So, a prosecutor raids an attorney’s office. What, exactly, can he seize from there?

First of all, he cannot seize any documents protected by attorney-client privilege. No contracts, no transcripts, no tape recordings, no confidential work product. So what’s left?

Financial documents, primarily. How much was he paid. How did he handle client escrow funds, did he embezzle them for his own purposes? (Lots of attorneys have been sent to prison for embezzling client escrow funds). *EVIDENCE OF MONEY LAUNDERING* such as a foreign client putting an unduly large amount of money into an escrow fund and then the attorney disbursing it to entities controlled by a different client in order to launder its origins.

In short, embezzlement and money laundering are pretty much the *only* reasons a lawyer’s office would be raided. So Donald Trump’s lawyer’s office got raided? How many Russian clients did this lawyer have, and how much money did he disburse from these Russian clients’ escrow funds in order to benefit the Trump campaign?

That’s the *real* questions, not anything to do with Stormy Daniels — unless the question is, “was her payoff made with laundered Russian money?”. But nobody would issue a warrant if it was *just* Stormy Daniels. Someone in the New York US Attorney’s Office thinks Trump’s lawyer was laundering money from foreign sources in order to benefit the Trump campaign (which, I might add, is illegal), and any records seized will be financial records related directly to that question. The salacious details of the various contracts that Trump’s lawyer signed with various women he sexually assaulted over the years will just have to remain secret — unless Cohen runs out of money and sells those details to the highest bidder, of course.

— Badtux the Law Penguin


There are doorways

A quarter mile away, Emma pulled her bicycle over to the side of the road and stepped off of it and let it fall to the sidewalk as she sat down on the curb and buried her head in her lap. Mara pulled up beside her and carefully put down the sidestand and leaned her bike on it, then sat down beside her. Emma was panting for breath, coming down off an adrenalin high, crashing hard. Mara just put a hand on her shoulder, waiting.

Eventually Emma straightened up and turned towards Mara and said “God, I was so fucking terrified. I just centered myself and said to myself I was going to be badass and… that came out. I didn’t even know what I was going to say or do and… it just happened.”

“That was the most impressive thing I’ve seen in my entire life,” Mara said sincerely. “I couldn’t even tell you were terrified until at the end when you said as much and your hands started shaking. I’ve never seen anybody do anything like that in my entire life.”

“Well, you’re just a kid,” Emma said, smiling. And Mara smiled back. Yes. Yes she was. And she’d mentioned that to Emma a lot, when Emma was looking to her for answers that she didn’t have or that Emma needed to find for herself.

“You are an impressive person,” Mara said seriously. “That took courage.”

Emma smiled. “I guess I am impressive.” Then her smile fled. “Too bad it’s all for evil. At the end of the year he’s going to put me to work as a distributor. I’ll be selling evil shit to school kids, probably. That’s what Lakes do in this town. That’s part of the deal. He quits beating the crap out of me and I join the family business.”

Mara closed her eyes. “I wish….”

“Yeah, me too. But what’s that saying you’re so fond of? It is what it is.”

“Reality sucks,” Mara said.


They sat quietly for a few minutes while Emma slowly calmed to normal, both thinking about that. But there was something else bothering Mara.

“When you said you would come back from the dead again… your brother didn’t think you were joking.”

Emma turned her head to Mara and touched her forehead, pushing her hair back slightly. “See this scar?”

“Okay,” Mara said. It looked like it’d laid out a nice flap of Emma’s scalp, there would have been a lot of blood, but it shouldn’t have killed her.

“When they killed my mother for not wanting to be part of the family business anymore… they killed me too. Todd clocked me with a steel crowbar and knocked me woozy but mostly just opened up my scalp. Then they threw my mother’s body and my tied-up self down a mine, and laughed as I begged them to come back. I quit begging after a while.” She turned over her wrists, and Mara realized there was a series of small scars there. In the area where a rope would have tied her wrists together. “I managed to scuff through my ropes on the rocks. I was lying in a pool of my own blood by then, feeling a bit woozy from blood loss, but then I could bind up my wounds and stop the bleeding. So they drove home, and when they walked through the door, I was sitting on the sofa watching television, wearing the same clothes I’d been wearing except clean not covered with blood and dirt, with just these scars to show that anything had even happened.”

