31 March 2018

More of This

Black leaders in Missouri have refused to sign a letter condemning one of their colleagues criticism of Senator Claire McCaskill:
African American leaders in Missouri are frustrated with what they see as Sen. Claire McCaskill’s lackluster engagement with minority voters.

Frustrated enough that they refused to sign a letter pushing back against comments made last month by Bruce Franks, a prominent black activist and state legislator from St. Louis, who called on McCaskill to “show up” and earn the support of minority voters in her state.

“I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis,” Franks said to applause at a town hall he hosted Feb. 17.

In response to Franks comments, McCaskill had asked African American elected officials in Kansas City and St. Louis to sign the letter.

Among those who were approached by McCaskill are U.S. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City and Lacy Clay of St. Louis, and state Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, the minority leader in the Missouri House.

Each declined to sign.

“I’m 100 percent certain that nobody signed it,” Cleaver said in an interview Wednesday with The Kansas City Star. “We talked about it very seriously and strongly and every one of us said, ‘We’re going to support her, but signing this letter isn’t going to achieve what she wants. It’s just going to make people angry.’ ”

Cleaver said he’s sympathetic to McCaskill’s plight. She’s a Democrat running for re-election in a state Republican President Donald Trump won by nearly 19 points in 2016. He understands she must win over some right-leaning voters to survive.

But as McCaskill works to burnish her reputation as a centrist, Cleaver and other African American leaders said they worry she’ll leave minority voters on the left with the impression that she’s taking them for granted — and it could cost her turnout in the urban centers that are crucial to her base.
I think that they are sick of being characterized as "super-predators" by people who want their votes.

Running against you base to appeal to people who will never vote for you is stupid, and it does not get you any votes, and people who do it do not deserved to be elected.

Nice to see this blow up in Claire's face.

Justice Served

Noor Salman has been acquitted of all charges of involvement in the Pulse Night Club shootings:
The acquittal by a federal jury of Noor Salman, the widow of the man who gunned down dozens of people at the Pulse nightclub two years ago, handed federal prosecutors on Friday the rarest of defeats: a loss in a terrorism case.

The outcome was even more striking because the not-guilty verdict came from jurors in Orlando, Fla., where Omar Mateen’s rampage left 49 people dead and 53 others injured, the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

Jurors unanimously rejected government charges that Ms. Salman had helped her husband plan his violent assault in the name of the Islamic State — a narrative countered by her family’s claims that she was kept in the dark about her husband’s secrets and was home sleeping when the attack occurred.

To blame for the government’s defeat, said defense lawyers and legal experts who closely followed the trial, was a flimsy circumstantial case that ultimately was unable to persuade jurors during the eight days of trial.

Testimony from an F.B.I. agent revealed that prosecutors knew early on, but did not reveal, that one of their crucial initial pieces of evidence — that Ms. Salman had admitted driving by the nightclub with her husband in the days before the attack — most likely did not happen.
It's more than that, they had phone records conclusively show that she was not there at the time.
Prosecutors also faltered when they argued that Ms. Salman had created an alibi for her husband the night of the shooting, telling Mr. Mateen’s mother that he was out to dinner with a friend identified only as Nemo. But that line was Mr. Mateen’s own lie to his wife, defense lawyers argued. They put Nemo on the stand, over prosecutors’ objections, to testify that he knew Mr. Mateen had used him in the past as a cover story to cheat on his wife.
Of course the prosecutors did not want this information to come out in court, the truth gets in the way of a conviction.
“The more we learned, the better Noor Salman looked,” Charles D. Swift, one of her lawyers, told reporters after the verdict was announced.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated a little more than 12 hours before acquitting Ms. Salman on charges of aiding and abetting the commission of a terrorist act and of obstructing justice. She had been accused of giving misleading statements to law enforcement officers who interviewed her after the massacre.
12 hours deliberation before a not-guilty verdict, particularly in a case involving terrorism, and the prosecutors and the FBI knew it.

They lied to the jurors, and the jurors knew it, so they acquitted.

Never talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present ……… ever.


Deadpool as all of Infinity Wars, because, Deadpool.

30 March 2018

Tweet of the Day

I do remember a decade ago, when "Fitzmas" was coming, and Karl Rove was supposed to be frog marched out of the White House in Handcuffs after Patrick Fitzgerald indicted him.

Didn't happen.

Play it safe expecting parents, name your kid, "Moon Unit."

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Well, That Was Quick………

Former Department of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was fired on Wednesday, and on Thursday he publishes an OP/ED in the New York Times claiming that it was because the barbarians in the Trump administration are trying to privatize the VA:
It has been my greatest professional honor to serve our country’s more than 20 million veterans. Almost three years ago, I left my private sector job running hospitals and came to Washington to repay my gratitude to the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.


Until the past few months, veteran issues were dealt with in a largely bipartisan way. (My 100-0 Senate confirmation was perhaps the best evidence that the V.A. has been the exception to Washington’s political polarization.) Unfortunately, the department has become entangled in a brutal power struggle, with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans. These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care.

The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war. Working with community providers to adequately ensure that veterans’ needs are met is a good practice. But privatization leading to the dismantling of the department’s extensive health care system is a terrible idea. The department’s understanding of service-related health problems, its groundbreaking research and its special ability to work with military veterans cannot be easily replicated in the private sector.

I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.
I gotta figure that the first draft of this hit the Times editors weeks ago, and that it was held until he was fired.

It's called keeping your powder dry, or getting your ducks in a row, and I approve.

John Bolton Is Actually Worse Than I Had Previously Known

It turns out that in a dispute over WMD inspections before the Iraq war, he threatened the children of a UN official:
Who better to advise the bully-in-chief, Donald Trump, on when to make war and kill people than another bully? It’s difficult, after all, to avoid the label — that of a bully — when thinking of John Bolton, the former Bush administration official-turned-Fox News pundit who Trump recently picked as his national security adviser.

“John Bolton is a bully,” José Bustani, the retired Brazilian diplomat and former head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told me when I reached him by phone in Paris earlier this month.


In 2001, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had penned a letter to Bustani, thanking him for his “very impressive” work. By March 2002, however, Bolton — then serving as under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs — arrived in person at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague to issue a warning to the organization’s chief. And, according to Bustani, Bolton didn’t mince words. “Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”

Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

There was a pause.

