21 June, 2022



The most conspicuous change I’ve seen over those years is that the number of administrators has ballooned. On the shelves in my office I still have my first Pomona College catalog, for the academic year 1990–91, a printed black-and-white publication with a four-color but poorly designed cardboard-stock cover glued over the smudgy pages in between. Toward the back of the catalog, under “Administration,” there are nine offices listed, covering three pages, naming 56 persons as the members of the administration. Thereafter, the professors are listed, a total of 180. At the time, Pomona matriculated 1,487 students. In 2016 it takes me about ten seconds to find all this information in the cheap 1990 catalog.

Cut to the future, 2016. The catalog is no longer printed in hard copy. Everything is on the web, accessed through something called a “portal.” If you Google it, you can cut into the portal and arrive directly at a website called Pomona College Administrative Offices and Services. There are fifty-six links on this front page, but to get the full list of administrators, you need to click those fifty-six links plus an additional fifty-one links. Even then it’s a little confusing, because many of the main offices are broken up into suboffices for the purposes of this main web page. But the basic organizational structure (after one does some piecing together) is this: Pomona College now has, by my careful count, 271 administrators (note: this number does not include the administrators that are shared in the Claremont University Consortium, which includes a CEO and nine other top administrators, who oversee some 5C pooled services, including health benefits, the library, mail and some phone and IT services, campus safety, the Office of the Chaplin, and some shared maintenance offices). The number of Pomona College faculty remains roughly the same (a current Pomona website lists the number of regular faculty at 186). The number of students has increased to 1,640.z

Catholic priests slaughtered inside church by Mexican cartel, bodies stolen


Catholics are demanding the return of the bodies of two priests who were murdered after attempting to prevent drug traffickers from killing a man inside their church.

"It is with great sadness and pain that we mourn Father Javier Campos Morales, Father Joaquin Mora Salazar, and the man who, unfortunately, lost his life along with them," the Diocese of the Tarahumara region of Western Chihuahua said Tuesday.

The region borders Texas and New Mexico.

The priests were shot dead in the church "with no defense but their faith in God," as they tried to protect a man whose life was in danger, the statement read.

The shooters took all three bodies, which officials are working to locate, according to a report.

16 June, 2022

A lawsuit leads to a deposition about an elaborate attempt to spy on the grieving parents


And some shocking information emerged as a result of the litigation. In Aaron Rich's lawsuit, lawyers deposed Thomas Andrew Schoenberger, a consultant who had founded a digital reputation restoration firm promising "decentralized discreet solutions." Butowsky had hired the firm, called ShadowBox. He later acknowledged he was prompted to do so by NPR's unwanted scrutiny of him over his role in Fox's discredited Seth Rich story.

"No matter what room in the house it was, he wanted the phones tapped, the computer tapped, the cellphones tapped," Schoenberger testified. "He said he wanted to be able to hear a pin drop in the kitchen." Schoenberger testified that Butowsky also asked how to get into the Riches' bank accounts.

In an interview with The Daily Beast in early 2020, Butowsky denied asking to spy on the Riches but did confirm the meeting took place. The Daily Beast reported that three people attending the meeting confirmed that they discussed the possibility of eavesdropping on the Riches.

15 June, 2022

Students inside were calling 911 and begging for help. The officers stayed outside for almost an hour during the mass shooting.


I close with a thought tugging around my brain. I think I am seeing a broad and general decline in professionalism in America, a deterioration of our pride in concepts like rigor and excellence. Jan. 6 comes and law enforcement agencies are weak and unprepared and the U.S. Capitol falls to a small army of mooks. Afghanistan and the departure that was really a collapse, all traceable to the incompetence of diplomatic and military leadership. It’s like everyone’s forgotten the mission.

I’m not saying, “Oh, America was once so wonderful and now it’s not.” I’m saying we are losing old habits of discipline and pride in expertise—of peerlessness. There was a kind of American gleam. If the world called on us—in business, the arts, the military, diplomacy, science—they knew they were going to get help. The grown-ups had arrived, with their deep competence.

