Today on Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic

++ Cigna health insurers are telling investors they’re looking ahead to a great year, even while the health insurance lobby group is begging for a handout from Washington.

++ Damien Patton, co-founder of Banjo, a “grifty” AI surveillance startup that works with police, is a convicted Ku Klux Klan terrorist.

As a 17-year-old, Patton “was a Nazi skinhead who once helped a KKK leader stage a drive-by shooting that ‘sprayed bullets’ into a synagogue.” He was active in the Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Patton was the wheelman for a Klansman who fired a TEC-9 into a Nashville synagogue, and then was smuggled out of state by another Klansman….

His testimony included this phrase: “We believe that the Blacks and the Jews are taking over America, and it’s our job to take America back for the White race.”

Patton says he no longer believes those things to be true, and he sincerely regrets his youthful actions and beliefs.

Banjo “has conned the state of Utah into giving it access to state’s surveillance feeds with the promise of fighting crime using secret methods that Utahans (and independent reviewers) aren’t allowed to understand.”

++ In other surveillance news: NSO Group is a cyber-arms dealer that helps “the world’s most despicable dictators” commit crimes against humanity – including the Saudi murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.

At least one NSO employee used National Security Agency tools to stalk a woman he knew personally. He broke into NSA offices in the United Arab Emirates. This practice is so common that the NSA has a cute nickname for it, LOVEINT.

++ After the British Empire conquered the world and looted cultural artifacts, the British Museum, is claiming copyright over images of those artifacts. I’m planning to steal my next-door neighbor’s lawnmower and then claim copyright on pictures of it.

++ The medical debt collection industry is going strong during the pandemic. Victims include a nurse who is borrowing gas money to get to work because all of her pay is being garnisheed.

++ 68 pieces of advice from Kevin Kelly on his 68th birthday. Includes:

  • Always demand a deadline,
  • “Being able to listen well is a superpower” (I’m working on listening and am getting better at it. Previously I was just “waiting to talk.”)

Also:

Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat.

And:

Before you are old, attend as many funerals as you can bear, and listen. Nobody talks about the departed’s achievements. The only thing people will remember is what kind of person you were while you were achieving.

Mitch Wagner @MitchWagner