This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is this 25-year-old a misguided pickup artist or rape guru?

 Arriving at a city near you.

Just what has Julien Blanc been promoting and making a living off of? He surely has made a name for himself.

Not everything is as it seems on the web. It can often feel difficult to ascertain facts versus fiction. Yet, when such a barrage of complaints against one person appears in the media, one wonders what this person has done to cause such a stir.

For a lot of those on social media and especially Twitterland, his hashtags certainly got noticed.

If you use a hash tag like ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld, people will speak out! If you scroll down, you will see very strong and mixed reactions.

Well, as of this writing Julien's original tweets under that hash tag have been removed. His account is now protected. Here are a few of his saved tweets(Update: Blanc's Twitter account is again public.)

One can easily see why people were offended.

Some of the reactions came under the hashtags "take down Julien Blanc"  and "take down pua`s" (pick up artists).

I'm not on a moral crusade here, but I make no apologies for abhorring violence of any kind in relationships.

Take a look at the World Health Organisation's stats on violence towards women. These are just the recorded ones.

So, should this man be allowed his "brand" of freedom of speech? There certainly has been a huge amount of public scrutiny. He was slammed in several news outlets. This Guardian article describes Julien Blanc in colourful words. Please note that the original video has been removed.

The story even spilled into real life, not just with Twitter and social media reaction. While on tour in Australia, things got rather heated. 

Well, I can see nothing wrong with dating advice, if one should need it.

In truth, I am not keen on personal attacks in social media, and for those of you who have been on the receiving end of it, it cannot be a pleasant experience.

People do have a right to speak out. However, some very big questions still remain. Were media simply jumping on a bandwagon in pursuit of page hits? Shouldn't the real issue addressed post "tweetstorm" concern the actual sexual exploitation of women on a global scale? Protecting free speech is important, but shouldn't the safety of women trump over a misogynist apparently being silenced?

Did Blanc actually commit any crimes? It's interesting to note that he publicly apologised through CNN, though many didn't seem to believe in his contrition

I am not here to publicly attack this man, but at the same time I do not condone his behaviour witnessed in tweets, websites and videos.

There seems to be a very fine line between free speech and inciting violence. Many feel that Blanc clearly crossed a line into illegality. The classic line is one cannot yell fire in the movie house. It may be difficult to gauge whether Blanc's activities have incited real life violence against women or if his fifteen minutes of fame simply went on for too long.

Jenn Li certainly feels threatened by such a man. I find it difficult to not agree with her viewpoint.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My last BD entry

I wrote a few entries here and here. This is going to be the last one. I have no dog in this hunt. It's weird. All I did was notice it.

Preacher was discharged on 10/22/2013.

His linkedin says Bleach Detroit was founded in September 2013 before being discharged. How does that make any sense?

How does posting a white power fist as their emblem make sense? Or what of their use of Anonymous as a so-called brand?

The cop makes no sense. "XTina Lloyd" makes no sense. What part of pro-black bloc anarchists working with police is believable?

These people have been working with cops while flying under the anonymous banner. It's bizarre.

What's up with using the word bleach? It sounds very racist.

I could post a lot more, but I'm not going to. I simply don't care anymore.

I never would have heard of them, if it wasn't for a racist troll who pals around with confirmed FBI informant Jen Emick. What kind of creep would retweet the following?

I stopped following Flint soon after he retweeted that, then blocked him.

Life is too short to spend time with anyone who doesn't deserve to be in one's presence.

That's the freedom of life. There is a soul which transcends any attempts at corrupting it.

You don't have to break bread with certain people.

But that's it. I'm done. Detroit is apparently 83% African-American. Bleach was a most heinous word to use. Maybe they can feign ignorance. I don't get it.

Speaking of arson, I wonder if there are any updates on the Heidelberg Project fires.

Here's one link.

Heidelberg official on fires: Arsonists may want land

Some dude set himself on fire and it was caught on the HP surveillance system. You can see him walking with the gasoline can. He has a certain gait. Maybe someone recognises this certain predator quite possibly covered in burns over his face and neck?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Are online petitions effective for change?

                                       We Charge Genocide Petition (1951)

Online petitions have been around a while. A quick internet search will come up with many different page hits. What is the point of them and can they effect real change?

When confronted with human rights violations, animal cruelty or wanting any government law changed or passed, a petition can become a people's voice so to speak. If a group or individual sees something wrong in society, then anyone can write a petition in the belief of change, right?

