30 June 2019

Tweet of the Day

Finally, someone has given a good reason for students to take an economics course.

29 June 2019

Normally, I Would Not Direct You to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, But ………

When it's Bernie Sanders writing the OP/ED, and he is calling Donald Trump the worst kind of socialist, it bears repeating:
“America will never be a socialist country,” President Trump said as he launched his bid for re-election last week.

That declaration was an effort to frighten Americans and undermine growing support for expanding Medicare and Social Security—two popular programs that have long been derided as “socialist.” Mr. Trump’s declaration hypocritically ignores that he and his Republican colleagues are the nation’s leading purveyors of an insidious form of corporate socialism, which uses government power and taxpayer resources to enrich Mr. Trump and his billionaire friends.


Consider the corporate socialism we’ve seen on Wall Street, where the high priests of unfettered capitalism reign. As you will recall, Wall Street’s deification of “free markets” went out the window in 2008 as they watched the financial crisis caused by their own greed and illegal behavior threaten the existence of some of the largest financial institutions in the country. Suddenly, Wall Street became strong supporters of big-government socialism.


But more Americans are noticing the contradiction between coddled socialism for the rich and the destruction of opportunity for everyone else. I am confident that we will be able to build a grass-roots movement that will not only defeat Donald Trump in this election but finally create a government that works for all people, not just the billionaire class.
 Preach it, Brother!


I am not sure why, but I cannot connect to the Wi-Fi at the house in Neskowin (Oregon coast).

Do no blogging tonight.

Posted via mobile.

28 June 2019

Yeah, I Missed this Debate Too

Busy with family stuff, thought the Twitter machine seems to indicate that Kamala Harris cut Joe Biden a new one.

When the debate stage drops to single digits, I'll watch.

27 June 2019

Mind Completely Blown

Someone posted a GIF from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and I noticed a similarity to Deadpool.

Completely missed the reference when I saw Dead Pool.

It also explains the "Chick chickah" thing that Ryan Reynolds does.

How did I miss this?

Peak Derp

The recent trend is for companies to come up with meat substitutes to replace animals in burgers.

Arby's looked at this and said, "Here, hold my beer."

Making burgers from carrots is one thing, but making carrots from burgers is demented:
From venison, elk, and duck to sandwiches with layers upon layers of meat and curly fries stacked on top, Arby's has offered some particularly unique products in the past.

Now the sandwich chain is flipping the vegan "meat" trend on its head, leaning into its "We have the meats" slogan and creating its most bizarre concoction yet: the "megetable," a vegetable made out of meat.

And Arby's new megetable, the "Marrot," is exactly what it sounds like: a meat-based carrot that not only tastes like the orange vegetable but has much of its nutritional value.

Conceptualized by Neville Craw, Arby's brand executive chef, and his sous-chef Thomas Kippelen, the Marrot boasts more than 30 grams of protein and more than 70% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
Of course, the first thing that is wrong is that Arby's is making a meat carrot.

Almost is as disturbing is that Arby's has an executive chef and sous chef.

Mind blown.

I Think that I Might Have Made My Best Tweet Ever

Tom Tomorrow asked a question:

While I do not think that my response was one for the ages, it was pretty good:

I live for these (very) small victories.

26 June 2019

Not Watching the Debates Tonight

As I type this, I am boarding, a plane, Alaska Air flight 385, to Portland for my  dad's tombstone unveiling.

I will be in the air when Elizabeth Warren and the usual suspects take the stage.

Posted via mobile.

25 June 2019

No, Not Ever

Can Activists Trust Nancy Pelosi’s Instincts on Impeachment?

Seriously, her dance on impeachment is not 11 dimensional chess, it's just cowardice, and this is a disaster.

First, you cannot win if you never try to score a goal, and second, if people don't believe that you have the guts to fight for them, they won't vote for you.

Rover McRoverface?

They only want K-12 students to help, so talk to your younger friends, or the children of your younger friends, and get them to suggest "Rover McRoverface."

You could also suggest "Wade" as in "Rover Wade", if you want to see someone's head explode:
NASA's Mars 2020 rover is beginning to take shape. Earlier this month, crews installed some of its legs and six of its wheels. Now, the vehicle needs a name, and for that, NASA is turning to students. Beginning in fall 2019, NASA will run a nationwide "Name the Rover" contest open to K-12 students in the US. The spacecraft will need a name by July 2020, when it's expected to launch.

The contest is part of NASA's ongoing effort to engage the public in its Moon to Mars mission, which will search for signs of microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration. If you're not a K-12 student but want to get involved, NASA is also accepting applications to judge the contest submissions.

Republican Family Values

As you may be aware, Duncan Hunter, (the son) of Duncan Lee Hunter, is under investigation for misuse of campaign funds.
What I did not know, until now, was that it is alleged that he spent his money on his girl(s) on the side:
Federal prosecutors alleged in a new court filing this week that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter used campaign funds to help facilitate extramarital affairs, and they want to show jurors evidence of the relationships at his upcoming trial.

The filing Monday alleges Hunter (R-Calif.) used campaign money to fund trips, dinners and drinks with women with whom he was romantically involved — three lobbyists, a woman who worked in his congressional office and another who worked for a member of House leadership.

In the new filing, prosecutors allege Hunter’s romantic entanglements blossomed as he used campaign money for large expenses — such as a ski trip near Lake Tahoe — and small ones, such as Uber rides to and from the women’s homes.


Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were charged last year with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, theater tickets and other personal expenses. Prosecutors say he used his campaign account as his “personal piggy bank” to live well beyond his means.


Hunter’s wife, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in the case this month and agreed to “tell everything,” according to a copy of her agreement with prosecutors. Prosecutors revealed in another court filing they have texts between Margaret and her husband, who have three children, in which they discussed using campaign funds on personal expenses.


Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat who is challenging Hunter in the next election, tweeted that Hunter was “literally in bed with lobbyists.”
(emphasis mine)

The kicker is that he won reelection last year, when he had already been charged.

