Thinning the Herd

…So what on earth is going on here? How is our advanced medical system, our technology, our renowned computational capacity failing us?

I think I know, and here is where political correctness heads out the window. We find ourselves here because we humans, not Corona or Clostridia or Cholera, are the actual pathogens on this planet. We propagate uncontrollably and exponentially, injecting our industrial genetic code into our host to force creation of more of our kind, stripping away vital organs and connective matrix, and leaving nothing behind but our toxic waste. I’m sorry to say it, but we have met the virus, and it is us.

Anyway, that is my theory. Humanity is simply another herd to be thinned from time to time, and this is one such time. Presumably this will not be at the meteor/dinosaur level, at least not yet, perhaps because Mother Nature actually possesses some strange affection for us, and hopes we might see the error of our arrogant ways and manage to make better choices (personally, I am not as hopeful, but I am merely a pathogen without the wisdom of eternity to draw from).

The question is, will we ever come to accept the truth about our place on this planet? Deprived of our frontal cortex and opposable thumbs, we become slow, clumsy, hair and toothless creatures who can’t see in the dark; in other words, food. Other animals are far more intrinsically intelligent. “In a world older and more complete than ours,” says Henry Beston, “they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” We are only at the top of the chain because we have created technology, but technology is not part of Nature’s plan. If it was, she would have created it.

So we are a part of Nature; she is not a part of us. We have become spoiled, recalcitrant children, used to getting our way through bullying the planet and its creatures. But bullies stop when someone larger stands up to them. Enter Corona.

Bill Benda, MD

Huge hack reveals who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right nutballs

Epik long has been the favorite Internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity.

But that veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data — including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers…

“It’s massive. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s certainly the most interesting,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. “It’s an embarrassment of riches — stress on the embarrassment.”

Epik, based in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, has made its name in the Internet world by providing critical Web services to sites that have run afoul of other companies’ policies against hate speech, misinformation and advocating violence. Its client list is a roll-call of sites known for permitting extreme posts and that have been rejected by other companies for their failure to moderate what their users post.

“The company played such a major role in keeping far-right terrorist cesspools alive,” said Rita Katz, executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, which studies online extremism. “Without Epik, many extremist communities — from QAnon and white nationalists to accelerationist neo-Nazis — would have had far less oxygen to spread harm, whether that be building toward the Jan. 6 Capitol riots or sowing the misinformation and conspiracy theories chipping away at democracy.”

Extremism researchers urge careful fact-checking to protect credibility, but the data remains tantalizing for its potential to unmask extremists in public-facing jobs.

“A lot of research begins with naming names,” Emma Best said. “There’s a lot of optimism and feeling of being overwhelmed, and people knowing they’re in for the long haul with some of this data.”

A serious act of intelligence and political will has cracked open what turned out to be a not-very-well-defended chunk of right-wing record keeping. This article doesn’t display much individual data; but, provides the links and guidance to check it out on your own. Which is likely to be what a number of dedicated fans of democracy will be doing for months and years to come.

No doubt they will discover much. And publish it. One of the things a Free Press is for.