We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.
(emphasis mine)

Great shades of Elvis.

Their evil and stupidity outstrips my fertile imagination.

Microsoft is Conspiring to Silence Me

It appears that Microsoft is instituting terms of service that ban profanity on things like Offic3 365 and Skype.

This will render me mute:
Microsoft has advised customers that offensive language on Skype, in an Outlook.com email, or in an Office 365 Word document is a potentially account-closing offense under its updated terms of use.

The tweaked services agreement, which comes into effect on May 1, 2018, now includes the following code-of-conduct item:
Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity).
And if you disobey?
If you violate these Terms, we may stop providing Services to you or we may close your Microsoft account. We may also block delivery of a communication (like email, file sharing or instant message) to or from the Services in an effort to enforce these Terms or we may remove or refuse to publish Your Content for any reason. When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue. However, we cannot monitor the entire Services and make no attempt to do so.
Microsoft lists its online services covered by the agreement here. To save you the click, the list includes:


On The Register’s reading of the rules, a profanity-laden file written in Office 365, or an email with a nude selfie attached sent using Outlook.com, fall on the wrong side of the code, if reported to Microsoft by someone. As would asking Bing to look up “Simon Sharwood of The Register is sh*t” or telling Cortana to “f*ck off” if it somehow caused offense.
Obviously, I do NOT think that the changes to the Microflaccid TOS is a specific attempt to target me.

I am saying two separate things, that the folks from Redmond are conspiring (clearly, since it is a group effort), and that if fully implemented, it would have the effect of silencing me, because I am profoundly profane in my speech and writing.

I am simply a bug plastered to Bill Gates' windshield.

29 March 2018

Not a Surprise

If you are a proud war criminal, it follows that you will aggressively advocate for the coverup as well:
President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA staunchly advocated for the destruction of videotapes showing detainees being tortured and obtained the legal opinions that were used to justify their destruction, a BuzzFeed News review of records and published accounts shows.

That version of Gina Haspel's role in destroying the tapes contradicts the narrative being pressed by CIA officials that Haspel was only following orders when she helped engineer the tapes’ destruction and that she has served the agency well for 33 years, almost all as a clandestine officer.

The narrative is intended to help build support for Haspel, who in the early 2000s was chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez when he ran the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and authorized the tapes’ destruction. She's now the CIA's deputy director.

What Haspel did in the lead-up to that destruction is likely to be a major point of contention as the Senate considers her nomination. At least four senators, including Republican Rand Paul, have said they will oppose her confirmation because of her role with the tapes and in the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program.

“The destruction is a high concern for me,” Sen. Angus King told BuzzFeed News. King, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said Haspel’s involvement with the tapes concerns him more than her role in harsh interrogations because, while harsh interrogations had been approved, the destruction of the tapes went against senior officials’ wishes.

Those officials included the White House counsel to President George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales; his successor, Harriet Miers; Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington; Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, CIA Director Porter Goss and CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo — whose objections, Rodriguez wrote in a memoir, he was well aware of.

Haspel and Rodriguez “were the staunchest advocates inside the [CIA] building for destroying the tapes,” Rizzo wrote in his 2014 memoir, Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA. “On the edges of meetings on other subjects, in the hallways, they would raise the subject almost every week.”
Seriously, Haspel might be the most morally bankrupt individual to be considered to head the CIA since Allen Dulles.

Hell, she might be the most morally bankrupt person to be considered to head a major intelligence organization since Lavrentiy Beria.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

In a last-minute move that would give Republicans an advantage in maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the Trump administration is reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Coming from an administration that has been hostile toward immigrants, the change was not surprising, but it’s galling nonetheless.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the decision Monday, less than a week before the Census Bureau, which his department oversees, is supposed to send final questions for the 2020 census to Congress. If his decision stands — the attorney general of California has filed a lawsuit to block it, and other elected officials are preparing to do so — it would be the first time in 70 years that the federal government has asked people to specify their citizenship status on the census form sent to every household.


Even Mr. Ross acknowledged in an October House hearing that adding questions to the census reduced response rates because “the more things you ask in those forms, the less likely you are to get them in.”


By now, many people have come to expect that Mr. Trump will inject politics into every decision. But even by this administration’s low standards, trifling with the census, which is required by the Constitution and is a foundation of American democracy, represents a serious breach of trust. 
Unfortunately, the Times editorial board does not have the guts to say what is really going on:  This is a nakedly partisan attempt to suppress responses to the census in Democratic locations, with the hope that they can juice the numbers to effectively Gerrymander the Congressional map even further.

This is patently and transparently corrupt.

I Know Where I am Eating the Next Time that I am in Toronto

I will have a meal at the Antler Kitchen and Bar, if just because the chef and co-owner had such a beautiful way of dealing with protests from the nut-job vegan crowd:
The vegans planned their protest for the middle of the restaurant’s busy dinnertime shift.

The group of animal rights activists were incensed that Antler Kitchen & Bar, a locavore restaurant in Toronto that says it highlights regional ingredients, served foie gras and farmed meat “meant to run in the wild.” So a group of them stood in front last week chanting “you’ve got blood on your hands,” and holding a banner that read MURDER in hot pink lettering.

Then came the counterprotest.

Michael Hunter, a chef and co-owner of the restaurant appeared in its window with a raw deer leg and a sharp knife, when he began to carve up the meat in full view of the protesters, some of whom later said they were disturbed for days, according to news reports.

“I figured, I’ll show them,” Hunter told the Globe and Mail. “I’m going to have my own protest.”

The episode, which was captured on video by one of the protesters, has since drawn wide attention from local news outlets and social media. The event page created by the activists for their protest has since been inundated with comments, many harshly critical of their cause.
It also appears that this may have actually generated some more business for the restaurant in the long run:

Women and Makeup

Without Makeup

Her traditional look
It appears tahat Christina Aguilera has gone makeup free for a magazine shoot, and the internet appears to be having a full freakout mode paroxysm oiver it.

I think that she looks much better that way.

In fact, I think that women generally look better with less makeup, something that I say not infrequently to Sharon*.

I am not alone, nor am I even in the minority, in this opinion.

I'm not sure who it is who has been telling women that they need to spend hours on makeup, but they are full of crap.

Save the time, save the money, and save the aggravation, and try to be comfortable with how you look.