24 June 2019

Trump Is Still Not the Deporter in Chief

There has been a lot of outrage over how DoJ Lawyer Sarah Fabian has been saying that children in detention do not need mattress, or soap, or toothbrushes or real blankets in detention facilities kept so cold that they are nicknamed "Refrigerators".

Well, it turns out that she's done worse things.

In particular, she argued for putting children in solitary confinement under the Obama administration:

The United States’s loathsome argument—that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine children without soap, toothbrushes, dry clothes, and on concrete under bright lights—is morally indefensible. It’s also a spectacularly foolish argument to raise in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit, where the United States should have expected exactly the reception that it got. And even though the litigation began under the Obama administration, it was the Trump administration that elected to bring this appeal and ask the court to bless these inhumane conditions as “safe and sanitary.” That’s an extremely aggressive legal argument, and one that suggests that the disturbing conditions being reported at confinement centers are intentional, not a sign of mere neglect.

It is right and fit to condemn the Trump administration for its argument and its treatment of children. But it’s wrong to think the problem can be cured with a presidential election. Trump will depart; the problem will not depart with him. This administration is merely the latest one to subject immigrant children to abusive conditions. It’s been 35 years since Jenny Flores was strip-searched in an adult facility. Before Sarah Fabian defended concrete floors and bright lights for President Donald Trump, she defended putting kids in solitary confinement for President Barack Obama.
Remember, the UN has defined solitary confinement as torture, and the DoJ, and ICE, and CBP asked the courts to allow them to torture children with solitary confinement in 2015:
The Department of (in) Justice recently submitted a motion in opposition to a lawsuit filed by mothers and their children who want ICE to stop torturing their children by placing them in solitary confinement.

The DOJ now can be called the DOIJ for its monstrous defense and advocacy for the following policy:
ICE also has family residential standards that govern discipline and cover, among other things, a situation where a resident has participated in the offense of “insurrection,” which is defined as “[p]articipation or encouraging another to participate in unauthorized activity such as protesting or rioting.” See ICE/DRO Residential Standard, Discipline and Behavior Management, at 17, attached hereto as Exhibit O.6
The ICE disciplinary standards state that their purpose is to “provide a safe and orderly living environment” at ICE family residential facilities, and to “manage discipline and behavioral problems in a manner that ensures the safety and welfare of staff, residents, and visitors.” Exhibit O at 1. “Insurrection” is considered a major offense at ICE family residential facilities, and under the standards requires separation from the general population. Id. at 16-17. Medical observation rooms may be used to facilitate this separation.
In other words, if a mother protests or encourages another to protest, DOJ,  led by the lawyer-warrior in favor of locking up toddlers and children, Sarah B. Fabian, ICE has a right to punish the mothers’ children with solitary confinement.
I would note that the pace of deportations under the Obama administration are still outpaced by those of the Obama administration.

There is a special place in hell for both of them.

Not the Mother-F%$#ing Onion

I was reading this web comic, and I thought that this is some seriously f%$#ed up sh%$.

And then I realized that there is no element of parody involved in this.

We live in Bizarro World.

Good News From Istanbul

In March, Turkey's Islamist AKP suffered major setbacks. 

Most significantly was that, for the first time in over a decade, they narrowly lost the election for Mayor, which did not just a political earthquake, but would eliminate the party's control over patronage in Turkey's largest city.

 Faced with this treat, Erdoğan petitioned electoral commission to invalidate and re-run the elections, and the commission, being largely a tool of Erdoğan did so.

Well, in the new elections, Ekrem İmamoğlu defeated the AKP candidate in a land slide:
Turkey’s opposition has won a high-stakes rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election, a serious blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a landmark victory in a country where many feared democracy was failing.

Shortly after initial results pointing to a landslide win for the opposition coalition candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, emerged on Sunday evening, the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), Binali Yıldırım, conceded and congratulated his rival.

The repeat election, designed to undo İmamoğlu’s narrow surprise win in the 31 March contest, was an unprecedented test for both Turkey’s fragile democratic institutions and Erdoğan’s political future.


The president issued his congratulations to İmamoğlu on Twitter after initial results showed that with 99% of ballots counted the People’s Republican party (CHP) candidate had increased his lead in March, of 13,000 votes, to an astonishing 777,000, or 54%.

Crowded parties broke out on Istanbul’s main shopping streets and in liberal neighbourhoods.
I rather hope that this is the beginning the end for Erdoğan, btu I rather imagine that the this is the point where the opposition begins fighting with each other.


Yes, this is a very young Peter Capaldi:

23 June 2019

Tweet of the Day

Seriously, the Tories have some seriously f%$#ed up priorities.

We are Unbelievably Screwed

Permafrost in Canada is melting at a rate faster than the most alarmist models predicted:
Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“


The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.


Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
 We are in for a world of hurt.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

Elon Musk thinks that he is this.

He is actually this.

And the polling
It turns out that of all the names given to driver assistance technology, Autopilot is the one most likely to cause over-reliance on the tech.

This is not a surprise. Overselling the feature, and generally overselling the features of his car, has been central to the business plan for Tesla Motors.
Does the name "Autopilot" cause people to overestimate the abilities of Tesla's driver-assistance technology? It's a question that comes up in the Ars comments almost every time we write about the feature.

Critics warn that some customers will assume something called "Autopilot" is fully self-driving. Tesla's defenders counter by pointing out that autopilot capabilities in planes aren't fully autonomous. Pilots still have to monitor their operation and intervene if they have a problem, and Tesla's Autopilot system is no different.

A new survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety brings some valuable hard data to this debate. The group asked drivers questions about the capabilities of five advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They identified the products only by their brand name—"Autopilot," "Traffic Jam Assist," "Super Cruise," etc. Survey participants were not told which carmaker made each product, and they did not learn the capabilities of the products. There were 2,000 total respondents, but each was asked about only two out of five systems, leading to a few hundred responses for each product.


