Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Trump* pardons miscreants

He wants the death penalty for drug dealers. Not so much for white-collar criminals, a number of whom just received presidential pardons or commutations. One miscreant whose sentence Trump* commuted: Rod Blagojevich, ex-governor of Illinois.

I can think of four reasons for Trump* to issue pardons and commutations today:

1. Send a message to Roger Stone.

2. Exercise power, because that’s what Trump* likes to do.

3. Eat up news time and distract attention from the Democratic primaries.

4. Send a message to Roger Stone. I have your back, Roger, Nixon tattoo and all.
And did you notice Trump*’s use of a plural pronoun in speaking of himself? “Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich.” As in “I would like you to do us a favor though.” Himself, not the country.

And now that the disgraced Illinoisan is back in the news: How do you pronounce “Blagojevich”?

Related reading
All OCA Blagojevich posts

Stop-and-frisk in LA

Elaine and I shared in a long, lively conversation riding to LAX last fall. At one point our driver, an African American man, was talking about his daughter, fourteen, an honors student, and wondering what to say to her about current events. It’s crazy, he said. And he took care to add, “whatever side you’re on.”

“Oh,” I said, “I suspect we’re all on the same side here.” And we were.

The talk turned to one Rudolph Giuliani, whom our driver knew as the good guy of 9/11, “America’s Mayor.” What happened there ? I took the opportunity to point out Giuliani’s role in the development of stop-and-frisk policing. Our driver had no idea.

It didn’t occur to me last fall that it would be helpful to know about stop-and-frisk in thinking about 2020 presidential candidates.

Recently updated

Stopping at a rest stop with your swim team while black Now with an interview with swimmer Jaylan Butler and ACLU attorney Rachel Murphy.

The police violence recounted in this interview is the logical extension of stop-and-frisk, with any young man of color automatically a suspect, automatically suspected of — what? Of something.

“What the future is for”

Pamela Josse, twelve, writing in her notebook:


Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, trans. Alison Anderson (New York: Europa Editions, 2008).

Kid’s smart. I recommend The Elegance of the Hedgehog with great enthusiasm.

Also from this novel
“The art of scything”

“Pencils”

From the BBC Radio 4 series The Boring Talks : “Pencils,” with Brian Mackenwells. An excerpt:

“Now most people don’t think about pencils. They’re part of the array of stationery one can steal from at work, and that’s it. I am not most people. I bring pencils into work. And it’s that free work pencil that I intend to ruin for all of you.”
One correction: John Steinbeck did not write with Eberhard Faber Blackwings only. His three favorites: the Blaisdell Calculator, the Blackwing, and the Mongol.

Mackenwells is also partial to the typewriter, which he uses to make art. I dig this map of Dublin.

Thanks, Steven, for pointing me to this talk.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Scams


[The fourth cyber freedom: “Freedom from Online Scams (End to Violations of Private Space and Being Duped by Techno Pirates).” Art by Viktor Koen.]

Most of the scam-mails I receive — “Hello, my dear,” &c. — go straight to spam. But two unusual scam-mails recently showed up in my inboxes. Here’s one that came to my blogging e-mail address:

Hello,

I hope this message finds you well. I am       from      . I was looking for some artwork online and I found your contact while surfing and I must tell you, You are doing a great job, I would really love to purchase some of your works for my wife as a surprise present regarding our forthcoming 30th anniversary, I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you. However, I would greatly appreciate if you could possibly recommend a few completed pieces of your artworks that is ready for immediate sales within my price range ($1,000- $15,000).

Hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

     .
I enjoy close-reading this sort of nonsense to see how many tells I can spot. The lack of a name after “Hello,” the weirdly genteel “I hope this message,” the announcement of a name that has no relation to the sender’s e-mail address, the wobbly syntax and grammar and punctuation, the utter improbability of “looking for some artwork online,” the lack of specificity about what the sender likes about my art.

My art? This e-mail no doubt results from a search for blogs with “art” in their titles or close by. And I’ll add: the only people who ever tell me that I'm doing “a great job” online are spammers, when they leave comments telling me to keep up the good work and that they’ll definitely be back, followed by a link for whatever. (That’s why I moderate comments.)

I was not surprised to discover that this e-mail is one instance of a ploy, explained in a public Facebook group, Stop Art Scams. Long story short: the “buyer” 1. overpays with a fake check and asks the seller to wire back the overage or 2. sends a fake PayPal receipt. I assume that with 2. the same overpayment scheme kicks in.

Here’s a second, loonier scam, which came to my university e-mail address:
Hi, my name is     .I am a staff here in       .My uncle is moving to the school area and needs someone who can pet sit or and walk his English Bull dog 2 hours daily within 9am-11pm.Pay is $300 weekly. Kindly email him for more info      @hotmail.com.You are to contact him with your personal email NOT school email so he can receive your email because most times I email him with my school email he hardly receive my emails.
This e-mail appears to spoof a student (not staff) account. Here too there’s plenty in the sender’s syntax and grammar and punctuation to arouse suspicion. There are also the improbably convenient conditions and great pay: just two hours a day, at $21.42 an hour. Even a professor emeritus might leap at that kind of money. While the art scam-mail is sketchy in its lack of specificity, this e-mail is sketchy in its elaborate explanation of why it’s necessary to use a personal e-mail account. I think that we can all figure out why the sender wants to keep further correspondence off the university server.

I cut and pasted part of the text of this e-mail into DuckDuckGo, and look what I found (with the same Hotmail address, which I’ve redacted):
Hi, my name is      .I am a staff here in      .My uncle is moving to the school area and needs someone who can pet sit or and walk his English Bull dog 2 hours daily within 9am-11pm.Pay is $300 weekly. Kindly email him for more info      @hotmail.com.You are to contact him with your personal email NOT school email so he can receive your email because most times I email him with my school email he hardly receive my emails.
What puzzles me is how this scheme is supposed to work. Do I, as an aspiring dog-walker, wire a deposit to show my good faith? Does the uncle send me a check for a month’s pay and then — oops — ask me to send part of it back? What say you, Uncle?

Related posts
Coley Georgette and others : English professor spam : Fake speeding ticket : Horace Fish, Madge Herring, and others : Lothario Vanvliet and others : Mr. Berenguer Bolivar Basilio : The National Dean’s List : Nuclear physics scam : Remembrance of spam past : Smog Q. Carafe and others

Sluggo goes to a museum


[Nancy, May 13, 1950.]

I like the sign inside the museum, just in case you have stumbled in and don’t know where you are. What are all these pai — oh, museum.

I like the way the paintings in this museum look like Ernie Bushmiller’s realities, with a little more shading. One painting even has “some fruits.”

I admire Sluggo’s manners (no hat), but given what’s about to happen, my admiration is short-lived.

I wonder if five might be the requisite number for “some paintings.”

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Overheard

“I love your tattoo. I love aloe vera.”

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)

[For a moment I thought that the speaker was referring to an entertainer with a stage name — like, say, Awkwafina. But then I heard the tatted person’s reply: “I was gifted an aloe vera plant,” &c.]

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Phonics again

Phonics. Everything old is new again.

Stopping at a rest stop with
your swim team while black

I think that this story deserves wide attention. Here is the lawsuit.

*

4:36 p.m.: The story has made it to The Washington Post.

*

February 18: From Illinois Public Media’s The 21st, an interview with Jaylan Butler and ACLU attorney Rachel Murphy.

[My post title is meant to recall the expression “driving while black.”]