Also, the freckles are just so f%$#ing adorable, and with all the makeup, you cannot see them.

Women, here is an insight into men:  When they say that you do not need makeup, most men, most of the time, are telling the truth.


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

28 March 2018

Craigslist Ad Of the Day

This guy needs to send his resume to Trevor Noa
Some wag posted a (now pulled) advertisement for a lawyer for Donald Trump:
This afternoon a hilarious classified ad popped up on Washington, DC Craigslist. It appears to now be taken down, but not before I snagged a copy of the text.

"Seeking Lead Attorney For Difficult Client" was the title.

The text read:
“Seeking a lead attorney to represent client involved in an ongoing Federal investigation. Must be familiar with laws and procedures around discovery, executive privilege, international financing of licensed real estate, election law and the Logan Act. Working knowledge of social media, especially Twitter is a plus, as is a better than average knowledge of the adult film industry and a collection of Playboy magazines from 1985-2010. Must look the part – Gregory Peck or Tommy Lee Jones type. Prior appearances on Fox News a huge plus.

No fatties.

Must be prepared to work with a client who is very forceful and opinionated about his defense and is his own best counsel.

Basically your job boils down to keeping him from testifying under oath and hoping the rest comes out in the wash.

Ask about our other openings on our staff and submit your resume to be considered for potential openings in the near future. Perhaps the very near future. Like, hit refresh on your browser now. Now again.”
This is f%$#ing beautiful.

Like Forrest Gump ……… Only a Bond Villain

Someone needs to get Peter Thiel a white Persian cat, because he seems to have a hand in every evil thing that can be done with the internet:
As a start-up called Cambridge Analytica sought to harvest the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans in summer 2014, the company received help from at least one employee at Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon.

It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.


The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.
Continue reading the main story

“There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,” said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday.

Cambridge Analytica has found itself confronting a deepening crisis since reports about the firm’s data harvesting were published this month in The New York Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian.

The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook.
Great googly moogly.

My first though was that Peter Thiel is the devil, and then I realized that he's actually the vexatious home owners' association president that manages hell.

I am kind of surprised that some sort of evil singularity not formed in his spleen because of that much evil in that small a space seems to violate the laws of physics.

Meme of the Day

Yeah, pretty much.

Quote of the Day

People are still trying to blame Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 electoral victory on something, anything—other than America’s degenerate politics and a political class that has presided over a stunning national decline.
Yasha Levine
5 of the past 6 elections have been about change, and how those in power have failed us, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014, and 1016.

The thing is, as Mr. Levine notes, those who have profited from the failed conventional wisdom have no interest in changing things, "The keepers of conventional wisdom all insist in one way or another that Trump won because something novel and unique happened; that something had to have gone horribly wrong. And if you’re able to identify and isolate this something and get rid of it, everything will go back to normal—back to status quo, when everything was good."

This is why we are seeing people grasp at "Black Swans", Putin, Facebook, fake news, etc.

If there is meaningful change, those in power will lose to some degree, and they do not want to see that, ever.

Here is a good rule of thumb, if you have a seemingly intractable problem, the conventional wisdom is ALWAYS wrong.

If the conventional wisdom were right, then the problem would not be intractable.

In fact it would have already been solved.

Another Stopped Moment

It appears that someone in Congress snuck in a provision banning sending arms to militias that allow Nazis to serve.

It's addressing what is a very real problem in the Ukraine:
A little-noticed provision in the 2,232-page government spending bill passed last week bans U.S. arms from going to a controversial ultranationalist militia in Ukraine that has openly accepted neo-Nazis into its ranks.

House-passed spending bills for the past three years have included a ban on U.S. aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion, but the provision was stripped out before final passage each year.

This year, though, the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law last week stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”

“White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), an outspoken critic of providing lethal aid to Ukraine, said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine.”

The United States has been aiding and training Ukrainian forces in their fight against Russian-backed separatists since 2014, and recently expanded that aid to include arms. The omnibus includes about $620.7 million in aid for Ukraine, including $420.7 million in State Department and foreign operations funds and $200 million in Pentagon funds.

The Azov Battalion was founded in 2014, and its first commander was Andriy Biletsky, who previously headed the neo-Nazi group Patriot of Ukraine. Several members of the militia, which has been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard, are self-avowed neo-Nazis.

But a spokesman for the group has defended it, telling USA Today in 2015 that only 10 to 20 percent of recruits are neo-Nazis and that those people do not represent the official ideology of Azov.
Gee only 10-20% Nazis.

Would you like a sandwich to go with that? It contains only 10-20% rat feces.

So, we've been supporting Nazis in the Ukraine, and  al Qaeda in Syria (sorry, I meant "Islamist moderates")

Should we just put a skull on our uniform caps and be done with it?

27 March 2018

And Arizona Understands Why California Banned Uber's Self-Driving Cars Now

Once again, Gov. Doug Ducey’s dislike for government regulation has resulted in injury to Arizona, this time with tragic result.

Ducey on Monday rescinded Uber’s ability to test its self- driving vehicles in Arizona, citing the video of last week’s fatal crash into a Tempe pedestrian.

“As governor, my top priority is public safety,” Ducey wrote, in a letter to the San Francisco-based company.

This from the same governor, who in 2015 signed an executive order aimed at enticing Uber to use Arizona’s roads as a guinea pig.

The same governor who in December 2016 crowed over Uber’s decision to bring hundreds of its driverless cars to Arizona for testing “due to California’s burdensome regulations.”


The Ducey administration actually bragged about its lack of oversight of driverless vehicles.


Earlier this month, Ducey went a step further, issuing a new executive order decreeing that self-driving cars no longer need a driver behind the wheel, as long as they follow all the traditional traffic laws and rules for cars and drivers.

"As technology advances, our policies and priorities must adapt to remain competitive in today’s economy,” Ducey said. “This executive order embraces new technologies by creating an environment that supports autonomous vehicle innovation and maintains a focus on public safety.”

Now Elaine Herzberg is dead.


It’s not the first time Ducey’s preoccupation with bypassing government has caused problems.

Remember Theranos?

Ducey and the Legislature in 2015 cleared the way for Theranos to operate in our state, pushing though a new law that allowed consumers to purchase lab tests from a company without a doctor’s orders.
California shut down Uber's self driving car program because they refused to get permits or report to regulators.