For example, 48 percent of drivers said that it was safe for a driver to take their hands off the wheel when Autopilot is active, compared with around 33 percent for ProPilot Assist and less than 30 percent for the other systems named. Six percent of drivers said it was safe to take a nap in a car with Autopilot, while only three percent said the same for other ADAS systems.
Tesla further compounds this issue by promising that full autonomous driving will be available in a matter of the next few months.

This, and Theranos, is what happens when the Silicon Valley, "Fake it Until You Make It," is applied to the real world.

This is Insanely Cool Tech

Someone has come up with a method of engraving riblets on the surface of aircraft using laser interference patterns.

Riblets are (very) tiny grooves carved in the surface of an aircraft to reduce skin drag:
A process to automatically laser drag-reducing riblets onto the painted surfaces of aircraft has been developed by two German companies, laser surface treatment specialist 4JET and aircraft paint supplier Mankiewicz.

The Laser Enhanced Air Flow (LEAF) technology uses laser interference patterning to rapidly create fine streamwise grooves in the paint topcoat. These microscopic grooves, or riblets, have long been known to reduce viscous drag from turbulent flow over aircraft surfaces.

Riblets have been proven to reduce drag by up to 10%, for fuel savings on long-haul airliners of more than 1%, the companies say. Ways of exploiting this benefit have been previously developed, from covering the airframe with grooved plastic film to embossing riblets into the topcoat during painting. But issues from accessibility to durability have so far prevented adoption.

Removing paint using lasers is a well-known technology, but is too slow to create the high density of riblets required to achieve drag reductions, the companies say. Instead of creating the grooves line-by-line using a single laser spot, 4JET says it has developed a way to speed up the process by a factor of 500 using laser interference patterning.

The laser beam is split into two and recombined on the surface so that the light waves overlap in a controlled way. This superposition creates a pattern with dozens of equidistant lines with alternating high and low intensity within a single laser spot. This allows about 1 m³ (35 ft.³) of riblet area to be created in less than 1 min., the companies say.
Way to think outside of the box.

22 June 2019

They Are Concentration Camps

From any reasonable historical perspective, the ICE detention facilities are concentration camps, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has stated. (Above link to a Jewish historian saying same)

The Germans adopted the term "Concentration Camp" for their camps, which were better described as death camps, because it put a civilized gloss on what was a barbaric enterprise.
This week, conservatives weaponized Jewish suffering to divert discussion from the massive human rights abuses occurring at our border.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of the man who called torture “enhanced interrogation,” scolded Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for using the term “concentration camp” to describe the growing civilian detention system, including the reopening of Fort Sill, previously a Japanese American internment camp, to hold children.

Since then, Jews have split on whether it’s appropriate to use “concentration camp” outside the context of the Holocaust. There are those who find the term too emotionally charged, or who believe the sheer scale of the Nazi Final Solution bars any possible comparison.

Though I disagree, I understand. My father turned seven on June 22, 1941, the day the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. I was raised with the story of how my grandmother saved my dad and aunt with her quick thinking and a cramped spot on a cattle train leaving Odessa for Siberia. Those who remained were shot. As a Jew, I bear witness to the memory of those who did not survive.

I’m also a legal historian, and my research on genocide and crimes against humanity has made clear that while the Holocaust is unique in its scale and implementation, the perpetrators and motivations are not. Genocide is a human crime, not a German one. In the wake of World War II, human rights laws were written in the hopes of preventing future tragedies, not for labeling the past.
You can also listen to George Takei, who spent much of the World War II in US concentration camps:

I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss this with a relative who spent much of WWII in a Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines, but I hope to.

But Markets………

It turns out that the massive Southern California Gas leak in 2015 and 2016 was the direct consequence of its negligence and deception.

For some people, this could be seen as an argument for much more aggressive regulation of privately owned utilities, though I see it as an even stronger argument for public ownership of utilities:
For 111 days in 2015 and 2016, more than 100,000 metric tons of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and other harmful chemicals leaked into the atmosphere from the blowout of well SS-25 at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility in Los Angeles. The blowout forced the evacuation of more than 8,300 households. Residents exposed to the gas reported nosebleeds, dizziness, and respiratory problems. More than three years later, many report severe health effects.

In May 2019, an independent report commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission put the blame for this disaster squarely on SoCalGas. In other words, SoCalGas, the largest natural gas provider in the nation, brought us the largest methane leak disaster in United States history.


SoCalGas’s disregard for safety was not an aberration. The independent report identifies more than 60 leaks at Aliso Canyon going back to the 1970s that SoCalGas chose not to investigate. Forty percent of the wells at Aliso Canyon reviewed in the report had past failures in the casing that enclose the wells and prevent leaks, with an average of two failures per well. According to the report, SoCalGas knew of these leaks and failures but neglected to conduct detailed inspections or evaluate for disaster potential.


In addition to finding negligence, the report also found incompetence. According to the report, SoCalGas should have been able to plug the blowout at SS-25 much sooner. SoCalGas, however, did not conduct the correct modeling in its attempts to plug the leak. Instead, SoCalGas used the exact same strategy in its six unsuccessful attempts. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein is appropriate here: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If SoCalGas had competently conducted the correct modeling from the outset, the report finds that SoCalGas could have plugged SS-25 as early as November 13, 2015 — 90 days before SoCalGas actually plugged the well.
It's really time for California, and the rest of the nation, to make public ownership of utilities less difficult.

21 June 2019

Mixed Emotions

I am happy that Donald Trump has not initiated military strikes against Iran in response to the shoot-down of Droney McDroneface, but the fact that he called for them, and then reversed himself, is not reassuring:

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.


The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to a senior administration official who was briefed on the military planning and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential plans.

The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.
My thought go out to the grieving family of Droney, but the air-strike was a bad idea to begin with, and my guess is that it came from the fevered brain of NSC Chairman John Bolton, who would do or say anything to get his war on.

Totally F%$#ing Evil

The Trump administration's plan to reduce poverty in the United States is to redefine poverty so far down that starvation won't count as poverty:
In early May, the Office of Management and Budget announced that it was seeking public comments on a proposal to change how inflation and the consumer price index are calculated, and, by extension, how poverty rates in the United States are estimated.


