Spoiler Alert–It Was Murder

This human skull, found in a Romanian cave in 1941, is estimated to be about 33,000 years old. As you can notice from the picture, there are several cracks and fractures in the skull, which led researchers to wonder how they got there.

Cioclovina Man Skull
Cioclovina Man Skull

Were the fractures the result of some natural process, such as a cave in? Could the miners who found the skull have inadvertently caused the damage through explosives or mishandling? Or do the fractures tell a more sinister tale of murder?

And the answer is probably the latter.

“The distinctive [circular] depressed fracture found on the right side of the skull is unquestionably evidence that the person was struck with a blunt object, which directly implies a human agent,” says Kranioti.

Fragments of bone flecked backwards into the skull, indicating Cioclovina man was facing his attacker head-on. This is further evidence against the theory that he was killed from falling cave roof debris, the authors say.

The team then experimentally recreated the blow using artificial skulls filled with ballistic gelatin. They tested several scenarios, including falls, blows with a rock, and blows with a baseball bat to different locations. The fracture patterns found on Cioclovina man’s skull strongly resembled what happened when the artificial skulls were hit twice with a round, club-like object while against the ground.

“The linear fracture happened first and could have been either a result of a person falling from their own height – while running from someone, for example – or a result of a strike while kneeling or being on the ground,” says Kranioti.

The second fracture is clearly a result of violence, she says.

“Which means that, in modern terms, if I had to define the cause and matter of death as a forensic pathologist I would say that the person died of craniocerebral injuries (as the brain would also have been damaged from the blows) and that it was homicide.”

Lesley Stahl Interview With Last Surviving Nuremberg Prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz

This entire 60 Minutes interview with Benjamin Ferencz is well worth watching.

Lesley Stahl: We’ve had Rwanda, we’ve had Bosnia. You’re not getting very far.

Benjamin Ferencz: Well, don’t say that. People get discouraged. They should remember, from me, it takes courage not to be discouraged.

Lesley Stahl: Did anybody ever say that you’re naive?

Benjamin Ferencz: Of course. Some people say I’m crazy.

Lesley Stahl: Are you naive here?

Benjamin Ferencz: Well, if it’s naive to want peace instead of war, let ’em make sure they say I’m naive. Because I want peace instead of war. If they tell me they want war instead of peace, I don’t say they’re naive, I say they’re stupid. Stupid to an incredible degree to send young people out to kill other young people they don’t even know, who never did anybody any harm, never harmed them. That is the current system. I am naive? That’s insane.

Tommy Dreamer Once Contemplated a Murder-Suicide of Paul Heyman at WrestleMania

Look, I think it is great that we are at a point where people can openly talk about their mental health issues. I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for much of my adult life, for example, and I am pleased that this is something I can talk about openly now rather than feeling compelled to completely hide it from, say, my employer.

But at the same time, it is probably not a good idea to openly discuss how you once planned to murder someone at a public event and then commit suicide. A simple “I was in a really bad place in 2001, and a call from Jim Ross really made all the difference” was probably all Tommy Dreamer needed to say here.

“I remember I did a show there, and I saw a sign that said, ‘Guns Welcome,’ and I was in Houston,” Dreamer said, according to Uproxx. “I did an indie show, and I said, ‘What is this?’ I’m from New York, what do you mean, ‘Guns Welcome’? And they said, ‘Oh, you are allowed to bring a firearm into the venue.’ I was across the street from the Astrodome. When I tell you it resonated in my head so, so much.

“That I’ll tell you what I wanted to do. It’s sick that I think this. At WrestleMania, I was gonna hop the rail and I was gonna whack Paul E. in the back of the head right at the announce table, then I was gonna whack myself. The ultimate martyr, I was gonna hit my pose crack, boom, pull the trigger. Because I was that insane. Don’t know if I would have went through with it, but that’s what I was thinking about every day. I was like, ‘I will go down in history.’ Pop, boom. First they’d think it was an angle until I shot him. I was so severely depressed and so mental with rage, I needed help.”

A well-timed phone call from Ross helped save Dreamer from the terrifying plan.