America now feels more like people who took the Expedited Three Month Training Course and got the security badge and went to work and formed an affinity group to advocate for change. A people who love to talk, endlessly, about sensitivity, yet aren’t sensitive enough to save the children bleeding out on the other side of the door.

I fear that as a people we’re becoming not only increasingly unimpressive but increasingly unlovable.

My God, I’ve never seen a country so in need of a hero.

13 June, 2022

“Prove to the World You’ve Lost Your Son”


How a Tulsa grandmother became a vicious Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist—in her own words.

In my new book, I caught up with “gr8mom,” who harassed the families of victims for years. Had her life gone as planned, she would have been a first grade teacher. A suburban Tulsa grandmother, she instead became a vicious conspiracy theorist, tormenting the parents of children murdered in their Sandy Hook classrooms. When we spoke, she told me she was proud of what she’d done—and is still doing.

Today, one-fifth of Americans believe all major mass shootings are staged, according to Joe Uscinski an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami who studies political conspiracy theories. These false theories will no doubt torment the families of the victims in Texas, just as they did in Sandy Hook. How could anyone, a parent no less, not only believe these delusions but make it a point to confront the families with them? Pozner wanted to know. This is the story of one of those people.

11 June, 2022

Jerome Powell on inflation

"I am confident that people will reach the other side of this pandemic with the foundations of their lives intact... But the recovery is far from complete, so, at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes... Our best view is that the effect on inflation will be neither particularly large nor persistent."

Jerome Powell March 23rd, 2021.

February 2021 inflation rate: 1.68%

"We want inflation to run a little bit higher than its been averaging in the last quarter century. We want to average 2%, not 1.7%... However, these one-time increases in prices are likely to have only transitory effects on inflation."

Jerome Powell April 28th, 2021.

March 2021 inflation rate: 2.62%

"Those who have historically been left behind stand the best chance of prospering in a strong economy... We will only reach our full potential when everyone can contribute to, and share in, the benefits of prosperity."

Jerome Powell May 3rd, 2021.

April 2021 inflation rate: 4.16%

"As these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer-run goal, and the median inflation projection falls from 3.4% this year to 2.1% next year... Our new framework for monetary policy emphasizes the importance of having well-anchored inflation expectations."

Jerome Powell June 16th, 2021.

May 2021 inflation rate: 4.99%

“These bottleneck effects have been larger than anticipated, but as these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer run goal.”

Jerome Powell July 28, 2021.

June 2021 inflation rate: 5.39%

"Many find it counterintuitive that the Fed would want to push up inflation... However, inflation that is persistently too low can pose serious risks to the economy."

Jerome Powell August 27, 2021.

July 2021 inflation rate: 5.37%

"So there are many, many different inflation measures, of course, and thats why we have this thing called the CIE, which is an index of market based measures... if we did see them moving up in a troubling way and running persistently above levels that are really consistent with out mandate, then we would certainly react to that."

Jerome Powell September 22, 2021.

August 2021 inflation rate: 5.25%

"I don't think it's time to taper. I don't think it's time to raise rates. Our policy is well positioned to manage a range of plausible outcomes."

Jerome Powell October 22, 2021.

September 2021 inflation rate: 5.39%

"We understand the difficulties that high inflation poses for individuals and families... Let me say that whats happened, is that inflation is coming higher than expected. We see that just like everyone else does, and we see that they're now on track to persist well into next year... I do think it would be premature to raise rates today."

Jerome Powell November 3, 2021.

October 2021 inflation rate: 6.22%

"The word 'transitory' has different meanings to different people. Its a confusing word that needs to be retired."

Jerome Powell November 30th, 2021.

October 2021 inflation rate: 6.22%

"We're always just going to do what we think is right for the economy and for the people we serve."

Jerome Powell December 15th, 2021.