Now, however, the Trump administration looks set to head off in the exact opposite direction. It has come up with a proposal to measure inflation by a “chained consumer price index,” which will most likely take millions of people who were previously considered by the government to be living in poverty, and declare that suddenly, magically, they are no longer poor.

The chained consumer price index is a particularly cautious way of measuring inflation: On a monthly basis, it tries to factor in how people change their consumption patterns in response to price spikes or changes in technology. If, for example, car prices significantly increased, but in response, vastly more people used public transport and thus weren’t as impacted by the industry-specific inflation, it would factor that in and reduce the price increase’s overall impact on the inflation rate.

In theory, that’s all well and good — except for the fact that poor people tend to be less flexible in their spending patterns than more affluent Americans. In recent years, economists have found that poor people actually experience higher rates of inflation than do those with more disposable income. If gas prices go up, for example, a middle-class American might choose to counter that impact by purchasing a hybrid or electric car; a poor person likely won’t have the down-payment or the monthly income needed to purchase a new vehicle and will thus be stuck with the old gas guzzler.
Of course, this is also something that the Obama administration proposed, only to retreat when  opposition to this scheme exploded, so while it's completely evil, it's by no means unprecedented.

America's Finest News Source

Bolton Argues War With Iran Only Way To Avenge Americans Killed In Upcoming War With Iran
The Onion
Seriously, Nostradamus has nothing on The Onion.

Ajit Pai Isn't Even Trying to Hide His Evil Agenda

For his latest trick, Ajit Pai is going to propose banning competition between ISPs in large buildings, because, of course, the free market must be protected from ……… checks notes ……… the free market:
The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on whether to preempt a San Francisco city ordinance that was designed to promote broadband competition in multi-unit buildings.

San Francisco's Article 52, approved in December 2016, lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit residential and commercial properties even if the wiring is already used by another ISP that serves the building. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Ed Lee approved it in order to spur competition in multi-unit buildings where occupants often have only one option for Internet service.

The ordinance only applies when the inside wiring belongs to the property owner. Under the rule, property owners who have outfitted their buildings with Internet wiring cannot deny access to ISPs, making it harder for them to strike exclusive deals with Internet providers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's new proposal would preempt San Francisco's rule to the extent that it requires sharing of in-use wiring in multi-tenant buildings and complexes. Pai claimed in a blog post Tuesday that the city's rule "deters broadband deployment" and has scheduled the preemption for a vote at the FCC's July 10 meeting.

Despite its primary goal of eliminating a rule that gives ISPs access to multi-unit buildings, Pai's proposal is titled, "Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multi-Tenant Environments." In addition to immediately preempting the San Francisco ordinance, the proposal seeks public comment on other "actions the Commission could take to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services within" multi-tenant complexes. Any further rule changes coming from this proceeding likely wouldn't involve sharing of infrastructure, as the Pai plan argues that ISPs "are less likely to invest in deployment" if they know they have to share network components with other providers.

"People pay $40 a month for gigabit fiber service here, and we have a small handful of not-Comcast/AT&T ISPs that compete for customers thanks to the SF ordinance. That's the 'problem' the FCC is trying to fix," Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon, who frequently writes about broadband competition, wrote on Twitter.

When San Francisco passed its rule, the city argued that property owners were sidestepping a federal law that "bans property owners, landlords, and property managers from entering into exclusive agreements with service providers."
That sound that you hear is George Orwell spinning in his grave at 3600 RPM.

First Rule of Being in a Hole: Stop Digging

When Joe Biden talked about how civility allowed him to work with white supremacist Senator James Eastland early in his career, he neglected that they were working together to resegregate schools:
Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James O. Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.

Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.


Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), one of his 2020 rivals and an African American, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.” Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.


It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug. 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”
It's not just his decades long opposition to school desegregation, it's his demagoguing crime bills and the war on drugs, etc. as well, and that ignores his record as the Senator from MasterCard.

We really do not need another sh%$ show candidate running against Trump.

20 June 2019

Support Your Local Police

In Philadelphia, the police commissioner pulled 72 officers from the streets and said some would be fired. In Phoenix, the chief gave some officers “nonenforcement” duty. In St. Louis, the top prosecutor said she would no longer accept cases from 22 officers.

The reason: A catalog of bigoted social media posts by members of law enforcement that has led to upheaval at departments across the country and undermined longstanding efforts to improve interactions between police officers and the people they serve.

“They will undeniably impact police-community relations,” said Richard Ross Jr., the Philadelphia commissioner, when he announced the benching of his officers on Wednesday. “We are not naïve to that fact, nor are we dismissive of it.”

The public posts, compiled from accounts believed to belong to current or former officers in eight departments, included racist, misogynist and Islamophobic memes and comments, as well as celebrations of officers who use excessive force, including messages like “It’s a good day for a chokehold.” The compilation was released this month by the Plain View Project, a database of officers’ social media activity.

The posts drew new attention to long-simmering concerns about prejudice and aggressiveness in American police departments, but they also raised questions about free speech, and about how much latitude chiefs have to penalize legal, if offensive, views shared by their employees while off duty.


In Philadelphia, Commissioner Ross said 72 officers had been assigned administrative duties while facing investigation for their social media posts, the largest single removal of officers from street duty that he could recall in his roughly 30-year career. He said some of the officers were likely to be fired, and many could be disciplined.


He described the posts as disturbing, and said they tarnished his department’s reputation. But he said that some of the posts were protected by the First Amendment. The city has hired a law firm to help determine which posts were acceptable speech and which were not, he said. Court rulings have permitted limited restrictions on the speech of public employees if it is potentially harmful.
The job description includes obeying the law and applying it fairly.

If their posts show that they are unwilling to do so, fire them.

This Should Have Happened 4 Years Ago

The Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, in a sharp and bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to circumvent Congress to allow the exports by declaring an emergency over Iran.

In three back-to-back votes, Republicans joined Democrats to register their growing anger with the administration’s use of emergency power to cut lawmakers out of national security decisions, as well as the White House’s unflagging support for the Saudis despite congressional pressure to punish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing in October of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A United Nations report released Wednesday made the most authoritative case to date that responsibility for the killing and its cover-up lies at the highest levels of the Saudi royal court.

