The 405 near Los Angeles

I went to School with the Vegas Shooter By Greg Palast

Mobile home on tracks, Sun Valley CA, birthplace of the Vegas shooter. From the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

[Los Angeles] When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class. At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant. We took drafting. Drafting like in “blueprint drawing.”

Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsman drawing blueprints of fighter jets. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.

But we weren’t going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren’t going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.

(It’s no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)

But if you went to “Bevvie” – Beverly Hills High – or Hollywood High, you didn’t take metal shop. You took Advanced Placement French. You took Advanced Placement Calculus. We didn’t have Advanced Placement French. We didn’t have French anything. We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance.

Steve was a math wizard. He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford. But our classes didn’t qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That’s where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain.
And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buy-out.

And after NAFTA, GM closed too.

Land of Opportunity? Well, tell me: who gets those opportunities?

Some of you can and some of you can’t imagine a life where you just weren’t give a fair chance. Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM. THEY got the connections to Stanford. THEY get the gold mine. WE get the shaft.

This is where Paddock and Palast were bred: Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It’s where the sewerage plant is. It’s in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup. Here’s where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don’t supply enough from Mexico.

I’ll take you to Sun Valley. It’s in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family’s old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve’s place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.

No, Steve’s brain was too big to end up on the tracks. He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno. I laugh when they say he was “rich.” He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff. He got close.

It’s reported that Steve was a “professional gambler.” That’s another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser. Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?

It’s fair to ask me: Why didn’t I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?

Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION: to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.

But I’m telling you, that I know it’s a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock’s.

Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared–that they’d be accused of approving murder.

Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever. If you think I’m making up some excuse for him, then I give up.

But also this: The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it …fester like a sore?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Sag…like a heavy load?

Or does it explode?

Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.

But, I just have to tell you, Steve: I get it.

Poem by Langston Hughes

Facebook Does Evil, and Zuck Is Eviler in Chief

How Facebook Outs Sex Workers (

Posted by msmash on Thursday October 12, 2017 @10:40AM from the mysterious-algorithms dept.
An anonymous reader shares a Gizmodo report: Leila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them. Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse). Her “real identity” — the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics — joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients. Despite the fact that she’d only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people — and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them. Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again. “We’re living in an age where you can weaponize personal information against people”Kashmir Hill, the reporter who wrote the above story, a few weeks ago shared another similar incident.

Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How ( 281

Posted by msmash on Friday August 25, 2017 @12:40PM from the It’s-a-Facebook-world dept.
Kashmir Hill, reporting for Gizmodo: Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me. […] She showed up on the list after about a month: an older woman, living in Ohio, with whom I had no Facebook friends in common. I did not recognize her, but her last name was familiar. My biological grandfather is a man I’ve never met, with the last name Porter, who abandoned my father when he was a baby. My father was adopted by a man whose last name was Hill, and he didn’t find out about his biological father until adulthood. The Porter family lived in Ohio. Growing up half a country away, in Florida, I’d known these blood relatives were out there, but there was no reason to think I would ever meet them. A few years ago, my father eventually did meet his biological father, along with two uncles and an aunt, when they sought him out during a trip back to Ohio for his mother’s funeral. None of them use Facebook. I sent the woman a Facebook message explaining the situation and asking if she was related to my biological grandfather. “Yes,” she wrote back. Rebecca Porter, we discovered, is my great aunt, by marriage. She is married to my biological grandfather’s brother; she met him 35 years ago, the year after I was born. Facebook knew my family tree better than I did “I didn’t know about you,” she told me, when we talked by phone. “I don’t understand how Facebook made the connection.” How Facebook had linked us remained hard to fathom. My father had met her husband in person that one time, after my grandmother’s funeral. They exchanged emails, and my father had his number in his phone. But neither of them uses Facebook. Nor do the other people between me and Rebecca Porter on the family tree.

Mission of Eagle Bluff Continues to Grow

Mission of Eagle Bluff Continues to Grow
By Charlie Warner, Bluff Country Newspapers
Wednesday, October 04, 2017 9:21 AM
(Used with Permission)

Nearly 40 years ago, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro started out as a bad road, an A-frame house and a dream for Joe Deden.

“It’s come full circle,” Deden said as he provided a personal tour over a rough road on a hog’s back towards another A-frame structure.

Deden was providing a tour of the 150 acres of pristine hardwood forest, native prairie and breathtaking Root River frontage that Eagle Bluff recently purchased from the Allan Gavere estate. As he wove through the hardwood forest, he spoke with passion about this new dream.

“The Gavere family was kind enough to let us utilize much of their property over the years,” the Eagle Bluff executive director noted.

They were very strong supporters of the educational endeavors Deden and his staff were providing to area youth, as well as young minds throughout the U.S. and even internationally.

