01 October 2023

Amazon in a Single Tweet (Ecch)

You can see more on Twitter/Ecch, or articles on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website, see here and here.

Amazon's model, one which has been emulated throughout the Silicon Valley venture capital ecosystem, is to use size, or VC funding to achieve a monopoly position, and then to use that position to extract monopoly rents.

We need to start arresting executives again for violating antitrust laws, and that goes double for the firms funding them.

Meanwhile, In Slovakia

It looks like the right wing Smer party, headed by former PM Robert Fico has won the parliamentary elections.

This bears note because Fico campaigned on eliminating aid to the Ukraine, and as a skeptic of both Brussels and Washington:

Slovakia’s populist former prime minister, Robert Fico, who campaigned on a pledge to end military aid to Ukraine, has said his position “has not changed” after his party’s clear election win made him favourite to lead the country for a fourth time.

Fico told reporters he was waiting for Slovakia’s president to give him a mandate to start forming a government – expected on Monday – after officials said on Sunday that Smer-SD had scored 22.9% in Saturday’s vote with 99.98% of ballots counted.

Fico said he was ready to open talks with other parties on forming a coalition government. “We’re here, we’re ready, we’ve learned something, we’re more experienced,” he said. “We have clear ideas; we have clear plans.”

The 59-year-old, whose pro-Moscow stance has sparked fears Slovakia will join Hungary and its authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán in challenging the EU’s consensus on support for Kyiv, added: “People in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine.”

………

The liberal, pro-western Progressive Slovakia (PS) party finished second on just under 18%, with Hlas – a spin-off from Smer formed after Fico was forced to resign in 2018 amid mass popular protests following the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée – third on almost 15%.

The question here will be if Smer and Fico will be able to secure enough coalition partners to secure parliament.

My guess is that there is going to be a full court press from the EU and the United States to prevent this.

30 September 2023

Nope.


Definitely not!
While I appreciate the selfless effort made by big pharma to develop treatments for erectile dysfunction, but using a spider venom that can make one's penis fall off seems to be to be a bridge too far.

Call me old school about this, but I am extremely skeptical of such a treatment:

The venom of the Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) can cause necrosis of the penis – essentially, the death of penis tissue – which can sometimes require amputation.

It's a terrifying poison best avoided, yet research suggests that in smaller amounts, the venom could hold clues to the next Viagra.

The large dose of venom dished out by the spider in nature triggers erections in mammals that are very painful and that last much too long for their primary purpose. These abnormally extended boners are technically known as priapisms, and the venom adds nausea and abdominal cramps for good measure.

P. nigriventer is also known as the banana spider because it is commonly found on banana leaves. The arachnid's body can grow up to five centimeters in length, and its leg span sometimes stretches three times further than that. It's one of the most toxic spiders there is.

Nevertheless, scientists from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil have been able to develop a synthetic version of the molecule in the venom that causes the erection. It's called BZ371A, and has now been tested with some success on mice and rats: when put into a gel and spread on the groins of the animals, erections were triggered.

I'm surprised that this is being developed in Brazil.  Marketing a product as, "Giving you an erection, but your dick might fall off," seems to me to be an archetypal American marketing scheme.

Can We Please Give Texas Back to Mexico?

Yelp finds itself in the position of having to sue the Texas Attorney General for the right to publish accurate information about crisis pregnancy centers. (CPC)

CPCs are phony clinics that exist to lure people looking for abortions in in order to change their minds and to run out the clocks on the procedures.

It appears that Texas AG Ken Paxton, yeah, that Ken Paxton, has taken exception to Yelp notifying its users that, PCCs do not provide abortions, (true) that they do not provide much in the way of medical services, (true) and that they are not typically staffed with medical professionals. (True)

Paxton has threatened to sue Yelp because it is telling the truth, and Yelp has filed suit in response:

Yelp has sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to prevent him from punishing the reviews website for labeling Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) as places that do not actually offer abortion services.

In a complaint [PDF] filed on Wednesday in a San Francisco federal court, Yelp said it is seeking an order prohibiting the Texas AG from threatening the biz over exercising its First Amendment right to free speech.

"On September 26, we received a letter from the Office of the Attorney General of Texas informing us that they intend to sue Yelp over the consumer notice that we place on the Yelp pages of crisis pregnancy centers," it told The Register.

"The letter takes issue with a consumer notice that hasn’t been used on the Yelp site for over six months, won’t be used again, and which was helpful in informing consumers about crisis pregnancy centers."


The current notice Yelp attaches to CPCs is by Paxton's own admission "accurate." And as it argues in its complaint, "The Attorney General may not punish Yelp for publishing truthful information."

………

Yelp, following the US Supreme Court's 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, said in August 2022 that it would label CPCs listed on its website with a consumer notice explaining that they are not clinics and would recategorize its business pages to clarify the distinction.

"Yelp learned that some crisis pregnancy centers – businesses that offer pregnancy-related counseling, but not abortion services or referrals to abortion providers – were leading users seeking abortion care away from medical providers to anti-abortion counseling services," the complaint explains.

"Beginning in August 2022, Yelp published a notice informing consumers that crisis pregnancy centers 'typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.'"

On February 7 Yelp received a letter [PDF] from 24 State AGs that accused the company of a scheme "to discredit crisis pregnancy centers and to discourage women and families from accessing their services." And the letter argued that Yelp's statement was overly broad, misleading, and discriminatory.

Even if what Paxton said was true, and it is not, it is not the role of the state to file what amounts to defamation lawsuit.  That would be the role of those organizations who felt that they were defamed, either individually or through some sort of professional organization.

It is a clear abuse of power by the AG, but that is not enough for the polity of Texas to get rid of him.  

Neither is taking bribes, or securities fraud, as the failed attempt to impeach him indicated.

I'd like to give it back to Mexico, but I don't think that Mexico would want it back.

29 September 2023

Republican Family Values

Remember Joseph Carl Roberts?

In 2017, he was used as a poster child for the so-called "Excesses" of Title XI driven procedures dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

He was expelled from Savannah State University after three women alleged sexual harassment.

As a result of his notoriety, he got credulous interviews from many in the news media, was elected to the San Francisco Republican Party, and now he has been arrested for the murder of his fiancee, and it is alleged that he dismembered her corpse with an electric saw, placed the parts in trash bags, and threw them into the San Francisco Bay.

Why am I not surprised?

The gruesome discovery spoke to a ghastly crime.

On the afternoon of July 20, someone using a waterfront trail in Alameda spotted a large garbage bag wrapped in duct tape that smelled as if it was full of dead fish from the bay. When responding officers looked inside, they found the dismembered remains of a young woman whose head, hands and feet had been removed.

