Saturday, 21 April

03:00 EDT

Government Accidentally Releases Documents On 'Psycho-Electric' Weapons [Slashdot]

schwit1 shares a report from Popular Mechanics: The government has all kinds of secrets, but only a true conspiracy theorist might suspect that "psycho-electric weapons" are one of them. So it's odd that MuckRock, a news organization that specializes in filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with state and federal government bodies, received mysterious documents about mind control, seemingly by accident. Journalist Curtis Waltman was writing to the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC), a joint operation between Washington State law enforcement and the federal government to request information about Antifa and white supremacist groups. He got responses to the questions he asked, but also a file titled "EM effects on human body.zip." At least some of the images appear to be part of an article in Nexus magazine describing a 1992 lawsuit brought by one John St. Clair Akewi against the NSA. Akewi claimed that the NSA had the "ability to assassinate U.S. citizens covertly or run covert psychological control operations to cause subjects to be diagnosed with ill mental health" and was documenting their alleged methods.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

00:00 EDT

AMD Wants To Hear From GPU Resellers and Partners Bullied By Nvidia [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: Nvidia may not be talking about its GeForce Partner Program, but AMD has gone from silent to proactive in less than 24 hours. Hours ago Scott Herkelman, Corporate VP and General Manager of AMD Radeon Gaming, addressed AMD resellers via Twitter, not only acknowledging the anti-competitive tactics Nvidia has leveraged against them, but inviting others to share their stories. The series of tweets coincides with an AMD sales event held in London this week. This was preceded by an impassioned blog post from Herkelman yesterday where he comes out swinging against Nvidia's GeForce Partner Program, and references other closed, proprietary technologies like G-Sync and GameWorks. AMD's new mantra is "Freedom of Choice," a tagline clearly chosen to combat Nvidia's new program which is slowly taking gaming GPU brands from companies like MSI and Gigabyte, and locking them exclusively under the GeForce banner. The GeForce Partner Program also seems to threaten the business of board partners who are are not aligned with the program. Here's what Herkelman -- who was a former GeForce marketing executive at Nvidia -- had to say on Twitter: "I wanted to personally thank all of our resellers who are attending our AMD sales event in London this week, it was a pleasure catching up with you and thank you for your support. Many of you told me how our competition tries to use funding and allocation to restrict or block [...] your ability to market and sell Radeon based products in the manner you and your customers desire. I want to let you know that your voices have been heard and that I welcome any others who have encountered similar experiences to reach out to me..." The report adds that Kyle Bennett of HardOCP, the author who broke the original GPP story, "says that Nvidia is beginning a disinformation campaign against him, claiming that he was paid handsomely for publishing the story."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Controlled Burn Held At Manassas Battlefield Park To Restore Civil War Landscape [News : NPR]

National Park Service wildland firefighters set a prescribed fire in Manassas National Battlefield Park

Smoke rose above planned maneuvers to defeat overgrown vegetation, preserving the wartime feel of the park where thousands of soldiers fought in 1862.

(Image credit: Brian Gorsia/NPS)

Friday, 20 April

23:00 EDT

'Sea Nomads' Are First Known Humans Genetically Adapted To Diving [Slashdot]

schwit1 shares a report from National Geographic: Most people can hold their breath underwater for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. But a group of people called the Bajau takes free diving to the extreme, staying underwater for as long as 13 minutes at depths of around 200 feet. These nomadic people live in waters winding through the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they dive to hunt for fish or search for natural elements that can be used in crafts. Now, a study in the journal Cell offers the first clues that a DNA mutation for larger spleens gives the Bajau a genetic advantage for life in the deep.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The devil queen licks her chops [Pharyngula]

Quick. Any missing persons in Morris?

Maybe she’s looking at me, with evil plans in mind.

Ark Park stats [Pharyngula]

Dan Phelps just sent me the attendance numbers for Answers in Genesis.

