30 December 2019

Autocorrect Changed "Biden" to "Buffoon".

I am beginning to think that the predictive AI on my phone's keyboard is better than I originally thought, because, it was when I was forwarding a story about how Biden is open to having a Republican as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Seriously, this guy is living in a complete delusion, and if anyone thinks that he can beat Donald Trump by sh%$ting on the party and ignoring what the Republican party has become, they are as delusional as Joe is:
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said on Monday he would consider choosing a Republican running mate if he is the party’s nominee next year.

However, even as he raised the possibility of a Republican running mate while speaking to a crowd at a campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire, Biden said, “But I can’t think of one right now.”

Biden has premised much of his presidential bid on appealing to moderate Democrats, independents and Republicans who have been alienated by President Donald Trump. On the campaign trail, Biden has regularly spoken about the need to work with Republicans in Congress should he prevail in the November 2020 general election.

In response to a question by an attendee at the event, Biden elaborated on his answer, contending that Trump’s party has not done enough to hold the president accountable. “There are some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here’s the problem right now,” he said. “They’ve got to step up.”
He really believes this sh%$, and the country cannot afford to have 2 delusional Presidents in a row.

29 December 2019

Will Wonders Never Cease

I am on the flight, and for the first time for me in literally decades, the flight is only less than half full.

This means that Sharon and I have a row to ourselves.

The flight might not be the usual agony.


Heading to the Airport

My wife and I are heading to Memphis for a week.

It's a combination 25th anniversary trip,*, and a visit with her mom, who had a health event, and is in a nursing home facility down there.

We should be on our way to the airport now.

*Stunned that she has not murdered me yet.  She has had plenty of justification.

28 December 2019

The Bedbug at "All the News That's Fit to Print" Endorses Eugenics

I am referring, of course, to Brett Stephens, who is now claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are genetically more intelligent, at least a bit:
Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different.
Seriously, between Brett Stephens and Bari Weiss, I'm beginning to wonder if the Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet is literally trying to find the most contemptible Jews possible to become regular columnists.

Seriously, as a human being and an American, I find Stephens an embarrassment, and as a Jew, I find him a Shanda fur die Goyim.*

*Yiddish for a, "Shame before the nations," meaning that this person is an embarrassment to the whole Jewish people.

Quote of the Day

It’s vulgar to say this, but it’s may be true that we learn less about the materialist politics of academic writing by reading it — and some of it can be famously obscure; Butler was the winner of a Bad Writing contest in 1998 — than by looking up the author in the Federal Elections Commission records.
—Liza Featherstone writing in Jacobin
The article notes how many radical leftist academics are donating to conservative Democrats.

Academe is not an environment that rewards forthright personal statements, so I agree with Ms. Featherstone, this says more about the academics listed than does their writings.

After Major Sh%$-Storm, Biden Clarifies

In an interview with the Des Moins Register, Joe Biden said that he would defy a Senate subpoena as a part of the impeachment investigation.

After his statement exploded, Biden "clarified" that he WOULD comply with any Senate subpoena, but he would call them out on their bullsh%$:
The shadow of impeachment clouded Joe Biden's trip through eastern Iowa on Saturday after the former vice president confirmed he would defy a congressional subpoena if he didn't believe there was a legal rationale behind it.

Biden told the Des Moines Register's editorial board Friday he would not comply with a Senate subpoena during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. It confirmed a statement he made in an interview with NPR earlier in the month.

He began the day Saturday clarifying those remarks on Twitter before making appearances in Tipton, Washington and Fairfield.

"I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests," Biden tweeted. "But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial."
Seriously, Biden basically sold the entire impeachment effort down the river, and when it blew up, he "Clarified."

This is, for a lack of a better term, pure malarkey.

27 December 2019

Unfortunately, Ajit Pai Will Police This Law

Part of the recent appropriations bill passed by Congress is the The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019, which forbids a whole host of cable company rat-f%$#ery:
For a decade we've talked about how the broadband and cable industry has perfected the use of utterly bogus fees to jack up subscriber bills -- a dash of financial creativity it adopted from the banking and airline industries. Countless cable and broadband companies tack on a myriad of completely bogus fees below the line, letting them advertise one rate -- then sock you with a higher rate once your bill actually arrives. These companies will then brag repeatedly about how they haven't raised rates yet this year, when that's almost never actually the case.

………

But something quietly shifted just before the holidays. After a longstanding campaign by Consumer Reports, The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 passed the House and the Senate last week buried inside a giant appropriations bill that now awaits President Trump’s signature.

The bill bans ISPs from charging you extra to rent hardware you already own (something ISPs like Frontier have been doing without penalty for a few years). It also forces cable TV providers to send an itemized list of any fees and other surcharges to new customers within 24 hours of signing up for service, and allows users shocked by the higher price to cancel service without penalty.

The bill's not perfect. Because of the act itself it largely only applies to cable TV, not broadband service where the problem is just as bad. And cable TV providers can still falsely advertise a lower rate, thanks to what appears to be some last minute lobbying magic on the part of the cable TV sector:

………

The trick now will be enforcement by a government and FCC that has routinely shown it's entirely cool with industry repeatedly ripping consumers off with bullsh%$ fees to the tune of around $28 billion annually:
Unfortunately, under current FCC management, I expect that the resulting regulation will render this meaningless.

I honestly that Pai may be the most venal and corrupt member of the Trump administration, though that concept truly buggers the mind.

F%$# Me. I Agree with Governor Andrew "Rat Faced Andy" Cuomo


To be fair, it appears that Cuomo did so in a fit of pique, and not out of any sense of good governance or the public weal:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have made electric scooters and bikes legal in the state, citing the lack of a mandatory helmet requirement and other safety concerns. The veto means e-bikes and e-scooters will continue to remain technically illegal across the state, and will further delay any adoption of popular (if polarizing) shared mobility services like Lime or Bird.

The bill to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters was passed in June with overwhelming support, clearing the state Senate by a 56-6 margin and the state Assembly by a 137-4 margin. But state lawmakers reportedly waited to send the bill to Cuomo until this week out of concern that he would try to stand in the way of the proposal. Cuomo has voiced support for legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters in the past, but reportedly soured on the bill after he was criticized by one of its co-sponsors earlier this year.
Which means that Cuomo has exercised a pocket veto, and it appears that it's all down to political score settling.
While the bill would have broadly legalized both modes of transportation across the state, it was also designed to give cities control over e-bike and e-scooter sharing services. Cities would have been allowed to use permits as a tool to control the influx of these sharing companies, which would help prevent them from being inundated like some other cities around the world. It also would have given these local governments leverage to help negotiate their own regulations around shared e-scooters and e-bikes.
If there is a lesson from Lime and Bird, it is that the promise of strong regulation is a mirage.  They will subvert and ignore any regulations, and lobby aggressively for a get out of jail free card.

Cuomo have have done the right thing for the wrong reason, but in the case of Rat Faced Andy, this is probably the best you could get.

