30 September 2019

No. Just No.

This is an abomination
Dear lord, this is real.

Whoever came up with the idea of making a horror film based on the 1960s children's show The Banana Splits is not a good person.

I don't know for certain what drove this idea, but I would suggest that all involved in pitching and green-lighting this film probably need extended time in drug and alcohol rehab.

What ……… were ……… they ……… thinking?

The Polls Do Not Matter Here

This does not matter.

The politics of the matter is that whenever the Democrats act like cowards, (Spoiler, most of them are cowards) it neutralizes their generally popular policy initiatives, because people do not believe that cowards will keep their promises.

Also, it is clear that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, obstruction of justice, abuse of office to harass opponents, attempted bribery, etc.
In a conference call with House Democrats this weekend, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made her case for impeachment by pointing to some recent polls.

“I will only close by saying, the polls have changed drastically about this,” Pelosi said, as she laid out her plans for moving forward with impeachment, according to an aide on the call. While there are only a few new polls on the subject, and their findings certainly have the potential to fluctuate, early surveys back up Pelosi’s point.

Since House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry last Tuesday, support for impeachment has grown, according to polls from Politico/Morning Consult, HuffPost/YouGov, NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist, CBS News/YouGov, and Quinnipiac.

These shifts suggest that public sentiment could continue to change as the inquiry proceeds. Such increases in support could bode well for Democratic leaders, who have been reluctant to pursue impeachment out of concerns that negative public sentiment may hurt the party’s chances of keeping the House majority.
The narrow investigation currently being mooted is not a good idea:  You need to show the deep and pervasive corruption that permeates the Trump administration at all levels.

The alternative is to pass bills that never get a hearing in the Senate.

The 737 MAX Debacle is Driven by Profits Trumping Safety

It turns out that the predecessor system for MCAS, which was used on Boeing's military tankers, was both less aggressive, and easier for the pilots to override.

So, why did Boeing create the clusterf%$# that crashed two planes?

The obvious answer is that Boeing has sold the MAX on not requiring pilot recertification, which is not an issue in the military market.

This was a deliberate choice by the suits:
Boeing Co. engineers working on a flight-control system for the 737 MAX omitted key safeguards that had been included in an earlier version of the same system used on a military tanker jet, people familiar with the matter said.

Accident investigators have implicated the system, known as MCAS, in two deadly crashes of the jetliner that killed a total of 346 people.

The engineers who created MCAS more than a decade ago for the military refueling plane designed the system to rely on inputs from multiple sensors and with limited power to move the tanker’s nose—which one person familiar with the design described as deliberate checks against the system acting erroneously or causing a pilot to lose control.

“It was a choice,” this person said. “You don’t want the solution to be worse than the initial problem.”

The MAX’s version of MCAS, however, relied on input from just one of the plane’s two sensors that measure the angle of the plane’s nose. The system also proved tougher for pilots to override. Investigators have implicated the system in the fatal nosedives of a Lion Air jet in October 2018 and of an Ethiopian Airlines MAX in March. Indonesia is expected to fault that MCAS design, in addition to U.S. oversight lapses and pilot missteps, in its final report on the Lion Air crash into the Java Sea, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Now, Boeing’s expected fix for the 737 MAX will make its MCAS more like the one used in the tanker, according to people familiar with the matter.


Boeing developed the MCAS for the military tanker around the early 2000s, another person familiar with the project said. The tanker was a military derivative of Boeing’s wide-body 767 commercial jet and included pods on its wings used for air-to-air refueling of fighters and other war planes. Those wing pods added lift and caused the tanker’s nose to pitch up in some flight conditions, risking the plane’s ability to meet Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements, people familiar with the matter said. So engineers devised MCAS software, which automatically pushes down the tanker’s nose if necessary, to comply with FAA standards, these people said.

In a key difference from the subsequent version of the system used on the MAX, the system on the tanker moves the plane’s horizontal stabilizer—the control surface perpendicular to the airplane’s tail—once per activation and not repeatedly, the person familiar with the tanker project said.

The tanker engineers also gave the system only limited power to nudge the plane’s nose down to ensure that pilots would be able to recover if it accidentally pushed the plane into a dive, said the person familiar with the tanker’s MCAS design. That meant MCAS had little authority over the stabilizer, which made it much easier for pilots to counteract.
The question raised is, "Why the disastrous changes in the system?"

This was keeping retraining to a minimum, and it killed people.

29 September 2019

Data Point of the Day

Just 90 Companies Caused Two-Thirds of Man-Made Global Warming Emissions
The Guardian
Much of the dialogue about anthropogenic climate change is cast as a personal morality play.

While recycling and like is certainly a good thing to do on a personal level, we need to understand that there are very small number of bad actors who need to be confronted in order to actually fix things.

Most of these companies are fossil fuel companies, but cement companies also figure prominently.

They all need to be broken for us to make progress.

Groundhog Day

It looks like the State Department is rebooting its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, because ……… I guess Trump wants to try to run this ploy in 2020.

This is f%$#ed up and sh%$:
The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said.

As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.

In virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox.

State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.

Senior State Department officials said that they are following standard protocol in an investigation that began during the latter days of the Obama administration and is nearing completion.

“This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing probe. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.”
Yeah, sure.  "Retroactively classified."

I get that the Trump Administration is relentlessly corrupt and self serving, but beyond the urge to,burn it all down," there seems no reason whatsoever to do this.

