

So because I hoped this was right, I went looking only for evidence that confirmed this opinion. WRONG!!!

I reserved my fucking judgment, and (because this was an important issue) I kept a long memory.

Meanwhile, other similar cases emerged in the news, possibly because the media became sensitive to the topic, including that of Malcolm Harsch which had happened even earlier in Victorville. And soon, the story was being spread through social media -- by some of you, my lamebrained friends, that these were lynchings being perpetrated by or at least covered up by the police. Medical examiners are practically police, so we shouldn't listen to them either. Ultimately the unsourced information that spread like wildfire was that 5 black men hanged from trees had been ruled suicides. As snopes notes, it's not even clear who these 5 men are supposed to be. But for some that can be identified, further evidence has come to light, and they are in fact almost certainly suicides.

In the case of Harsch, video evidence of the event emerged and the family was satisfied. “On behalf of the family of Malcolm Harsch unfortunately it seems he did take his own life.”

Robert Fuller had a history of suicidal ideation. 

This one left a note.

I confess I know less about the NY case than the CA ones, but as far as I can tell, the family has quietly accepted it as suicide.

So what was the evidence that these were lynchings in the first place? It seems to me that the only 'evidence' that they weren't suicides was the fact that the police said they were suicides. That's some fucked up conspiracy theory bullshit right there.

Case 3 Oh god the stupid thing about anarchists is too stupid to even talk about. But suffice it to say my comments received as warm a welcome as I usually get from flat earthers. AAABastards/Beneficial is just as terrible a short-cut to thinking as ACABastards/Beneficial.

But for all these cases, the truth finally got its shoes on weeks, even months, later. So please stop spreading bullshit based on poor evidence. Even if. ESPECIALLY IF it punches your buttons. Because that's where you are vulnerable. Sometimes there is a conspiracy. Those Russian disinformation specialists are not imaginary. Their job is to punch your buttons. 

Work on that baloney detection kit.