27 January, 2022

75 years on: Richard Dimbleby’s BBC report on the liberation of Belsen concentration camp


As we went deeper into the camp and further from the main gate we saw more and more of the horrors of the place and I realised that what is so ghastly is not so much the individual acts of barbarism that take place in SS camps but the gradual breakdown of civilisation that happens when human beings are herded like animals behind barbed wire. Here in Belsen we were seeing people, many of them lawyers and doctors and chemists, musicians, authors, who’d long since ceased to care about the conventions and the customs of normal life.

There had been no privacy there of any kind.  Women stood naked at the side of the track washing in cupfuls of water taken from British Army water trucks. Others squatted while they searched themselves for lice and examined each other’s hair. Sufferers from dysentery leaned against the huts straining helplessly. 


‘The horrors I saw still wake me at night’: the liberation of Belsen, 75 years on


It was a “lovely spring day” when Corporal Ian Forsyth arrived at a place of darkness and death. The 21-year-old wireless operator with the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars was among the first British troops to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany 75 years ago this week.

Former British army corporal Ian Forsyth, now 96, is wearing many military medals. He was one of the first soldiers to liberate Bergen-Belsen.
Former British army corporal Ian Forsyth, now 96, was among the soldiers who liberated Bergen-Belsen. Photograph: Simon Broughton/ITV

“We weren’t expecting to see anything – we didn’t know there was such a place. We had been going ahead without any idea there was anything there. I think that was the worst part,” Forsyth, now 96, recalls.

What he and other British soldiers found on 15 April 1945 was beyond comprehension. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – I couldn’t believe … people could sink to that level, and treat people the way they treated these prisoners,” he says. “When you see a person who is a living skeleton, as these people were, it’s difficult. It’s astonishing that any human being could survive the terrible torture …

“Anybody who didn’t see the place as we saw it would find it very difficult to believe what we actually saw. Bodies stretched out on the ground. Nobody had the strength to move them. The people on the other side of the barbed wire didn’t know who we were – they just stared as we approached.”

Ann Lai Filed a Lawsuit to Tell This Story


In June 2016, one month after she quit, Lai contacted a lawyer, who sent a cease and desist letter to Binary, instructing the partners to stop contacting people whom Lai might work with, and—in an instruction meant for Caldbeck—to stop contacting Lai, according to court documents. The partners responded with a bombshell: Since she’d consented to a non-disparagement agreement when she joined Binary, that meant they could not only sue Lai if she said anything that Binary considered disparaging, they warned, but also withhold much of her carry. The industry-wide sexism that she thought she’d be able to fight against? She couldn’t say a thing about any of it.

25 January, 2022

The Intellectual Incoherence of Cryptoassets


Tis a very strange phenomenon that we as a civilization are allocating so much time, effort, energy and CO2 emissions towards an initiative seemingly backed only by a set of loosely-overlapping narratives that nobody can agree on. The value of everyday things like wheat, metals, semiconductors, and even synthetic products like stocks, interest rate swaps and bonds are well understood. We have rational valuation models for these products and there’s a market that purchases these products because of their intrinsic value or exposure they bring to collective human economic activity. Crypto on the other hand is a seemingly intellectually circular product that cannot justify its existence in terms of anything but appeals to the political. Crypto seemingly exists simply to trade more crypto on purely ideological purposes attached only to several seemingly incoherent stories. The multibillion dollar question right now is what type of asset should crypto tokens be considered as. There are four competing narratives on this subject we will discuss.

24 January, 2022

Did Bathsheba Sin with David?

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/did-bathsheba-sin-with-david (note)

But the Bible doesn’t just leave us with pointers — and I think this just needs to be said before we stop. It doesn’t just leave us with pointers to the reality, and the danger, and the sinfulness of the misuse of official authority or power in order to exploit, or threaten, or manipulate, or mistreat, or demean, or destroy other people. The New Testament is replete with warnings against a worldly use of authority. It is replete with beautiful descriptions of what Christians who hold positions of influence and governance should be like.

22 January, 2022

I’m the TikTok Couch Guy. Here’s What It Was Like Being Investigated on the Internet.


While the Couch Guy meme was lighthearted on its surface, it turned menacing as TikTok users obsessively invaded the lives of Lauren, our friends, and me—people with no previous desire for internet fame, let alone infamy. Would-be sleuths conducted what Trevor Noah jokingly called “the most intense forensic investigation since the Kennedy assassination.” During my tenure as Couch Guy, I was the subject of frame-by-frame body language analyses, armchair diagnoses of psychopathy, comparisons to convicted murderers, and general discussions about my “bad vibes.”

At times, the investigation even transcended the digital world—for instance, when a resident in my apartment building posted a TikTok video, which accumulated 2.3 million views, of himself slipping a note under my door to request an interview. (I did not respond.) One viewer gleefully commented, “Even if this guy turned off his phone, he can’t escape the couch guy notifications,” a fact that the 37,600 users who liked it presumably celebrated too. Under another video, in which hall mates of mine promised to confront Couch Guy once they reached 1 million likes (they didn’t), a comment suggested that they “secretly see who’s coming and going from his place”—and received 17,800 approving likes.  