It Seems That the House of Saud Thinks That It Was the Houthis

Seriously, the only reason for the House of Saud to agree to a cease fire in Yemen is that they are worried about further attacks on their critical infrastructure coming from the Houthis:
Saudi Arabia is moving to enact a partial cease-fire in Yemen, say people familiar with the plans, as Riyadh and the Houthi militants the kingdom is fighting try to end a four-year war that has become a front line in the regional clash with Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s decision follows the Houthis’ surprise declaration of a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen last week, just days after they claimed responsibility for the Sept. 14 drone and cruise-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

If the mutual cease-fire in these areas takes hold, the Saudis would look to broaden the truce to other parts of Yemen, the people familiar with the plans said. Enforcing the cease-fire will require Saudi Arabia to reach out to its Yemeni allies on the ground to ensure that they adhere to Riyadh’s dictates.

The new cease-fire faces steep odds, as similar arrangements have crumbled before. But the Houthis’ unexpected unilateral move for a cease-fire last week raised hopes in Riyadh and Washington that the Yemeni fighters might be willing to distance themselves from Tehran.

After the Sept. 14 attack on the Saudi oil facilities, Houthi leaders initially said they were responsible. Saudi, U.S. and European officials dismissed the claims as an attempt to obscure Iran’s role in the strike. Yemeni fighters, these officials say, have neither the weapons nor the skills to carry out such a sophisticated strike.
Which is why the Saudis are folding lime overdone pasta to the Houthis, because they, "Have neither the weapons nor the skills to carry out such a sophisticated strike."

Sounds convincing to me.

27 September 2019

So Not a Surprise

In an acknowledgement of reality, a federal court has ruled that the FCC ignored reality in order to relax media ownership rules:
The FCC’s multi-year effort to kill media consolidation rules at the behest of giants like Sinclair Broadcasting has been rejected by the courts, who ruled the agency failed to seriously consider the negative impact unchecked media monopolies have on the public at large.

In a 2-1 new ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit forced the FCC to go back to the drawing board in its quest to make life easier for media giants, arguing the agency “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities."


The court today agreed, stating that FCC analysis justifying its decision was “so insubstantial that it would receive a failing grade in any introductory statistics class.”
I'm shocked that Ajit Pai shirk his moral and statute obligations in this manner..........NOT.

26 September 2019

Uber Abides

It turns out that Uber has a unit to police driver behavior and qualifications, and they are forbidden from reporting crimes to the authorities:
Inside the 23-story Bank of America Tower in downtown Phoenix, a team of nearly 80 specialized workers grapples with some of the worst incidents that happen in Uber rides. Armed with little more than a phone headset and GPS ride data, these agents in the Special Investigations Unit have to figure out what went wrong.

But when they make a determination, the SIU investigators are coached by Uber to act in the company’s interest first, ahead of passenger safety, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former investigators. Uber has a three-strikes system, investigators said, but executives have made exceptions to keep drivers on the road. For instance, a New York-area driver allegedly made three separate sexual advances on riders, said an investigator assigned to the case. After an executive overruled the investigator, the driver was allowed to continue working until a fourth incident, when a rider claimed he raped her.

The agents are forbidden by Uber from routing allegations to police or from advising victims to seek legal counsel or make their own police reports, even when they get confessions of felonies, said Lilli Flores, a former investigator in Phoenix — a guideline corroborated in interviews with investigators, alleged victims and plaintiffs’ attorneys.
This is still going on, so it's not just a Travis Kalanick thing.

In fact, it's not just Uber, It's Lyft too, because evading responsibility is at the core of the "Gig Economy" business model.

About the 737 MAX………

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has issued a report saying that FAA inspectors for the 737 MAX were not qualified:
A whistleblower has claimed America's Federal Aviation Administration misled investigators checking whether FAA personnel were fully qualified to sign off Boeing 737 Max training standards.

A letter published by the US Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) claims that the FAA had contradicted itself in statements it made about air safety inspectors’ (ASIs’) qualifications and their competence to sign off crucial Boeing 737 Max training standards and materials.

Potentially, a whistleblower told the OSC – essentially a federal watchdog – 11 out of 17 ASIs working for the FAA’s Seattle-based Air Evaluation Group either did not have the right classroom training or the required on-the-job training to perform their duties correctly.

The allegations will pour fuel on the fire burning under Boeing’s 737 Max and its controversial MCAS software system, which was sneakily included in the new airliner in such a way that it could take control from the pilots in a way which wasn’t obvious to them to avoid a stall.
I think that recertification of the 737 MAX is going to be a lot more difficult than Boeing envisions, because neither the EU nor China are going to take the FAA's word on this.

I Have Changed My Mind on the Remake of The Princess Bride

I would not object to a Muppet remake of The Princess Bride.

If it were properly done, and yes that would include Sweetums, it could be an interesting and entertaining take on a classic.

Whistleblower Details Emerge

We now know that the person who filed the report about Trump's shakedown of the Ukrainian President was CIA agent who was assigned to the White House.

Given that Christine Blasey Ford had to go into hiding with her family because of death threats, I am not particularly sanguine with the New York Times revealing so much information about them.

It is reasonable for the Times to get this information, but I think that publishing in a story that is basically a time line of events was not necessary, and will likely face threats and intimidation as a result.
The White House learned that a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine even as the officer’s whistle-blower complaint was moving through a process meant to protect him against reprisals, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The officer first shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the C.I.A.’s top lawyer through an anonymous process, some of the people said. She shared the officer’s concerns with White House and Justice Department officials, following policy. Around the same time, he also separately filed the whistle-blower complaint.

