WSJ: How Your Returns Are Used Against You at Best Buy, Other Retailers.

Are you used to ordering two or three of something, in order to guarantee you receive the correct size/shape/color/construction? Well, there's an outfit companies are using called Retail Equation to score you for your returns. Seriously. You may not be able to read this (WSJ paywall), so here's International Business Times as well.

Return a couple of things, you may find yourself locked out of making returns at all. You should be able to find this status out before you purchase, but there's a secret database involved. I've talked before about buying lenses, and needing to make a return if you get a bad copy. The above service could make this an untenable strategy for lens purchasing. I'll be asking retailers if they use that, or any similar service, before ordering. You should, too.

All in all, I find this pretty outrageous. I'm ready to pack up and live in the wilderness somewhere.

I expect the next thing will be sensors in appliances. If it registers a clunk, you get scored for 'appliance abuse' ...

In These Times: While Democrats Call for Gun Control at Home, They Push Deadly Arms Deals Abroad.

As we have seen time and time and time again, U.S. arms shipments to Libya and Syria have “fallen into the hands” of jihadists groups. Even setting aside the billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets the United States sells to human-rights abusing countries, the flooding of arms into warzones, regardless of how noble the intentions may be, frequently ends up fueling groups the U.S. State Department itself deems “terrorists.”

Covering old ground again! I'm getting terribly tired of pointing out that since Gulf War I, our military-industrial complex has been too gleeful with weapons sales, to a level not seen in previous decades. Look at anyone branded as 'terrorist' in the news, and they're more likely today to be carrying an American-made weapon than ever before. Used to be all you saw was old Mosin-Nagants and AK-47's. Now you see way too many AR-15 variants. Ever thought about it? You should. 

Slate: It’s time to show the carnage of mass shootings.

This will be touchy. I don't expect agreement with my views. I grew up in the '60's, and I used to actively avoid the evening news. Once we got a color television, that is. All the reports from Vietnam - Jesus, they were traumatic. My child's mind remembers two things very distinctly: the green of the jungle contrasted with the gallons of red clotting blood. Every. Night. Over the years, it had a significant deterrent effect. Even the most hardened conservative veterans questioned the goals of the war by 1969 (in my hearing, anyway).

But today, we live on the other side of the 'minicam' revolution of the '70's, when earnest video crews would go out with their 60 pound reel-to-reel rigs and film the latest murders and car accidents in full Technicolor. Even more, now, today, we're soaked in the blood and gore of video games, wholesome families watching crime procedurals while eating dinner (frequently featuring gooey corpse dissections) ...

Would viewing any of yesterday's carnage have an effect on public opinion? I have a very sad suspicion it would not. I fear most that some will find it entertaining and enjoyable. Likewise surveillance footage; some would enjoy critiquing his strategy, and want to improve upon it.

So while I appreciate the idea and the goal of showing the carnage, the world is a different place nowadays. I don't think this would be the most effective method of changing people's minds and getting Congress off their fat butts.

Which brings me around to a bit of tangential trivia, since I mentioned Vietnam. Have you ever seen the memorial to Thích Quảng Đức, the Buddhist priest who immolated himself in a Saigon intersection? He generated more opposition to the war - worldwide - than anyone else, even though his opposition was to religious persecution. It is a beautiful and fitting piece of sculpture. I honor his sacrifice, as I will honor those who will involuntarily be sacrificed before America wakes up and climbs to higher moral ground.

Because you know there will be more. There is no tipping point for Republicans today; if they can rationalize Trump, they can rationalize mass murder. We have to take this on at the local level, starting at the schools and school boards, and work up. We get the culture we allow.

Quartz: How Tristan Harris, an ex-Google ethicist wants to design tech to make our kids less addicted to it.

Of note. And his site. "Never before in history have such a small number of designers – a handful of young, mostly male engineers, living in the Bay Area of California, working at a handful of tech companies – had such a large influence on two billion people’s thoughts and choices."

Federation of American Scientists: 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

New stance: Nuke response for non-nuclear aggression. "The review also creates a new category of cases in which the United States would consider use of nuclear weapons — 'significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,' to include attacks on 'civilian population or infrastructure'".

This is way, way too open for interpretation.