“Randomly I get a phone call from a number I didn’t know … I didn’t pick up,” said Dreamer, who now owns the House of Hardcore promotion. “I remember having these thoughts, and it was bad. I had a gun, I was psssh, man. Could you think about the horribleness that I would have done for my legacy? I would have ruined WrestleMania, which I love, WrestleMania. For everybody. These thoughts were so, so crazed in my head. How dare that person, he screwed my parents over and I come from a mobster mentality. In my head I was like, ‘I would become infamous,’ which is famous for the wrong reason. I’m glad I didn’t do it.

“But when that phone call came from Jim Ross. Again, just said leave a message. It said, ‘Hey Tommy, it’s Jim Ross, just want to let you know we are still thinking about you, we are gonna get it done, just got to hang tight. Thank you.’”

There Is No Threat To Free Speech–It Is Just That Some Debates Shouldn’t Be Allowed

Writing for The Guardian, Martha Gill shows exactly how not to make a convincing case that claims that free speech is endangered on college campuses are overblown.

But is free speech really under threat? The first thing to say is that the scale of the problem in universities has been exaggerated. The practice of denying people speaking slots over their views has rightly caused concern, but every single instance has also attracted vast coverage in national papers, giving the impression of an epidemic. They are not reflective of the feelings of most students.

. . .

Free speech advocates also misunderstand the motivation of those who might want to shut down a debate: they see this as a surefire mark of intolerance. But some debates should be shut down. For public dialogue to make any progress, it is important to recognise when a particular debate has been won and leave it there.

Even the most passionate free speech advocate might not wish to reopen the debate into whether women should be tried for witchcraft, or whether ethnic minorities should be allowed to go to university, or whether the Earth is flat. No-platformers are not scared – they simply think certain debates are over. You may disagree, but it does not mean they are against free speech.

It is not that some people are against free speech, but rather that some people think some speech simply should not be allowed. Got it.

Android’s SMS & Call Log Restrictions

For several years now, I and a lot of other Android users have used the free, open source app SMS Backup+ to backup call logs and text messages. What made SMS Backup+ such a great app is that not only did it do traditional backups, but it also allowed users to push the call log to Google Calendar and send every SMS to a GMail account, with custom tagging.

But SMS Backup+ is about to become a casualty of Google’s efforts to better protect its users’ privacy–efforts which often seem to also be aimed at further closing what was once a much more open ecosystem than its competitors (and one of the things that attracted many users to Android rather than iOS).

Google has been burned repeatedly by Android malware that is able to access SMS and call logs, and use that to spy on users or exploit that ability to defraud users.

In an effort to better protect users, Google decided to limit which apps can access SMS and Call Log permissions.

Google Play restricts the use of high risk or sensitive permissions, including the SMS or Call Log permission groups.

If your app does not require access to Call Log or SMS permissions, you must remove these permissions from your app’s manifest. Details on policy compliant alternative implementation are also detailed below.

If you believe your app meets the policy requirements for acceptable use or is eligible for an exception, you should declare any Call Log or SMS permissions directly through the Play Console.

Apps that fail to meet policy requirements or submit a Declaration Form may be removed from Google Play.

. . .

For apps requesting access to the SMS or Call Log permissions, the intended and permitted uses include default SMS handling, default phone handling, or Assistant handling capability.

Apps must be actively registered as the default SMS, Phone, or Assistant handler before prompting users to accept any of the above permissions and must immediately stop the use of the permission when they no longer are the default handler.

Notice that backing up SMS or Call Logs, much less pushing SMS message into something like GMail is not on the list of “intended and permitted uses.” I assume Google wants users who wish to maintain backups up SMS messages to use its own Android backup services rather than rely on third party tools. That’s one less security headache for Google, presumably.

The developer of SMS Backup+, Jan Berkel, says he did apply for an exception to the new policy, but was denied,

Hello everyone. I’m sorry about this situation, SMS Backup+ will no longer have access to Gmail, mainly because it’s not an email reading app.

I applied for an exception but it was declined, as expected. Vanilla IMAP might work, but for how long I wonder. And it’s very tricky to set up for a casual user. Unfortunately the Android platform is getting more and more closed.

I’m not sure what to do at this point, either remove the app from the store or release a new version which removes the automatic account setup, since that is broken / will be broken soon.

There are still ways to get backups of SMS and Call Logs and push them to Google Calendar or Gmail, but these will require a lot more technical savvy and effort on the part of users. And even those workarounds may soon be on the Google chopping block.

And with that, a highly useful app that likely had hundreds of thousands of users will disappear and, with it, the functionality that those users found helpful.