The revelations provide new insight about how the officer’s allegations moved through the bureaucracy of government. The Trump administration’s handling of the explosive accusations is certain to be scrutinized in the coming days and weeks, particularly by lawmakers weighing the impeachment of the president.

Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”
I believe that the Times published this (and other) information in this article because they believed that subjecting whoever this is to harassment was somehow a way of showing their "fair and balanced" bonafides.

There was no need to do this, because, as is stated in the article, "Multiple people had raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s call," which should serve as an indicator of reliability.

The rest of the article is largely a time line, but it is a useful timeline.

What's In It for Andy?

New York Governor Andrew "Rat Faced Andy" Cuomo just signed a bill making it easier for voters to register for primary voting:
A bill meant to make it easier for voters to change party enrollment ahead of a primary election was approved Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure addresses a long-standing complaint of good-government organization and voter-rights’ groups that New York’s election laws make it difficult to access party primaries, which are closed to those enrolled in a party.

The law signed Thursday will end the Oct. 11 deadline and allow voters to register by Feb. 14 to make changes to party enrollment. New York’s presidential primary is scheduled for April 28.

“While the federal administration continues to look for new ways to disenfranchise voters across the country, in New York we are making monumental changes to break down more barriers to the ballot box and encourage more people to exercise this fundamental right,” Cuomo said.
Call me a cynic, but I am wondering what Cuomo's angle might be.

He doesn't do good unless there is something in it for him.

Still, the voters of New York will benefit from this.


Thomas Edison's Venture Into Porno Films:

25 September 2019

Bye Adam

In the next stage of the implosion of "tech" unicorn WeWork, the nut-job CEO of the office rental firm, Adam Neumann, has resigned as CEO:
WeWork's wildman CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann has been pushed out as chief exec of his post-profit property management biz.

The board of directors today confirmed rampant speculation that Neumann, who started the global-spanning office subletting shop in 2010 with Miguel McKelvey, was about be kicked out of the top job.

The Softbank-backed WeWork will now be headed by co-CEOs Artie Minson, formerly co-president and chief financial officer, and Sebastian Gunningham, formerly the board's vice-chairman.

Neumann, known for his party-animal lifestyle and dreams of becoming the immortal trillionaire president of the world, will stay on as non-executive chairman of the board. However, he will cede majority control by reducing the voting power of his shares from 10 votes per share to three.


"While our business has never been stronger, in recent weeks, the scrutiny directed toward me has become a significant distraction and I have decided that it is in the best interest of the company to step down as chief executive."

We presume that when Neumann talks of the "significant distraction" he is referring to the recent reports around his handling of the finances at a business that over the first half of this year lost almost $700m, from revenues of $1.5bn, and warned prospective IPO investors that it may never be profitable. Funnily enough, in July, Neumann apparently cashed out for $700m.

Things only got worse from there, as the upstart's estimated value took a nosedive and the IPO was postponed in order to give Neumann and his team time to figure things out. The biz, once touted as being worth $47bn, is now watching its value erode daily.
First, this company is not a tech company, it's a landlord, who managed to sell themselves as high tech because there is Kampuchea at the snack bar.

Secondly, the company is a morass of corrupt self-dealing.

It really is remarkable what qualifies as a hot stock in the United States.

You Have No Right to Know if the Government Wants to Murder You

This is literally straight out of Kafka's novel The Trial, where the protagonist is sentenced to death by an unspecified court for an unspecified crime:
A U.S. judge Tuesday dismissed an American journalist’s lawsuit challenging his alleged placement on a “kill list” by U.S. authorities in Syria, after the Trump administration invoked the “state secrets” privilege to withhold sensitive national security information.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of Washington, D.C., last year had opened the way for Bilal Abdul Kareem, a freelance journalist who grew up in New York, to seek answers in his civil case from the government and to try to clear his name after what he claims were five near-misses by U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

Collyer in June 2018 ruled that Abdul Kareem, who said he was mistaken for a militant because of his frequent contact with militants linked to al-Qaeda, was exercising his constitutional right to due process in court.

But after talks between Abdul Kareem’s lawyers and U.S. authorities broke down, the government tapped the rarely invoked state secrets authority, saying Abdul Kareem sought information revealing “the existence and operational details of alleged military and intelligence activities directed at combating the terrorist threat to the United States.”

In a 14-page opinion, Collyer said she was bound to agree, saying the government’s right to withhold information in such instances is “absolute.” 
First, the invocation of the state secrets privilege is not that uncommon, and second, the case that established this absolute privilege, United States v. Reynolds, the US government lied to the court about the secret nature of the the evidence.

This is yet another fact that makes the case for the Swedish concept of Offentlighetsprincipen (openness), which creates the default of public access for all government data.

This Justifies the Existence of Twitter

For those of you who think that Twitter has no value at all, I give you this:

Tweet of the Day

Mic drops.

Obvious to Anyone Who Worked in the Nuclear Industry

I spent about 6 months working for a company in the nuclear energy area, and I've always known that nuclear power is too expensive and too slow to be a viable solution to anything, including (particularly) anthropogenic climate change:
Nuclear power is losing ground to renewables in terms of both cost and capacity as its reactors are increasingly seen as less economical and slower to reverse carbon emissions, an industry report said.
FILE PHOTO: Cooling towers and high-tension electrical power lines are seen near the Golfech nuclear plant on the border of the Garonne River between Agen and Toulouse, France, August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

In mid-2019, new wind and solar generators competed efficiently against even existing nuclear power plants in cost terms, and grew generating capacity faster than any other power type, the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) showed.