Linkage


Dear Satan, An Animated Short About a Girl Who Accidentally Writes Letter to Satan Instead of Santa: (Narrated by Patrick Stewart)


26 December 2019

Welcome to the Post Antibiotic World

The perverse incentives of our drug exclusivity regime looks to result in the collapse of antibiotic research and development, because, unlike things like cholesterol and diabetes meds, antibiotics are only taken for a few days, so the profits are not there to get financing for drug development.

The pharmaceutical industry will demand higher prices, extended exclusivity periods, and other subsidies.

I will suggest reducing the subsidies on drugs for chronic conditions, which is what pulls money from antibiotics.

Also, ban antibiotic use in livestock, which contributes to the evolution of antibiotic strains of microbes:
At a time when germs are growing more resistant to common antibiotics, many companies that are developing new versions of the drugs are hemorrhaging money and going out of business, gravely undermining efforts to contain the spread of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria.

………

Experts say the grim financial outlook for the few companies still committed to antibiotic research is driving away investors and threatening to strangle the development of new lifesaving drugs at a time when they are urgently needed.

“This is a crisis that should alarm everyone,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

The problem is straightforward: The companies that have invested billions to develop the drugs have not found a way to make money selling them. Most antibiotics are prescribed for just days or weeks — unlike medicines for chronic conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that have been blockbusters — and many hospitals have been unwilling to pay high prices for the new therapies. Political gridlock in Congress has thwarted legislative efforts to address the problem.

The challenges facing antibiotic makers come at time when many of the drugs designed to vanquish infections are becoming ineffective against bacteria and fungi, as overuse of the decades-old drugs has spurred them to develop defenses against the medicines.

Drug-resistant infections now kill 35,000 people in the United States each year and sicken 2.8 million, according a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last month. Without new therapies, the United Nations says the global death toll could soar to 10 million by 2050.

………

Public health experts say the crisis calls for government intervention. Among the ideas that have wide backing are increased reimbursements for new antibiotics, federal funding to stockpile drugs effective against resistant germs and financial incentives that would offer much needed aid to start-ups and lure back the pharmaceutical giants. Despite bipartisan support, legislation aimed at addressing the problem has languished in Congress.

“If this doesn’t get fixed in the next six to 12 months, the last of the Mohicans will go broke and investors won’t return to the market for another decade or two,” said Chen Yu, a health care venture capitalist who has invested in the field.
Well, Chen Yu would say that, wouldn't he?

He's in the business of extracting money from monopoly rents and subsidies, so he is calling for additional monopoly rents and subsides.

What he really wants is this times 10:
Many of the new drugs are not cheap, at least when compared to older generics that can cost a few dollars a pill. A typical course of Xerava, a newly approved antibiotic that targets multi-drug-resistant infections, can cost as much as $2,000.
The problem is that no one can see beyond the for-profit model, looting, and subsidies:
Some of the sector’s biggest players have coalesced around a raft of interventions and incentives that would treat antibiotics as a global good. They include extending the exclusivity for new antibiotics to give companies more time to earn back their investments and creating a program to buy and store critical antibiotics much the way the federal government stockpiles emergency medication for possible pandemics or bioterror threats like anthrax and smallpox.
The solution to this is, dare I say it? Socialism.

As opposed to government subsidies, government ownership.

Not Enough Bullets

After running a transparent scam, and engaging in some of the most egregious self-dealing that has not ended up inside a criminal court ever, Adam Neumann’s looks set to make millions more in addition to his $1.6 billion payout from Softbank to eject him from WeWork:
WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, who left the lossmaking office-space provider with a $1.6bn exit package, could earn hundreds of millions of dollars more under an agreement struck with the company and its top shareholder in October, according to documents reviewed by the Financial Times and people briefed on the matter.

The deal revised the terms of a class of shares held by Mr Neumann — known as profits interests — that were created by the company’s complex restructuring this year and had little value after plans for a WeWork initial public offering fell apart.

But a future flotation — even at a valuation significantly lower than the company was seeking this summer — could result in Mr Neumann receiving hundreds of millions of dollars if he sells the stake.

In October, a month after Mr Neumann stepped down as chief executive, he agreed with WeWork and SoftBank, its biggest investor, to forfeit some of his profits interests, while receiving improved terms for his remaining stake, positioning him for future gains.
Seriously, if we have the space in prisons to lock up some low level junky for decades, why can't Neumann get a couple of years?

Seriously?


The man is indicted for corruption, he is clearly the most toxic person in Israeli politics, but still Likud cannot see beyond him.

That is profoundly sad:
Benjamin Netanyahu has won a landslide victory in a primary election for leadership of the ruling Likud party in Israel.

Official results announced early on Friday showed Netanyahu capturing 72% of the votes, compared with 28% for challenger Gideon Saar. Earlier, Netanyahu had declared a huge victory following an exit poll that put him on course for more than 70% of the vote.

The prime minister, head of Likud for the past 14 years, retained the famously loyal rightwing party’s leadership in the internal ballot, despite battling three damning corruption indictments.
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

Deep Thought

Trump's fundraising for Senators who are jurors in his impeachment trial may qualify for bribery under federal statutes.

While Pelosi is waiting for the impeachment rules from McConnell, maybe she should start investigating that, and demand that the Senators in question recuse themselves.

(On Edit)

Actually, instead  of calling on the Senators to recuse themselves, they, and their staff, should be called by the House as witnesses.

25 December 2019

According to the Customs of My People

Today, we engaged in a Jewish tradition from time immemorial, we had Chinese food, and went to a movie.

Actually, we saw 2 movies.

What follows is a spoiler free, and hence vague, review.

Last night, we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA) on pay-per-view, (we also had Chinese food), and tonite, we saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (RoS) in a movie theater.   (also Chinese food)

They were both decent movies, but I much preferred TFA to RoS.

I could consider TFA to be the 3rd best of the Star War movies, though I was never able to sit through the first two of the prequels.

TFA was self-aware, actually commenting the Star Wars mythology and conventions, and it was true to the characters, and the plot, while possessing some holes, was relatively coherent.

Also, there was what is arguably the least subtle anti-fascist message of any of the films in the series.  (Anti-fascism is IMHO a common throughout the series)

Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who was introduced in TFA, was firmly relegated to the background in RoS, probably as a result of the Twitter sh%$-storm from alt-right fanboi after TFA.

Also, as befits J.J. Abrams, he directed the RoS but not TFA there was a big Chekhov's gun* violation.

In both movies, the performances of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver's performance was better, though I think, particularly in RoS that it served to highlight some of the shortcomings of the script.

Mark Hamill's performance in TFA, largely playing the role of sensei from many Japanese Samurai movies, is arguably his best performance in a Star Wars movie.

Carrie Fisher's performance in TFA was good, but that might be colored by her death following filming, and in RoS, her performance was a combination of archival footage and possibly CGI.

Of the supporting characters, the best performance was probably that of Kerri Russell in RoS, who did so either fully or partially masked, and the always entertaining Benicio Del Toro in TFA.

*Chekhov's gun (Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed; elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play.

24 December 2019

Headline of the Day

NYPD Says It Was ‘Stabbed in the Back’ Because Voters Won’t Let Them Lie and Kill With Impunity
The Root
The New York Police Union is losing its sh%$ because the review board will now have the power to investigate whether or not police officers lie to it.