Investigators would extract a pair of DNA profiles from the duct tape on the bag. One belonged to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, a young mother and spoken-word poet who had just graduated from a San Francisco law school. The other, police now say, belonged to her killer — her boyfriend and onetime law school classmate Joseph Carl Roberts, suspected of using an electric saw to try to obscure his victim’s identity.

But as shocking as the crime was, the backstory was even stranger.

Roberts, it turns out, was once touted by the Trump administration as a poster child for the purported excesses of the #MeToo movement and the reckoning over sexual assault at American colleges. Kicked off the campus of Savannah State University in Georgia, the U.S. Navy veteran not only survived but turned the episode into a dramatic story about a different kind of victim: himself.

Whenever you hear conservatives whine about wokeness, it's not really a complaint, it's a confession,

My Second Cousin Once Removed

Dianne Feinstein* has died at age 90.

The spectacle of her last weeks, where she was rolled out by her staff, barely aware of her surroundings was shameful.

There could have been a resignation, and a gubernatorial appointment, and some peace for Feinstein, but her staff wanted to remain a Senator's staff.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who made history as a champion for gun control and was California’s longest-serving U.S. senator, died at her home in Washington, her office announced Friday.

“Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving,” said James Sauls, the senator’s chief of staff, in a statement.

“She left a legacy that is undeniable and extraordinary. There is much to say about who she was and what she did, but for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor and friend,” he said. No cause of death was given, though Feinstein had been ailing for some time.

The San Francisco Democrat was into thrust into the national spotlight in 1978, when she became the city’s mayor after incumbent George Moscone and Councilman Harvey Milk were assassinated.

………

The final years of her career, when she struggled with failing health, were marked by controversy over her decision to remain in office. Her condition triggered a broader national discussion about age and power, and whether elected officials should be subject to age limits. 

I think that at the end, here staff were more interested in retaining their positions than helping her out.

Here is hoping that whoever California Governor Newsome appoints, that they will fire said staff.

28 September 2023

Don’t Throw Me in That Briar Patch

The guest editorialist at the pink paper (Financial Times) has a sad because FTC Chair Lina Khan is actually enforcing antitrust law is discouraging mergers and acquisition activity by the private equity jackals.

So these PE parasites are finding it harder to make a buck?  What a tragedy:

The US is a beacon for global investment and innovation. And private equity plays a vital role in building better businesses, employing millions and delivering strong returns to support the retirements of millions of working Americans. Approximately 85 per cent of private equity investments support small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics.  I have never seen a case where PE makes things better over the long term.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration’s regulatory agenda is currently threatening this system, which supports workers and small businesses across the US. Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan used a recently filed healthcare case as an opportunity to take a swipe at it — all in pursuit of a radical new antitrust theory.

The truth is that the “buy and build” model that some private equity firms use helps a highly fragmented and cost-intensive industry such as healthcare become more competitive and expand access to care. Studies show that private equity-backed hospitals earn better marks on quality — meaning better care for patients. At the same time, private equity has filled critical gaps in the US healthcare system for decades, providing doctors, nurses and hospitals with the resources they need to treat patients and provide high-quality care.

What the chief lobbyist of the American Investment Council is calling, "Buy and build," is monopolistic and anticompetitive behavior, where they acquired the overwhelming majority of anesthesia practices in a region, and used this to keep other competitors out, explicitly cutting deals with other mega-practices to avoid competing in markets.

Then they used the market power to double and triple what anesthesiologists charged hospitals.

It's not, "Buy and build," it's, "Loot and rent seek."

He goes on to claim:

………

Private equity directly backs the jobs of 12mn workers and has invested in more than 44,000 American businesses since 2017. More than 34mn public servants depend on private equity to support their retirements and, as part of a diversified investment portfolio, private equity consistently delivers the highest returns of any asset class for public pensions.

Highest returns, huh?  Maybe for the PE executives, but in terms of net returns, after the blizzard of deceptive fees?  Not so much.

In fact, every time someone attempts to do an impartial evaluation of private equity returns, the only definitive finding is that PE accounting makes Hollywood accounting look like a bank teller's drawer.

No, PE does not deliver higher returns.  Except for brief periods, it never has, except for the PE executives, who make out bandits on their carried interest tax loophole.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Time for the Thursday Economic Dump

And we have a fair amount of data beyond initial unemployment claims, initial claims were up 2,000 to 204,000, basically flat, and continuing claims were basically the same, up 12,000 to 1.67 million.

The third update on the 2nd quarter GDP numbers were unchanged at 2.1% , which is good, but not great.

In addition to the above, "Meh," we have home mortgage rates hit a 23 year high, 7.31% the highest rate since December of 2000.

I still think that we are oging to have a hard landing.

We are F%$#ed

Over the past 2 years, 10% of Swiss glaciers have melted.

We the glaciers are gone, we are going to start seeing rivers run dry in the Summer:

Swiss glaciers have lost 10% of their volume in just two years, a report has found.

Scientists have said climate breakdown caused by the burning of fossil fuels is the cause of unusually hot summers and winters with very low snow volume, which have caused the accelerating melts. The volume lost during the hot summers of 2022 and 2023 is the same as that lost between 1960 and 1990.

The analysis by the Swiss Academy of Sciences found 4% of Switzerland’s total glacier volume vanished this year, the second-biggest annual decline on record. The largest decline was in 2022, when there was a 6% drop, the biggest thaw since measurements began.

This is not an isolated incident.  It's happening in the Rockies, the Himilayas, etc.

The consequences of their going away are catastrophic.

It's a Boomer Thing

When my son comes in from College Park, he takes the train.

Most of the time, he takes the Camden Line, and I pick him up at the Camden Yards stop at 8:00 pm, and occasionally, he comes in at Penn Station at 8:30.

Today, I texted him, and wrote, "Charlie. What bat time and what bat station tonight?" (I know, the quote is channel, not station.)

Sharon* found it quite funny,

Charlie did not react at all, though he called me later at he would be coming in on the Camden line, so I picked him up.  (Orioles game, they just cinched the division, in the future, he takes the earlier stop when the Birds play at home)

When I picked him up, he kind of wondered what this all about.  He had heard the expression before, but had no clue what it meant.

Generation, gap, huh.

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

Tweet of the Day

Someone call Gage and DeSoto, they need to get Obama to the Rampart General burn ward.  (It's a boomer thing, don't ask)

27 September 2023

Score One for Sortition

City officials in Santa Monica are recommended that a committee to recommend future options for their soon to be shuttered be randomly selected.

Basically, they think that the normal model, where the select the committee from applicants, it too likely to be full of people with an ax to grind, so they want to use sortition, where the members of the commission are randomly chosen, as they would be for a jury.

In this case, it's true.  The people who want to be on such a committee are largely realtors looking for free land for a quick buck:

The future of Santa Monica Airport should be hammered out -- not by the usual community activists and civic volunteers -- but by randomly selected "everyday people," City officials told the City Council Monday.