“Stabilizing the climate is urgent, nuclear power is slow,” said Mycle Schneider, lead author of the report. “It meets no technical or operational need that low-carbon competitors cannot meet better, cheaper and faster.”


The extra time that nuclear plants take to build has major implications for climate goals, as existing fossil-fueled plants continue to emit CO2 while awaiting substitution.
It should be noted that if nuclear power were accurately costed, it would cost in excess of ten times as much of any other power source.
The cost of generating solar power ranges from $36 to $44 per megawatt hour (MWh), the WNISR said, while onshore wind power comes in at $29–$56 per MWh. Nuclear energy costs between $112 and $189.

Over the past decade, the WNISR estimates levelized costs - which compare the total lifetime cost of building and running a plant to lifetime output - for utility-scale solar have dropped by 88% and for wind by 69%.

For nuclear, they have increased by 23%, it said.
Note that these costs do not reflect the cost of disposal of radioactive waste, or the cost of the security and non-proliferation measures required for nuclear.

Unless you want a nuclear submarine, or a nuclear weapon, nuclear power is a very bad deal.

24 September 2019

Speaking of Insufferable Prats Having a Bad Day

The British supreme court just ruled that Boris Johnson's proroguing parliament for 5 weeks is illegal.

Basically, they said that he lied to the Queen:
The supreme court has ruled that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued for five weeks at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful.

The unanimous judgment from 11 justices on the UK’s highest court followed an emergency three-day hearing last week that exposed fundamental legal differences over interpreting the country’s unwritten constitution.


Then, giving the court’s judgment on whether the decision to suspend parliament was legal, Hale said: “This court has … concluded that the prime minister’s advice to Her Majesty [ to suspend parliament] was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the order in council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect should be quashed.


She [Hale] added: “The court is bound to conclude, therefore, that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

The judgment said: “This was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s speech. It prevented parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of a possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on 31 October.


The court stopped short of declaring that the advice given by Johnson to the Queen was improper. It was a question. they said, they did not need to address since they had already found the effect of the prorogation was itself unlawful.
That denial at the end seems to me to be legalese for, "I see what you did there."

I'm not sure how the politics will play out, but it seems likely that it's better for people not named Boris Johnson than it is for people named Boris Johnson.

I Did Not Expect This

Also, Yes
I figured that Nancy Pelosi would oppose impeachment if Trump were caught on tape shooting someone to death on 5th Avenue while anally raping a walrus.

To quote Humphrey Bogart, I was misinformed:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, charging him with betraying his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist a foreign power to tarnish a rival for his own political gain.

Ms. Pelosi’s declaration, after months of reticence by Democrats who had feared the political consequences of impeaching a president many of them long ago concluded was unfit for office, was a stunning turn that set the stage for a history-making and exceedingly bitter confrontation between the Democrat-led House and a defiant president who has thumbed his nose at institutional norms.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Ms. Pelosi said in a brief speech invoking the nation’s founding principles. Mr. Trump, she added, “must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”

She said the president’s conduct revealed his “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

Ms. Pelosi’s decision to push forward with the most severe action that Congress can take against a sitting president could usher in a remarkable new chapter in American life, touching off a constitutional and political showdown with the potential to cleave an already divided nation, reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and the country’s politics, and carry heavy risks both for him and for the Democrats who have decided to weigh his removal.
Cowardice in the service of the Blue Dog Caucus seems to be Pelosi's thing, so I am not sure what led her to do the right thing.

The most charitable explanation is to quote Churchill*, and conclude that she would, "Do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted."

This should have happened months ago.

Of note is that she is not creating a select committee to investigate Trump, which would add something like 6 weeks to the timeline:
And Ms. Pelosi said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels should put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.
(emphasis mine)

I am not sanguine about Nadler running the hearings, but the fastest way to get this show on the road is through the Judiciary committee.

*This quote from Churchill is almost certainly false.

23 September 2019

In More Enlightened Times, Elon Musk Would Be in the Dock

Even ignoring his highly inaccurate tweets about Tesla, things like going private and impossible promises about self-driving cars, we have the corrupt self-dealing around Tesla's purchase of Solar City.

If the SEC or the DoJ were actually interested in pursuing stock fraud, Musk would be in a world of hurt:
Back in 2016, Tesla acquired solar panel manufacturer SolarCity, billing the $2.6 billion deal as an opportunity to create "the world's only vertically integrated sustainable energy company." From a SolarCity solar panel to a Tesla battery, the company promised, the in-house supply chain would scale up clean energy for all and provide cost synergies to the businesses and shareholders.

But SolarCity, of which Tesla CEO Elon Musk was chairman, was deeply in debt at the time. Now, newly unsealed documents in an investor lawsuit say the situation was far worse than that. They allege that SolarCity wasn't just carrying a heavy debt load: it was completely insolvent.

The upshot of reams of law surrounding mergers and acquisitions is that C-suite executives and company boards of directors are supposed to make sure shareholders get the most money possible out of their investment. If they're going to sell the company, they have to make sure they're accepting the most valuable reasonable offer. Companies doing the acquiring, meanwhile, are supposed to do their homework to make sure they're not wasting their resources on a bad deal—and Tesla shareholders say the SolarCity acquisition was exactly that.