Even if you think that self-driving cars are just around the corner (I don't), and you feel that development of self driving cars should be accelerated (again, I don't), and that self driving cars will create a transportation utopia, Uber is a bad actor in their space, and they have ALWAYS been a bad actor in their space.

Smoothing the way for Uber is irresponsible and reckless.

We Now Have the Numbers for the March for Our Lives March

We have the counts, and it's more than one million people nationwide:
At least a million Americans poured into the streets on Saturday to participate in the hundreds of March for Our Lives events across the nation.

A review by The Hill of official crowd estimates, offered by city administrations and police departments across the country, found nearly a million total protestors across 62 of the nation’s 100 largest cities. More than three dozen cities where marches were held on Saturday did not offer official crowd sizes, though local media outlets reported thousands or tens of thousands of marchers in those cities.Police and city officials counted more than 200,000 marchers at the largest demonstration, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Another 175,000 people took to the streets in Manhattan, according to New York City police.

Officials in Chicago counted 85,000 demonstrators, and the march in Los Angeles brought out another 55,000 people. In Boston, 50,000 people took to the streets, and 30,000 people joined in both Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

In Parkland, Fla., the site of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School school shooting, 20,000 people demonstrated — although many of the students from the school itself were participating in the march in Washington. A hockey team from the high school was participating in a tournament in the Twin Cities, where police estimated 18,000 demonstrators marched.
Good job, youngsters.

More of this.

You Would Know This If You Talked to Doctors

It appears that at least SOME of the mainstream media are beginning to notice that electronic health records are neither saving money nor improving the quality of health care:
We trust computer technology to solve problems, save time and money, and improve our lives. It has. Why didn’t it work with electronic health records?

EHRs are costly, clunky, error prone failures we seem unable to fix. It’s as if we took off in a hastily designed rocket, realize we need to come back, but are stuck in orbit without a reentry plan.

The Obama administration set aside tens of billions in 2009 to forcibly drag doctors and hospitals out of the Stone Age of paper into the brave new world of bites and bits. It promised a Nirvana of heath care quality, efficiency and cost savings. Hundreds of billions more were spent by hospital systems, too, under government mandates. In retrospect much of that money was wasted.

……… Snipping the example of automated check in at the airport.

Assuming [airline] employees get $30 an hour, that’s $1,500 saved for each and every flight. With hundreds of flights from each airport that’s big money. Employees cost a lot ongoing. Touch screens work for years on one investment. We, passengers, were the happy, healthy — and unpaid — labor that made it possible. The airline’s question had been, “How can computers save money and employee time on passenger check-in?” It got the right answer by asking the right question.

In medicine, the customer is the patient, not the passenger. If we could get patients to check into the medical office, hospital or emergency room, go to a touch screen, populate the computer screens with their correct diagnosis, order their tests and imaging and prescribe their own treatments that would be peachy, but unlike passengers, patients can’t do that on their best days. There is almost nothing in medicine that can be done, ordered or documented by the patient/customer. Doctors and nurses do all that.

Before the EHR, I dictated hospital admission histories on a phone and a typist getting $30 an hour typed them. I do that on an EHR now and it’s slower. It takes me triple the time it used to. There is a complex template used, not much like the way I think about care.

Similarly, I used to hand write orders and give them to a clerk. It took but a few minutes. Entering it all by computer is complex. The EHR does not allow me to just write what I want. It offers drop downs, many suggestions, and reminders, and pages of choices to click and to select options, not to mention all the time taken to just get in and out of the triple layer of security built into every such program. That alone takes more time than handwritten orders used to take.

So in the hospital I have become a very highly paid clerk. It is as if Qantas required the pilot to do the data entry for billing and boarding of each passenger. Insane, you say? But that’s exactly what current EHRs do in medicine.
This does not just happen with medicine.

I Believe That We Have Just Been Told to Zuck Off

How can I pass up this Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reference:
Yes, Zuckerberg is saying, "It's in the terms of service, so go Zuck yourself."

Considering the history of Facebook, we should expect nothing less from him.

The Process Is Simple, Choose a Rich and Stupid Candidate, Get Him to Make Huge Media Buys, and Profit

I think that I have divined a method to the madness at the DCCC and the DNC.

They push candidates that have nothing to recommend them but money (see Cisneros, Gil) then they boost these candidates, who, having no clue, run poor campaigns where they overspend on expensive media on the advice of consultants, and those consultants get a percentage of the media buy, and walk away with their pockets full, win or lose.

It is the Upton Sinclair quote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it," made manifest.

This explains the latest shenanigans in Minnesota. It's looting by the political consultant class:
Jeff Erdmann of Eagan is a football coach at Rosemount High School who wants to add a term in Congress to his resume.

He hopes to run against first term Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota's 2nd District.

But Erdmann said he faces an obstacle in gaining the DFL Party endorsement in the form of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


DCCC officials made it clear money drove their choice to back Craig, he added.

"We didn't talk anything about my background, my success as a teacher, as a coach any of the values that I hold. All they wanted to talk about was where we thought we could get money-wise."


In Minnesota's 3rd District in the western suburbs, another wealthy Democrat, Dean Phillips, also won early DCCC backing.

Democrat Adam Jennings is also in the race and hoping for the chance to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen. Jennings said the DCCC wouldn't even speak with him.

"There is kind of an establishment big-money component to all of this, and the more I think about it the more motivated I get to run."
The folks at the DNC and the DCCC hang out with the political consultants, they break bread with them, and in many cases, they marry them, and in a few years, the do a tour as political consultants themselves, and get rich giving bad advice to candidates.

They are deciding this on the basis of what butters their bread best, and not winning elections or getting good people into office.

They are parasites, and you cannot negotiate with a parasite, you can only remove it.

Yeah, This Amuses the Hell out of Me Too

It appears that Donald Trump is having a devil of a time finding counsel willing to represent him,

My guess is because as is clear to even my legal mind, Donald Trump is the client from hell:
Two more high-power attorneys have had to turn down President Donald Trump. Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb confirmed to The Daily Beast that Trump reached out to them about representing him, and that they couldn’t do it.