This is proof positive that civilian review boards need more more power.


Unleashing the Power of the Private Sector

It turns out that putting Medicaid under private management in Iowa has tripled the price increases compared to previous years.

The private sector is to the efficient administration of healthcare what Ebola is to French kissing:
The average cost of insuring an Iowan on Medicaid has climbed nearly three times as fast since the state hired private companies to manage the program, when compared to the previous six years, new state figures show.

Since fiscal 2017, the first full year of privatization, the per-member cost of Iowa's Medicaid program has risen an average of 4.4 percent per year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. In the previous six years, the per-member cost rose an average of 1.5 percent per year, the agency said.

The new cost figures come amid continuing controversy over whether Iowa should have hired private companies to run the $5 billion program. The shift’s supporters said it would slow growth in health care spending on the more than 600,000 poor or disabled Iowans covered by Medicaid.

The Legislative Services Agency compiled the new cost increase figures from past budget reports published by the Department of Human Services, which oversees Medicaid.

………

The Medicaid cost increases for this fiscal year are partly driven by an 8.4 percent raise the Iowa Department of Human Services agreed last month to give the two managed-care companies running the program. That raise, which includes state and federal tax dollars, will send $344 million more to Amerigroup and United Healthcare this fiscal year, which runs through June 2019.
So, spending millions of dollars on private management don't end up saving money.

Hoocoodanode?

I Can't Even………

I always knew that Mike Bloomberg was a sanctimonious self-important piece of sh%$, but even I could imagine that his campaign would use prison labor to make phone calls.

Even if you don't have a problem with the morality of using prison labor, and I do, the reckless stupidity of doing so in the Democratic Party primary, were even the most squishy Democrats want to signal virtue, positively buggers the mind.

From a non political perspective, giving prisoners a list of people with enough money, and the  profound lack of common sense required to donate to Mike Bloomberg, seems to be problematic as well:
Former New York City mayor and multibillionaire Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg used prison labor to make campaign calls. Through a third-party vendor, the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign contracted New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, which runs calls centers in New Jersey and Oklahoma. Two of the call centers in Oklahoma are operated out of state prisons. In at least one of the two prisons, incarcerated people were contracted to make calls on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign.

According to a source, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, people incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security women’s prison with a capacity of more than 900, were making calls to California on behalf of Bloomberg. The people were required to end their calls by disclosing that the calls were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign. They did not disclose, however, that they were calling from behind bars.
This is the most Mike Bloomberg thing ever.

23 December 2019

I Want this Book

A cache of ancient Jewish recipes dating back to the inquisition has been found in Miami.

It has been published, and I want a copy:
A few years ago, Genie Milgrom came across a treasure trove of old recipes stashed away in her elderly mother’s kitchen drawers. There were hundreds of them — some in tattered notebooks, others scribbled on crumbling scraps of paper.

Upon closer examination, it became apparent to Milgrom that these were the handwritten notations of generations of women in her family. The recipes had traveled as an intact, ever-growing collection from Spain to Portugal to Cuba to the United States, reflecting not only the lives of Milgrom’s ancestors, but also the hidden heritage they had for the most part unknowingly safeguarded since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Milgrom, who grew up devoutly Roman Catholic in Havana and Miami, has Crypto-Jewish roots. Her ancestors were Jews who practiced Judaism in secret while outwardly living as Christians to avoid being expelled, tortured, or killed by the Church. They were Crypto-Jews until the late 17th century, and lived as Catholics from then on. Through a decade-long, intense genealogical search, Milgrom discovered that she has an unbroken Jewish maternal lineage going back 22 generations to 1405 pre-Inquisition Spain and Portugal.

Her new kosher cookbook, “Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers: Unique Recipes and Stories from the Times of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition,” is a tribute to those female relatives who repressed or forgot their Jewish identity over hundreds of years, but managed to preserve vestiges of it through their food.
This is is awesome.

Get Your Archeology Geek On

Archeologist have unearthed a remarkable Mycenaean royal tomb:
Archaeologists recently discovered two magnificent 3,500-year-old royal tombs in the shadow of the palace of the legendary King Nestor of Pylos. It's not clear exactly who the tombs' owners were, but their contents—gold and bronze, amber from the Baltic, amethyst from Egypt, and carnelian from the Arabian Peninsula and India—suggest wealth, power, and far-flung trade connections in the Bronze Age world. And the images engraved on many of those artifacts may eventually help us better understand the Mycenaean culture that preceded classical Greece.

Tombs fit for royalty

The larger tomb is 12m (36 feet) wide and 4.5 meters (15 feet) deep, and stone walls would once have stood that height again above ground. Domes once covered the underground chambers, but the roofs and upper walls have long since collapsed, burying the tombs beneath thousands of melon-sized stones and a tangle of grape vines. University of Cincinnati archaeologists Jack Davis, Sharon Stocker, and their colleagues had to clear away vegetation and then remove the stones by hand.

"It was like going back to the Mycenaean period," Stocker said. "They had placed them by hand in the walls of the tomb, and we were taking them out by hand. It was a lot of work."

Beneath the rubble, gold leaf litters the burial pits' floors in gleaming flakes; once, it lined the walls and floors of the chambers. The tombs don't appear to have contained the remains of the their occupants (there's some evidence that the tombs were disturbed in the distant past), but they were interred with jewelry and other opulent artifacts of gold, bronze, and gemstones, as well as a commanding view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Kewl!

The Saudis Should Have Hired Claude Rains to Make the Announcement

Round up the usual suspects
Because the recent convictions in the Jamal Kashoggi murder is literally a round up the usual suspects moment.

This is the most an egregious scapegoating that I've seen in a very long time:
Saudi Arabia on Monday sentenced five people to death and three to jail over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but a U.N. investigator accused it of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of last year’s killing to go free.

A Saudi court rejected the findings of a U.N. inquiry by ruling that the killing was not premeditated, but carried out “at the spur of the moment”. Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al-Shalaan said the court dismissed charges against three of the 11 people tried, finding them not guilty.

………

The source said the five men condemned to death were essentially foot soldiers in the killing, while two senior security officials acquitted played a more significant role.

………

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, said the trial verdict was a “mockery” of justice.

“The hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial,” she said on Twitter.
Yeah, but no one cares, because the Saudis have all that oil.

And the Inevitable Defenestration………

Boeing has fired its CEO Dennis Muilenburg for the recent chain of disasters that have beset the company.

The problem is not Muilenberg though, it's the whole company, which has moved to a finance driven clusterf%$#.

I'm wondering if Boeing will be facing a government bailout, like Lockheed did in the 1970s.

This is not a company that has had setbacks, this is a company that has completely lost its way.

The Navy's Quest to Eliminate Sailors is a Threat to the National Security

It turns out that the the collision between the USS John S. McCain Alnic MC in the Straits of in August 2017 was largely an artifact of the new navigation that the Navy had installed to reduce crewing.

This is not a surprise.  The US Navy has aggressively attempted to reduce crewing in an attempt to free up money for the latest and (not so much) greatest tech.