I just received my KORA package from Williamstown. The winter has not been kind to Ken Ham in spite of his twitter posts concerning people “pouring in” to the Ark Encounter. I don’t see how, even if they have fantastic attendance for the remaining months, they will make 1.4 million visitors as Ham and AiG have repeatedly claimed. Here are the numbers I just received:

November 2017: 51,914
December 2017: 36,472
January 2018: 13,250
February 2018: 17,961
March 2018: 62,251

Last Fall I obtained the following numbers:

July 2017: 142,626
August 2017: 106,161
September 2017: 83,330
October 2017: 93,639

The total for July 2017 to March 2018 is: 607,604

To make 1 million visitors for the year, they will have to average 131,000 visitors per month for April, May, and June 2018. That is not impossible, but unlikely (note July 2017 had more than 142,000 visitors, their best month since figures have been available to the public). To reach 1.4 million visitors in the year since figures have been public record, they will have average about 264,000 visitors per month for April, May, and June 2018. AiG appears to have a lot of money, but one can’t help suspect the Ark is bleeding money.

Those would be respectable (but not spectacular) attendance numbers if Ken Ham hadn’t been setting extravagant expectations. Also, the ten-fold reduction in attendance between July and January is notable — it’s a very up-and-down business.

22:00 EDT

AI Will Wipe Out Half the Banking Jobs In a Decade, Experts Say [Slashdot]

Experts in the industry say that current advances in artificial intelligence and automation could replace as many as half the nation's financial services workers over the next decade, though it will take a big investment to make that happen. The Mercury News reports: "Unless banks deal with the performance issues that AI will cause for ultra-large databases, they will not be able to take the money gained by eliminating positions and spend it on the new services and products they will need in order to stay competitive," James D'Arezzo, CEO of Glendale-based Condusiv Technologies, said. Intensive hardware upgrades are often cited as an answer to the problem, but D'Arezzo said that's prohibitively expensive. Speaking to an audience last year in Frankfurt, Germany, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicted a "bonfire" of industry jobs as automation moves forward. "In our bank we have people doing work like robots," he said. "Tomorrow we will have robots behaving like people. It doesn't matter if we as a bank will participate in these changes or not, it is going to happen." Increased processing power, cloud storage and other developments are making many tasks possible that once were considered too complex for automation, according to Cryan. D'Arezzo, whose company works to improve existing software performance, said the financial industry is being swamped by "a tsunami of data," including new compliance requirements for customer privacy and constantly changing bank regulations. Bhagwan Chowdhry, a professor of finance and economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, offers a less bleak view of the future. "Technology will eliminate some jobs that are repetitive and require less human judgment," he said, "But I think they will get replaced by other jobs that humans are better at. Anything that requires judgment is something humans will continue to do. We are not good at multiplying 16-digit numbers, but we're good at judging people and detecting if someone is telling the truth."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Weekend Reading: Late April Edition [ProfHackerProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Happy Friday, faithful ProfHacker readers! Here are 5 links worth reading plus a video for your weekend consumption.

  • "The Web’s Recommendation Engines Are Broken. Can We Fix Them?," by Renee Diresta (WIRED): "Today, recommendation engines are perhaps the biggest threat to societal cohesion on the internet—and, as a result, one of the biggest threats to societal cohesion in the offline world, too. The recommendation engines we engage with are broken in ways that have grave consequences: amplified conspiracy theories, gamified news, nonsense infiltrating mainstream discourse, misinformed voters. Recommendation engines have become The Great Polarizer."

  • "OLPC’s $100 laptop was going to change the world — then it all went wrong," by Adi Robertson (The Verge): "By the time OLPC officially launched in 2007, the “green machine” — once a breakout star of the 21st-century educational technology scene — was a symbol of tech industry hubris, a one-size-fits-all American solution to complex global problems. But more than a decade later, the project’s legacy is more complicated than a simple cautionary tale."

  • "I Sat Through the First Stop on Facebook’s Feel-Good Road Show," by Daniel Kolitz (The Atlantic): "The event was the inaugural stop in Community Boost, a kind of roving technical college that Facebook plans to bring to at least 30 mid-sized U.S. cities this year. Each installment offers a few days of lectures, smaller ‘breakout’ sessions, and one-on-one consultations, free for anyone who shows up. The goal, according to Facebook, is to teach business owners and employees the ‘digital skills’ to make it online. Given the intensity of the Cambridge Analytica coverage, I half-expected pickets, bullhorns, marauders in rubber Mark Zuckerberg masks when I arrived. What I found instead were two idling valets and, inside a bright, high-ceilinged registration hall, a kind of historical reenactment of life as it was lived eight days earlier."

  • "What Does The Amazon Echo Look Mean For Personal Style? ," by Kyle Chayka (Racked): "I worry that we are moving from a time of human curation to a time in which algorithms drive an increasingly large portion of what we consume . This impacts not only the artifacts we experience but also how we experience them. Think of the difference between a friend recommending a clothing brand and something showing up in targeted banner ads, chasing you around the internet. It’s more likely that your friend understands what you want and need, and you’re more likely to trust the recommendation, even if it seems challenging to you."