“President Trump reached out to Dan Webb and Tom Buchanan to provide legal representation,” they said in a statement. “They were unable to take on the representation due to business conflicts. However they consider the opportunity to represent the President to be the highest honor and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so. They wish the president the best and believe he has excellent representation in Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow.”


Buchanan and Webb’s decision highlights the challenges the president has faced in assembling a legal team to represent him for matters related to the Mueller probe. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that numerous lawyers were eager to work for him. But so far, his team has been shrinking rather than expanding.
There are good clients, and bad clients, and awful clients, and then there is Donald Trump, and lawyers simply do not want to deal with his crap.


Sauce for the Gander, I Guess

At Least, There is Symmetry
It turns out that we may have another dress figuring in a Presidential sex scandal:
I honestly thought Stormy Daniels' friend Alana Evans was just trolling CNN with this, but maybe there's something to it.

During a much longer interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto, Stormy's friend Alana Evans told him she was unaware of any texts, pictures or video but there was one thing. One little thing.

"All I know is that Stormy still has the dress that she wore rom that night," Evans told Sciutto.

Nonplussed, he asked, "And she kept that for what reason?"

As if everyone's mind didn't go to Monica Lewinsky's little blue dress. Please.
Of course, the Republicans are not going to do anything if this whole mess pans out, even if Trump were to, "Put half a dozen children on a spit and toast them at the flame that comes out of his mouth," as playwright Christopher Fry so colo(u)rfully put it many years ago, the Republican base would continue to support him.

Still, watching him squirm on a matter which won't have the effect of f%$#ing up the world for the next few decades amuses me.

26 March 2018

Saw a Bit of History Today

This was the space suit issued to Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin for his role as a backup for the Apollo 8 flight.

He used it for training for Apollo 11, as did William Pogue for the Skylab mission training.

It's in the lobby of ILC-Dover, and seeing it made my day.

You can click on this for a full size image.


A miscarriage of justice in the UK. It was a joke, not hate speech:

25 March 2018

Some Skunkworks History Revealed

Lockheed's Skunk Works has finally revealed some of its earliest efforts on stealthy drones:
In 2001, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works secretly flew a flying wing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with a roughly 9m (30ft) wingspan with modular wings and a bulbous fuselage as a technology demonstrator for a family of aircraft.

As the company prepares to celebrate the Skunk Works’ 75th anniversary in June, Lockheed decided to reveal the existence of the formerly secret project at the Los Angeles County air show on 24 March in Lancaster, California, which lies few miles north on Highway 14 from the unit’s headquarters in Palmdale.

Lockheed’s “X-44A” greeted visitors at the entrance of the five-year-old local event near Edwards AFB, a storied flight test centre for the US Air Force and NASA.

Although the project’s existence is no longer a secret, Lockheed is not yet prepared to offer many details beyond the year of its first flight and its role as a demonstrator for a family of UAVs.
If anyone is going to the air show, see if you can get a Q&A session with a Lockheed rep.

Please Go Away Now

Hillary Clinton, again, and this time, she has managed to piss off the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which spent 2015 and 2016 with its thumb on the scales for her by raising money for her new PAC on the same day as the DNC is doing a fundraising event. (Yes, I know, NY Post, but still………)

I really hope that this is just another attempt to raise money for the various parasites that constitute the Clinton inner circle, because the other alternative, that she is seriously considering running for President again in 2020, is simply too horrible to contemplate:
Just as Democratic donors thought they’d finally put away wallets for Hillary Clinton, she’s coming back to NYC for a fundraiser for her nonprofit — while also creating a party stink by throwing the bash at the exact same time as an event for DNC chairman Tom Perez.

Clinton will be in town on April 30 for her “Onward Together” organization, to support young political leaders.

With great fanfare, Clinton announced in an email to her 2016 supporters that she is launching the Onward Together Leadership Council and that they could become charter members — in return for coughing up at least $10,000.
Seriously, the level of delusion self absorption is stunning, and it is tremendously destructive to both the party and our political discourse.

"Spring" in Maryland

1PM: Snow Squall

2 hours later: Sunny and 60 degrees

2 hours after that: Sleeting
It's March 25.

It's officially been Spring for days.

It started snowing a little bit after noon.

By 1 pm we had a full snow squall.

And then, it was followed by warmer temperatures and clear skies, which was in turn followed by a frozen mix.

Enough already!!!!!

24 March 2018

Am I This Guy?

I saw this cartoon, and I was horrified to realize that it was way too much like me.

I asked my family, and they all said, "Pretty much."

Link to full cartoon.

My Kids Went to Washington, DC Today

Charlie and Natalie took a bus from the CCBC campus to participate in the March for Our Lives protest.

Charlie promised pictures and videos for my blog, and then he left his phone on the bus, so we will be seeing none of his unique multimedia stylings here.

No official numbers yet, but there were hundreds of thousands at Pennsylvania Avenue.

Holland Gets It

Dutch voters have narrowly rejected a law that would give spy agencies the power to carry out mass tapping of Internet traffic delivering a setback to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

Dubbed the “trawling law” by opponents, the legislation would allow spy agencies to install wire taps targeting an entire geographic region or avenue of communication, store information for up to three years, and share it with allied spy agencies.

With 89 percent of the vote from a referendum counted on Thursday morning, the “no” vote was 48.8 percent, against 47.3 percent “yes.”

The tapping law has already been approved by both houses of parliament. Rutte’s government had backed a “yes” vote, saying the law was needed to make the country safer, and though the referendum was non-binding Rutte has vowed to take the result seriously
It's the right thing, and I cannot imagine American voters doing the same thing.

Of course, Rutte is under no obligation to do anything about this, so I expect some cosmetic breast beating, and perhaps the creation of a do-nothing commission to study the program, which will allow Holland to spy on its citizens.

I've Heard This Story Before

Luxury homes in Manhattan are selling at the biggest discounts on record as owners grow tired of waiting for buyers to match their price.

Homes priced at $4 million or more that went into contract in the first 12 weeks of the year had their asking prices cut by an average of 10 percent, the most in data going back to 2012, according to Olshan Realty Inc. Final sale prices, which won’t be known until the deals close, will probably reflect even greater reductions, said Donna Olshan, president of the brokerage that compiled the report.

“Most things at $4 million and above are selling 15 to 20 percent below the original ask,” Olshan said. “It’s a data point that screams: The market is overpriced!”