For example, the 16,000 ton Zumwalts have a crew of 175, (it was originally supposed to be less than 100), and the previous 9,000 ton Burke DDGs have a crew of 350.

The Zumwalts have nonfunctional guns, have suffered repeated breakdowns, and, given the parsimonious crewing, probably has a glass jaw.

And now, the Navy's fetish has equipped the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, which work, albeit with a lot of sailors, are crippled by the automated steering system they have installed:
Dakota Bordeaux had rarely traveled outside his home state of Oklahoma before he joined the Navy in February 2017. He’d certainly never seen the ocean.

But only four months later, Bordeaux was standing at the helm of the USS John S. McCain, steering the 8,300-ton destroyer through the western Pacific. Part of the Navy’s famed 7th Fleet, the McCain was responsible for patrolling global hot spots, shadowing Chinese warships in the South China Sea and tracking North Korean missile launches.

It filled the high school graduate with pride.

“Not many people of my age can say, ‘Hey, I just drove a giant-ass battleship,’” said Bordeaux, 23.

………

To guide the McCain, Bordeaux relied upon a navigation system the Navy considered a triumph of technology and thrift. It featured slick black touch screens to operate the ship’s wheel and propellers. It knit together information from radars and digital maps. It would save money by requiring fewer sailors to safely steer the ship.

Bordeaux felt confident using the system to control the speed and heading of the ship. But there were many things he did not understand about the array of dials, arrows and data that filled the touch screen.

“There was actually a lot of functions on there that I had no clue what on earth they did,” Bordeaux said of the system.


………

A 19-year Navy veteran, Sanchez had watched as technicians replaced the ship’s traditional steering controls a year earlier with the new navigation system. Almost from the start, it caused him headaches. The system constantly indicated problems with steering. They were mostly false alarms, quickly fixed, but by March 2017, Sanchez’s engineers were calling the system “unstable,” with “multiple and cascading failures regularly.”

………

But a ProPublica examination shows that the Navy pursued prosecutions of the two men even as its investigators and those with the NTSB were learning that the navigation system, if it hadn’t technically malfunctioned, had played a critical role in the deadly outcome in the Pacific.

Its very design, investigators determined, left sailors dangerously vulnerable to making the kinds of operational mistakes that doomed the McCain. The Integrated Bridge and Navigation System, or IBNS, as it was known, was no technical marvel. It was a welter of buttons, gauges and software that, poorly understood and not surprisingly misused, helped guide 10 sailors to their deaths.

Despite its issues, the IBNS operated for years without major incident. Navy sailors did what they have always done: They found ways to make do with an imperfect technology.

The NTSB put it plainly: “The design of the John S McCain’s touch-screen steering and thrust control system,” the board found, “increased the likelihood of the operator errors that led to the collision.”

The Navy investigators, for their part, determined that the system’s “known vulnerabilities” and risks had not been “clearly communicated to the operators on ships with these systems.”


………

In the end, though, the Navy punished its own sailors for failing to master a flawed system that they had been inadequately trained on and that the Navy itself came to admit it did not fully understand.

………

The Navy has committed almost half a billion dollars to build the navigation system and install it on more than 60 destroyers by the end of the next decade — the entire fleet of the tough, stalwart warships that form the backbone of the modern Navy. Yet no one responsible for the development or deployment of the technology has faced any known consequences for the McCain disaster.

A number of current and former Navy officials remain convinced the navigation system should never have been put to use. And they worry about the Navy’s slow pace in installing a new, improved version.

“The IBNS has no place on the bridge of a U.S. destroyer,” said one former senior Navy officer with direct knowledge of the McCain accident. “It’s not designed to have the control that you need to navigate a warship.”
Seriously, our military is increasingly pursuing a path in which combat readiness is a distant second to procurement.

Also, as an aside, the article is a valuable story, but they have jammed it up with Javascript and HTML 5 animations and similar web-bling that it is difficult to read.

Whoever decided on the format needs a stern talking to.

22 December 2019

Hopefully, this means something

It's been pretty obvious for a while that Silicon Valley's tech "Unicorns" have been based on a largely corrupt model, in which venture capitalists buy into a company, and then inflate the value of the initial investment through follow-up funding rounds.
The theory is twofold: That the large amounts of money will push competitors out of nascent markets, and that the mania will generate huge profits for the VCs when they go public, and gullible retail investors flood in.

It has been apparent for a while, Uber, Lyft, Peleton, Endeavor, Slack, and (of course) WeWork have all shown that they have no path to justify their valuations.

But inspector Cluseau, aka the Securities and Exchange Commission, is now on the case, and they are investigating the initial listings of these companies on the New York Stock Exchange.

I hope that it leads to something, if the string is aggressively pulled, it is VERY likely that the whole scarf will unravel, but at best at this point the investigation appears far too narrow.

At worst, this may be little more than an attempt to short circuit the direct listings that these companies used, which deprieved Wall Street investment banks of much of the normal fee revenues that come from a conventional IPO:
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the listings of Slack Technologies Inc. WORK 1.32% and other major companies on the New York Stock Exchange, in a probe looking at how trading was handled on the first day, people familiar with the situation said.

SEC enforcement staff have recently sent letters including one seeking information from electronic-trading firm Citadel Securities LLC related to how it opened Slack’s stock for trading on June 20 in the workplace-messaging app’s so-called direct listing, the people said. It also seeks information on other initial public offerings.

………

The SEC is probing IPOs over the past several years of other so-called unicorns, companies known for achieving high valuations while private, the people said.

………

More large companies have gone public in recent years following big capital infusions from venture capitalists that allowed them to stay private far longer than was common in the past. Companies that have gone public on the NYSE in recent years include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , Snap Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc.

Slack’s debut represented a new breed of public offering. The workplace-messaging company went public via a direct listing, in which a company lets its shares float on an exchange without hiring banks as underwriters like in a standard IPO. Banks do play a more-limited role as advisers, helping guide buyers and sellers to an opening price. Spotify Technology SA also used the process to debut on NYSE last year.

Direct listings allow companies to save on underwriting fees and bypass some restrictions that come with IPOs, such as limits on promoting the stock to the public and avoiding some lockups that prevent insiders from selling for a certain period.

………

The day Slack went public, some floor brokers felt Citadel Securities’ initial indications were too low and didn’t reflect accurate supply and demand for the stock, according to people familiar with that day’s events.

NYSE floor brokers have complained for years that banks working on big IPOs push DMMs to issue indications that are too low while taking unnecessarily long to open the stocks. That could allow banks to poach clients from rivals over the course of the morning, because the banks may be able to privately give mutual funds and other investors a more accurate indication of the opening price, current and former floor brokers said.

The Cats Movie Has a Positive Social Value

Because while the movie has generally been reviewed as an unalloyed disaster, it has produced outraged reviews with lines like, "Cats always feels like it’s two seconds away from turning into a furry orgy in a dumpster."

I enjoy reading outraged negative reviews, so it's all good.

I wait with baited breath for Rex Reed's review, because no one does a catty negative review like he does.