SolarCity only continued to function because of SpaceX money, the suit alleges:

As SpaceX's chairman, CEO, CTO, and majority stockholder, Musk caused SpaceX to purchase $90 million in SolarCity bonds in March 2015, $75 million in June 2015, and another $90 million in March 2016. These bond purchases violated SpaceX's own internal policy, and SolarCity was the only public company in which SpaceX made any investments.
The scenario described is as follows:  Musk owns over 50% of SpaceX, and you used their money to prop up Solar City until Tesla, which is a publicly traded firm, bought the solar panel installer out.

Musk's cousins founded the company, and Musk was Solar City's largest shareholder, and they all made made a lot of money as a result, Elon netted about $½ Billion, of what can only be called looting.

This is as corrupt as hell, and in the days before Reagan emasculated the SEC and the white collar crime division of the DoJ, he would be under criminal indictment, and banned from both the securities industry, as well being banned from serving as an executive or a board member of of a publicly traded company.

Of course, after Reagan, and Bush, and Clinton, and Bush, and Obama, it's, "No harm, no foul."

The Washington Post Just Got a Bit Better

OP/ED columnist Richard Cohen has left the Washington Post.

It appears that whatever happened, it was sudden.

My guess is that they discovered something bad, and had no choice.

Bad for him, good for the public discourse of the United States:
Richard Cohen will no longer write columns for the Washington Post, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt tells staffers in an unusually short email sent via editorial board executive assistant Nana Efua Mumford. Seriously, this is the whole thing:
After 43 years of writing a column for The Washington Post, Richard Cohen has decided to move on to other challenges. Whether he is writing about politics, movies, history or his glory days in the U.S. Army, Richard is a master of the form. Readers of The Post and the many other publications that carry his column will miss his insight, humor and occasional outrage. As Richard takes on new ventures, we wish him all the best and remain hopeful that he will come back to write for the oped page from time to time.
This was clearly sudden.

Just to remind you, some of Cohen's greatest hits:
  • Suggesting that jewelry store owners are justified in not letting black people in his store.
  • Sexually harassed a staffer.
  • Suggested that interracial marriage made observing such couples ill.
  • Lauded Trayvon Martin's murderer.
  • Suggested that the Steubenville rape was not "real" rape. 
Even by the egregious standards of the Washington Post OP/ED pages under Fred Hiatt, he was a toxic and stupid man.

22 September 2019

A Deep Dive on the Oil Field Strikes in Saudi Arabia

Potential attack routes

Imagery of the attack

Detail image with directions
A week ago, cruise missiles/drones (really a missile) hit the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khuaru oil field, knocking out about 5% of world oil production.

The Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility, but the Saudis and the US government claim that it was an Iranian strike.

While it is highly likely that the Iranians have been providing the technical support to the Houthi drone effort, the provenance of the actual attacks is unclear.

What is clear is that the House of Saud is facing some well-deserved blow-back for their brutal war on the people of Yemen.

There is a claim that the Houthis lacked the ability to make a missile with the range for this task, but given that the Houthis literally had a static displays showing missiles with ranges up to 1700 km 2½ months ago, which would suggest that these capabilities are nowhere near as difficult to acquire as has been implied.

The question here is guidance, and why I call this a missile rather than a drone; the 1250 km range puts the vehicle well out of the range of the control of a base statement without a satellite link, which the Houthis do not possess.

The attacks are very precise.

In fact, the precision seems to exceed the what one could get with GPS, which could not be any less than the 15 meter range.

It is possible that they get less error by using  a D-GPS installation, which could increase the accuracy to less than 1m, but the nearest installation (Al-Ahsa International Airport) would be about 80 km away, and you would need a relatively sophisticated inertial guidance to preserve that position information.

Similarly, the use of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) might work, but again this would seem to exceed the capabilities of the Houthis.

Given that the Russian KH-5, that the Iranian Soumar is derived from has a CEP of 25m, this implies some sort of terminal guidance.

The two alternatives here are some sort of image based targeting, either TV of IR, or the use of a laser designator on the ground.

Given that the area around both Abqaiq and Khuaru are majority Shia (See map, blue is Shia, red is Sunni, yellow is Wahhabi), I think that there is a very real possibility that there was someone on the ground designating the targets.

As an aside, it should be noted that these attacks indicate a serious shortcoming of the US Patriot SAM system as compared to the Russian S-300 and S-400.

First, the Patriot has about a 90 degree coverage as compared to the full 360 degree coverage given by the Russian systems.

It should be noted that the MEADS missile system would have resolved this issue.

Secondly, the Russian systems are designed to use quick erecting elevated radar masts which are more likely to detect low flying cruise missiles.

Certainly, the Russians are using this event to sell their systems.


I loves me some vintage airshow newsreels:

21 September 2019

Furrsonae Non Gratae

Midwest FurFest has refused to allow Milo Yiannopoulos to attend the convention:
Right-wing persona non grata Milo Yiannopoulos announced that he has adopted a “fursona” as a snow leopard and that he purchased tickets to a furry convention; in response, organizers rescinded his event registration.