Owners who prevail in selling their homes are conceding that Manhattan’s luxury market is brimming with choices, and that even well-heeled buyers are sensitive to price. Shoppers with cash are no longer bidding up properties to record levels, and sellers who recognize the new reality are the likeliest to succeed, Olshan said.
If things are bad now, what happens when there is crack-down on money laundering?

Also, what happens when banks start getting burnt by this?

Two words, "Lehman Brothers, 2008."

OK, that's two words and one number.

23 March 2018

Would You Like to Play Global Thermonuclear War?

The Trump administration has announced that John Bolton will be the next chairman of the National Security Council, replacing H.R. McMaster.

Even among the Neocons, John Bolton is known as a foaming at the mouth war monger, and I would expect him to aggressively lobby for military strikes against the DPRK and Iran.

This will not end well:
President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history.

Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president.

The move, which was sudden but not unexpected, signals a more confrontational approach in American foreign policy at a time when Mr. Trump faces mounting challenges, including from Iran and North Korea.


Mr. Bolton, an outspoken advocate of military action who served in the George W. Bush administration, has called for action against Iran and North Korea. In an interview on Thursday on Fox News, soon after his appointment was announced in a presidential tweet, he declined to say whether Mr. Trump should go through with a planned meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
We are all gonna die.

Live in Obedient Fear, Union Brothers

Scotland Yard has admitted Special Branch officers passed information to a controversial network that blacklisted construction workers.

It follows a six-year battle to find out if the Metropolitan Police supplied the intelligence on trade unionists.

The force says its investigation had "proven" the allegation, which will be investigated by a public inquiry.

Workers who say they were unfairly barred from jobs have already received millions of pounds in compensation.

In 2016, the union Unite reached a settlement with construction firms that resulted in 256 workers sharing more than £10m in compensation.

At the heart of the claims, which were made by hundreds of workers, was evidence that firms accessed a "blacklist" that logged workers' trade union activities.

The list was used by dozens of construction firms to vet those applying for work on building sites.

When the files were found to contain details of individual's political activities, the workers demanded that Scotland Yard disclose whether undercover police had colluded in supplying intelligence.


In a letter to the workers' lawyers, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said the findings of the Metropolitan Police's internal investigation, completed two years ago, were so sensitive that they were sent directly to the then commissioner.

The letter states: "Allegation: Police, including Special Branches, supplied information that appeared on the Blacklist, funded by the country's major construction firms.

"The report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is 'proven'.
This scheme did not spring full grown from the forehead of  the Yard.

Politically connected builders leaned on elected officials, who in turn leaned on law enforcement.

Hopefully, this will be investigated more deeply.


Belgium is planning to acquire a replacement for its F-16 fleet, and the leader in this contest is the F-35 mistake jet.

It now turns out that the government concealed options from the lawmakers to get the procurement approved:
Belgium’s future fighter program has been thrown into turmoil after it emerged that cheaper options to extend the life of the country’s F-16 Fighting Falcons had been deliberately hidden from ministers.

The scandal, which has already resulted in the suspension of several military officers and civil servants, came to light after the leaking of a Lockheed Martin assessment dated April 2016 to several Belgian news outlets on March 20. The documents suggested the country’s F-16s could be upgraded and given another six years of operational life, making a new fighter purchase less urgent than government officials had previously contended.

Defense Minister Steven Vandeput told the country’s Parliament that he had not been made aware of the report about the potential life extension option.

“If this report actually exists, if its content is accurate, and if the defense [ministry] has decided not to share it, there is a problem,” Vandeput told a Belgian radio station.
Yes, it is a problem.

Welcome to the military-industrial complex, Belgium.

This is an Excellent Idea

In New York, there are proposals to prevent employers from requiring workers to stay connected to the job when they are off of work:
New Yorkers are used to having their happy hours interrupted with emails or calls from the boss.

But a new proposal being floated in the City Council could give them the right to hit ignore.

A measure protecting private-sector employees from penalties for ignoring after-hours or weekend work communications is gaining steam among New York Democrats, while drawing concern from business groups.

Councilman Rafael Espinal (D., Brooklyn) introduced the bill in the New York City Council on Thursday, and state Sen. Diane Savino (D., Staten Island) is working on her own version to introduce in the state legislature.

“It’s important for workers to be able to draw a line between their work lives and personal lives,” said Mr. Espinal.

Mr. Espinal’s legislation is modeled after the “Right to Disconnect” law that passed in France last year. His legislation would make it illegal for an employer with more than 10 workers to require employees to access their work-related communications outside of normal work hours. It would prohibit employers from taking action against employees for not responding. It doesn’t apply to government workers.

Proponents says such a law would help labor regulations adapt to the smartphone era, when people’s leisure and office hours are often blurred.
I would also suggest requiring that people who are on call be paid for on call time.

Basically, all of this is employers taking from employees in order to cover for their own lack of organization skills.

Applying Software Ethos to the Real Word

I am referring, of course to Elon Musk and Tesla Motors.

The author draws analogies to the bad old days of the US auto industry, where shipping was more important than shipping it right:
The idea that Silicon Valley could reinvent the auto sector the way Apple reinvented mobile phones is an appealing one, and by some metrics Tesla has done just that. The Silicon Valley automaker's distinctive product features -- blistering performance, long-range batteries and slick touchscreen interfaces --have beguiled legions of fans and investors, giving the impression that the future of the auto industry had suddenly arrived.

But recent reports call that glowing future into question. After 15 years, it's increasingly clear that Tesla has nothing to offer in the area that, as the tech analyst Horace Dediu puts it, is where "almost all meaningful innovation occurs": the production system.

Throughout its history, Tesla has been plagued by poor manufacturing quality and missed production deadlines. And now, CNBC's Lora Kolodny has the scoop on Tesla operations tasked with "reworking" and "remanufacturing" poor quality cars and parts, illustrating a deeper problem than the poor quality itself. By reworking vehicles after they come off the line at its Fremont, California, assembly plant at a dedicated remanufacturing facility in nearby Lathrop -- and even reportedly in its service centers -- Tesla is taking automotive manufacturing back to dark ages.