November 2021 inflation rate: 6.81%

"The old system was in place for decades and then suddenly it was revealed as insufficient... We do take the need to protect our credibility with the public very seriously."

Jerome Powell January 11th, 2022.

December 2021 inflation rate: 7.04%

"I'd say that the inflation situation is about the same or slightly worse... It hasn't gotten better and that's been the pattern... What we're learning is it's just taking much longer, and that raises the risk that high inflation will be more persistent."

Jerome Powell January 26th, 2022.

December 2021 inflation rate: 7.04%

Jerome Powell reelected as Chairman for the Federal Reserve System.

February, 2022.

January 2022 inflation rate: 7.48%

"The inflation that we are experiencing is just nothing that we have experienced in decades... All the things we did during the pandemic, we turned our dials as hard as we could... Part of what we did and what congress did is the reason why inflation is so high."

Jerome Powell March 2nd, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%

"These higher prices have real effects on people's well-being and it takes a toll on everyone. If you're at the lower end of the income spectrum it's very hard because you are spending most of your money on necessities, but it's punishing for everyone... We can't blame the framework. It was a sudden, unexpected burst of inflation and then it was the reaction to it, and it was what it was."

Jerome Powell March 16th, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%

"The rise in inflation has been much greater and more persistent than forecasters generally expected... We're not expecting near-term progress on inflation."

Jerome Powell March 21st, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%

"It is appropriate in my view to be moving a little more quickly... We had an expectation that inflation would peak around this time and then come down over the course of the rest of the year. These expectations have been disappointing in the past and now we want to see actual progress... Are we going back to the old economy? Probably not. What's the new one going to look like?"

Jerome Powell April 21st, 2022.

March 2022 inflation rate: 8.54%

"We have a good chance at a soft or softish landing... There's a false precision in the discussion that we as policymakers don't really feel... the economy is doing fairly well... I think we have a good chance to restore price stability without a recession."

Jerome Powell May 4th, 2022.

April 2022 inflation rate: 8.30% 

The Rhetoric Tricks, Traps, and Tactics of White Nationalism


The images in this piece are going to be straight from the white nationalists themselves, their guides to each other on how to mainstream their ideas. Often they operate in groups, like BUGS or similar. There may be an outright “nazi” that the other neo-Nazis point to in order to say “Woah buddy I’m not like that guy, what I say is reasonable and you should listen.” By and large the majority will NEVER admit to holding and espousing neo-Nazis beliefs, the goal is to lead you into the pit until you don’t want to get out and then drop the charade of put upon centrism. This hiding the true ideology under a layer of more acceptable talking points is called “hiding powerlevel”. To deceive and recruit people it is imperative that they can make a connection of trust first, and being outright in their beliefs would mean they get dismissed before they have the chance to recruit. They are going to appeal to you, they are going to use things you like to make you empathize with them, and then over time they will slowly, feed you the Whitaker mantras and white nationalist talking points.

The propaganda of 4CHAN /POL/


Depending on the target, you'd either have some talking points to "debate" (sometimes with yourself/other anons working alongside you) or you'd go in there guns blazing trying to cause as much damage/chaos as you can. However, even then you can't go out there yelling slurs (you'd just get banned instantly); you have to maintain some level of plausible deniability by framing things as "jokes" or thought experiments.

You purposely do bad-faith arguments because the time it takes for them to dig up sources and refute you is longer than it takes for you to make stuff up. You can vary how obvious the bad faith argument is; when you want to troll you make very stupid claims (I once claimed I was a graduate of "Harvad University" and when people assumed that I meant "Harvard" I would correct them right down to Photoshopped images).

When you just want to cause dissent you do exactly what those /pol/ screenshots do: you get to a thread early (sometimes you even make it yourself) and present reasonable-sounding arguments which are completely false if anyone bothers to look into them. If someone does, you bury the message under strawmen, downvotes, reports, and sockpuppets.

u/aniopala on a lying jailhouse informant


In 2009, Brittanee Drexel (17) went missing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during Spring Break. No remains were found and no one was ever arrested.