Yiannopoulos posted an email screenshot to one of the few platforms he has left—his Telegram messaging channel—on Saturday and claimed he registered for Midwest FurFest, a convention “to celebrate the furry fandom” hosted in the suburbs on Chicago this December. “Furries,” as they’re often called, are groups of people who have interest in animal personas with human characteristics; people who participate in the subculture often present themselves as non-human characters via art and costumes.
Needless to say, members of the Furred Reich are feeling a lot of butt-hurt about this.

Not Just Republican States

New York state has the most byzantine and opaque requirements for party registration in the nation.

This has clearly been done to ensure that the party bosses have no accountability.

BTW, it's not just the Sanders campaign that has made this observation, so has the Brennan Center:\
Clumsily designed ballots. An antiquated registration process. Confusing deadlines and outdated laws. Long lines and no early voting. New York state — caricatured as a bastion of progressive politics — has some of the most retrograde voting laws and practices in the nation. Reports of dysfunction from Thursday’s primary only add to the evidence: New York is disenfranchising its citizens.
We won't see any sanctions, but we should.

Headline of the Day

How to Use Parental Lock to Stop Your Parents from Watching Fox News
Not a bad idea.

20 September 2019

Nice to See Reality Acknowledged in a Court of Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has just ruled thatwas written specifically to prevent blacks from voting.

If this stands, it might put North Carolina back under the pre-clearance regime of the Voting Rights Act:
Today, a federal court struck down North Carolina's voter-ID law, one of the strictest in the nation. In addition to requiring residents to show identification before they can cast a ballot, the law also eliminated same-day voter registration, eliminated seven days of early voting and put an end to out-of-precinct voting. The federal court ruling reinstates these provisions, for now.


The federal court in Richmond found that the primary purpose of North Carolina's wasn't to stop voter fraud, but rather to disenfranchise minority voters. The judges found that the provisions "target African Americans with almost surgical precision."

In particular, the court found that North Carolina lawmakers requested data on racial differences in voting behaviors in the state. "This data showed that African Americans disproportionately lacked the most common kind of photo ID, those issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)," the judges wrote.

So the legislators made it so that the only acceptable forms of voter identification were the ones disproportionately used by white people. "With race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans," the judges wrote. "The bill retained only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess."

The data also showed that black voters were more likely to make use of early voting — particularly the first seven days out of North Carolina's 17-day voting period. So lawmakers eliminated these seven days of voting. "After receipt of this racial data, the General Assembly amended the bill to eliminate the first week of early voting, shortening the total early voting period from seventeen to ten days," the court found.

Most strikingly, the judges point to a "smoking gun" in North Carolina's justification for the law, proving discriminatory intent. The state argued in court that "counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black" and "disproportionately Democratic," and said it did away with Sunday voting as a result.

"Thus, in what comes as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times, the State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race — specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise," the judges write in their decision.

This is about as clear-cut an indictment of the discriminatory underpinnings of voter-ID laws as you'll find anywhere. Studies have already shown a significant link between support for voter ID and racial discrimination, among both lawmakers and white voters in general.

"Faced with this record," the federal court concludes, "we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent."
I really hope that this is enough to get North Carolina back under the Voting Rights Act.

Bye Bye Bill

And Bill de Blasio has dropped out of the Presidential race.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

That Gonna Change the World Thing………

We know that MIT Media Lab, and the entire senior management of MIT, conspired to keep donations from Jeffrey Epstein.

In the ensuing furor, one has to wonder what they could possibly do to make themselves even more toxic.

I mean, it would have to be something really bad, like illegally dumping toxic waste down the public sewers, which they also did:
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab have dumped wastewater underground in apparent violation of a state environmental regulation, according to documents and interviews, potentially endangering local waterways in and near the town of Middleton.

Nitrogen levels from the lab’s wastewater registered more than 20 times above the legal limit, according to documents provided by a former Media Lab employee. When water contains large amounts of nitrogen, it can kill fish and deprive infants of oxygen.

Nine months ago, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection began asking questions, but MIT’s health and safety office failed to provide the required water quality reports, according to documents obtained by ProPublica and WBUR. This triggered an ongoing state investigation.

After ProPublica and WBUR contacted MIT for comment, an institute official said the lab in question was pausing its operations while the university and regulators worked on a solution. Tony Sharon, an MIT deputy vice president who oversees the health and safety office, didn’t comment on the specific events described in the documents.


The lab responsible for the dumping is the Open Agriculture Initiative, one of many research projects at the Media Lab. Led by principal research scientist Caleb Harper, who was trained as an architect, the initiative has been under fire for overhyping its “food computers”: boxes that could supposedly be programmed to grow crops, but allegedly didn’t work as promised.

Throughout early 2018, the lab’s research site in Middleton, about 20 miles north of the main MIT campus in Cambridge, routinely drained hundreds of gallons of water with nitrogen into an underground disposal well, at concentrations much higher than the lab’s permit allowed, according to documents and interviews. The nitrogen came from a fertilizer mix used to grow plants hydroponically.
This is what happens when you create an institution, like Media Lab, where the principals believe that they are a priori virtuous people who are saving the world.

Also:  What the f%$# does hydroponics have to do with media?

19 September 2019

And then Her Cat Killed Him

hope you survive bro.
I have made a number of bad decisions in my life, but giving my girl friend's cat a Godzilla haircut is not one of them.

Not Enough Bullets

Purdue Pharma has declared bankruptcy, but they still want to pay $34 million in bonuses to senior managers, because it's not drug pushing if you are white and went to Harvard.