21 December 2019

Tweet of the Day


Who amongst us has not been tempted to bring home a fake "Boyfriend from hell" for the holidays just to jerk our parents around?

Not Enough Bullets


Literally the Least Tufts Could Do
The Sackler family, are having major butt-hurt because Tufts University is pulling their names from their buildings.

Let's see, you created a dangerous product, aggressively and dishonestly marketed it across the nation, when caught you looted your company in advance of your bankruptcy, and your non-bankrupt foreign company is STILL trying to hook people on your poison.

Why wouldn't an institution best known for its medical program want to have anything with you?
The Sackler family is pushing back after Tufts University removed the family name from its buildings and programs due to the family’s link to the ongoing opioid epidemic, according to a report in The New York Times.

In a letter to Tufts’ president, a lawyer for the family wrote that the removal was “contrary to basic notions of fairness" and “a breach of the many binding commitments made by the University dating back to 1980 in order to secure the family’s support, including millions of dollars in donations for facilities and critical medical research.”

Tufts made the decision to remove the family name after getting the results of an independent review of the university’s relationship with the Sacklers and OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which the Sacklers own. Both the family and the company have been accused of helping to spark the crisis by aggressively marketing the powerful painkiller and misleading doctors, patients, and regulators about its addictiveness.

………

The review found that Purdue did intend to use the relationship to advance its interests. And, according to the report, in some cases, it was successful in influencing the academic institution. “Moreover, we conclude that there was an appearance of too close a relationship between Purdue, the Sacklers, and Tufts,” the report said.

The letter from the Sackler family lawyer hinted at the possibility of legal action.

………

Although, not all of the Sackler family is involved with OxyContin. Of the original three Sackler brothers involved in Purdue, one of them—Arthur—died before the painkiller was introduced, and his brothers bought out his stake in the company. Arthur’s widow, Jillian Sackler, released a statement saying in part, “It deeply saddens me to witness Arthur being blamed for actions taken by his brothers and other OxySacklers.”
OxySacklers.  Heh.

19 December 2019

The Horror………

I broke one of my own rules, and at Sharon's* insistence, I watched the debates stone cold sober.

Never again.

Between the passive-aggressive Klobuchar, the clueless Yang, the self-important Steyer, and smug Buttigieg, I REALLY need drink.

*Love of my life, light of the  cosmos, she  who must be obeyed, my wife.

If This Comes Up in the Debates, Buttigieg is Toast

I say, with no exaggeration, that Pete Buttigieg has the most racist record of any mainstream Democratic Presidential candidate since ……… Checks notes ……… George Wallace.

He took homes from black people to give to (largely white) developers in the name of "Redevelopment", and he has studiously refused addressing the deep, entrenched, and extreme racism of the South Bend police force, such as when he fired a black police chief who uncovered incontrovertible evidence of racism in the ranks.

In the latest incident, his police force was literally quoting KKK quotes from the movie Django Unchained while they were busting down a black man's door.

Pete Buttigieg may have inherited a racist police department, but he has chosen to do nothing to fix the problem:
While the South Bend Police Department arrested a black resident on Wednesday, officers gleefully quoted a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” in which hooded KKK members bicker amongst themselves while riding to kill Jamie Fox’s character, Django.

The individual being arrested, 21-year-old African American Marko Mosgrove, broadcasted his arrest to Facebook. Multiple officers with guns and shields over their faces rammed into the man’s home before they discovered his phone was livestreaming.

“Hey, that phone is recording,” an officer says, six minutes and 17 seconds into the livestream. The officers then turn the phone around, resulting in the screen going black.

But the audio continued broadcasting throughout the arrest as officers reenacted the film’s scene.

18 minutes and 23 seconds into the livestream, an unknown officer giggles while asking: “You know what’s a good idea for your kid? Is a skull mask in case you have to shoot a guy.”

“Dude, this is how you rob banks, alright?” another officer responds. A few seconds later, an unknown officer imitates a KKK member from the film struggling to see through his Klan hood.

“I can’t see fu**king sh*t out of this thing!,” the officer says while laughing, mimicking the scene from Tarantino’s Western bloodbath where KKK members argue with one another over their Klan hoods not fitting their faces.

An officer responds by asking if the quote was from the film “The Boondock Saints.”

“No, Django Unchained,” the other officer responds. An officer then continues to quote from the KKK scene, mimicking a Klan member who defended his wife who worked for hours making the hoods for the KKK members.

“My wife was up all…” the officer says before audio temporarily cuts out. Another officer responds by continuing the reenactment, quoting theKKK member from the scene who tried to diffuse the situation.

“I think we all agree that these were a nice idea,” the officer imitates.
I don't care what is in Buttigieg's heart, I care what he does, and it's clear that he does not give a flying f%$# about the minority residents of his town.

Tweet of the Day



I wish that Al Franken was still in the Senate.

18 December 2019

And He is Impeached

I do not expect Trump to be convicted though.

BTW, F%$# Tulsi Gabbard's abstention on both motions.

Anyone reading this in Hawaii, vote against her and volunteer for her opponent.

End her political career.

737 Line Shut Down

This is what happens when you let Wall Street values run a business.
Nine months after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the 737 MAX, Boeing finally pulled the plug on the jet’s production Monday. The company announced it’s temporarily halting the assembly lines in Renton from January, with no specified timeline for a restart.

However, in a welcome surprise for the 12,000-strong Renton workforce, Boeing said there will be no layoffs.

“During this time, it is our plan that affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams in Puget Sound,” Boeing said in a statement.

Boeing has faced an unprecedented crisis, with more than 700 MAX aircraft grounded worldwide, including nearly 400 built since the grounding. Many have been in storage so long they’ll need extensive maintenance before they fly. The production stoppage will stop the parked fleet from growing to unmanageable proportions, while retaining the workforce will allow a smoother restart of the assembly lines when that time comes.
If this shutdown runs longer than a month, their supply chain is going to take weeks to come back up to speed.

This is why you don't let finance types run your business.

Boeing will be suffering as a result of Harry Stonesphincter for years to come.

Tweet of the Day


Anti-Nazi chants from rowdies at a soccer match in Europe.

There may be hope for the future of humanity yet.

And the Kapo* Come Out of the Wordwork


Seriously, have they ever heard the story of the boy who cried wolf?
Given Bernie Sanders’ endurance as a top-tier presidential contender, and his support for Palestinian rights, it was almost inevitable that conservatives would start labelling his campaign anti-Semitic. Last week’s election in Britain—and the alleged similarities between Sanders and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—provided the pretext.

“Linda Sarsour Is Too Antisemitic For The Women’s March, But Not For Bernie Sanders,” declared a February 10 headline in The Federalist. Three days later, The Washington Examiner followed up with, “Bernie Sanders has an anti-Semitism Problem.” Commentary added, “Bernie Sanders Has a Big Jeremy Corbyn Problem.”

The effort to implicate the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history in Jew-hatred is now well underway.