The information item from top Public Works officials proposes using a democratic lottery to "engage new residents through a randomized selection process," instead of relying on "the same self-selected individuals."

After meeting in person for six weekends over the course of some nine months starting next fall, the panel would make recommendations to the Council for the 227-acre site that under a 2017 agreement with the FAA would cease to operate as an airport at the end of 2028.

………

The lottery system -- which is not common in North America -- "would result in a panel that demands broad demographic representation, and minimizes the influence of special interests," said the report from Public Works Director Rick Valte.

Previous long-range planning efforts by the City have "suffered tremendous opposition from vocal community members whose resistance to key elements of each plan -- or even the entire plan itself -- resulted in protracted land use battles," the report said.

………

On the other hand, lottery-selected panelists "are everyday people" who "do not have prior experience with the policy topic" and "have a unique capacity for identifying common ground solutions in the public’s best interest.

"Much like a jury trial, they receive a vast amount of information before independently deliberating on recommendations," the report said.

Well, that's one way, and possibly the only way, to screen out the bad actors from the process.

I See Your Problem

This Wall Street Journal headline, "The World Needs New Antibiotics. The Problem Is, No One Can Make Them Profitably," explains the problem with the profit driven healthcare system in 14 words.

You see, if you get a treatment for something like chronic psoriasis, you have a customer for life, but for antibiotics, it's about a month and then the person is cured.

There is no money curing people:

The push for antibiotics to fight fast-evolving superbugs is snagging on a broken business model.

Six startups have won Food and Drug Administration approval for new antibiotics since 2017. All have filed for bankruptcy, been acquired or are shutting down. About 80% of the 300 scientists who worked at the companies have abandoned antibiotic development, according to Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X, a government-funded group promoting research in the field.

“These companies are supposed to be the winners, but every one of them is an unhappy story,” Outterson said.

The reason, the companies say: They couldn’t sell their lifesaving products because the system that produces drugs for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease—which counts on companies selling enough of a new treatment or charging a high enough price to reward investors and make a profit—isn’t working for antibiotics.

So, there is not enough opportunity for looting, more accurately rent seeking, for the masters of the universe in finance to show interest.

Let's look at:

………

Nabriva Therapeutics terminated its 60 remaining employees this year and is seeking a buyer, four years after the FDA approved its antibiotic Xenleta for pneumonia. Nabriva priced a five-day treatment of Xenleta at over $1,000. Generic antibiotics to treat people who develop pneumonia outside of hospitals typically cost under $100. Fewer than 100 of the 800 hospitals Nabriva approached bought it.

“It was all driven by cost,” Nabriva’s former Chief Executive Officer Ted Schroeder said. 

This is compared to the (not particularly effective) Alzheimer's drug lequembi, which costs over $1,500.00 a month for the rest of the patient's life.

No problem funding that.

Am I the only one who thinks the priorities of the Best Healthcare System in the World™ are seriously f%$#ed up?

Of Course They Found No Evidence

Oregon has legalizes a number of recreational drugs, and opponents want to repeal that approval, claiming that this legalization has led to an increase in drug related morbidity and mortality.

Research shows that there is NO correlation between drug legalization and poor outcomes.

This has been obvious for decades.  It has been obvious since Nixon declared the war on drugs that a law enforcement approach produces no benefits, and creates a multitude of societal costs:

A new study commissioned by the CDC found no correlation between Oregon’s drug decriminalization law and rising overdose deaths.

The study was published Wednesday, Sept. 27 in JAMA Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed medical journal. Researchers said after Oregon became the first state to decriminalize all drugs via Measure 110, they wanted to gauge the impact of the new policy. They looked at data spanning a year, from February 2021 to March 2022, and concluded overdose deaths in states with drug decriminalization laws, like Washington and Oregon, weren’t higher than those without the same policies. Researchers found fatal overdoses increased in multiple states, likely due to an influx of fentanyl.

Measure 110 was passed by Oregon voters in 2020. The law allows users caught with a small amount of hard drugs to be referred to drug treatment, rather than jail. It relies on funding from cannabis taxes to establish and pay for treatment programs.

While some have blamed Oregon’s law for a rise in drug use and overdoses, those who compared public health data across multiple states say that hasn’t proven true.

The study’s authors noted they “found no evidence of an association between legal changes that removed or substantially reduced criminal penalties for drug possession in Oregon and Washington and fatal drug overdose rates.”

The prohibitionists case has never been supported by the evidence, but they don't care, because it can be used as an excuse to oppress the poor and minorities.

Snark Master of the Senate

I noted earlier, John Fetterman was the first Senator to call for Bob Menendez to resign following his indictment for corruption. 

It turns out that Fetterman is also planning to return the campaign donations that he received from Menendez in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.

That is world class sarcasm:

John Fetterman, the first senator to call on Bob Menendez to resign, plans to give back the $5,000 that the embattled New Jersey Democratic senator gave the Pennsylvania Democrat’s Senate campaign in 2022.

And Fetterman wants to do it in envelopes full of hundred-dollar bills.

“We are in process of returning the money,” said Joe Calvello, a Fetterman spokesman, “in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.”

The move is a call-back to Menendez and his wife Nadine being indicted Friday on federal charges of engaging in "a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey associates and businessmen." The indictment was dramatic, featuring allegations of bribes paid by a shiny, new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible, gold bars valued at more than $100,000, and stacks of one-hundred-dollar bills atop a jacket with Menendez’s name on it.

Menendez has roundly denied wrongdoing, including at a press conference in New Jersey on Monday.

But the allegations were enough for Fetterman to break with the rest of Senate Democrats to become the first – and so far only – Democratic member of the legislative body to call on the New Jersey senator to step down.

 Shorts and a hoodie should become the official dress code for the Senate.

Hack Journalism

For the first time ever, a sitting President is going to be walking a UAW picket line.

The press says that is just the same for Trump to talk to a NON UNION auto parts supplier.

Here is the mainstream press: (Reuters)

President Joe Biden on Tuesday joined a picket line with striking autoworkers in Michigan, supporting their call for a 40% pay raise and saying they deserve a "lot more" than they are getting.

Biden's appearance, the first visit by a U.S. president to striking workers in modern history, comes a day before Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for president, will speak to auto workers in Michigan. The rare back-to-back events highlight the importance of union support in the 2024 presidential election, even though unions represent a tiny fraction of U.S. workers.

Because Biden and Trump are doing  exactly the same thing?

Not so much:

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit an automotive supplier of engine and transmission parts outside Detroit on Wednesday, the day after President Joe Biden is set to visit a UAW picket line, also near the city.