In 2011, Timothy Taylor drove a getaway vehicle during the robbery of a McDonald's in Mount Pleasant, roughly 1-2 hours driving from Myrtle Beach. He was convicted and sentenced to probation.

In June 2016, the FBI held a press conference in which they stated they believed Brittanee had been abducted from Myrtle Beach and murdered in a second location.

Timothy Taylor, by summer 2016, had finished his probation. He was arrested again for his role in the 2011 robbery. Prosecuers claimed it was not in violation of double jeopardy because the federal government can bring federal charges for the same crime if the state prosecution led to an unfair outcome (the unfair outcome in this case being that Taylor received a lighter sentence than the two other men involved). Since he already pled guilty to the crime, it wasn't a promising outlook.

At his bond hearing, the prosecuter tells the judge the new charges are due to Taylor being a suspect in the rape and murder of Brittanee Drexel. The prosecutor claims bail for the robbery charge should not be granted because Taylor was withholding information about Drexel.

The FBI release the story that Brittanee Drexel had been abducted, taken to a trap house, sexually assaulted, murdered, and her body thrown to the local gators. They release Taylor's name, and state they believe he (16 at the time of the murder) and his father were involved in the abduction, gang rape, and murder of Brittanee Drexel.

Where did they get this information? A prison informant named Taquan Brown. Brown claimed to have been eyewitness to Taylor and 8 to 12 other men raping Drexel. He additionally claimed to have seen Drexel attempt to escape, to have heard gunshots shortly thereafter, and then to have seen a body removed from the house wrapped in a rug.

There was an additional anonymous jailhouse informant. The second informant claimed Taylor "showed [Drexel] off, introduced her to some other friends that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation," as quoted by the FBI.

(Brown changes his story multiple times, and several more in an interview in 2019; some of the people he names as having seen participate were incarcerated during the alleged time of the murder. He has either tried or is trying to sue the FBI agents involved for releasing his name to the press, endangering his life.)

The FBI claim Taylor abducted Drexel for the purposes of human trafficking, then killed her either for trying to escape or because of the increased media attention on her disappearance. Taylor has maintained that he was in class at Lincoln High School during the time Brown claimed to have seen him assaulting her.

In 2017 Taylor is told that federal prosecutors will seek the maximum sentencing... unless he takes a polygraph test about Brittanee Drexel. If he passed, they would recommend a lighter sentence. In South Carolina, polygraph results are admissible in court if all attorneys agree.

The first test is declared inconclusive by the FBI, but federal prosecutors claim Taylor showed "deception" throughout. ABC15 news stated that the FBI claimed Taylor was being deceptive "even when answering his own name". Taylor took a second polygraph, and the FBI declared he had failed to respond truthfully about seeing or knowing Brittanee Drexel. This information was immediately released to the press. The DOJ recommend a sentence of 10 to 20 years due to his deception. In December of 2019 Taylor is sentenced to 3-5yrs probation.

This month, 62yo Raymond Moody was arrested for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Brittanee Drexel on April 25, 2009. He led LEOs to her remains, confirmed through DNA and dental records. Moody had been identified as a person of interest in the original 2009 investigation, but never arrested.

According to Taylor's attorney, the family was never notified that Taylor's name is cleared and the case considered closed; they found out when they were contacted to comment by a newspaper.

07 June, 2022

u/ReshKayden on diversity in gaming


Due to an odd quirk in how the game industry developed, went bankrupt, and then re-emerged and marketed itself during other cultural changes in the 1980s that were pushing women away from tech more broadly, for the next couple decades the vast majority of gamers were straight, white, cisgendered boys between the ages of around 12 and 25. Tons of market research and focus groups went into figuring out what kind of characters this specific audience wanted to play, and the result was a bunch of main characters that all looked like this.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with this in every case. It's not that gamers were all necessarily racist/sexist, or that the industry had a lack of imagination, or that there was some conspiracy. It's that we researched the hell out of it, and found that characters who looked like that hit the largest overlapping segment of our existing customers in terms of what they wanted to play, for the budgets we had. So we stuck with that. It was a risk calculation.