  • "The Silicon Valley quest to preserve Stephen Hawking’s voice – San Francisco Chronicle," by Jason Fagone (San Francisco Chronicle): "In 2014 Hawking was still using the CallText 5010 speech synthesizer, a version last upgraded in 1986. In nearly 30 years, he had never switched to newer technology. Hawking liked the voice just the way it was, and had stubbornly refused other options. But now the hardware was showing wear and tear. If it failed entirely, his distinctive voice would be lost to the ages. The solution was to replicate the decaying hardware in new software, to somehow transplant a 30-year-old voice synthesizer into a modern laptop — without changing the sound of the voice."

This week’s video comes from Pulitzer-prize winner Kendrick Lamar:

["Western Kingbird" by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY]

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Charged With Second Felony: Computer Data Tampering [News : NPR]

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is seen earlier this month discussing a 2015 extramarital affair. He faces a felony charge of invasion of privacy related to the affair and another of computer tampering.

The latest charge is related to the alleged use of his veterans' charity donor rolls to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. He says he will clear his name in court.

(Image credit: Jeff Roberson/AP)

21:00 EDT

Qualcomm Cutting 1,500 Jobs At Its California Offices [Slashdot]

As part of its promise to investors to cut annual costs by $1 billion, Qualcomm is cutting 1,500 jobs across multiple divisions at its offices in California. Reuters reports: The company, which has about 33,800 employees as of Sept.24, informed about its job cut plans in California in a regulatory notice that was filed with the state on April 18. Qualcomm said it plans to cut 1,231 jobs in its San Diego office and 269 from its San Jose and Santa Clara offices in the state. Though the company first considered cost reductions without layoffs, it concluded that job cuts are needed to support long-term growth and success, a Qualcomm spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Engineers Are Leaving America For Canada [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Bloomberg: The H-1B was created in 1990, part of an immigration overhaul signed into law by President George H.W. Bush that also created the EB-5 investor visa -- the subject of a fracas involving Kushner Cos. seeking Chinese investment -- and the diversity lottery, which Trump has attacked. Today, an estimated half a million H-1B holders live in the U.S. No one tracks exactly how many ditch their skilled visas for the permanent residency Canada offers, but during the first year of Trump's presidency, the number of tech professionals globally who got permanent residency in Canada ticked up almost 40 percent from 2016, to more than 11,000. In 1967, Canada became the first country to adopt a points-based immigration system. The country regularly tweaks how it rates applicants based on national goals and research into what makes for successful integration: A job offer used to come with 600 points, but now it's worth just 200. Other factors like speaking fluent English or French -- or, even better, both -- have been given more weight over the years. Country of origin is irrelevant. In 2016, Canada increased national immigration levels to 300,000 new permanent residents annually. Last year, in consultation with trade groups, it created a program called the Global Skills Strategy to issue temporary work permits to people with job offers in certain categories, including senior software engineers, in as little as two weeks. Since the program started in June, more than 5,600 people have been granted permits, from the U.S., India, Pakistan, Brazil, and elsewhere.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

20:00 EDT

WikiLeaks, Russia, Trump Jr. named in new DNC hacking lawsuit [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Tom Perez, the head of the DNC, helped orchestrate this new lawsuit. (credit: Gage Skidmore)

The Democratic National Committee has sued Russia, WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign, and a number of other individuals and organizations that the political party believes were affiliated with the now-infamous 2016 hack, whose perpetrators managed to spirit away internal research about then-candidate Donald Trump, as well as private e-mail and messages.

The operation to pilfer vast caches of data, much of which was then published by WikiLeaks, was believed to have been orchestrated by the highest levels of the Russian government.