Trump's camp confirmed Saturday that he will "deliver remarks" at Drake Enterprises Inc. in Clinton Township, Mich., at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Heather Dombrowski, co-owner of the company started by her grandfather in 1952, said Drake Enterprises was chosen to host the former president because of its entrepreneurial spirit and its exposure to the gasoline engine business. Trump has made the auto industry's electric shift — and the risk of jobs lost to it — a major part of his campaign platform for reelection.

………

The company's 125 or so employees are not represented by a union, she said. ………

The reporter in the Reuters story says that the actions are the same, and takes pains to say imply that unions are a dinosaur, because false equivalence is job security.

H/t Atrios.

26 September 2023

Cue Billie Ray Valentine


You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.
The judge in the Donald Trump fraud trial in New York has issued a summary judgment saying that Trump engaged in fraud and canceled the business certificates for 4 of his largest companies.

This is literally a corporate death penalty.

It dissolves significant elements of the Trump Org, and that dissolution will almost certainly entail a deeper dive into his business than has been done to this date.

This should get interesting:

A New York judge ruled on Tuesday that Donald J. Trump persistently committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets, and stripped the former president of control over some of his signature New York properties.

The surprising decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron is a major victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Mr. Trump, effectively deciding that no trial was needed to determine that he had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.

Ms. James has argued that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion and is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday.

………

While the trial will determine the size of the penalty, Justice Engoron’s ruling granted one of the biggest punishments Ms. James sought: the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of Mr. Trump’s New York properties to operate, a move that could have major repercussions for the Trump family business.

The decision could terminate his control over a flagship commercial property at 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and a family estate in Westchester County. Mr. Trump might also lose control over his other New York properties, including Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan and his golf club in Westchester.

The order will not dissolve Mr. Trump’s company itself, which is a collection of hundreds of entities, but the decision could nonetheless have a sweeping impact on the company’s New York operations. If Justice Engoron’s decision is not reversed by an appeals court, it could shut down an entity that employs hundreds of people working for him in New York, effectively crushing the company.

………

The order would also unwind the Trump Organization L.L.C. That entity is relatively inconsequential, a vehicle for the sprawling company’s brand name. But it has been synonymous with Mr. Trump from his earliest days as a developer with a penchant for tabloid publicity, bringing his father’s outer-borough business to the heart of Manhattan.

………

In his order, Justice Engoron wrote scathingly about Mr. Trump’s defenses, saying that the former president and the other defendants, including his two adult sons and his company, ignored reality when it suited their business needs. “In defendants’ world,” he wrote, “rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air.”

“That is a fantasy world, not the real world,” he added.

The judge also levied sanctions on Mr. Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he had previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500, noting that he had previously warned them that the arguments in question bordered on being frivolous.

Repeating them was “indefensible,” Justice Engoron wrote.

Even if Mr. Trump does not successfully appeal the ruling, he still has an opportunity to delay the trial, or even gut the case. Mr. Trump has sued Justice Engoron himself, and an appeals court is expected to rule this week on his lawsuit. But if the appeals court rules against him, Mr. Trump will have to fight the remainder of the case at trial.

………

“The documents do not say what they say; that there is no such thing as ‘objective’ value,” the judge wrote, paraphrasing their arguments as he saw them, and adding, “Essentially, the court should not believe its own eyes.”

In a footnote, he added a line from the movie “Duck Soup” uttered by Chico Marx: “Well, who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

So, Judge Engoron sanctioned Trumps lawyers and he quoted the Marx Brothers.

This is a judge who is sick and tired of his bullsh%$.

25 September 2023

Yom Kippur is Over

The Day of Atonement.

Prayer and fasting for 25 hours.

That glass of orange juice at the end tastes wonderful.

Linkage

Have a trailer for the 60th anniversary Dr. Who special

24 September 2023

A New Recipe for Baked Sheep

  •  Take a few dozen sheep.
  • Have them flee to a greenhouse to get out of torrential rains.
  • Have them eat the 600 pot plants.

You now have thoroughly baked sheep.

 As Anna Russel would say, "I'm not making this up, you know."

A flock of sheep have found themselves enjoying a slightly different diet this week after they devoured more than 600 pounds of cannabis.

The herd of unsuspecting herbivores were looking to satisfy their munchies when they inadvertently chomped down on a hefty stash of medical cannabis growing in a nearby greenhouse.

Near the town of Almyros in Thessaly, Greece, a greenhouse cultivating therapeutic marijuana became an unexpected diner for the animals as they grappled with the aftermath of Storm Daniel.

The storm resulted in Europe's highest-ever monthly precipitation. Relentless rain wreaked havoc across the central region, combining torrential downpours with landslides, crumbling roads and bridges, and crippling vital water supplies.

While looking to avoid flooding, the herd of sheep sought refuge in the greenhouse and simultaneously helped themselves to over 600 pounds of cannabis crops.

The bewildered shepherd watched as his flock began to exhibit what he called "strange behavior."

Speaking as a veteran of many VERY mellow discussions in college fueled by leafy green goodness, this behavior is not strange at all to me.

………

In 2017, the Greek government legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In 2023, Greece inaugurated its first-ever medicinal cannabis production plant. The cultivation of cannabis for medical use has presented much-needed economic opportunities for the country.

………

Cannabis has been seen as a solution to some of the challenges facing Greek farmers, who have seen a drop in profit margins on traditional agricultural products in recent years.

………

Meanwhile, some scientists have even tested out feeding animals cannabis to see what happens. In 2022, dairy cows that were fed a diet containing industrial hemp experienced several physical and behavioral changes, including increased yawning, salivation and unsteady movements.

Here's a question, what the hell do you put on a resume for the last bit, "Got cows stoned and watched them?"

That does not seem to me to be a career booster.

I’ve Gotta Attribute This to Malice

I can understand an honest mistake, but given the known history of WWII, and the public pronouncement by Vladimir Putin about Nazis in the Ukraine (spoiler, there are a f%$# tonne of Nazis every country in Europe).

That the Speaker of the House in the Canadian Parliament called for, and got, a standing ovation for a former SS member for their service in WWII is no accident.

When he called for this there is no way that he could not have known that this man,Yaroslav Hunka (יִמַּח שְׁמו), was collaborating with the Nazis, particularly given the reporting in Canada about Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland lying about her grandfather's collaboration from the Nazis is absurd.

Someone with more authority than the speaker, his role is largely bureaucratic and procedural, had to have made this decision consciously, for reasons that are unclear.

It could have been someone pandering to Canada's Ukrainian community, they constitute about 4% of the population, it could have been someone trying to sabotage Zelensky's visit, or it could have been someone trying to send some sort of other message.

In any case, this should require a more thorough investigation.

The statement by Speaker Anthony Rota which is basically ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  He said that he did not know and he's very sorry.  Bullsh%$.

The Canadian Parliament gave a standing ovation on Friday to a 98-year-old immigrant from Ukraine who fought in a Third Reich military formation accused of war crimes.

