Riley Howell

He kept charging. A bullet to the torso did not stop Riley Howell. A second bullet to the body did not prevent him from reaching his goal and hurling himself at the gunman who opened fire last week inside a classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The third bullet came as Mr. Howell was inches from the gunman, who fired at point-blank range into his head.

. . . He tackled the gunman so forcefully that the suspect complained to first responders after his arrest of internal injuries, the parents said the authorities told them.

. . . . .

“The chief said no one was shot after Riley body-slammed him,” said his mother, Natalie Henry-Howell.

Riley Howell’s Parents Say He Was Shot 3 Times While Tackling the U.N.C. Charlotte Gunman

A life cut short, but a final act of astonishing courage and sacrifice.

I hope to die as well as Riley Howell. I hope to die as well as Riley Howell. I hope to die as well as Riley Howell. RIP.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt again

Sophie Gilbert, writing for The Atlantic:

What seems hopeful, though, is that it will be rebuilt, because the history of sacred structures is defined by exactly this cycle of ruin and repair. Cathedrals in Europe are palimpsests, built and rebuilt on the same sites over thousands of years: They bear additions and repairs—and sometimes total reconstruction—by countless hands. Notre Dame, for example, is believed to have been put up on the original site of a temple to Jupiter. Four separate churches predated its consecration, and all were destroyed, or demolished, before the cornerstone for Notre Dame was laid in the springtime of 1163, 856 years ago. Notre Dame’s spire, the one that burned on Monday, was added in the 19th century, replacing the original, which had been weakened by the elements over the course of 500 years.

Notre-Dame Isn’t Lost

Notre Dame is a symbol, and a collection of old materials, and most importantly, a sacred space. It exists because generations of humans have attached meaning to its enclosure. And like all physical things, it will crumble and decay. It has before, and it will again. But we keep rebuilding. And that is its meaning.

If you want to feel what is special about Notre Dame, feel the collective pain of watching it burn, and the collective determination to make it whole again. It is not the ancient wood or stone that imbues it with meaning or emotionality. It is this determination to reflect on our collective past and strive again to preserve the sacred space for ourselves and our children. The cycle of destruction and construction is both inevitable and human.

The Onion, of course, makes this point in its own special way.

Notre Dame was built, destroyed, and rebuilt over the course of hundreds of years, and we will rebuild it again, only to watch it decay once more, for indeed that is its fate, as it is the fate of all of man’s works. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, we will endeavor to fix the cathedral despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, in a world which demonstrates time and time again that there is nothing real to be found in worshipping the ersatz edifices that serve as a sorry facsimile of any real human connection.

Paris Vows To Rebuild Notre Dame Despite Cosmic Absurdity Of Seeking Inherent Meaning In Fleeting Creations Of Man

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. But Notre Dame is special because it is powerful evidence that we keep trying, and we always will. Notre Dame retains its meaning, especially now.

It’s not hard to find criminals on Facebook

Over and over again, researchers have documented easily found groups of hackers and scammers offering their services on Facebook pages. Researchers at Cisco Talos just documented this again:

In all, Talos has compiled a list of 74 groups on Facebook whose members promised to carry out an array of questionable cyber dirty deeds, including the selling and trading of stolen bank/credit card information, the theft and sale of account credentials from a variety of sites, and email spamming tools and services. In total, these groups had approximately 385,000 members.

These Facebook groups are quite easy to locate for anyone possessing a Facebook account. A simple search for groups containing keywords such as “spam,” “carding,” or “CVV” will typically return multiple results. Of course, once one or more of these groups has been joined, Facebook’s own algorithms will often suggest similar groups, making new criminal hangouts even easier to find.

Hiding in Plain Sight

They aren’t even hiding, and Facebook’s automated systems helpfully suggest other criminals you might also like. This is a serious problem for all big online communities. YouTube recently had to deal with disgusting child exploitation issues that its algorithms helped create as well.

Most services complain that it is hard to stamp out destructive behavior. (But see Pinterest.) Yet when their own algorithms are grouping and recommending similar content, it seems that automatically addressing this is well within their technical capabilities. Criminal services should not be openly advertised on Facebook. But apparently there’s no incentive to do anything about it. Cue the regulators.

Asteroid Horror Plot

Turns out blowing up asteroids might not be such a great idea because, like the Terminator 2, they rebuild themselves:

As time went on, the gravitational pull of the asteroid’s resilient core was able to pull back ejected shards. It seems that asteroids don’t just absorb mind-boggling amounts of damage, but, as previous work has hinted, they also are able to rebuild themselves.

If We Blow Up an Asteroid, It Might Put Itself Back Together

The best strategy seems to be deflection. Isn’t that a pretty good general principle?

Happy Friday!

Death, honesty, and protection

Brutal and touching:

We decided not to tell the kids. Marla knew that once our three daughters understood that their mother had been given 1,000 days to live, they’d start counting.

They would not be able to enjoy school, friends, their teams, or birthday parties. They’d be watching too closely—how she looked, moved, acted, ate, or didn’t. Marla wanted her daughters to stay children: unburdened, confident that tomorrow would look like yesterday.

My Wife Was Dying, and We Didn’t Tell Our Children

The entire article is worth reading. In addition to being a touching portrait of Jon Mehlman’s relationship with his wife, and her relationship with their children, it’s a provocative exploration of whether or when kids and other family need to know the whole truth.