Once upon a time, this was the standard practice for Detroit's automakers. Driven by logic derived from Henry Ford's manufacturing system, U.S. automakers kept production cranking in order to maximize efficiencies of scale, and then repaired defective cars after they rolled off the line. Though many factors contributed to the decline of the Big Three in the 1970s and 80s, the inefficiency and apathy entrenched in company culture by this approach to quality was one of the most important.

In contrast, Toyota's cars may not have had the dramatic, chrome-draped designs or V8 performance of American competitors, but the legendary Toyota Production System (also known as TPS, or "lean") did away with rework, and its dependable, high-quality cars eviscerated Detroit's market share. By systematically eliminating all forms of waste -- "muda" -- from its manufacturing, Toyota found that both capital efficiency and quality benefited enormously from building cars right the first time.


Tesla seems either uninterested in or oblivious to the historical lesson here. On last quarter's earnings call, chief executive Elon Musk told analysts that Tesla doesn't see TPS as a model for his company, even as he reiterated his goal of "productizing" Tesla's factories.
Manufacturers have learned that it's better to get it right the first time over the past few decades, computer programmers, not so much.

Hence we see the bloated software that is as full of bugs as it is full of new features that no one really needs.

Rinse, lather, and repeat, and we have Elon Musk's Tesla.

22 March 2018

A Cool Idea That Isn't Going Anywhere

Saab is once again is considering marinizing the Gripen fighter for carrier use.

Technically, the airframe is already well suited to carrier use, but who is going to buy it?

The only countries that operate, or will operate, carriers with arrester gear are the US, France, China, Russia, Brazil, and India.

That's a small market, since only Brazil and India won't buy their own aircraft, and that is a very small production:
Based on the in-development Gripen E, the model would be capable of operating from aircraft carriers configured either for short-take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) or catapult-assisted take-off but with arrested recovery (CATOBAR) operations.

"We have a fully certified design that has been signed off by Saab management for the maritime version of Gripen," says Tony Ogilvy, head of marketing for the Gripen M. "It's in our portfolio, but it is only a design. We have not taken it to the next critical step, which will require a customer."

Ogilvy's background is carrier aviation. During a three-decade career in the UK Royal Navy he flew Blackburn Buccaneers for 12 years and British Aerospace Sea Harriers for six, including from several of the service's carriers. He contends that Saab's model-based systems engineering approach offers a "very high level of fidelity" that should, if a Gripen M customer is obtained, result in a concept demonstrator that works well first time.


Given that Sweden has no plans for aircraft carriers, the two potential markets for the Gripen M are Brazil and India.

The Brazilian air force has ordered 28 single-seat Gripen Es and eight two-seat F-model examples, being developed with Embraer. Its new fighters will be delivered between 2019 and 2024, including eight single-seaters and seven twin-seaters built in Brazil.

The nation's navy is also interested in replacing its retired aircraft carrier, the Sao Paolo, although this requirement has yet to be fully defined. Should Brazil's plans for such a new vessel gain traction, it could provide an opportunity for the Gripen M.

In India, Saab, Boeing and Dassault have responded to a request for information for 57 carrier-based fighters. India has one STOBAR-configured ship, equipped with RAC MiG-29Ks, and has plans for an additional example. Longer term, it has plans for a more potent CATOBAR carrier, potentially using General Atomics' electromagnetic aircraft launch system, as opposed to conventional steam catapults.
There is a whole flock of ducks that need get in a row before Saab can even think about putting in a serious bid.

Not gonna happen.

Cool idea though.

Another School Shooting………

This time, in Maryland, Saint Mary's County yesterday.

Seriously, why is this even news any more?

It happens every week or so.

Quote of the Day

Saying that Russia has undermined American democracy is like me – middle-aged, five foot nine, and unblessed with jumping ability – saying that the Brooklyn Nets Russian-born center Timofy Mozgov undermined my potential career in the National Basketball Association.

Paul Street on Counterpunch.
If we are really worried about our democratic process being compromised, we need to look at the corporate media, the entrenched elites, the feckless punditry, and the political consultant class first.

They've done a way better job at compromising democracy than Vladimir Putin.

Hell, they may very well have done a better job at compromising democracy than Benito Mussolini.

This May be the Best Twitter Exchange Ever

In response to attacks from Chris Cuomo proxies yesterday, actress, and now candidate for the Democratic Nomination for Governor, Cynthia Nixon Tweeted the following:

The response from Twitter user @mecreature was one for the ages:

MeC owes me a screen wipe, and we owe MeC a major book deal.

21 March 2018

Quote of the Day

Clinton’s boast that she won where the economy is vibrant partially explains why she lost: There are too few of these vibrant areas left to win national elections.
David "D-Day" Dayen
He gives a pretty good explanation on why Clinton's open contempt for the Americans who have been left behind by the "new economy" touted by her husband and his ilk was so politically damaging.

There is Symmetry Here

It appears that pedophiles are concealing child pornography within the blockchain ledger that accompanies bitcoin, which means that if you have bitcoin, you may also have possession of kiddie porn:
German researchers have discovered unknown persons are using bitcoin’s blockchain to store and link to child abuse imagery, potentially putting the cryptocurrency in jeopardy.

The blockchain is the open-source, distributed ledger that records every bitcoin transaction, but can also store small bits of non-financial data. This data is typically notes about the trade of bitcoin, recording what it was for or other metadata. But it can also be used to store links and files.

Researchers from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany found that around 1,600 files were currently stored in bitcoin’s blockchain. Of the files least eight were of sexual content, including one thought to be an image of child abuse and two that contain 274 links to child abuse content, 142 of which link to dark web services.

“Our analysis shows that certain content, eg, illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal,” the researchers wrote. “Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as [child abuse imagery] can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.”
When the crypto currency was invented by "Satoshi Nakamoto", it was seen as a step toward a mythical Libertarian paradise.

Now it appears to be a step toward a libertarian reality.

People Are Saying That This Will Be the End of Facebook ………

The whole issue with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook is a big deal, and it appears that at the privacy violations that ensued were a deliberate artifact of Facebook's business model.

That this business model has been completely contemptuous of user privacy has been clear since Mark Zuckerberg was at Harvard.

While the consequences could be severe, literally involving penalties exceeding a trillion (yes, that is a "t") dollars in accordance with a consent degree that was agreed to a few years back, the chance of meaningful penalties, or meaningful legislation is near zero.