The elderly veteran, Yaroslav Hunka was honored during a session in which President Volodomyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine addressed the lawmakers to thank them for their support since Russia invaded his country, saying Canada has always been on “the bright side of history.” The Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota — who had compared Zelenskyy to Winston Churchill — recognized a “veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98.”
If you fought "the Russians" (actually fought the USSR) in the 2nd world war, you were fighting for the Nazis. This is inescapable historical fact.

Rota knew. The only question is who told him to do this.

………

Formed in 1943, SS Galichina was composed of recruits from the Galicia region in western Ukraine. The unit was armed and trained by the Nazis and commanded by German officers. In 1944, the division was visited by SS head Heinrich Himmler, who spoke of the soldiers’ willingness to slaughter Poles.”

Three months earlier, SS Galichina subunits perpetrated what is known as the Huta Pieniacka massacre, burning 500 to 1,000 Polish villagers alive.

………

A blog by an association of its veterans, called “Combatant News” in Ukrainian, includes an autobiographical entry by a Yaroslav Hunka that says he volunteered to join the division in 1943 and several photographs of him during the war. The captions say the pictures show Hunka during SS artillery training in Munich in December 1943 and in Neuhammer (now Świętoszów), Poland, the site of Himmler’s visit.

In posts to the blog dated 2011 and 2010, Hunka describes 1941 to 1943 as the happiest years of his life and compares the veterans of his unit, who were scattered across the world, to Jews.

(Emphasis mine)

Nazi SS members like the Jews?

Unf%$#ing believable.

Canada has two monuments to the unit, one in a Wayville, which is outside Toronto, the other in Edmonton. Canadian Jewish organizations have called for their removal.

It is unclear whether Zelenskyy knew that Hunka fought with the unit. In 2021, the Ukrainian president joined the governments of Israel and Germany in denouncing a march honoring SS Galichina in Kyiv.

I'd really like to see someone to get to the bottom of this. 

I don't think that anyone will, but I would really like them to do so.

23 September 2023

OK, I Get It

So, that tropical depression hitting us became a named tropical storm, Ophelia.

I get why the organizers of Trial by Fire canceled the event.

If they hadn't though I would still be out there cooking, because, as I stated earlier,  "I am a man (and a moron, as my reader(s) are no doubt aware, but that is beside the point)."

I had a recipe and everything!  I even was going to do a salad of a sort.

I still has a sad.

It's Called Looting

And when  Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco did it, he spent 5 years in gaol.

Now, the DoJ is looking into Elon Musk's self dealing at Tesla.

I would be very amused if this is what finally takes down the  Apartheid Era Emerald Heir Pedo Guy™.

Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing personal benefits may have provided Elon Musk since 2017—longer than previously known—as part of a criminal investigation examining issues including a proposed house for the chief executive.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York also has sought information about transactions between Tesla and other entities connected to the billionaire, people familiar with the investigation said. Prosecutors have referenced the involvement of a grand jury.

………

The house effort was known within the carmaker as “Project 42,” and plans called for an expansive glass building to be constructed near Tesla’s Austin-area factory and headquarters.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a separate civil investigation into the project, the Journal has reported.

………

Among the questions prosecutors are examining is whether Tesla properly disclosed perks Musk might have received. Internal or external lawyers typically handle such disclosures. At Tesla, Musk has at times personally guided what information to disclose to shareholders. It couldn’t be learned whether that was the case with any perks that prosecutors are scrutinizing. Tesla has said it generally doesn’t provide perks or other personal benefits to its top executives.

And if you believe that, I have some swamp land in Florida for you.

What I don't see is any notes about the bailout of Solar City by Tesla, which salvaged both his investment in the firm, and the bailout of his cousin, who had founded it.

If we know anything about silly-con valley, it is that behavior like that of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranis is more of the rule than the exception.

Maryland Is Suffering from a Corruption Gap with New Jersey

Well, That's Special


Yes, gold bars

As a resident of Maryland, I have to say that our politicians have been completely shown up by New Jersey.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has been indicted for corruption.

It is alleged that he took bribes from a New Jersey businessman and possibly from agents of foriegn powers:

Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged on Friday with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, including bars of gold bullion, to wield his power abroad and at home.

The three-count federal indictment depicted a brazen plan hatched during furtive dinners, in text messages and on encrypted calls — much of it aimed at increasing U.S. assistance to Egypt and aiding businessmen in New Jersey.

Mr. Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is accused of acting as a go-between, passing messages to an American-Egyptian businessman, Wael Hana, who maintained close connections with Egyptian military and intelligence officials, the indictment said. In one text, to an Egyptian general, Mr. Hana referred to the senator, who held sway over military sales, financing and other aid, as “our man.”

………

Friday’s charges described an intermingling of the bare-knuckle, back-room dealings of Mr. Menendez’s home state of New Jersey and delicate matters of security in the Middle East. They represent the latest episode in a decades-long political career that took Mr. Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, from the Union City, N.J., school board to the halls of the Senate, a career marked by accusations of corruption and an earlier federal indictment that ended in a hung jury.

Given the recent Supreme Court rulings, this might not qualify as corruption.

What is interesting is that they found $550,000.00 in cash and over 100 gold bars when they raided his home.  This is actually pretty f%$#ing impressive in its brazenness. 

Clearly the folks in the Maryland state lege need to step up their game.  This is way more dramatic than bundles of cash in the freezer.:

Of all the details in the federal indictment of Senator Robert Menendez, one of the most eye-popping may be the assertion that a sizable chunk of the graft he is charged with collecting came in the form of gold bars.

The indictment does not say why Mr. Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his wife would accept such bribes along with the roughly $550,000 in cash and luxury car that prosecutors say were found in searches of the couple’s home and a safe deposit box.

On a slightly more prosaic note, a rapidly growing numbwer of Democrats are calling on Menendez to resign, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman.

While I do not think that there is much political gain to be made from the growing chorus to defenestrate the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey, voters do not really care about the establishment of anti-corruption bona fides, I do think that there will be a positive policy outcome from this.

Menendez has been a vociferous of any engagement with Cuba, likely a product of his status as the child of Cuban emigres, and as such he has been a prominent of reversing the 60 year old diplomat failure that is US Cuba policy.

22 September 2023

A Fool and His Money

It now appears that 95% of NFTs are now worthless

They were always worthless, it's just that they have run out of stupid people to keep the mania going:

Just a couple of years ago you'd have no trouble finding some celebrity hawking a non-fungible token (NFT) project. But how quickly times change, as now, even websites dedicated to gambling with cryptocurrency are warning people to stay away from NFTs.

For those who don't recall, NFTs are entries on a blockchain, typically the Ethereum blockchain, that represent ownership of assets – usually a digital asset like an image file or in-game item, but NFTs could also be tied to physical items.