I want the guillotine concession at this bankruptcy trial.

I'll make out like a raped ape:
Officials at troubled drugmaker Purdue Pharma say “certain employees” should be paid more than $34 million in bonuses for meeting and exceeding goals over the last three years, even though the company is facing thousands of lawsuits over its role in the nation’s opioid crisis and earlier this week filed for bankruptcy.

In a legal filing, attorneys for Purdue Pharma asked a judge to authorize millions in payments to employees who have met “target performance goals.”

It is not clear from the company filings why employees would be eligible for bonuses because, while the bonuses are supposed to be partly contingent on the company’s financial performance, the company has filed for bankruptcy.

At a bankruptcy court hearing in White Plains, N.Y., on Tuesday, Paul K. Schwartzberg, an attorney for the U.S. Trustee, raised objections to some of the bonuses. While it is typical for companies in bankruptcy to try to pay employees as a firm seeks to regain its financial footing, the Purdue Pharma bonuses go “way beyond” what is typical, he said.
Enough is enough.

Govrnor Ratf%$# is at it Again

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has set up a a dark money group to oppose educating our children, particularly the black and brown ones:
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is reprising his role as a grass roots agitator, asking top supporters to raise at least $2 million for a lobbying and public relations campaign that would herald his Republican agenda and try to rouse opposition to Democratic priorities.

A fundraising memo obtained by The Washington Post emphasized that Hogan’s new super PAC and a related nonprofit “can accept unlimited donations.” The campaign will target, among other things, a costly plan embraced by the Democratic-majority legislature to address inequity in public schools and deep disparities in student achievement.

Campaign finance watchdogs said the governor’s solicitation illustrates a troubling trend that has escalated over the past decade, as public officeholders find methods to raise unlimited money — some from undisclosed donors — in ways often prohibited for traditional candidate committees.

The second of six fundraisers listed in the memo took place in Annapolis last week, with donors asked to give as much as $10,000 apiece.


The governor is trying to accomplish indirectly what hehas largely been unable to do from inside the State House: pressure the General Assembly to side with him on contentious policy questions. Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both chambers, and have easily overturned Hogan’s vetoes of bills to, among other things, raise the minimum wage, restore voting rights to felons and permanently protect oyster sanctuaries.
There are no good Republicans, some of them just hide their true nature better.

Do not be confused by statements by Hogan and Evil Minions, when they oppose getting funding to under-resourced districts, what they really mean that they think that educating people of color is a bad thing.

I guss that Larry thinks that education makes black folks uppity.

Above the Law

An administrative law judge has ruled that Tesla and Elon Musk violated labor law in their treatment of employees advocating for a union:
Tesla Inc. committed a series of violations of the National Labor Relations Act in 2017 and last year, a judge ruled Friday.

The electric-car maker illegally threatened and retaliated against employees, according to Amita Baman Tracy, an administrative law judge in California.

The judge’s order calls for Tesla to offer reinstatement and back-pay to a fired, pro-union employee, and to revoke a warning issued to another union supporter. The ruling also calls for the company to hold a meeting at its assembly plant in Fremont, California, that Musk must attend. Either he or an agent with the labor board must read a notice to employees informing them that the NLRB concluded the company broke the law.
It will no doubt be appealed to the NLRB, where the minions of newly appointed Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia will no doubt rule against the workers, because that is what they do.

Even if the NLRB rules against them,it is a marker.

Companies that mistreat their employees mistreat their customers as well.

18 September 2019


Iron Man director John Favreau has announcedthat he intends to direct a new Star Wars Holiday Special.

To my shame, I saw it when it came out, and that which is seen cannot be unseen:
Even though the Star Wars prequels received their fair amount of criticism from longtime fans of the sci-fi saga, nothing has ever received as much scorn as the totally weird Star Wars Holiday Special. Aired in 1978, the program took place after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and followed Han Solo and Chewbacca as they tried to evade the Empire and get to the Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk in order to celebrate “Life Day” with Chewie’s father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy. Yeah, the Star Wars Holiday Special is quite a trip, and if Jon Favreau has his way, he’d like to create a new Star Wars Holiday Special for Disney+ someday.
No. Just no.

17 September 2019

1 GB/S for $60/Month

This is what happens when cities build their own broadband networks:
A new community broadband network went live in Fort Collins, Colorado recently offering locals there gigabit fiber speeds for $60 a month with no caps, restrictions, or hidden fees. The network launch comes years after telecom giants like Comcast worked tirelessly to crush the effort. Voters approved the effort as part of a November 2017 ballot initiative, despite the telecom industry spending nearly $1 million on misleading ads to try and derail the effort. A study (pdf) by the Institute for Local Reliance estimated that actual competition in the town was likely to cost Comcast between $5.4 million and $22.8 million each year.

Unlike private operations, the Fort Collins Connexion network pledges to adhere to net neutrality. The folks behind the network told Ars Technica the goal is to offer faster broadband to the lion's share of the city within the next few years:


The telecom sector simply loves trying to insist that community-run broadband is an inevitable taxpayer boondoggle. But such efforts are just like any other proposal and depend greatly on the quality of the business plan. And the industry likes to ignore the fact that such efforts would not be happening in the first place if American consumers weren't outraged by the high prices, slow speeds, and terrible customer service the industry is known for. All symptoms of the limited competition industry apologists are usually very quick to pretend aren't real problems (because when quarterly returns are all that matter to you, they aren't).
The business model of Comcast, and Charter, and Verizon, etc. is to extract monopoly rents.