Mara puzzled over the story. It made no sense. How had Emma gotten from the bottom of a mine to beat her father back home?

There are questions where, if you don’t know the answer, the world makes sense as an orderly place where the laws of cause and effect hold sway, where the unexpected always has easy answers that make sense. But if you ask the question, and receive an answer, then it is as if all of reality rests upon quicksand, anything could happen, anything makes sense.

Mara asked the question. “So how did you pull that one off?”

Emma looked at Mara as if wondering if Mara would think she was crazy if she answered the question. Then Mara saw Emma make the decision that she didn’t care what Mara thought. And then Emma spoke and Mara’s world shifted off its axis and nothing was the same again.

“You see,” Emma said, “There are doorways…”

There is apparently a new law, Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which allows the FBI to seize and prosecute the owners of any site that has posts on it where people advertise sex for money. The infamous classifieds web site Backpage.com was removed from the Internet and its owner charged with crimes after passage of this law.

Now, about Backpage.com, they knew what was going on, especially when underage children were being peddled on it, and they did nothing about it, so I’m not particularly concerned that they’re gone. But here’s the problem. Want to get your favorite sites shut down? Just rent yourself a botnet on the darknet (it’s easy, requires nothing but some bitcoin and a bit of trawling through the darknet), create thousands of fake ID’s, flood the site with advertising offering sex in exchange for money, and call the FBI. Voila. You’re done. Site gone.

Congress tailored the law specifically to take out Backpage. The problem is that since the Constitution doesn’t allow laws that apply only to a specific listed individual or company, they had to write a general law. Which can basically be applied to *anybody* who allows users to post comments. Heck, even Facebook could end up in trouble.

Just chalk it up to the law of unintended consequences…

— Badtux the Law Penguin

Heh. Heh heh heh.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

I keep listening to this maybe-album over and over again.

This is Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe. Tess has the laconic delivery of Hope Sandoval down pat, though she’s a little raspier. And Anton Newcombe is, of course, basically Brian Jonestown Massacre nowadays.

Shall I call it Mazzy Jonestown Massacre? Brian Jonestown Star? This penguin has no idea other than that he likes it!

– Badtux the Music Penguin

Her name was Nasim Najafi Aghdam. She claimed to be a vegan body builder, though with her tall thin physique you couldn’t really tell it unless she was actually flexing, like in this photo from her now-disappeared web site:

And on Tuesday she snapped and took a California-legal handgun (i.e. 10 round limit) onto the YouTube campus, managed to injure four people (consider what she would have done with an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine! But those are illegal in California), and then committed suicide.

All of her social media accounts have been disappeared down the Orwellian memory hole. All of her writings on the Internet have been disappeared down the Orwellian memory hole. Only fragments can be found in various caches and archives on the Internet.

What is interesting is that, in the few writings that I can find, she claims that there is no freedom on the Internet and that the big Internet media companies dictate what you will see or not see. It is interesting that then the big Internet media companies immediately validate her thesis by disappearing her social media presence Orwellian fashion after she snaps. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to see what she was saying. Interesting how they prove her thesis. Too bad about Nasim though, she committed suicide for no real reason, since virtually nobody actually decided to go look for what she was actually saying as versus what the big media companies claim she said. Not that it’s easy to do so — I expect even those various caches and archives to be cleaned out shortly to finish “disappearing” her down the Orwellian memory hole, leaving us only with the prefabricated image of her generated by the big media companies rather than her own words.

2018. It’s 1984+34. War is peace. Tyranny is freedom. Censorship is patriotic. I love Big Brother, he wants only the best for me. Don’t you love Big Brother too?

