[Plura-list] The FBI has never heard of me; Compared to climate denial, Qanon is benign; and more!

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sun Feb 7 08:26:17 EST 2021


Next Tuesday, I'm helping Ed Snowden launch the young readers' version
of his spectacular memoir "Permanent Record." Join us for a livestream
event with Copperfield Books on Feb 9 at 19h Pacific.



Today's links

* The FBI has never heard of me: And yet, somehow they managed to
investigate me.

* Compared to climate denial, Qanon is benign: The GOP already
surrendered to conspiratorialism.

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🥓 The FBI has never heard of me

Back in January, I got a very odd call from an FBI Special Agent, who
wanted to discuss a blog post I'd written summarizing a Popular
Mechanics article on the physics of monument toppling, having received a
complaint about it.


Thankfully, I have access to some of the very best civil liberties
lawyers in the nation, namely my colleagues at EFF. Andrew Mackey, an
EFF lawyer who specializes in this kind of thing, had a talk with the
agent, who agreed that I'd broken no laws and dropped the matter.

Aaron did one better. He helped me draft a Freedom of Information Act
request to the FBI along with a demand that my record there be expunged,
as is my right under settled precedent.


To their credit, the FBI responded very quickly to this written request!
Within days, I had a letter back from them.

To their shame, the FBI responded by saying they had NO records at all
of this incident, so there was nothing further I could do.

Now, this is obviously a lie. FBI agents make records of complaints, of
their assessment of complaints, of the calls they make to follow up on
the complaint, and of their assessment of those calls, It is
inconceivable that this incident generated no records.

But this is par for the course for the Bureau, which routinely flouts
transparency law with these kinds of responses. Now, Aaron helped me
prepare an appeals letter, which points all of this out and strongly
reminds them that responding to requests like mine isn't optional.

As with my initial FOIA letter, I'm posting this appeal so that others
can refer to it when making their own appeals in similar situations. I'm
not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice, but it's a good place to start.



🥓 Compared to climate denial, Qanon is benign

"Serious" figures on the right say that presence of an open Qanon
conspiracist in the GOP Congressional caucus represents a crossroads for
Republicans: does the party support reality-based policies, or will it
surrender to unhinged conspiracies?


Says John Quiggin: the right surrendered a generation ago, when it
embraced climate change denial: "all the governments in the world,
backed up by every major scientific institution, were advancing a
fraudulent theory of global warming."


This position wasn't merely something party bosses threw at
low-information voters, either: the intellectual, libertarian wing of
the party, like Cato's Pat Michaels, advanced an explicit,
conspiratorial account of the climate emergency.


" … it’s not the science determining how much it’s going to warm. A lot
of people don’t know this, but it happens to be true, and you know, we
could speculate as to why that paper was published right before the 2016
election? I wouldn’t want to impute causation, but gee …"

"So now, the academy roots for anything that is big government that it
feels it can tie onto to maintain this relationship. The roots of
political correctness, there are many, manifold and varied. But one of
them certainly was the enslavement of the academy."

As Quiggin points out, climate denial is far more consequential,
unhinged and reality-denying that Qanon. Qanon, stop the steal, etc at
least posit that there's a conspiracy in service to a massive, ambitious
goal, stealing a nation or a planet.

"By contrast, Michaels wants an equally expansive conspiracy with tens
of thousand of particpants (including lots of rightwing governments),
whose object is – the establishment of an emissions trading scheme?"


🥓 Colophon

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 500 words (107753 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Friday's progress: 301 words (3747 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

Upcoming appearances:

* Talking Attack Surface with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered
Artificial Intelligence, Feb 9,

* Launch for the young adult edition of Edward Snowden's memoir

* Boskone, 58, Feb 12-15, https://boskone.org/

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22,

*  Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social
Movements, Social Surveillance, Social Media (with Zeynep Tufekci), Feb
24, https://ucdavis.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I99f4x8WRiKCfKUljVcYPg

* World Ethical Data Forum keynote, Mar 17-19,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Chop Shop Economics

* Monocle Reads

* Hedging Bets on the Future (Motherboard Cyber):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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