Back in their 2021-22 heyday, collectors were paying millions for NFTs, but crypto gambling website dappGambl now says that most are worthless.

After looking at 73,257 NFT collections (a collection can contain any number of NFTs that can each be bought and sold) based on data from CoinMarketCap and NFTScan, dappGambl said it determined that 69,795 of those collections have a market cap of 0 Ether.

"This statistic effectively means that 95 percent of people holding NFT collections are currently holding onto worthless investments," dappGambl said in its report. "Having looked into those figures, we would estimate that 95 percent to include over 23 million people whose investments are now worthless."

Crypto currency does not work as currency, crypto art does not work as art.

I'm beginning to think that blockchain was a bit over-hyped. 

People spent thousands, in come cases millions, of dollars on what was a transparently fraudulent transaction.

I don't get it.

Deep Thought

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay, A Few Figs from Thistles
Words to live by.

It's Only Been 15 Years


Sales are down


But prices are up,
because home sales are slowing most for starter homes
And we are seeing the start of another real-estate crash.

The latest bit of news, falling home sales:

Home sales declined again in August, falling to their slowest pace since January and intensifying the worst U.S. housing slump in more than a decade. Existing-home sales, which make up most of the housing market, decreased 0.7% in August from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. August sales fell 15.3% from a year earlier

Home sales have tumbled by about 36% from January 2022, and activity could slow further in the months ahead. August sales reflected contracts signed earlier in the summer when borrowing rates were lower than today. Mortgage rates shot back above 7% last month and still hover near two-decade highs, which could prompt buyers to give up for the rest of the year.

“Sales are struggling, home buyers are struggling,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Once again, we are caught up in a speculative frenzy, and once again the banks are caught flat footed by this, and hold way too much bad paper.

There is a view, one held by much of the government and much of the public, that buying home should be a growth investment, rather than a way for people to secure a domicile, and store (but not increase) wealth.

Ever increasing real estate prices are not sustainable.

This Explains Why He Platformed Shelby Foote


Yes, this Ken Burns, and Clarence Thomas, and David Koch
One of the the interesting side stories from the most recent Clarence Thomas story is that they led with a picture of Ken Burns posing with Clarence Thomas and David Koch at a get together for their political network.

Ken Burns is saying that it was a chance meeting lasting perhaps 5 minutes at which little more than pleasantries were exchanged with the Justice.

I'm inclined to believe him, but while most people focus on this, the important bit was that Burns was at an exclusive event held at an exclusive, and very expensive, venue.

Notwithstanding his stated politics, Ken Burns is a Democratic donor, it's clear that he was there to appeal to the Koch brothers as donors, both to PBS and to his documentary projects.

This makes me wonder about what drives the content of his documentaries.

In particular, his choice to platform faux historian and lost cause proponent Shelby Foote in his Civil War documentary, which I have detested since I first saw the documentary, seems a less random.

Elections Have Consequences

Under Lina Kahn's leadership, the Federal Trade Commission has been aggressive in the pursuit of anti-competitive behavior.

They have now expanded their investigations to cover private equity driven consolidation of specialist medical practices.

We see this in the FTC action against the private equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe (WCAS) which created U.S. Anesthesia Partners (USAP) in attempt to monopolize various markets:

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed suit against private equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe (WCAS), accusing it of suppressing competition and driving up prices for anesthesiology services in Texas.

Why it matters: This could be the tip of an antitrust spear aimed at private equity, after decades of avoidance.

Backstory: WCAS in 2012 announced the formation of U.S. Anesthesia Partners (USAP), a platform that would acquire anesthesia services groups.

  • Today it reports having over 700 facility partners in eight states that serve over two million patients annually,
  • Much of its focus has been on Texas, which USAP breaks out into four separate regions on its website.

Lawsuit: The FTC alleges that WCAS and USAP were involved in a "multi-year anticompetitive scheme" that hurt patient pocketbooks for the sake of profits.

Matt Stoller does a very informative deep dive on this:

………

That’s the phrase [Cha-Ching!] that an executive at private equity-owned financial firm U.S. Anesthesia Partners (USAP) used after acquiring yet another Texas anesthesiology practice, with the intent of hiking prices on Texas patients. And “Cha-ching!” was the right way to put it, since the excess profits amounted to tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, in just one medical specialty, in just one state.

But the new quote should be ‘uh oh.’ Because today, the Federal Trade Commission, led by Chair Lina Khan, filed suit against USAP for monopolization, as well as its owner, New York City-based private equity firm Welsh Carson, which from its offices on Park Avenue engineered the entire strategy of gouging patients in Texas. It’s an important suit, for reasons I’ll go into, and it also reflects a more aggressive antitrust enforcement regime, and skepticism of private equity in health care.

………

What Welsh Carson did is ripped from that playbook. And the FTC’s suit against it, similarly, calls out that playbook as wholly illegal. The complaint is good reading, chock full of incriminating emails.

The story starts in 2012, when an anesthesiologist executive named John Rizzo emailed a Welsh Carson partner, D. Scott Mackesy, observing that the market for such services in Texas was fragmented, with firms competing against each other for hospital and insurance business based on lower prices and better quality.

A competitive and healthy market, to Rizzo, was bad. And so he proposed a monopolization strategy where the PE firm would buy up a whole bunch of clinics in specific cities, like Dallas and Houston. The idea was, as Welsh Carson partner Brian Regan put it, to “consolidate practices with high market share in a few key markets,” and then use “leverage with commercial payors” to raise prices for anesthesia care. 

………

The FTC noted what happened next.

Since its creation, USAP has acquired more than a dozen anesthesiology practices in Texas. As it bought each one, the FTC says, USAP raised the acquired group’s rates to USAP’s higher rates—resulting in a substantial mark-up for the same doctors as before. This roll-up strategy has made it the dominant provider of anesthesia services in Texas and in many of the state’s metropolitan areas, including Houston and Dallas. USAP’s size and prices now dwarf those of its rivals.
………

Welsh Carson and USAP engaged in the same monopolization scheme throughout Texas, but they tacked on two additional tactics, both of which are variants of price-fixing. First, they cut deals with independent anesthesia groups at key hospitals in Houston and Dallas to work together to charge higher prices. Second, according to the FTC, they “secured a promise from another large anesthesia services provider to stay out of USAP’s territory,” which is illegal market allocation.

The scheme cost Texans tens of millions of dollars, if not much more. Welsh Carson got $350 million of dividends between 2012 and 2020, and physicians who sold their practices likely reaped significant profits as well. Indeed, one insurance executive noted the goal of USAP’s acquisition strategy was to take its massively inflated prices - far higher than anyone else in the industry - “and then peanut butter spread that across the entire state of Texas.”

Up until about 1980, not only would this be prosecuted, but the Department of Justice would target the executives behind this criminally.