………

It distinguishes Sanders even more dramatically from Donald Trump, who invokes anti-Semitic stereotypes more blatantly and more frequently than any American politician in modern memory. From Trump’s 2013 reference to “Jonathan Leibowitz - I mean Jon Stewart,” to his 2015 declaration to a Republican Jewish Coalition crowd that, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money” to his closing 2016 campaign ad, which featured three Jews — George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein and Janet Yellin — alongside language about “global special interests” that “control the levers of power” to his suggestion that American Jews view Benjamin Netanyahu as “your prime minister,” to his statement to a Jewish audience, just this month, that “You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me…You’re not gonna vote for the wealth tax,” Trump is almost incapable of speaking about Jews without calling them either avaricious or disloyal.
The most contemptible ones here are Commentary, of course, because they know the damage that false accusations like this can do the Jewish community.

They truly are shanda fur die goyim,

*As in Kameradschaftpolizei, the notoriously brutal prisoner functionaries who aided the Germans in the concentration camps.

Nice that Someone Noticed


It's a racket:  Publishers throw a few bucks at a professor, who requires the book for his class, and ka-ching:
As the semester ends, instructors at universities and community colleges around the country will begin placing their orders for next year’s textbooks. But not all professors will pay enough attention to something that students complain about: the outlandish prices of the books we assign. Having grown at many times the rate of inflation, the cost of a leading economics book can be over $250; a law school casebook plus supplement can cost $277. Adding to such prices is the dubious trend of requiring students to obtain digital access codes, averaging $100, to complete homework assignments.

……….

The root problem is that it is just too easy for us, the professors, to spend other people’s money. Just like doctors who prescribe expensive medicine, we don’t feel the pain of buying a $211 book of uneven quality and no real use when the course is finished, or a digital access code that costs $100 and is designed at least in part to disable the used-book market. The fact that professors choose and students buy destroys whatever power a competitive market might have to keep prices lower. That, and a touch of greed — the author of one successful book has earned an estimated $42 million in royalties — is why textbook prices have increased over 1,000 percent since the 1970s.

………

Teaching is a profession with its own ethical duties; students are both our charges and a captive market. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with assigning an expensive book if it is really worth the money and the alternatives are inadequate. (It helps if there’s a good used or rental market). But we at least owe our students the time to make sure we aren’t just absent-mindedly ripping them off.

………

Across the economy, over the last few years, there’s been a backlash against exploitative pricing, headlined by the condemnation of figures like Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Textbook authors and publishers may not be selling necessary medicines, but the practice of exploiting market power to its fullest raises similar ethical questions. The old-fashioned phrase is “price gouging,” and we shouldn’t be a part of it.
I've felt this way since I was a college student.

Well, That Was Quick

After all the candidates who were to be in tomorrow's debate said that they would not cross a picket line to be there, somehow or other the contractor that was hired by Loyola Marymont offered its employees a decent contract, which has tentatively been approved:
The union representing 150 cooks, dishwashers, cashiers, and servers at Southern California’s Loyola Marymount University has reached a, agreement with the multinational corporation that employs them, breaking a labor impasse that threatened to derail Thursday’s Democratic debate.

The three-year deal, which was ratified by the union members on Tuesday, includes a 25% increase in compensation, a 50% drop in health-care costs, and increased job security for workers, the union said. “I am thrilled that we were able to reach an agreement, and that the candidate debate can continue as scheduled,” Angela Fisher, a prep cook at LMU, said in a statement. “I want to thank the Democratic candidates who stood with us and the Democratic party that helped us win.”

………

The deal was the product of emergency negotiations on Monday among representatives from UNITE HERE Local 11, the food-service company Sodexo, the university president, and the chair of the Democratic National Committee. All seven Democratic candidates who qualified for Thursday’s debate had said they would not cross the picket line in solidarity with the workers, creating uncertainty around the party’s final debate of 2019.
My guess is that Loyola Marymont is going to be paying more for the services of Sodexo over the next years.

17 December 2019

I'm Not Sure that I Agree, But This Merits Serious Consideration

There will be a number of theories about what happened with the UK Parliamentary elections, but the thesis of Dr. Lee Jones, that, "Corbyn failed to see that Brexit wasn't a distraction from anti-neoliberal revolt but the form it has taken in Britain," is an idea that deserves to a thoughtful and deliberate examination.

It is posted on the website of an aggressively pro-Brexit organization, but it differs from most of these groups by coming from the left-wing, and anti-Neoliberal perspective:
………

This exposes Corbyn’s principal failure: he could not see that Brexit was not a distraction from a revolt against neoliberalism but the form that this revolt has taken in the British context.

From the beginning, most of the British left have only been able to understand the Leave vote as a reactionary, right-wing phenomenon, and its supporters as either wicked supporters of, or dupes of, the right or even far right. For left liberals to make this error is one thing, but for a lifelong left Eurosceptic to do so is inexcusable.

Brexit was not “sold as a blow to the system”; it was a blow to the system – evidenced by the hysterical response of that system to the vote, its desperate attempts to prevent the enactment of the referendum result ever since, and the challenges to every aspect of Britain’s political and constitutional order. Every political party, barring UKIP and fringe communist groups, campaigned to Remain, as did all the institutions of the business, cultural and educational establishment, backed by the International Monetary Fund and the US president. People rejected the European Union and opted to “take back control” because they could see that the political elite had retreated from them into the state and the interstate networks of the EU. They wanted an end to this post-political era, in which nothing ever changed and political parties had converged on the neoliberal “centre-ground”. They wanted politicians to start representing them again, to listen to and act upon their grievances. They wanted popular sovereignty (see Analysis #6 - Why Did Britain Vote to Leave the EU?).
Read the rest.

I'm still trying to digest this, but it deserves a read.

.Org Domain Sale Under Review


I'm not surprised. This seems to a be a classic example of self dealing, and the folks at ICANN and the Internet Society giving benefits to themselves and their friends, and they figured out that no one would know until it is too late.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the rest of us it quickly blew up into a complete sh%$ storm, and now they are trying to put a gloss of due diligence on this:
ICANN is reviewing the pending sale of the .org domain manager from a nonprofit to a private equity firm and says it could try to block the transfer.

The .org domain is managed by the Public Internet Registry (PIR), which is a subsidiary of the Internet Society, a nonprofit. The Internet Society is trying to sell PIR to private equity firm Ethos Capital.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) said last week that it sent requests for information to PIR in order to determine whether the transfer should be allowed. "ICANN will thoroughly evaluate the responses, and then ICANN has 30 additional days to provide or withhold its consent to the request," the organization said.

ICANN, which is also a nonprofit, previously told the Financial Times that it "does not have authority over the proposed acquisition," making it seem like the sale was practically a done deal. But even that earlier statement gave ICANN some wiggle room. ICANN "said its job was simply to 'assure the continued operation of the .org domain'—implying that it could only stop the sale if the stability and security of the domain-name infrastructure were at risk," the Financial Times wrote on November 28.

In its newer statement last week, ICANN noted that the .org registry agreement between PIR and ICANN requires PIR to "obtain ICANN's prior approval before any transaction that would result in a change of control of the registry operator."