No other foreign policy issue has created as large a rift between President Trump and Congress, and the vote to block the arms sales deepens the divide. It is the second time in just a few months that members of Mr. Trump’s party have publicly opposed his foreign policy, with both the House and Senate approving bipartisan legislation this spring to cut off military assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen using the 1973 War Powers Act, only to see it vetoed.


The vote came the same day that Britain announced it would temporarily suspend approval of any new licenses to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, after an unexpected court ruling that ministers had acted unlawfully in allowing the sale of weapons when there was a clear possibility they might be used in violation of international humanitarian law in Yemen.
This war, and the criminal brutality, has been going on for far too long.

Today in Self-Ownership

Evangelicals have have organized a letter writing campaign to convince Netflix to cancel the show Good Omens.

I do not expect this to be successful, particularly since the show is produced by Amazon, not Netflix:
More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel – unfortunately addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime.


But Christians marshalled by the Return to Order campaign, an offshoot of the US Foundation for a Christian Civilisation, disagree. More than 20,000 supporters have signed a petition in which they say that Good Omens is “another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable”, and “mocks God’s wisdom”. God, they complain, is “voiced by a woman” – Frances McDormand – the antichrist is a “normal kid” and, most importantly, “this type of video makes light of Truth, Error, Good and Evil, and destroys the barriers of horror that society still has for the devil”. They are calling on Netflix to cancel the show.

Gaiman responded to the petition on Twitter, writing: “I love that they are going to write to Netflix to try and get #GoodOmens cancelled. Says it all really. This is so beautiful ... Promise me you won’t tell them?”
This may be the best way to honor the memory of Terry Pratchett ever.

Oh, Joe………

So a man who made his political career over demagoguing crime and opposing school integration is shocked that people called him out for speaking fondly about working with Dixicrats in the Senate who literally called for killing black people.

Mr. Biden, go Cheney yourself:
Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday lashed out at his Democratic rivals who had condemned his fond recollections of working relationships with segregationists in the Senate, declining to apologize and defending his record on civil rights. The angry exchange shattered, at least for now, the relative comity that had marked the Democratic presidential primary.

Until Wednesday, many of the Democratic candidates had largely taken oblique swipes at Mr. Biden, while the former vice president sought to stay above the fray, training his sights on President Trump instead.

But a day after he invoked the 1970s, an era when he said he could find common ground with other senators — even virulent segregationists — his opponents offered their sharpest criticism yet.

Senator Kamala Harris of California said the former vice president “doesn’t understand the history of our country and the dark history of our country,” and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said Mr. Biden should immediately apologize for using segregationists to make a point about civility in the Senate.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker, who are both black, were not alone: Other candidates including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont also weighed in with criticism. And even some of Mr. Biden’s senior campaign advisers were privately shaken by his remarks.

Yet for much of the day, Mr. Biden and his campaign appeared publicly unbowed and intent on defending, or at least explaining, his worldview of politics, which is rooted in his early days in the Senate when, he said, legislators who disagreed still worked together. He cited two defenders of segregation, Senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman E. Talmadge of Georgia, to make that point.
I get it:  Biden was bragging about how he could work with evil bigots to throw black people in jail and keep them for segregating schools.

This is not something to brag about.

The Joys of Technology

Bring good thing to life, my flabby white ass!
GE has an instructional video on how to reset the software on their light bulb.

You got that right, they had to release a video showing people how to reset the software on their light bulb.

Actually, they had to two versions of the instructions for different software versions.

This is a remarkably poor user interface decision:
How many lamp owners does it take to change a high-tech lightbulb?

Actually, it may be more complicated than you’d think — and make you miss the good old days when all you had to do was screw it in.

But rest assured that the people at General Electric have put together an instructional video to show you how to troubleshoot the C by GE lightbulbs, and all that’s required is knowing how to count.

First, according to the narrator, turn off the lightbulb for five seconds.

Then turn it on for eight seconds.

Then turn it off for two seconds.

On for eight more seconds. Off for two more seconds. On for eight seconds. Off for two seconds. On for eight seconds. Off for two seconds. On for eight seconds. (Gasp!) Off for two more seconds.

Now turn it on, and it should work.

If not, maybe you missed a second or two somewhere. It’s unclear how much of an effect that would have, but GE does recommend counting using the “Mississippi” method — one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi and so on.

At this point, you may be reaching a breaking point. If so, try a simple breathing exercise: Breathe in for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds.

The C by GE smart bulbs are Bluetooth-enabled, allowing users to set a schedule for their lights and control them with their voices, among other things. GE Lighting posted the tutorial on YouTube this year to show users how to troubleshoot by returning to factory settings.

But the three-minute video appears to have gained widespread attention this week after it was shared on Reddit and Twitter. It has since drawn hundreds of comments from people both mocking GE for its long-winded instructions as well as applauding it for its unintended comedy.


Thomas Edison may have just rolled over in his grave.
Thomas Edison is laughing his ass off.

Seriously, they couldn't have a little hole that you insert a paper clip into?

Follow the Money

You know those people wringing their hands over the "incivility" on college campuses?

They are bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers, so we know that they are not paid to tell the truth:
There is a war on free speech, and the front lines are YouTube ads.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, following the outcry of politicians and commentators over YouTube’s temporary decision to demonetize the videos of conservative pundit Steven Crowder, who makes money from the ads provided by YouTube’s platform. Crowder had been called out by Vox journalist Carlos Maza for a long history of homophobic abuse, including calling Maza “a lispy queer” and selling T-shirts that say “Socialism Is for Fags.”

The incident set a certain set of free-speech warriors ablaze. Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, and other pundits who have made their name online for defending free speech—particularly those organized under the umbrella of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web,” or IDW—have made Crowder a martyr of a pernicious war on civil discourse.