"It’s pretty serious—it’s more than a shot over the bow, it’s a shot into the hull of the ship," David Bowker, a Washington DC, attorney, told Ars.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

North Korean Leader Says He Will Suspend Arms Tests, Shut Nuclear Test Site [Slashdot]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced early Saturday morning that the regime no longer needs nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Kim said Saturday that "under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission," state-run KCNA reported Saturday. CNN reports: A North Korea source told CNN that Kim has finally decided to open up a new chapter for his nation. Kim has committed himself to the path of denuclearization and will now focus solely on economic growth and improving the national economy, the source said. The North Korean leader has realized the best path forward is to normalize relations with other countries, the source added. He is finally being recognized by the international community, and this is a historic, timely opportunity, the source said. The decision to halt nuclear and missile testing comes just one week before the leaders of South and North Korea are due to meet at the demilitarized zone between the two countries. U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the news, tweeting: "North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress! Look forward to our Summit."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Police discover over 10,000 endangered tortoises jammed into one small house [Boing Boing]

An overwhelming stench of poop and urine led authorities to check out what was going on in an unassuming two-story house in Toliara, Madagascar. When they opened the front door, they were shocked to find the house full of endangered tortoises--10,068, to be exact. According to Soary Randrianjafizanaka, a representative from Madagascar's environmental protection agency, so many of the poor little critters were jammed into the house that they literally had no room to move.

From National Geographic:

In total the house contained 9,888 live radiated tortoises, a rare species found only in Madagascar—and 180 dead ones. Randrianjafizanaka helped count them as rescuers loaded them onto six trucks that made several trips to Le Village Des Tortues (Turtle Village in French), a private wildlife rehabilitation facility in Ifaty, 18 miles north of Toliara. It took until early the following morning to transfer all the tortoises to the rescue center.

The majority of the turtles taken to the rehabilitation facility are doing well, now that they've been cleaned up, moved into more suitable quarters, and provided with veterinary care. Unfortunately, close to 600 of the turtles have died since being removed from the house, due to dehydration or infection--the result of their long neglect.

With a shrinking population of around three million of the reptiles, the trade of radiated turtles, each of which can have shells up to 16 inches across and weigh as much as 35 pounds, is illegal in 182 countries. That makes the turtles an attractive product for blackmarket traders operating out of Madagascar, to export to shady buyers around the world.

Image: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata), CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

The evolution of music from 1680 to 2017 [Boing Boing]

I enjoyed the piano stylings of Lord Vinheteiro in this "Evolution of Music" video**. He plays a little music from each year, starting with 1680 and ending with 2017. There's Beethoven, Iron Maiden, Aqua, and more.

Another fun video of his has him playing the soundtrack and sound effects from Super MarioWorld on the piano along with the video game itself.

**Though I found his staring at the camera a bit jarring!

Weekend Tunes: Dread Zeppelin [Boing Boing]

Raggae-scorched Led Zeppelin covers churned out by a tight band fronted by an Elvis Presley impersonator? Yes, there is a God, and Dread Zeppelin is proof that she loves us.

These guys were the musical snow leopard of my early teenage years: on rare occasions, I'd catch the tail end of one of their videos on Much Music or a piece of a song on college radio. It was years before I learned who they were or bought one of their CDs. Scoff if you will, but at its height, the band was so damn good at what it did that Robert Plant kept their music in his car.

On this 4.20, or as Xeni calls it, amateur day, they are my gift to you.

A new podcast hopes to solve an infamous unsolved death in Norway's Isdalen Valley [Boing Boing]

In November, 1970, just outside the Norwegian town of Bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman's body. Surrounding the woman's remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. All of the labels had been removed from the woman's clothing. Why the woman – known in Norway as the Isdal Woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.

Norwegian journalist Marit Higraff and BBC documentary maker Neil McCarthy are working to shed light on the Isdal Woman's very, very cold case. Working together, they've produced a new podcast called Death in Ice Valley. The first episode is available to download or stream, right now.

During the course of the podcast, Higraff and McCarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the Isdal Woman was and why she died. But they're not stopping there. Listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast's producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.

I listened to the first episode yesterday. It starts slow, as many BBC radio productions often do. But the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the Isdal Woman's death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. If you're looking for something new to occupy your ears with, you might just want to include it on your list of downloads.

Reinhardheydt - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Hyak on Hyak [copyrighteous]

I recently fulfilled a yearslong dream of launching a job on Hyak* on Hyak.

Hyak onHyak

 


* Hyak is the University of Washington’s supercomputer which my research group uses for most of our computation research.
M/V Hyak is a Super-class ferry operating by the Washington State Ferry System.

Romaine Lettuce: Don't Eat It! [News : NPR]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday expanded a warning to consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Ariz., region.

Just to be safe, the CDC is telling consumers to "throw out" all romaine lettuce, including whole heads, because of an E. coli outbreak that has infected at least 61 people and hospitalized 31.