19 January, 2022

Jordan Thomas’s Army of Whistle-Blowers


One reason for this urgency is the sheer abundance of corporate malfeasance. After Thomas established his whistle-blowing practice, at the law firm Labaton Sucharow, he commissioned an anonymous survey of finance professionals, conducted by the University of Notre Dame. The findings illuminate a rampant ethical permissiveness: more than a third of respondents who have salaries of half a million dollars or more say that they have witnessed, or have firsthand knowledge of, wrongdoing in the workplace; nearly twenty per cent of respondents “feel financial-services professionals must at least sometimes engage in illegal or unethical activity to be successful.” The S.E.C. established the whistle-blower program partly so that people who witnessed misbehavior would have a reliable mechanism for reporting it. The agency had ignored the forensic accountant Harry Markopolos when he sounded the alarm about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. “Huge percentages of people know stuff,” Thomas told me. “They’re just not speaking up.” The JPMorgan whistle-blower said, “There were a dozen people I worked with who knew the same information I knew and still didn’t report anything.”

This is a dangerous time in the pandemic for people like me. Don’t forget us.


People’s objections to government shutdowns, school closings, masks, vaccines, testing and the like have been well-documented. They don’t want the government to tell them what to do. They have questions about the safety of the vaccines. Testing is inconvenient and uncomfortable. And so on. To be honest, I’m not as orthodox about those things as you might imagine. Widespread shutdowns and school closures at this point, in my opinion, do more harm than good.

But masks? Social distancing? Frequent testing? I’m sorry, but those are no-brainers. The same goes for vaccines. The World Health Organization, CDC, and other leading scientific groups have deemed the shots safe, and hundreds of millions of people worldwide have been safely and effectively vaccinated. Most covid protective measures have proved to be minor nuisances, involving negligible disruption and minimal risk. If the benefit is potentially saving the lives of millions of vulnerable people, and who knows how many in general, then the cost is clearly worth it.

It’s Been a Home for Decades, but Legal Only a Few Months


Through ten years as a code compliance officer for the County of Los Angeles, Jonathan Pacheco Bell estimates that he entered about 1,000 different homes, most of them in the unincorporated areas around South Los Angeles. He handed out violation notices and watched illegal housing get destroyed or vacated.

But, after a decade of enforcement work, he said he came to accept that zoning codes become something of a fiction in the face of an affordable housing crisis. Many informal units are substandard or unsafe. But most, he said, are not. And until recently, the county’s policy of removing them was, in his view, creating more problems than it solved.

Mr. Pacheco Bell is now a consultant who gives frequent talks at planning conferences. In those presentations, he tells the story of a family he cited in 2016, just as the state laws on accessory dwellings were changing. The family patriarch had died in a bus crash in 2009 and, to supplement her income, the widow hired a neighbor to build a backyard home. It cost $16,000 to build and she was able to rent it for $500, providing years of income for her family and one unit of affordable housing in a region that badly needed it.

Mr. Pacheco Bell showed up after an anonymous complaint. The unit had plumbing and a kitchen. There was a crucifix on the front door, magnetic letters on the refrigerator and a child’s homework assignments taped to the wall. The home was usable and well-maintained, but was in violation of zoning codes because it was too close to a fence. Mr. Pacheco Bell wrote the unit up and returned a few months later to confirm it had been demolished. Walking around the backyard, and seeing the outline of the home and the rubble, made him question the job he was doing.

15 January, 2022

The story of a "kids for cash" victim of corruption

my brother was .. sorry, IS a kids for cash victim. still is. we are in our mid 30's now. at age 12/13 my brother and his punk friend went to the dollar store and stole a can of hair spray. they went some blocks down into an alley way next to a business (trying to stay out of sight) and using a lighter they were making a "blow torch". which okay, sounds terrifying but we've all been kids fucking around with shit. two idiot boys playing with fire. no one else was nearby. anyway a resident that lived across the street called the police, rightfully so, concerned these young boys were going to get hurt. i remember my dad going to the police station under the impression he would retrieve my brother and beat him senseless or smash his nintendo64, ground him for the summer or whatever shit out parents did to us in the 90s. he was informed by the police that my brother would be taken into and remain in custody at juvenile detention center. even the police were a bit timid about it, as my dad got very upset and full of questions for the officers who said the situation was "out of their hands". my brother had the misfortune of landing in front of mark ciaverella. he was a first time offender, influenced by his friend to do some dumb shit. he was wrong, however my family paid a good lawyer to take our case. even he knew we were up against some tough times.

he was charged with multiple offenses, including theft and arson. 

10 January, 2022

The Great Distractor


Edward Palmer and the Children’s Television Workshop built the distractor in order to improve their real work. That work, as described by the New Yorker’s film critic Renata Adler in 1972, was “to sell, by means of television, the rational, the humane, and the linear to little children.” Google and its ilk have instead concentrated on improving the distractor, and the result is the triumph of the irrational, the inhumane, and the non-linear. And it has made them very rich indeed.