You’ve probably heard their arguments before: They claim to be opposed to censorship, “no-platforming” (when people are excluded from online or offline forums because of the views they express), and any attempts to discourage the open expression of ideas. These figures—who self-identify as classical liberals, conservatives, and libertarians—say that their project is completely non-ideological: It’s just about giving everyone a fair hearing.


TO UNDERSTAND THE origins of the free-speech movement, its priorities, and its funding, you have to start not at today’s social media battlefields, but at college campuses. The narrative that has emerged in recent years is familiar: College campuses have become ground zero for a new generation of intolerant leftists.


These actions go far beyond mere personal animus. In peeling back the curtain on the funding networks that have popularized the IDW’s cause, an even more nefarious picture emerges: a coordinated, strategic effort by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers to extinguish any opposition to their political, economic, and social agenda.

Don’t take my word for it—Richard Fink, president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, has openly bragged about it. According to his “Structure of Social Change” philosophy, the goal of the Koch Foundation’s philanthropy is to make grants in a strategic way so as to best affect public policy and influence broader social change. And what does Fink insist is a key part of this strategy? You guessed it—college campuses. Koch money is all over organizations that advocate for campus free speech, like the infamous astroturf group Speech First.

But it goes much deeper than the obvious, ideological nonprofits—many members of the IDW are directly involved with Koch cash.

Dave Rubin’s influential podcast, The Rubin Report, for example, has a financial partnership with Learn Liberty, a think tank started by the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), where Charles G. Koch himself sits on the board. When the Canadian government denied Jordan Peterson funding for his work, Rebel Media—a group funded with Koch money and headed by Ezra Levant, a far-right Islamophobe with ties to the Koch networkraised cash for him (Peterson has since returned the favor, fundraising for the IHS). Ben Shapiro has collected speaker fees from the Koch-funded Young America’s Foundation and Turning Point USA. And Bret Weinstein was hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Free Speech Week, a project of their Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation—funded by, you guessed it, the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

It’s not just the IDW itself: Some of its key popularizers also get Koch funding. Bari Weiss and The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf—who has been one of the most visible defenders of Peterson in the mainstream media—have both received cash prizes from the Koch-funded Reason Foundation, where David Koch himself sits on the board of trustees. And remember “The Coddling of the American Mind”? Well, one of its co-authors, Greg Lukianoff, is the head of that campus free-speech watchdog, FIRE. That organization is funded, of course, by the Koch brothers (for good measure, the Charles Koch Institute also did a laudatory write-up of the piece).

The Atlantic is perhaps the worst offender. Last year it launched “The Speech Wars,” a reporting project that seeks “to understand where free speech is in danger and where it has been abused.” Even though the magazine had just been bought by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs and was seeing all-time high circulation and web traffic, The Atlantic solicited funding for the project from none other than the Charles Koch Foundation (the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Fetzer Institute are also underwriters).


The mission of the free-speech movement, from its IDW evangelists to its Koch funders, is to advance right-wing ideas, to marginalize those on the left who challenge them, and to mobilize useful idiots of the center as political cover. It’s tempting to dismiss this as conspiracy, but the Kochs have left a paper trail of their designs on suppressing the speech of any who disagree with them. Documents released last year by George Mason University—a hotbed of libertarian scholarship—show that in exchange for giving millions of dollars to the university, Koch-controlled entities were given influence over academic affairs, including faculty appointments and hires, and even student admissions. A similar controversy had emerged years earlier over a Koch Foundation gift to Florida State University. With the Koch brothers estimated to have spent over $250 million on more than 500 colleges and universities, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the impact that could have on suppressing left-wing speech.

It’s not just the Kochs. FIRE, for example, has also received funding from the right-wing billionaire Olin and Scaife families. Through the right-wing media sites The Daily Wire and PragerU, the billionaire Wilks brothers have helped bankroll the rise of IDW stars Ben Shapiro and Joe Rogan. In the U.K., William Davies has written about how the right wing promotes its agenda under the guise of “free speech” in the exact same way. And as investigative reporters like The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer have shown, this isn’t just about a couple of billionaires throwing some money around: It’s an organized project by an elite class to preserve its power in the face of an existential threat from the left.


What makes the free-speech movement most nefarious is it takes those of us best equipped to stop this trend—the left and marginalized communities—and claims that we, who have for so long been silenced by those in power, are the real threat to free speech. That’s an issue far greater than Steven Crowder and YouTube ads, and one that we must all work to fight. Our very freedom—to speak, to protest, to challenge power and live dignified, fulfilled lives—is at risk.
If you think that this is tin foil hat, you have not been paying attention to what the right wing has been doing since August 23, 1971.

19 June 2019

Yeah, That Will Help

You remember how Comcast re-branded itself as Xfinity, and suddenly all their problems with people hating them and their horrible service went away?

Yeah, me neither, but it appears that Boeing thinks that this it might work for their 737 Max aircraft.

I think that they really do not understand the gravity of their problem:
Boeing Co. is open to dropping the “Max” branding for its latest 737 jetliner, depending on an assessment of consumer and airline responses to an aircraft name that’s been tarnished by two fatal crashes and a three-month grounding.

“I’d say we’re being open-minded to all the input we get,” Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said Monday in an interview on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show. “We’re committed to doing what we need to do to restore it. If that means changing the brand to restore it, then we’ll address that. If it doesn’t, we’ll address whatever is a high priority.”

For now, executives insist they have no immediate plans to drop the Max name for something less associated with tragedy, such as the product numbers that marked earlier generations of the company’s best-selling aircraft. A name change would be a retreat for the planemaker, which has worked hard to capture the imagination of travelers with monikers such as Max and Dreamliner, as the 787 is called.
Clearly, inadvertently programming your airplanes to become implacable death machines is not your problem, it is all just a f%$#ing branding problem.

We need to burn down every business school in the nation.

Once Again I Was Too Optimistic

I early expressed some hopefulness about the prospect of Hope Hicks testifying before Congress.

Well, she showed up, and refused to answer any questions:
House Democrats erupted Wednesday at the White House’s repeated interference in their nearly eight-hour interview with Hope Hicks, a longtime confidante of President Donald Trump who was a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.