(Image credit: David Goldman/AP)

North Korea’s freeze on nuclear testing isn’t a victory — it’s negotiation [The Verge - All Posts]

North Korea will be pressing pause on its nuclear and missile tests this weekend in advance of summits with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in next week and with Donald Trump sometime this spring, Reuters reports.

The announcement, via state news agency KCNA, also included plans to shutter its nuclear test site, according to the Washington Post. But that doesn’t mean North Korea’s getting rid of the nuclear weapons that it has already developed, or that testing is done for good: the test site is still there, and the regime can resume testing when it pleases, says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS). To make it non-operational, they’d have to fill...

Continue reading…

The FDA supports a cannabis-derived drug, but it’s still too hard to study pot [The Verge - All Posts]

For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended approving a drug derived from cannabis. It’s an important step in acknowledging that the plant has a valid medical use, but will mean little without loosening the research restrictions that keep scientists from figuring out the other health effects of cannabis.

The drug in question is Epidiolex, used to treat severe forms of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex includes cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that comes from the cannabis plant but is not psychoactive. Researchers have applauded the move, and it looks likely that the drug will be officially approved soon. “This is a very good development, and it basically underscores that...

Continue reading…

Let this insufferable Q&A at a Westworld panel be a lesson to us all [The Verge - All Posts]

Tribeca hosted a Westworld panel yesterday with an all-star lineup including co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, as well as actors Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and James Marsden. I’m sure the discussion of the upcoming new season was great, but we’re actually here to talk about the very end of the panel, when the moderator takes questions from the audience.

Audience Q&As, a longtime staple of the panel format, offer attendees the chance to ask thoughtful questions that may have arisen during the discussion they attended. Just kidding! They’re actually a nightmare, because anecdotally anyone who’s attended panels at any major event — myself included — can tell you that the questions are bad 95 percent of the...

Continue reading…

Flickr acquired by professional photo hosting service SmugMug [The Verge - All Posts]

Flickr has been bought by professional photo hosting service SmugMug for an undisclosed price, according to a report from USA Today . The fate of Flickr has been up in the air as part of the ongoing decline of Yahoo, which was bought by Verizon last year $4.5 billion dollars and combined with AOL into Oath.

Yahoo itself had bought Flickr back in 2005 for $35 million, but never really seemed to know what to do with the service up until the end, even as it tried various redesigns and new services to revive Flickr, it never succeeded in mounting a comeback against more modern alternatives like Instagram. “Flickr has survived through thick-and-thin and is core to the entire fabric of the Internet,” SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill told USA Today.

...

Continue reading…

19:00 EDT

AT&T, Verizon Under US Investigation For Collusion To Lock In Customers [Slashdot]

bongey writes: AT&T and Verizon are currently under investigation for colluding with the GSMA standards group to thwart eSIM technology and hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers. eSIM technology lets people remotely switch wireless providers without having to insert a new SIM card into a device. According to The New York Times, the two companies "face accusations that they colluded with the GSMA to try to establish standards that would allow them to lock a device to their network even if it had eSIM technology." The Justice Department opened the investigation roughly five months ago after at least one device maker and one wireless carrier filed formal complaints.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Starts Its Facial Recognition Push To Europeans [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Jimmy Nsubuga, a journalist at Metro, is among several European Facebook users who have reported getting notifications asking if they want to turn on face recognition technology. Facebook has previously said an opt-in option would be pushed out to all European users, and also globally, as part of changes to its T&Cs and consent flow. In Europe, the company is hoping to convince users to voluntarily allow it to deploy the privacy-hostile tech -- which was turned off in the bloc after regulatory pressure, back in 2012, when Facebook began using facial recognition to offer features such as automatically tagging users in photo uploads. But under impending changes to its T&Cs -- ostensibly to comply with the EU's incoming GDPR data protection standard -- the company has crafted a manipulative consent flow that tries to sell people on giving it their data; including filling in its own facial recognition blanks by convincing Europeans to agree to it grabbing and using their biometric data after all. Users who choose not to switch on facial recognition still have to click through a "continue" screen before they get to the off switch. On this screen Facebook attempts to convince them to turn it on -- using manipulative examples of how the tech can "protect" them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kim Jong Un says North Korea no longer needs to do nuclear tests [Boing Boing]

Huge news from North Korea in advance of the North-South summit next week, and planned denuclearization talks with the U.S. President.