– Badtux the “Hmmmm…..” Penguin

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them; women are afraid that men will kill them. — Margaret Atwood

I was contemplating how a female protagonist in a mystery/thriller of necessity has to work differently than a male protagonist. Too often if a man is writing a female protagonist, she’s either written drop dead Hollywood gorgeous as an idealized sex toy, not as a real person, most of whom aren’t drop dead gorgeous and most of whom aren’t tall and thin. Or if he believes himself to be a particularly enlightened writer, she’s depicted basically as a man with boobs. But given the difference in size in and of itself that last can’t work. She has to operate with her wits and tongue and friends in low places, and if necessary fleet feet, not her fists, because trying to get into a one-on-one physical matchup with someone who outweighs you by sixty pounds and a shit-ton of testosterone-fueled muscle is a fool’s errand. She isn’t going to engage in the sort of monkey dance shenanigans that boys and men get up to (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve never observed the beginning stages of a schoolyard fight between boys, which are more about monkey hooting and howling than about actual fighting), and if she needs to kill someone she’ll just kill him, preferably with a distance weapon, she isn’t going to try to hammer him to death with her bare hands or do all sorts of posturing and talking about it. There isn’t much room for error in the life of the bad-ass woman protagonist, so if she has to get physical she will do so with the most deadly weapon possible as quickly as possible because if the bad guy gets his hands on her, she’s toast.

Add in sex. Sex works different for women. Sex for most women requires a lot more trust than for a man, because of that difference in size and strength. Despite that, women have sex drives too. Yet most depictions of female protagonists by men have their female protagonist either be basically virginal and asexual with no discernable sex drive, or have her slinking up to villains to use sex as a weapon. But you can’t use something as a weapon that a villain can basically just take from you. Neither of these extremes, asexuality or hypersexuality, are normal or healthy. Depictions of healthy sexual relationships between men and women in fiction with female protagonists, especially in the mystery/thriller genre, seems oddly scarce. One of the things I like about the fiction of Janet Evanovich is that her female protagonists do have a healthy sex drive and some healthy sexual relationships. But then, she isn’t a male writer.

There is a scene in “The Doorways of Winter” where the female protagonist has basically the same thought as Margaret Atwood above, knowing that this murderous drug dealer she is dealing with in an attempt to save a girl’s life could kill her with his bare hands with no more thought than swatting a fly and there would be very little she could do about it regardless of any bad-assitude on her part because she is just physically too small to deal with him without a firearm, which she doesn’t have. What she does have is a support network including both a retired cop and some very scary relatives to call upon to convince him that it would be a bad idea. But for women without that support network or without the wits and tongue to enlist them in support and convince the potential abuser that their existence means attacking her is a bad idea, well, that explains the domestic violence statistics.

Which is why the first thing domestic abusers do is cut women off from their support networks…

Do I think that it’s possible for a man to write a realistic female protagonist? I think the answer to that is “maybe”, but not easily. I sort of dodge the question by writing female protagonists who aren’t normal in some way. They were orphaned and abused, or raised by a predator to be a killer, or otherwise have an abnormal background that can be used as an explanation for them behaving in ways that normal women don’t behave. Still, I try not to treat them as men with boobs and instead make them abide by the same realities that normal women have to abide by, such as the realities of physical limits compared to most of the men they’ll encounter and things like bras and birth control and periods, and try to give them a relatively normal and healthy sex drive. I also try to avoid stereotypes. I don’t always succeed, but (shrug). So it goes.

– Badtux the Fiction Penguin

Exercise: “Depict a woman in your fiction.”


Emma put the food on platters in the middle of the battered table, then put out plates and silverware, worn spoons and forks and steak knives on pieces of paper towel. Emma nodded at Mara. Mara nodded back and walked to the door to the garage and opened it to the sight of a large tattooed man working on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and Todd drinking a beer leaning against the opposite wall. Todd saw Mara at the same time that Mara said “Dinnertime!”

The large tattooed man turned. He had greasy black hair and was wearing a wife-beater t-shirt and blue jeans and combat boots that looked all stompy. He looked at Mara up and down, looked at Mara’s red sneakers and brown cargo shorts and khaki t-shirt and short brown hair, noted the solidity of her build but also clearly noting that she was fairly small and not a physical threat to him, and then said “Who the fuck are you?”

Not depicted as a seductress or sultry or a sex object. Could be gay (note, she isn’t), but could also be just a strong willed person who is practical and annoyed by pants that have insufficient pockets for all her treasures and hair that is a pain in the rear to take care of and gets in the way of her doing things she wants to do. Not at all the sort of description that I usually see of women (or a teenage girl in this case) in fiction written by men.