The registry agreement lets ICANN request transaction details "including information about the party acquiring control, its ultimate parent entity, and whether they meet the ICANN-adopted registry operator criteria (as well as financial resources, and operational and technical capabilities)," ICANN noted. ICANN's 30-day review period begins after PIR provides those details.

………

The pending sale comes a few months after ICANN approved a contract change that eliminates price caps on .org domain names. The sale has raised concerns that Ethos Capital could impose large price hikes.
Of course it can raise prices.  It WILL raise prices.  That's why the offer waited until the price caps were repealed.

You can see my earlier post, and a summary of the corruption and self-dealing, here.

I'm still wondering why there is not a criminal RICO investigation going on over this.

This is SO Buttigieg

Under pressure, Pete Buttigieg promised to open up his fundraising meetings and to reveal his big dollar donation bundlers.

His release of information omitted about 20 of his biggest dollar bundlers.

I'm sure it was an accident, what can you do? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign omitted more than 20 high-level fundraisers from a list of top bundlers it disclosed last week.

The public list of bundlers, featuring more than 100 people who have raised at least $25,000 for Buttigieg, was meant to bring a close to more than a week of feuding between Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren over campaign transparency. But the list left off a number of people the Buttigieg campaign had previously touted as top donors in an internal campaign fundraising report obtained by POLITICO.

They include uberwealthy supporters such as Boston power broker Jack Connors Jr. — who declared he was “all in for Pete Buttigieg” in a June fundraiser invite — and Hollywood producer Jordan Horowitz, whose films include "La La Land." Buttigieg also omitted hedge fund investor John Petry; William Rahm, senior managing director at the private equity firm Centerbridge Partners; Nicole Avant, the former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas; and former U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Phillips. The latter two were also major Obama donors.

Candidates voluntarily disclose bundlers to signal forthrightness and allay concerns about conflicts of interest, and lists of bundlers — people who are frequently rewarded with ambassadorships and nominations to other administration posts — offer important windows into the high-powered networks that support candidates like Buttigieg.

In a statement, the Buttigieg campaign said it had made an error and would update its public list of campaign bundlers “to include an accurate accounting.”
Don;'t blame him, it's just the way that McKinsey & Company almuni count.

What About His Enablers?

Tennessee sheriff's deputy Daniel Wilkey has been accused of an unjustified shooting, coercing a detainee into an involuntary baptism, and stripped searching a minor.

He has now charged with 44 criminal acts, 25 of them felonies.

He is a very busy boy, he is only 26.

This raises two questions, first, why is he still being paid, albeit on leave, and second what about his partners and superiors who clearly knew that this guy was out of control:
Tennessee sheriff's deputy Daniel Wilkey has racked up some amazing stats during his short law enforcement career. At the age of 26, Deputy Daniel Wilkey is at his second law enforcement agency, having left the Rhea County Sheriff's Office for the Hamilton County in 2018.

During his time as a Rhea County deputy, Daniel Wilkey was named in one (1) federal lawsuit for fatally shooting a person. Since his arrival in Hamilton County in February 2018, Wilkey has been hit with five (5) civil rights lawsuits. Fortunately, none of these involve Wilkey killing anyone.

More unfortunately, about half of them break new ground in civil rights violation territory. One alleges an unlawful roadside anal search that injured the searchee. Another involves a super-weird forced baptism in a nearby lake, supposedly in exchange for leniency with a drug arrest. Both of those were filed on the same day.

Yet another two (2) lawsuits involve minors, roadside strip searches, and Wilkey's bizarre personal blend of religious affirmations and verbal abuse.

………

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Deputy Daniel Wilkey has been indicted on 44 criminal charges, including 25 felonies, "pertaining to incidents he was involved in while on duty in an official capacity," according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Here are the charges (with counts per), which can pretty much be read to the tune "Twelve Days of Christmas" [felonies in bold]:
10 Reckless Driving
9 Official oppression
7 Reckless endangerment
6 Sexual Battery

4 Stalking
3 Assault
2 False imprisonment
2 Rape
1 Extortion


All this from a deputy who's only been with his current agency for ten (10) months. And in that short period of time, he managed to rack up eight (8) internal affairs investigations.

………

As for Wilkey's compadres -- the three deputies who stood idly by while Wilkey violated rights in new and inventive ways? They're just kind of hanging around, sucking up tax dollars. Bobby Brewer, who aided with the roadside anal search, is on clerical duty. Jacob Goforth, who hung around and watched Wilkey "baptise" an arrestee, is back on active duty. And Tyler McRae, who helped Wilkey proselytize while stripping a minor down to his boxer shorts, is still on patrol and has not been placed under investigation.
The fact that he is still being paid is an obscenity.  The fact that his co-conspirators are still on the job is a clear and present danger to society.

The entire damn department needs to be shut down, because it is corrupt to its core.

I am Unworthy………

I have been blogging for more than 12 years, and when I posted about the suspicious death of a Canadian cryptocurrency mogul, and subsequent efforts by shorted investors to exhume his body to confirm his death, I missed a most obvious and beautiful pun.

I have always claimed to be the worst writer on the internet, but today especially so, because I was not the one who came up with this:
Putting the Crypt in Crypto Currency
I am clearly unworthy.

16 December 2019

Well, This is Awkward

It looks like the next Democratic Presidential debate may not happen, because the candidates would have to cross a picket line, I guess the party has come a long way since Bill and Hillary scabbed on their first date:*
All of the Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for next week’s primary debate are threatening to boycott it in response to a labor dispute between a food service company and workers at Loyola Marymount University, which is hosting the event.

Members of Unite Here Local 11, a union representing food service employees at Loyola Marymount, in Los Angeles, are in negotiations with the university’s food service provider, Sodexo. The union said in a statement on Friday that it had been unable to reach an agreement.

“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week,” the statement said. “Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus.”

………

But by Friday afternoon, all seven candidates who are set to appear on the debate stage next Thursday — Joseph R. Biden Jr., Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang — had pledged not to cross a picket line, raising the prospect of a boycott.

………

The Democratic National Committee said it was considering how to proceed.

“While L.M.U. is not a party to the negotiations between Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11, Tom Perez would absolutely not cross a picket line and would never expect our candidates to either,” Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for the committee, said in a statement, referring to the committee chairman. “We are working with all stakeholders to find an acceptable resolution that meets their needs and is consistent with our values and will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate.”

Loyola Marymount said that it was not a party to the dispute, but that it had “asked Sodexo to meet with Local 11 next week to advance negotiations and solutions.”
Loyal Mayrmont IS a party to the dispute.

They outsourced their dining commons to a 3rd party specifically to underpay the workers.

It's nice that it's biting them in the butt now.
………

The D.N.C. chose Loyola Marymount as a debate site last month under pressure from organized labor. It moved the event from the original location, the University of California, Los Angeles, because of an ongoing labor dispute there.

This is not the first time a strike or potential strike has disrupted debate plans. In 2007, the Democratic National Committee canceled a debate after the top three presidential candidates at the time said they would not cross a Writers Guild of America picket line outside the CBS studios where the debate was to be held.

And in 2015, the D.N.C. removed the New Hampshire television station WMUR as a debate sponsor because a labor dispute at the station could have led to a picket line.
Oh Snap.