Given the hostility of the Republican Party to regulation and consumer protections, and the Neoliberal Obama/Clinton wing of the party is so enamored of internet firms as to take any promises from tech executives at face value, meaningful government action is as likely as Jeff Sessions joining Black Lives Matter.

I expect a small fine and some theatrics at Congressional hearings, but not much else.


It's close, but it appears that Dan Lipinski has won the primary in Il-3.

I'm so glad that I do not live there, because I would have to vote with that homophobic right wing rat-f%$# phony Democrat, as the Republicans candidate is a Neo-Nazi Holocaust denier. (disavowed by the establishment party, but Mandy Rice-Davies Applies)

20 March 2018

This Amuses Me

We always knew that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was corrupt and venal, but I never expected that he would actually be taken into custody.

Even more amusing is that appears that the money that he from Moammar Gaddafi, before he engineered his ouster and murder, is what will get him taken down.

Considering the blow-back from the Libya debacle, and he and Cameron were the prime movers for this, it does mean that he's done in French politics:
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody Tuesday over allegations he illegally accepted 50 million euros ($68.5 million) from the government of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to finance his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

The detention of Sarkozy — France’s president between 2007 and 2012 — represented a major development in what is likely to become an explosive political scandal.

Sarkozy has repeatedly denied allegations that he took money from Gaddafi, slamming the accusations as “grotestque” and “crude ma­nipu­la­tion .”

Although an investigation began in 2013, Tuesday marked the first time authorities have questioned Sarkozy on the matter. Under French law, authorities can hold a suspect in custody for up to 48 hours before deciding whether there are sufficient grounds to launch a formal investigation.

Brice Hortefeux, who served as France’s interior minister under Sarkozy, was also questioned by police Tuesday, although not taken into custody.
It could not happen to a more deserving rat f%$#.

I really hope that he does some jail time, unlike, for example, his predecessor Jacques Chirac, who merely received probation.

Tweet of the Day

It's a valid point: Putin is clearly a dedicated capitalist, and Jeremy Corbyn is not.

H/t naked capitalism

19 March 2018

Taking, "Move Fast and Break Things," Too Far

Well, it looks like the, "Laws for are for losers," crowd in Silicon Valley have taken their reckless disregard for our safety and that of the world into space:
On 12 January, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket blasted off from India’s eastern coast. While its primary cargo was a large Indian mapping satellite, dozens of secondary CubeSats from other countries traveled along with it. Seattle-based Planetary Resources supplied a spacecraft that will test prospecting tools for future asteroid miners, Canadian company Telesat launched a broadband communications satellite, and a British Earth-observation mission called Carbonite will capture high-definition video of the planet’s surface.

Also on board were four small satellites that probably should not have been there. SpaceBee-1, 2, 3, and 4 were briefly described by the Indian space agency ISRO as “two-way satellite communications and data relay” devices from the United States. No operator was specified, and only ISRO publicly noted that they successfully reached orbit the same day.

IEEE Spectrum can reveal that the SpaceBees are almost certainly the first spacecraft from a Silicon Valley startup called Swarm Technologies, currently still in stealth mode. Swarm was founded in 2016 by one engineer who developed a spacecraft concept for Google and another who sold his previous company to Apple. The SpaceBees were built as technology demonstrators for a new space-based Internet of Things communications network.

Swarm believes its network could enable satellite communications for orders of magnitude less cost than existing options. It envisages the worldwide tracking of ships and cars, new agricultural technologies, and low cost connectivity for humanitarian efforts anywhere in the world. The four SpaceBees would be the first practical demonstration of Swarm’s prototype hardware and cutting-edge algorithms, swapping data with ground stations for up to eight years.

The only problem is, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had dismissed Swarm’s application for its experimental satellites a month earlier, on safety grounds. The FCC is responsible for regulating commercial satellites, including minimizing the chance of accidents in space. It feared that the four SpaceBees now orbiting the Earth would pose an unacceptable collision risk for other spacecraft.

If confirmed, this would be the first ever unauthorized launch of commercial satellites.
(emphasis mine)

This is nuts, and it happens because tech in general, and Silicon Valley in particular, have become criminogenic cultures.

To stop this, we need to start aggressively jailing people who do sh%$ like this.

What's more, we need to aggressively target the VCs who fund this sort of behavior.

Willful blindness doesn't cut it.

Of Course it was Uber

Why am I not surprised that the first self driving care that ran down a pedestrian was an Uber:
Arizona officials saw opportunity when Uber and other companies began testing driverless cars a few years ago. Promising to keep oversight light, they invited the companies to test their robotic vehicles on the state’s roads.

Then on Sunday night, an autonomous car operated by Uber — and with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel — struck and killed a woman on a street in Tempe, Ariz. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology. The company quickly suspended testing in Tempe as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage, and governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it.

Uber, Waymo and a long list of tech companies and automakers have begun to expand testing of their self-driving vehicles in cities around the country. The companies say the cars will be safer than regular cars simply because they take easily distracted humans out of the driving equation. But the technology is still only about a decade old, and just now starting to experience the unpredictable situations that drivers can face.
There will no doubt be an investigation, and unless I miss my guess, they will find that Uber cut some corners, and that this contributed to the accident.  It's a core part of their corporate DNA.

I Gotta Figure that Kennedy Called Bullsh%$ on this Appeal

The other 4 conservatives on the court are political hacks, so the US Supreme Court's refusal to review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's redistricting decision was driven by Kennedy ensuring that they would lose, and they did not want to fight a losing battle.
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania to block a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state.

The practical impact is the 2018 elections are likely to be held under a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored an apparent victory last week in a special election in a strongly Republican congressional district. The 2011 map that has been used this decade has resulted in Republicans consistently winning 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

Monday’s action was the second time that the court declined to get involved in the partisan battle that has roiled Pennsylvania politics. The commonwealth’s highest court earlier this year ruled that a map drawn by Republican leaders in 2011 “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the free-and-equal-elections clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The PA court decision was rooted entirely on the Pennsylvania state constitution.

In fact, it could be argued that the Pennsylvania opinion was carefully drafted to avoid any possibility of a federal issue , and as such a Supreme Court review would be highly unusual.

Of course, that didn't stop Kennedy in Bush v. Gore, but I think that the sh%$ that he got over that may have been a learning experience for him.

November in Pennsylvania should be rather interesting.