Over the past decades, Deden estimated Eagle Bluff has had more than a half million students enroll in the myriad of outdoor, conservation and environment classes and workshops.

With the 150 acres Eagle Bluff purchased this past August, Deden envisions more educational opportunities to an even greater number of students.

“Many of our school-aged classes and workshops were designed for elementary and middle school students,” Deden explained. “But with the development of this property, we will be able to offer more to the junior and senior high school students. This will be a remote blufflands eco facility for the older students,” he said, as he pulled into a clearing with an A-frame house, a 150-year-old preserved log cabin and the stone foundation that used to support a pioneer barn. These buildings are located about 1.5 miles from Eagle Bluff’s main campus.

The old pioneer barn was long gone before Deden settled in Fillmore County nearly 40 years ago. But the massive stone foundation remained in place. The aged stones beckoned to Deden to become an educational instrument. It took quite a spell before the usefulness of the massive stone walls came to fruition. But once all the paperwork was completed in August and the 150 acres and the buildings were officially part of Eagle Bluff, Deden moved forward with his vision.

He enlisted the help of nationally-known landscape designer Charles Seha to design a massive fire pit. Seha, who now resides in Fountain, holds a degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in landscape design from the Conway School of Landscape Design. His professional experience includes many fine projects throughout the country. His award-winning work has been published extensively and he was chosen from a field of international specialists to design and implement large scale stone placement at the Quaker Hill Native Plant Garden in New York.

“To have someone of Charles’ expertise, living right here in Fillmore County to design this was fantastic,” Deden said.

“And then to get David Manley of Durango, Colo., to do the stone work has even made this project that much more special,” Deden added.

Manley is known throughout the southwest as one of the premiere stone masons.

The basement floor of the old barn was cleared, the large stones that make up the foundation walls were cleaned and grouted, and Manley spent nearly a month creating the handsome wall and fire pit that Seha had designed.

“This is going to serve as an amphitheater where students can put on plays and skits, a meeting place where students can gather and a learning place where teachers can teach,” Deden continued. “It is so quiet out here. It is so remote. It will be the perfect place for students to get totally back to nature.”

The A-frame house, which is adjacent to the barn foundation, will serve as a kitchen, dining hall and also a small dormitory. “We’ve still got some work to do on the A-frame. But once it’s complete, it will serve a number of purposes,” Deden added.

The buildings are definitely not the only positive aspects of Eagle Bluff’s newest acquisition. The 150 acres that stretch out to a point, with the Root River surrounding three sides, include hardwood forest, natural prairie grasses and native flowers, miles of trails and more than a mile of river frontage. Numerous spots along the river will provide for excellent fishing experiences. And a number of elevated deer stands will be available for young hunters who have enrolled in classes at Eagle Bluff and also have done volunteer work at the facility.

“This is something we’ve been considering and planning for a long time,”Deden admitted. “We just weren’t sure when to pull the trigger. But when the Gavere family offered to sell the property to us for $600,000, we knew it was time.

“So many persons from this area have been so generous with their donations and support,” Deden added. “There is no way we could have done what we’ve done without the tremendous support of so many.”

Santa Rosa, California Before and After Fire 10-9-2017

Photos from LA Times

Map of Santa Rosa -Sacramento -San Francisco

Drought Map for Oct. 3rd 2017

What he sez…

The Long Night Ahead

FB just declared war against “disruptive” information. In addition to hundreds of new human censors, they are training AI censors capable of identifying and deleting ‘unacceptable’ information found in the discussions of all two billion members in real time. This development highlights what the real danger posed by a socially networked world actually is.

The REAL danger facing a world interconnected by social networking isn’t disruption. As we have seen on numerous occasions, the danger posed by disruptive information and events is fleeting. Disruption, although potentially painful in the short term, doesn’t last, nor is it truly damaging over the long term. In fact, the true danger posed by an internetworked world is just the opposite of disruption.

This danger is an all encompassing online orthodoxy. A sameness of thought and approach enforced by hundreds of millions of socially internetworked adherents. A global orthodoxy that ruthless narrows public thought down to a single, barren, ideological framework. A ruling network that prevents dissent and locks us into stagnation and inevitable failure as it runs afoul of reality and human nature.

This ruling network already exists. It already has millions of online members and it is growing and deepening with each passing day —
extending its tendrils into the media, the civil service, tech companies, and academia. There’s little doubt that over time it will eventually exert decisive influence over the entire government as well.

However, in order to exert authoritarian control over our decision making, it needs control over the flow of information in our society. Merely controlling the online debate is insufficient. For real power, the ruling network needs to control the information flows on our information infrastructure — FB, GGle, and Amzn — and that’s exactly the power it is now getting.

Fortunately, as large and powerful as this network already is, I still believe this dark future is avoidable. We still have a short time before a long night descends across the world.


John Robb