We should get back to this.  These executives need to be frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

Another Friday Dump of Clarence Thomas Corruption


I do not want impeachment, I want him frog marched out of his offices in handcuffs
Now in addition to everything else, Pro Publica has revealed that Clarence Thomas surreptitiously attended fund raising events for the Koch Brothers political network.

Yeah, the world's worst spokesman for Coke was actively supporting, and being remunerated with non-cash (and maybe cash) benefits by, a political advocacy group that had almost a hundred cases before the court during Thomas' tenure.

On Jan. 25, 2018, dozens of private jets descended on Palm Springs International Airport. Some of the richest people in the country were arriving for the annual winter donor summit of the Koch network, the political organization founded by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. A long weekend of strategizing, relaxation in the California sun and high-dollar fundraising lay ahead.

Just after 6 p.m., a Gulfstream G200 jet touched down on the tarmac. One of the Koch network’s most powerful allies was on board: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Private jet flight to Palm Springs?  How much was that worth?

Ka-ching!

During the summit, the justice went to a private dinner for the network’s donors. Thomas has attended Koch donor events at least twice over the years, according to interviews with three former network employees and one major donor. The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving.

………

Thomas never reported the 2018 flight to Palm Springs on his annual financial disclosure form, an apparent violation of federal law requiring justices to report most gifts. A Koch network spokesperson said the network did not pay for the private jet. Since Thomas didn’t disclose it, it’s not clear who did pay.

………

A spokesperson for the Koch network, formally known as Stand Together, did not answer detailed questions about his role at the Palm Springs events but said, “Thomas wasn’t present for fundraising conversations.”

Yeah, Thomas cued up the donors, and then Koch and Evil Minions™ closed the deal.

Yeah, nothing suspicious there.

………

The code of conduct for the federal judiciary lays out rules designed to preserve judges’ impartiality and independence, which it calls “indispensable to justice in our society.” The code specifically prohibits both political activity and participation in fundraising. Judges are advised, for instance, not to “associate themselves” with any group “publicly identified with controversial legal, social, or political positions.”

But the code of conduct only applies to the lower courts. At the Supreme Court, justices decide what’s appropriate for themselves.

………

The Koch network is an overlapping set of nonprofits perhaps best known for its work helping cultivate the Tea Party movement in the Obama years. Recently rebranded as Stand Together, the network includes the powerful Americans for Prosperity Action, which spent over $65 million supporting Republican candidates in the last election cycle.

………

To score an invite to the summit, donors typically have to give at least $100,000 a year. Those who give in the millions receive special treatment, including dinners with Charles Koch and high-profile guests. Doling out access to powerful public officials was seen as a potent fundraising strategy, former staffers said. The dinners’ purpose was “giving donors access and giving them a reason to come or to continue to come in the future,” a former Koch network executive told ProPublica.

There are no rules that apply to Supreme Court Justices, and the possibility of a mild reproach from Chief Justice Roberts is vanishingly small.

Congress has the right to regulate the way the Supreme Court.  It's explicitly in the constitution, Article III, Section 2, Clause 2, "In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

Arrest him, arrest him now.


Bye Felicia

And by Felicia, I mean Rupert Murdoch, who is retiring his positions as Fox and News Corp chairman.

Rupert Murdoch has been a cancer on the news media for decades, but I don't think that this will improve the media landscape.

Instead, he will be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable:

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chair of Fox and, after building a media empire over seven decades that revolutionized news and entertainment and made him one of the world’s most influential and controversial tycoons.

Murdoch, 92 years old, will exit his roles atop each company as of November, when they hold annual meetings, the companies said. He will be appointed chairman emeritus of each company. His elder son, Lachlan Murdoch, who has served as co-chair of News Corp, will become sole chair of that company and will continue as executive chair and CEO.

“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles,” Rupert Murdoch wrote in a memo to staff.

His decision to step back solidifies Lachlan Murdoch as his successor. He called Lachlan a “passionate, principled leader” who can take the companies into the future.

The only way that Rupert Murdoch can make the world place now is to die.

21 September 2023

I Have No F%$#Ing Clue What Is Going On

Initial unemployment claims fell to 201,000,  much better than the 225,000 forecast, while the 4 week moving average and continuing claims fell as well.

Applications for US unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since January last week, indicating a healthy labor market that continues to support the economy.

Initial jobless claims dropped by 20,000 to 201,000 in the week ending Sept. 16, returning to within striking distance of the lowest level in more than five decades, according to Labor Department data out Thursday. The figure was below all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Continuing claims, which are a proxy for the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, declined to 1.66 million in the week through Sept. 9. That was also the lowest level since the start of the year.

I think that the few million who have left the labor force from long Covid or pandemic related mortality probably has a lot to do with this.

As to what the Fed will do, with a nominally strong job market but falling inflation?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Everyone Wants to Tell Rahm Emanuel to Shut the F%$# Up

Including, it appears, the Biden administration.

I was among the legion of people who thought that appointing Rahm as an ambassador was a stupid idea, particularly as ambassador to Japan.

It turns out that Rahm's recent behavior on social media is perceived as disruptive:

Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel is reportedly in hot water with Biden administration aides for recent social media posts.

The social media posts include Emanuel questioning the recent whereabouts of Chinese government officials and accusing Chinese President Xi Jinping of disinformation.

“President Xi’s cabinet lineup is now resembling Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None,” reads one of Emanuel’s posts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “First, Foreign Minister Qin Gang goes missing, then the Rocket Force commanders go missing, and now Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks. Who’s going to win this unemployment race? China’s youth or Xi’s cabinet? #MysteryInBeijingBuilding”

According to NBC News, National Security Council officials warned the staff of the ambassador to Japan about the risks of his comments. They said it could jeopardize attempts by the Biden administration to repair rocky relations with China.

A White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to NBC News said the ambassador’s posts are “not in keeping with the message coming out of this building.”

Rahm Emanuel has always been an incompetent grandstanding sh%$-show.

I don't blame him, I blame Biden and his minions for assuming that it would be any different.

Well, Sh%$


How I feel
Added this about 24 hours after the post
Remember when I said that I was doing light posting?

I was getting prepared for a medieval cooking competition?

It got canceled.

So my work, my researching recipes, all for nought.

Why did they cancel?  

Because a we are under a tropical storm warning

It will probably be hitting on Saturday, because we are going to get 3+ inches of rain and 30 mph winds.

I wrote up the recipes, and documented them, which referred to obscure Talumud rulings, forbidden animal parts, and Yul Brynner.

Most importantly, I am a man, and I was going to use fire to cook.

I would cook in a blizzard, I would cook in this rain, I would cook in a hurricane, because I am a man (and a moron, as my reader(s) are no doubt aware, but that is beside the point).

I am experiencing barbecue interruptus, and I am not happy.