The trouble is, the game industry started to hit saturation in terms of that customer space back 10-15 years ago. In other words, the gamers who want to play characters who all look like that are a relatively stable number, and they were already all playing our games. In order for the industry to grow, and to get the increased sales to experiment with new types of game designs like everyone wanted, we needed to find new customers outside of that already saturated customer base. 

1,000 True Fans? Try 100


More than a decade ago, Wired editor Kevin Kelly wrote an essay called “1,000 True Fans,” predicting that the internet would allow large swaths of people to make a living off their creations, whether an artist, musician, author, or entrepreneur. Rather than pursuing widespread celebrity, he argued, creators only needed to engage a modest base of “true fans”—those who will “buy anything you produce”—to the tune of $100 per fan, per year (for a total annual income of $100,000). By embracing online networks, he believed creators could bypass traditional gatekeepers and middlemen, get paid directly by a smaller base of fans, and live comfortably off the spoils.

Today, that idea is as salient as ever—but I propose taking it a step further. As the Passion Economy grows, more people are monetizing what they love. The global adoption of social platforms like Facebook and YouTube, the mainstreaming of the influencer model, and the rise of new creator tools has shifted the threshold for success. I believe that creators need to amass only 100 True Fans—not 1,000—paying them $1,000 a year, not $100. Today, creators can effectively make more money off fewer fans.

06 June, 2022

One Good Thing: 107 minutes of Wall Street traders behaving badly


Toward the end of the film, Rogers is giving a pep talk to a room of traders, “People are going to say some very nasty things about what we do here today, and about what you’ve dedicated a portion of your lives to,” he tells them. “But have faith that in the bigger picture, our skills have not been wasted. We have accomplished much, and our talents have been used for the greater good.” This is a man doing something he knows is wrong, and not just that but wielding his power to make dozens of other people do something he knows is wrong. The brilliance of the movie is its illustration of why he, and so many like him, make that choice, again and again and again.

The Surreal [possible] Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge


A hot-headed coder is accused of exposing the agency’s hacking arsenal. Did he betray his country because he was pissed off at his colleagues? 

02 June, 2022

Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’


Two days before Soundararajan’s presentation, seven Google employees sent emails to company leaders and Gupta “with inflammatory language about how they felt harmed and how they felt their lives were at risk by the discussion of caste equity,” according to emails sent by Gupta. Some of the complaints “copied content from known misinformation sites to malign the reputation of the speaker,” Gupta’s emails said — sites and organizations that have targeted academics in the United States and Canada who are critical of Hindu nationalism or caste hierarchy.

Then the controversy within Google migrated to an 8,000-person email group for South Asian employees, according to three current employees. After Gupta posted a link in the email group to a petition to reinstate the talk, respondents argued that caste discrimination does not exist, that caste is not a thing in the United States, and that efforts to raise awareness of these issues in the United States would sow further division. Some called caste equity a form of reverse discrimination against the highest-ranked castes because of India’s affirmative action system for access to education and government jobs. Others said people from marginalized castes lack the education to properly interpret Hindu scriptures around castes.

01 June, 2022

We Clerked for Justices Scalia and Stevens. America Is Getting Heller Wrong.


Kate believes that Justice Stevens’s dissent in Heller provided a better account of both the text and history of the Second Amendment and that in any event, the method of historical inquiry the majority prescribes should lead to the court upholding most gun safety measures, including the New York law pending before the Supreme Court. John believes that Heller correctly construed the original meaning of the Second Amendment and is one of the most important decisions in U.S. history. We disagree about whether Heller should be extended to protect citizens who wish to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense and, if so, how states may regulate that activity — issues that the Supreme Court is set to decide in the New York case in the next month or so.