Several House Judiciary Committee members exiting the closed-door interview said a White House lawyer present for her testimony repeatedly claimed Hicks had blanket immunity from discussing her tenure as a top aide to the president, including during the presidential transition period. Democrats said she wouldn’t answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller.


“She made clear she wouldn’t answer a single question about her time unless the White House counsel told her it was OK,” an exasperated Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said in an interview. “She couldn’t even characterize her testimony to the special counsel.”

Deutch added that the White House was not formally asserting executive privilege to block Hicks from answering certain questions; rather, the lawyer was referring to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s Tuesday letter claiming that Hicks was “absolutely immune” from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) dismissed the White House’s immunity claims and said his committee would “destroy” those assertions in court if he chose to file a lawsuit to enforce the panel’s subpoena that was issued to Hicks earlier this year.

Lieu said the White House lawyers were “making crap up” to block Hicks from testifying. He said she answered some questions about her time on the Trump campaign that provided new information, but Lieu and multiple other lawmakers declined to characterize her comments. A transcript of the interview could be released within 48 hours, aides said.

Jayapal said lawyers even objected to Hicks discussing episodes that occurred after she left the White House — and that Hicks went along with it.

“She is making a choice to follow along with all the claims of absolute immunity,” Jayapal said, adding: “Basically, she can say her name.”
Nadler has not yet gone to court?

It really remarkable just how hard the Democrats are playing to lose.

Ignoring the whole, "Shirking your Constitutional duties," thing, the politics is horrible.

If the Democrats are unwilling to fight for the truth from the Trump, voters will not take promises that the Democrats are going to fight for them seriously.

The Adventures of Boaty McBoatface

Remember how an internet meme hijacked a naming poll for the new research ship for the Natural Environment Research Council?

Eventually, the ship was named the David Attenborough, but one of its unmanned underwater vehicles was named Boaty McBoatface.

Well, now the colorfully named UUV has made a significant find:
Remember Boaty McBoatface? In the years since the naming snafu over a research vessel grabbed international headlines, Boaty has been off gathering crucial deep-sea data on the effects of climate change.

Now, the findings from Boaty's first mission are out — and they shed light on how Antarctic winds that are strengthening due to climate change are impacting sea levels.

But before we dive into what Boaty found, let's remember how it got here.

Back in 2016, Britain's Natural Environment Research Council asked the public for help naming a new cutting-edge polar research ship. Shackleton, Endeavor and Falcon were among the contenders put forth, as NPR reported at the time. But the Internet had another idea. Voters in the online poll overwhelmingly threw their support behind "Boaty McBoatface."

The U.K.'s science minister at the time, Jo Johnson, vetoed the people's choice, saying the vessel needed a name that was more "suitable." The ship was ultimately named Sir David Attenborough, after the well-known natural historian.

But the council did pay homage to the Internet's extraordinary naming powers by naming a smaller, more modest vessel Boaty McBoatface. And the autonomous yellow submarine has had a very successful maiden voyage.


"In recent decades, winds blowing over the Southern Ocean have been getting stronger due to the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica and increasing greenhouse gases," the researchers said in a statement.

They wanted to see how these stronger winds on the surface were impacting the environment far below the waves — and whether that deep ocean activity was contributing to rising sea levels.

So they sent Boaty into underwater valleys, traveling to depths of up to 4,000 meters (nearly 2.5 miles). Boaty's longest journey took three days and traveled 180 km, or more than 110 miles.


Boaty was able to pinpoint a previously unknown way in which this mixing is causing water to warm up across large areas, she said. Usually, deeper, colder water mixes with shallower, warmer water — think of vast amounts of water moving up and down.
Well done Boaty.

Unleashing the Power of the free Market

Remember how Ajit Pai promised that eliminating net neutrality would lead to an explosion of investment and improved service?

Well, not so much.

As has literally always been the case, deregulation has led to a drop in infrastructure spending and service quality:
A year ago, Trump FCC Chairman (and former Verizon exec) Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality, leveraging illegal, fraudulent industry dirty tricks to ram his rule through the process; all along, he claimed that Net Neutrality was a drag on investment, competition and service improvements, and that Americans would see immediate benefits once he was done killing Net Neutrality.

It's been a year, and while Pai has touted major gains in broadboand investment, these were also a fraud, with the big telcos slashing investment, slashing jobs, sucking up massive tax subsidies (no, even more massive), while continuing to deliver the slowest, most expensive data in any developed country.

Veteran telcoms journalist Rob Rogoraro digs into Pai's claims in depth, finding them to be baseless: since the slaughter of Net Neutrality, investment and service are worse, and prices are higher.
Seriously, people have improved internet through deregulation for decades,. and the result has always been reduced quality, increased prices, and more monopoly rents.


Pining for the fjords:

18 June 2019

Even the Wall Street Journal Noticed


The rise of megafunds reflects the growing demand for private equity from large investors such as sovereign-wealth funds with hundreds of millions of dollars to put to work. With interest rates still persistently low, the industry’s historical reputation for 20%-plus returns, is appealing—even if it means paying higher fees and having money locked up for long periods.

The problem is that the largest funds haven’t always lived up to the hype. Taken together, private-equity funds of $10 billion or more posted 14.4% five-year annualized returns net of fees as of the end of last September, barely edging past the 14.1% return for the S&P 500, according to data from investment firm Cambridge Associates.

Buyout funds’ relative performance doesn’t improve much over a longer time frame. Over a span of 12.75 years—the longest period for which Cambridge has sufficient data on megafunds—returns for these large funds was 10.2%, the same as the broader index, its data show.
This is why I stick to things like index funds.

Over any significant time frame, the geniuses on Wall Street do not out-perform the market.

The Columbia Journalism Review States the Obvious

With every day that passes, the drumbeat of war echoes a little more loudly through our media. Yesterday, officials in Iran said that the country will soon have produced and stockpiled more low-enriched uranium—of the type used in power plants—than it is permitted to possess under the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US ditched last year. In Washington, the Trump administration moved to dispatch 1,000 American troops to the Middle East, adding to the 1,500-strong deployment it sent last month. Tensions between the US and Iran, we are told, are rising.