20 September 2023

Silly Rabbit, You Should Have Used a Drone

In case you missed it, Canada has accused India of murdering one of its citizens, a Sikh separatist, in Canada.

The victim, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot in his truck in a parking lot in Surrey, BC by masked assistants. 

This sounds like the sort of thing that Modi would do, particularly given his history with non-Hindus, blithely encouraging sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands, primarily Muslims, in India.

So, Modi is a murderer with genocidal tendencies, the only question is whether is the one who called the shots on this murder.

Needless to say, these allegations have created a major machlokes in diplomatic relations:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said on Monday that “agents of the government of India” had carried out the assassination of a Sikh community leader in British Columbia in June, an explosive allegation that is likely to further sour relations between the two nations.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Trudeau said that he had raised India’s involvement in the shooting of the Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, directly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Group of 20 summit meeting earlier this month “in no uncertain terms.” He said the allegation was based on intelligence gathered by the Canadian government.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Mr. Trudeau told lawmakers. He said Canada would pressure India to cooperate with the investigation into the killing of Mr. Nijjar, who advocated Sikh separatism.

Mélanie Joly, the foreign minister, later announced that Canada had expelled an Indian diplomat whom she described as the head of India’s intelligence agency in Canada.

India’s foreign ministry rejected the Canadian allegations on Tuesday morning as “absurd” and politically motivated, saying that Canada had long provided shelter to “Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who threaten India’s security. Khalistan is what Sikh separatists call the independent state they seek to create.

The ministry said that Mr. Modi had “completely rejected” the allegations when Mr. Trudeau presented them to him. “We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the ministry said in a statement.

Seeing as how these sorts of assassinations have become commonplace, almost routine, over the past few decades, though typically with the strikes coming from the west and directed toward the east.

This is one of the reasons why assassination is a bad policy.  It goes both ways.

Also, and more importantly, if you normalize this policy, and it has been normalized by the US since 911, then you can have someone like Modi, whose definition of terrorist is little more than "Uppity Minority" making the same decision.

OMG, I've Become My Dad


I don't care if this is Kosher, I ain't buying this premium pineapple made vegetarian fish sauce
So, I was in H-Mart, on an unsuccessful quest for Galingal (Thai Ginger) for my wife, and I was looking at the stuff and running around like a kid in a candy store.

That's not me.  I HATE grocery shopping.

My dad was the one who loved grocery shopping.

I get it, H-Mart is kind of cool, but when I am seriously considering buying a 1 meter long 8 kilo whole bluefish because it is Sharon's* favorite fish. 

I was positively giddy, and I hate grocery shopping.

Really, I hate it.

Have I been replaced by a pod person?


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

19 September 2023

I Can Haz Prosecushuns?

So, FTX is now going after Bankman and Fried for their role in looting the crypto exchange FTX.

It turns out that Sam Bankman-Fried's parents,  Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, were hip deep in his crypto scam.

In a perfect world, they would go to jail too, but taking their money is an adequate substitute:

FTX yesterday sued Sam Bankman-Fried's parents, alleging that Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried "exploited their access and influence within the FTX enterprise to enrich themselves" at the expense of FTX customers.

FTX's lawsuit against Bankman and Fried was filed in US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware as part of bankruptcy proceedings involving FTX and Alameda Research. "Bankman and Fried siphoned millions of dollars out of the FTX Group for their own personal benefit and their chosen pet causes. This action seeks to hold them accountable for their misconduct and recover assets for the Debtors' creditors," the lawsuit claimed.

The civil lawsuit was filed about two weeks before Bankman-Fried's criminal trial, which is scheduled to begin on October 3. Four former FTX executives already pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

In February 2022, Bankman and Fried were deeded "a $16.4 million luxury residence in The Bahamas," a 30,000-square-foot property referred to as "Blue Water," the lawsuit said.

"The total cash payment for Blue Water amounted to $18,914,327.82, inclusive of all costs, taxes, and fees. Neither Bankman nor Fried contributed any money of their own towards the purchase of Blue Water," the lawsuit said. The property was allegedly "paid for with funds ultimately provided by FTX Trading," while "Bankman and Fried enjoyed the benefits of more than $90,000 in expenses, paid for by FTX Trading, for their Bahamas residence."

Bankman additionally received a $10 million gift of Alameda funds, FTX said. Nearly $6.8 million of that was transferred to the couple's joint bank accounts, FTX said. "Bankman’s command of tax law and unique understanding of the FTX Group’s muddled corporate structure allowed him to facilitate the transfer of a cash gift totaling $10 million to himself and Fried consisting of Alameda Ltd. funds," the lawsuit said.

"Bankman and Fried also pushed for tens of millions of dollars in political and charitable contributions, including to Stanford University, which were seemingly designed to boost Bankman's and Fried's professional and social status at the expense of the FTX Group, and by extension, its customers and other creditors," the lawsuit said.

To quote Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) from the movie Trading Places, "You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people."

A Message for My Reader(s)

Light posting for a while.

I'm going to be competing at the Trial by Fire historical cooking competition, and I am hip deep in Apicius right now.

Avast Ye Scurvy Dogs!

It be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

September 19 every Yarrr Matey!

18 September 2023

This Does Not Sound Good

So, in violation of EU rules, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia have banned the import of Ukrainian grain.

Basically, their governments are pandering to their farmers, who are undercut by cheap grain from the Ukraine.

Imposing a unilateral ban appears to be a contravention of the European Union rules, so how this sorts out should be interesting:

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia said they would impose their own bans on Ukrainian grain following the European Commission's decision to let its restrictive measure end.

Brussels announced on Friday that it would not extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports that applied to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. That measure expired Friday.

Imports of Ukrainian grain, including wheat and maize, were blocked from the territory of these five countries under an agreement reached with Brussels earlier this year. Only transit to other destinations was allowed.

………

"We have to prevent excessive pressure on the Slovak market in order to remain fair to our farmers as well. At the same time, our step is a reaction to the similar procedure of Poland and Hungary," [Slovak Prime Minister Ľudovít] Ódor said.

What's more, this seems to be spreading:

………

Romanian farmers on Saturday asked the government in Bucharest to also unilaterally ban the import of Ukrainian grain and other food products, Reuters reported. "We don't understand why Romania would be reserved about doing the same" as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the farmers' association said in a statement.

The Romanian government said it would wait for Kyiv to present its plan to prevent market distortions on Monday before deciding how to protect Romanian farmers, according to the Reuters report.

There are tensions in Europe, and it could be argued that the conflict in the Ukraine follows the once in a century wars that seem to re-align europe.  (WWI (1914-1918), the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713 ), the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the Russo-Swedish War (1495-1497), etc.

The last two are kind of arbitrary, there are a f%$# tonne of wars to choose from during that era.

Still, the point stands.  Europe in 20 years will be a very different place.