I do like the idea that anyone can get involved with e-petitions. I get asked to sign many, but am also asked, why sign them? Good point, well why not?

Are they maybe a meaningless gimmick for some? Taking a mere few minutes to sign, is it merely the feel good factor of believing you've done something useful in life and then can forget about it?

The critics argue that those who sign heaps of online petitions are a bunch of do-gooders, armchair activists or as this article ponders, "Are you a Slacktivist? When activism comes too easy, is it effective?"

What about this one? Does it do more harm than good?

Indeed, in comparing different government initiative led petition sites, I do wonder how truly effective they are for change.

I have tried to follow many petitions and see how they supposedly worked out.

The Whitehouse.gov petition site was set up in 2011 as a new way of petitioning the government online. Anyone within the USA can submit a petition on the "We the people" website, as long as it is not deemed offensive. That sounds great!

Currently, I see about 114 petitions on there, and a petitioner only has 30 days to gather enough signatures before it is closed, a pretty tall order. For a petition to get a response from the White House, it has to reach 100,000 signatures, or so they say.

Nextgov has provided some data on which petitions were responded to by the White House.

I wonder why this Snowden petition for pardon has yet to receive a reply despite reaching the required threshold.

Well ok, a few petitions have been successful on there at least:
  1. stop using monkeys in military training
  2. push patent reforms
  3. publish the recipe for White House ale (whoop!)

We have a similar government raised petition site here in the UK. HM Government e-petitions also demands a 100,000 person threshold. Typically it will allow petitions to run for one year, then parliament decides if it should be debated.

Neither of these governmental sites seem to publish any success stories. However after some digging, I located one highly publicised one that did indeed pass in parliament:

Hillsborough disaster cabinet papers to be released (Guardian article)

So governments do take notice of the big petitions then, but why is change so difficult and rare?

                 "People are always looking for a single magic bullet that will totally change everything.                       There is no single magic bullet." ~ Temple Grandin

If it's unclear there is much hard evidence of their effectiveness in promoting change, why bother with them at all?

A small team of researchers at Oxford University did just that with their analysis described in this article. It is apparently extremely difficult for a petition to succeed.

Therefore, for some online petitions to really work, it's going to take more than just gathering signatures. Garnering media involvement appears crucial. For a petition to go viral and hence gather enough signatures, it must be perceived as having a good chance to reach the threshold and make an impact.

I've wondered if an e-signature is even valid. Are we just wasting our time?

I only got one response from Greenpeace when asking that!

"We represent you whenever we take action in the Artic, or in the forests of Indonesia, or lobby politicians or corporations who threaten our environment with their decisions and practices, so we thank you for your continued support"-Emily

Thanks, Emily. I am reassured signatures are helping then?

        The Mike Brown Law petition asks for police to wear body cameras.

Was this petition superfluous? The momentum is building anyway for police activity to be videotaped. The US government seems compelled to respond because Ferguson and other police killings of unarmed Black men have been all over the news. There has been an extreme public outcry on police violence along with widespread protests in the streets. Petition, shmetition?

The following might be an easier example to see a cause and effect. This change.org petition soon got into the news and social media with success; parents of a stage 4 cancer child were arrested because they wanted the best care which wasn't available in England.

Here was 16 year old Ethan Dallas handing in his petition in London. I do like this guy.

                                          Ashya King: Arrest warrant for parents to be withdrawn
                                          as CPS confirms they will face 'no further action' (link)
While this story seems to be one of the few and far between successes, if an e-petition merely raises awareness and public debate, is this a bad thing?

This Guardian article highlights how Change.org and its online petition formula has recently blossomed.

That's a pretty convincing argument e-petitions can and do create positive change. So let's not give up just yet on petitions. Let's keep an eye out for results. Imagine how useful a tool it might become to help abolish evils in this world.

Where do we start? Do you see this one working?

Okay, maybe that's not the best example.

I could go on and present many more examples, but the key issue in any petition is you have to hope it's going to work! I know. The question still remains: Is this fool's gold or are we onto something worthwhile?

Perhaps signing a petition is merely better than doing nothing at all. Hopefully at a minimum we are witnessing and participating in small seeds of change which will grow into meaningful social movement. It's something to reflect and act on. There's no point in simply spinning one's wheels, so we must do our homework.

I'll leave you with one highly influential petition site on the web. This link highlights Amnesty International's hard work in addressing human rights violations. I like them a lot.