Yesterday, the Trump administration declassified images it says back up its case that Iran was behind the tanker attacks. Many outlets relayed administration claims about the images in headlines; in a tweet, Politico said that, per the Pentagon, “the images provide ironclad evidence Iran was responsible.” The third paragraph of Politico’s linked story, however, notes that “nothing in the photos or accompanying documents reveal evidence of the placement of the magnetic mines on the ship.” Hardly “ironclad,” then. Last night, in an article for Task & Purpose, a military news site, Jeff Schogol argued that “not a single US official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.” Without air-tight evidence, news outlets really should not air administration claims without a heavy dose of context. “Pompeo/Bolton/Shanahan said” is not enough.

Again, it’s hard to generalize, but US coverage of the latest Iran episode seems to be falling into some old, bad habits. In recent coverage, “the media has generally been better at treating unproven accusations by the Trump administration as just that—accusations, and not facts,” Trita Parsi, a researcher and founder of the National Iranian American Council, told me last night in an email. “Yet, on numerous occasions, there has either been a failure to push back against blatantly false assertions by Trump officials, or Trump accusations have been presented as proven facts.” The problem is especially acute in headlines and tweets, Parsi notes.
I have lived though journalistic fails of this sort my entire life.

I don't think that I've ever seen the press gets this right in my lifetime.

Where There's a Will, There's a Whey*

A UK dairy in Yorkshire has signed an agreement with a local biogas plant to supply it with a by-product of cheese-making that would be turned into thermal power to heat homes in the area.

The Wensleydale Creamery, which produces the Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, makes 4,000 tons of cheese every year at its dairy in Hawes in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

The company has struck a deal with specialist environment fund manager Iona Capital, under which an Iona biogas plant will produce more than 10,000 MWh of energy per year from whey—a by-product of cheese making, Wensleydale Creamery said on Monday.

Under the deal, Wensleydale Creamery will provide Iona Capital’s Leeming Biogas plant in North Yorkshire with leftover whey from the process of cheese making. The plant will process and turn the whey into “green gas” via anaerobic digestion that will produce thermal power sufficient to heat 800 homes a year.


“Once we have converted the cheese by-product supplied by Wensleydale into sustainable green gas, we can feed what’s left at the end of the process onto neighbouring farmland to improve local topsoil quality. This shows the real impact of the circular economy and the part intelligent investment can play in reducing our CO2 emissions,” Mike Dunn, co-founder of Iona, said in a statement.
This is the right thing to do, but mostly, I'm here for the puns.

*Yes, I am posting this just for that pun.

17 June 2019

Well, That Was Exciting

I drove to Open Space Arts this evening to pick up Charlie from rehearsal.

On the way there, I pulled over 4 times to allow police cars with lights flashing to pass me.

When I got there, I saw a police car in the parking lot of the Royal Farms convenince store, right across the street from the community theater group, and Anna and Charlie were talking with police.

The RoFo had been robbed, and Charlie and Anna had seen the guy entering and leaving the store, so they filled out statements for the police.

No one was hurt, though I am sure that the store clerks were not happy with the turn of events.

Bought and Paid For

The New York Times sells it as a plus, but the fact that Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris are the favorites of the hyper wealthy Wall Street donors is an excelling reason not to support them.

Big donors don't make campaign donations over ideoloty, they do so as an investment, and if their investments pay off, the rest of us lose:
The behind-the-scenes competition for Wall Street money in the 2020 presidential race is reaching a fevered peak this week as no less than nine Democrats are holding New York fund-raisers in a span of nine days, racing ahead of a June 30 filing deadline when they must disclose their latest financial hauls.

With millions of dollars on the line, top New York donors are already beginning to pick favorites, and three candidates are generating most of the buzz: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

It is, at first blush, an unusual grouping, considering that the mayor of New York City (Bill de Blasio), the state’s junior senator (Kirsten Gillibrand) and a neighboring senator with deep ties to New York’s elite (Cory Booker of New Jersey) are all in the race and vying for their money.

Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him. These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.
These people are parasites sucking the marrow out of our economy, and they think that they've bought the candidates with their money.

They are right, and the rest of us need to find someone who will work for us, and not for them.


A group of lawyers had an idea: They would post pr0n videos on Bit Torrent, and then when people downloaded the film, they would contact them and demand money.

Otherwise, they would take them to court for their "illegal" downloads, where their targets would be revealed as pr0n watchers.

Of course, the downloads were not illegal, they were uploaded by lawyers and their agents.

Well, the HMFIC of this scheme just got sentenced to 14 years in prison.

It could not happen to a more deserving asshole:
A federal judge in Minneapolis has sentenced Paul Hansmeier to 14 years in prison for an elaborate fraud scheme that involved uploading pornographic videos to file-sharing networks and then threatening to sue people who downloaded them.

“It is almost incalculable how much your abuse of trust has harmed the administration of justice,” said Judge Joan Ericksen at a Friday sentencing hearing.

We've been covering the antics of Hansmeier and his business partner John Steele for many years. Way back in 2012, we started reporting on a law firm called Prenda Law that was filing lawsuits against people for sharing pornographic films online. Prenda wasn't the only law firm filing these kinds of lawsuits, but Prenda came up with a novel way of ginning up more business: uploading the films itself, including some that were produced by Prenda associates.

A key part of the firm's strategy was to seek settlements of a few thousand dollars. The demanded sums were small enough that it cost less to settle the lawsuits than fight them. Prosecutors say that the men made more than $6 million from copyright settlements between 2010 and 2013.


As the extent of the alleged fraud became apparent, judges began referring the pair to federal prosecutors. In 2016, the two men were arrested and charged with federal fraud, perjury, and money laundering.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune summarized the prosecutors' case: "When challenged by judges around the country, Hansmeier blamed other lawyers who were hired to file lawsuits on his behalf, lied to the courts about his own involvement, and ordered the destruction of evidence."
This is a very well deserved ass whupping.