*That anecdote about Bill and Hillary's first date is not a joke, on their first date, the literally scabbed to get a look at a Rothko exhibition.

And the Award for Best Example of a Resignation Notice Goes To………

Kira Zylstra, interim director of the Seattle homeless agency All Home, who hired a stripper to dance at a Seattle homeless conference.

Because I am an optimist, I am inclined to think that, upon learning about plans for Seattle and surrounding communities to replace All Home with some new agency, Ms. Zylstra intended this as a massive f%$# you who the people who were shutting down her agency, though it is possible that this was just some sort of spectacularly "Woke" cluelessness.

I am firmly on the side of this being an deliberate act, because I am an optimist:
The director of King County’s coordinating agency for homelessness is on paid leave following a dancer’s strip show at the agency’s annual conference on Monday.

Performer Beyoncé Black St. James danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees, according to a staffer at a local housing nonprofit who attended the conference in South Seattle.

Kira Zylstra, organizer of the conference at South Seattle College, has been placed on leave as of Thursday, according to Denise Rothleutner, chief of staff for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.
 
………

Zylstra has led All Home, King County’s coordinating agency homeless services, since January 2018. But her job could soon become obsolete as Seattle and King County prepare to replace All Home, which has been criticized as weak and ineffective, with a new regional authority on homelessness. Zylstra was paid about $123,000 a year, according to a county spokesperson.
(emphasis mine)

You do understand why I think that this might be a "F%$# You" to the powers that be in and around Seattle, because one way or the other, she is likely to soon be out of a job.
The performance was in the same room as a catered lunch at All Home’s annual conference, this year at South Seattle College with the theme of “Decolonizing our Collective Work.”

………

In a short video, St. James, a Spokane-based entertainer who identifies as a trans woman on her Facebook page, can be seen doing high kicks in a revealing bodysuit and with silver pasties.
In any case, this is profoundly weird.

H/t Bear who swims.

Paging John Sherman. Please Come to the White Courtesy Phone.


Tell me that this is not monopoly power being abused:
Amazon.com Inc. is blocking its third-party sellers from using FedEx Corp.’s ground delivery network for Prime shipments, citing a decline in performance heading into the final stretch of the holiday shopping season.

The ban on using FedEx’s Ground and Home services starts this week and will last “until the delivery performance of these ship methods improves,” according to an email Amazon sent Sunday to merchants that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon has stopped using FedEx for its own deliveries in the U.S., but third-party merchants had still been able to use FedEx. Such sellers now account for more than half of the merchandise sold on Amazon’s website, including many items listed as eligible for Prime.

FedEx said the decision impacts a small number of shippers but “limits the options for those small businesses on some of the highest shipping days in history.” The carrier said it still expects to handle a record number of packages this holiday season. “The overall impact to our business is minuscule,” a FedEx spokeswoman said.

An Amazon spokesman said the policy change is to ensure customers receive their packages on time and the e-commerce company is managing delivery cutoffs so that orders arrive by Christmas. He said the ban is temporary and will be lifted once FedEx service levels improve.

In its email to merchants, Amazon said sellers can use FedEx’s speedier and more expensive Express service for Prime orders or FedEx Ground for non-Prime shipments.

………

Earlier this year, Amazon and FedEx ended two major shipping contracts, totaling some $900 million in revenue for FedEx. The overnight-delivery pioneer is shifting its focus to retailers such as Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. that compete with Amazon.
If you believe that this was not an anti-competitive effort coming from Amazon, I have a helipad in Brooklyn that I want to sell you.

Linkage

A good summary on how McKinsey & Company have taken over the Democratic Party establishment:

15 December 2019

More Boeing Follies


Still not Working
Boeing proposed an advanced vision system for their new tanker.

It does not work, so they are looking for government money to add a laser ranger-finder to their refueling boom:
Boeing is researching adding a laser-range finder to the KC-46A Pegasus’ problem-plagued refuelling boom camera system.

The laser-range-finder retrofit onto the boom cameras, known as the remote vision system (RVS), would give operators additional information about the true distance between the end of the KC-46A’s boom and a receiving aircraft’s receptacle during in-flight refuelling, says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the US Air Force (USAF) for acquisition, technology and logistics at the Reagan National Defense Forum on 7 December.

………

The KC-46A in-flight refuelling tanker’s original RVS cameras had two problems: a distorted three-dimensional video feed which makes it difficult for operators to perceive distances; and a problem automatically adjusting to changing lighting conditions, which causes the screen to washout in certain scenarios.

“There is… a rubber sheet effect where some parts get stretched, some parts get compressed, so that the reality that the operator sees on the screen is not the same as the one outside the plane,” says Roper.

………

“The remote visual system — I am going to worry about it each day until we have a validated design,” he says. “One thing I am very happy about, we’ve got some of the best visual experts at the Air Force Research Lab and they are creating a model, a simulator of the RVS, [that] we can work through design iterations with Boeing, ahead of them putting engineering investment time on them.”
In older tankers, the boom operator sits at the rear of the plane, and direct it into position, but this time around they decided to use a sophisticated camera system, because ……… SCIENCE.

Ka-ching.

Pentagon's predilection for incorporating unproven technology in front line systems seems to serve no purpose beyond increasing contractor profits.

So, Boeing screws up, and we all pay for it.

Boeing really cannot make anything anymore, can they?

Sh%$ Just Got Real for PG&E

PG&E's bankruptcy proposal has been rejected by the Governor of California, which will result in a significant changes to the bankruptcy proposal, and could theoretically result in a massive restructuring of the utility, with a either a proposed takeover by bondholders, or a transition to a customer owned utility.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said on Friday that Pacific Gas & Electric’s restructuring plan did not comply with a state law, throwing up a new hurdle to the company’s effort to resolve its bankruptcy.

The move was not surprising given that Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, has criticized PG&E for starting devastating wildfires, not moving fast enough to resolve the claims of fire victims and not moving fast enough to improve its safety practices.

A law the California Legislature passed this year gave Mr. Newsom the authority to approve any restructuring plan PG&E submits to the United States Bankruptcy Court. Mr. Newsom’s letter indicates that the company will have to engage in further negotiations with the governor before it can end its bankruptcy and participate in a state wildfire fund.

“In my judgment, the Amended Plan and the restructuring transactions do not result in a reorganized company positioned to provide safe, reliable, and affordable service to its customers,” Mr. Newsom told PG&E in the letter.

………

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January after amassing tens of billions of dollars in liability because of fires caused by its equipment. The fires included the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

To prevent more devastating wildfires, the utility intentionally cut power to millions of customers this fall. The move angered Californians and had prompted Mr. Newsom to demand that the company make far-reaching changes.

………

“PG&E’s board of directors and management have a responsibility to immediately develop a feasible plan,” Mr. Newsom said. “Anything else is irresponsible, a breach of fiduciary duties, and a clear violation of the public trust.”
My take is that anything that has current management tossed out on their ass without severance, bankruptcy invalidates their employment contracts, is a good thing, and if it ends up with some sort of publicly owned utility, it's even better.