But despite our fundamental disagreements, we are both concerned that Heller has been misused in important policy debates about our nation’s gun laws. In the 14 years since the Heller decision, Congress has not enacted significant new laws regulating firearms, despite progressives’ calls for such measures in the wake of mass shootings. Many politicians cite Heller as the reason. But they are wrong.

Heller does not totally disable government from passing laws that seek to prevent the kind of atrocities we saw in Uvalde, Texas. And we believe that politicians on both sides of the aisle have (intentionally or not) misconstrued Heller. Some progressives, for example, have blamed the Second Amendment, Heller or the Supreme Court for mass shootings. And some conservatives have justified contested policy positions merely by pointing to Heller, as if the opinion resolved the issues.

Neither is fair. Rather, we think it’s clear that every member of the court on which we clerked joined an opinion, either majority or dissent, that agreed that the Constitution leaves elected officials an array of policy options when it comes to gun regulation.

Five years on food stamps


Delta: Maintain Client Success as the centerpole during growth

I think of “scaling” entailing both size and health. Early on, “Client Success” was the unifying intention of everyone (“close the participation gap”). Everyone was exhorted to use their whole selves to help clients receive benefits. I remember being mindblowingly told “you have their phone number, call them” when I observed clients hit technical or process barriers; I did, again and again. Technology was in the truest sense an extension of our embodied capacity to help.

As time went on the client success function became less of a critical inspiration, and instead came to feel closer to the status quo: handling the overwhelming externalities of the service, rather than the service being the multiplier of our puny human abilities. I feel a responsibility to help balance “we don’t need to help ourselves” with “put on your oxygen mask before helping others”; and “leave a seam” with “a stitch in time saves nine”.

And “success” felt narrowed with a refocusing towards “Systems Change” and the subjectless “Build with”. My desires for lighting escalation paths (“click here to talk to a supervisor; a director; your state representative; the FBI”), and consciousness-raising (“20k people in your county also had their benefits denied this month too”) remain unfulfilled.

u/TerribleAttitude on Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima


In the antebellum and Jim Crow south, black people were virtually never referred to as adults by white people. Young and middle aged adult black people would still be referred to by (at best) their first names and more often as “boy” or “girl” (or possibly some other even less polite words). Because it’s ridiculous to refer to an elderly person as “boy” or “girl,” elderly black people, especially those who had a certain level of status as slaves, would instead be referred to as “uncle” or “aunt.”

The south at that time was highly formal about these things; you’d never refer to an adult white person, even if they were a servant, as “boy” or “girl” in that same way, and first name only was for people you were very familiar with, or maybe children. You’d pretty much always be expected to refer to adults by Mr, Mrs, Miss, Dr, Reverend, etc. Even young children would sometimes be referred to with an honorific (Miss or Master. Note, in this context, “master” does not necessarily mean “slave master,” it’s just a way to differentiate between a boy and an adult man, who would be “mister”). Referring to adult black people with familiar terms like “uncle” or “aunt,” or juvenile terms like “boy” or “girl,” or over familiar terms like their first name, while simultaneously requiring that same person to refer to a white toddler as “Miss Susie” or “Master Jimmy,” means that black people were permanently placed in a subservient child class below actual children. Aunt and Uncle aren’t “child” titles, but still have an implication of extreme familiarity. Your aunt and uncle are people who take care of you. There’s a reason the term Uncle Tom is used to refer to a stupid black person who caters to white people for validation at the expense of other black people and their own dignity.

Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima were originally conceived as nostalgic characters of the antebellum south. They were implied to be, if not explicitly stated, to be literal slaves who spoke ignorantly and found joy only in cooking for their white “masters” (as in slave owners). They were drawn or acted as shucking, jiving minstrel caricatures of black people. As time went on, those aspects of the characters were obviously dropped, with Uncle Ben looking more like a chef and Aunt Jemima having more of a businesswoman or housewife vibe, but the terms still carry an implication of slavish black servants looking only to cater to white people’s tummies.