(more…)

18:00 EDT

Users Complain About Installation Issues With macOS 10.13.4 [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: The 10.13.4 update for macOS High Sierra is recommended for all users, and was emitted at the end of March promising to "improve stability, performance, and security of your Mac." But geek support sites have started filling up with people complaining that it had the opposite effect: killing their computer with messages that "the macOS installation couldn't be completed." The initial install appears to be working fine, but when users go to shutdown or reboot an upgraded system, it goes into recovery mode. According to numerous reports, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with users' Macs -- internal drives report that they're fine. And the issue is affecting a range of different Apple-branded computers from different years. Some have been successful in getting 10.13.4 to install by launching from Safe Mode, but others haven't and are deciding to roll back and stick with 10.13.3 until Apple puts out a new update that will fix whatever the issue is while claiming it has nothing to do with it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Douchebag Decree [Latest Articles]

Louis_CK_2012_Shankbone_3.JPG

Louis C.K. at the 2012 Time 100 gala (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Let me check my watch: It has been five months since Louis C.K. admitted that he masturbated in front of women without their consent, and a little less than that since Matt Lauer was fired from the Today show for harassing and initiating inappropriate sexual relationships with women who worked for him. Mario Batali was fired from The Chew for groping and sexually harassing women who worked at his restaurants only four months ago, and likewise, it’s only been four months since CBS fired Charlie Rose for sexually harassing women who worked for him. These four men have a lot in common: They’ve lost their celebrity status after being revealed as sexual predators, and now, they’re all the subjects of sympathetic profiles about their “comebacks.”

Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Stuart Miller writes “the question is not really whether C.K. will eventually come back but when, where and how.” According to Stuart, “the consensus is that while his behavior was clearly wrong it was not at the level of a Harvey Weinstein, James Toback or Bill Cosby.”

Sure, Stuart. That’s the consensus according to… the five people you interviewed?

In another Hollywood Reporter piece, Rose gets the sympathetic treatment from quotes like “He’s a broken, powerful, old man surrounded by people who love him, but the truth is, he is desperately lonely.”

According to The New York Times, “some say that if any of the men caught in the current wave of sexual harassment scandals can forge a path back, it might be Mr. Batali.” And this week, Page Six reported that “Lauer is said to be testing the waters for a public comeback by coming out of hiding from his Hamptons home. With his marriage to Annette Roque now over, he’s ready to restart his life, pals say.”

C.K., Batali, Lauer, and Rose used their positions of power to prey on women. C.K. got to be alone with the women he harassed because he is famous. Lauer was able to have a button installed under his desk at NBC that automatically closed and locked his office door because he is famous. Rose walked around naked and groped women who worked for him because he is famous. Batali groped women who worked for him because he is famous. These men are predators because they intentionally and strategically used their power, position, and influence to prey on women and then made sure it got covered up. Letting these men back into the spotlight with a “comeback” gives them access to the same tools they’ve used to hurt women all over again.

Hey, celebrity sexual predators planning a comeback: You’re not “coming back” from a career spent abusing women and covering up your crimes.

These men are criminals, but because they committed their crimes while wearing suits and hosting television shows, on tour, and in their million-dollar apartments, their stories get to be framed around them and not the women they’ve hurt: the impacts their misdeeds have had on their careers and personal lives instead of on the careers and personal lives of those they abused. What men like C.K., Batali, Lauer, and Rose have faced when they were outed as predators pales in comparison to what the women they attacked have and continue to face. None of these men are facing criminal charges or jail time. They’re facing the prospect of not being on television anymore. They’re facing the prospect of not being able to prey on women with the ease they used to have. They’re facing the prospect of living the rest of their lives with just their massive wealth to keep them company.

The #MeToo movement is a reckoning, but that doesn’t mean that a man who has used his influence to attack women merely has to spend a little while reflecting on his behavior in time-out until he’s decided he’s ready to re-enter public life. These men have lost jobs that they are not entitled to merely because they once held them and want them back. We live in a society that loves to sell us a redemption narrative, but what have these men done to redeem themselves? They just want their cushy lifestyles back with all the opportunities it provided them.

Hey, celebrity sexual predators planning a comeback: You’re not “coming back” from a career spent abusing women and covering up your crimes. You’re not “restarting” your life. This is your life now.

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by Dahlia Grossman-Heinze
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Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is Bitch Media’s Senior Engagement Editor. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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