Providing better service, or serving customers, is simply not a part of their model.

Cuck Fomcast.

Of Course He's Poisoning Us

The Trump administration is looking to eliminate California's auto emissions waiver, which allows them to enforce stricter air standards.

I am not sure how they can do this, this waiver is written into the Clean Air Act, but when has the law ever stopped Trump and Evil Minions:

The New York Times reports that the Trump administration will use a meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to announce the revocation of California's ability to set its own air pollution standards. The state's authority was granted by a waiver that allows it to set pollution limits that are stricter than the federal government's, which is now threatening the administration's ability to roll back Obama-era standards for automobile fuel economy. This move has been rumored to be under consideration for months and sets up a legal showdown that will pit the federal government against California and the 13 states that plan to follow its lead.


During the initial implementation of the Clean Air Act, the Golden State was suffering from extensive smog problems and was granted a waiver that allowed it to set stricter pollution standards than those under the Clean Air Act. The waiver has since given the state significant leverage in negotiations regarding national automotive pollution controls, a position enhanced by the decision of a number of states to adopt whatever standards California sets. Due to the vast size of these states' collective economies, car companies are compelled to meet its pollution standards or generate two different products: one for California and one for the rest of the country. Most have found it easier to simply involve California in negotiations from the start.


All of which would explain why the Trump administration would be interested in revoking the state's waiver and why it's already laid out arguments to justify doing so. The Times reports that this isn't an indication that the EPA has decided what the new standards should be yet, simply that the agency is clearing the way to impose the standards when they're ready.

But the Clean Air Act waiver mechanics are set up so that the EPA administrator must grant a waiver to any state wanting stricter standards unless the state is acting in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner or its standards don't address "compelling and extraordinary conditions." California would certainly have compelling arguments that climate change represents a compelling and extraordinary condition. And it's near certain that the state would be willing to test those arguments in court.
Unfortunately, it will be a very close thing in the Supreme Court, because there are now a majority of right wing hypocrite hacks on the bench there.

I Am so Stoked about This

We now have reports that Gary Larson's THE FAR SIDE Cartoon may be coming back in some form:
Gary Larson said goodbye to fans and the absurdist universe of The Far Side with his final comic on January 1, 1995, and since then the real world has done everything it can to live up to the inanity of his iconic comic strip. Unfortunately, the foolishness of 2019 isn’t nearly as enjoyable as sentient chickens and oversized suburban bugs. Now, the 21st century might be getting both of those creatures—along with aliens, cavemen, clever cows, and women with beehive hairdos—because for the first time in almost two decades, the cartoon’s official webpage has been updated. And unless this joke is on all of us, The Far Side will soon be returning.

After sitting dormant since 1999, The Far Side‘s webpage was updated suddenly and without warning (which we first learned about at The Daily Cartoonist). It features a new cartoon of an explorer using a blowtorch to melt some of the strip’s most iconic characters from a large block of ice. Below it reads, “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!” Since the cartoon itself is signed by Larson, it certainly appears he will be returning with all new comics for the first time in almost 25 years.
For the love of God, please make this true.

Charlie is Fine

He's gonna need new eyeglass frames, and he has a few bruises, but he's fine otherwise.

The police may have already identified a suspect.

NPR Navel Gazing

I'm listening to the Cokie fest at NPR on the news of the death of Cokie Roberts of breast cancer.

I get that she is a significant figure from the early days of the network, and certainly her passing should be noted, but the wall-to-wall coverage was excessive.

If it had been Sy Hersh, or Bob Woodward, or Carl Bernstein, there would have been a 5 minute appreciation.

I understand that a number of people at National Public Radio feel this loss personally, but you are supposed to be journalists.

Suck it up, and leave space for other news.

16 September 2019

Well, This Sucks

Charlie just got mugged on a Baltimore Metro station.

He's shaken, but not stirred.

Posted via mobile.

15 September 2019

I Figured That Bojo Would Have This in His Back Pocket

I've always wondered when one of the EU member nations might object to extending the UK's exit date, because swuch a decision requires unanimity.

Well, it appears that Boris Johnson may have cut some sort of deal with Hungary to force a hard Brexit:
The European Union fears Boris Johnson is plotting to persuade Hungary to veto a Brexit delay, in a move that would dramatically raise the risk that Britain will fall out of the European Union without a deal.

Prime Minister Johnson said last week he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than comply with a vote in Parliament forcing him to ask the EU to postpone Brexit beyond Oct. 31.

But officials at the EU -- which is broadly in favor of an extension if it’s the only way to prevent a no-deal Brexit -- privately voiced fears that one of their own leaders could help Johnson out. If a no-deal divorce is to be avoided, all remaining 27 member states would need to agree with Britain to extend the Brexit negotiating period at an October summit in Brussels.

EU officials privately acknowledge they could do little to stop a rebel leader wielding their veto. They worry that Johnson will try to convince Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has had his own clashes with Brussels over migration and steps to restrict democracy, to help him out. They think the U.K. sees Orban as an ally who will enjoy the opportunity to stand up against the European establishment.
Boris may be an upper class twit, but I figured that he'd find a partner in crime across the English Channel.

About F%$#ing Time

Police officers can often justify a search with six words: “I smelled an odor of marijuana.”

Courts in New York have long ruled if a car smells like marijuana smoke, the police can search it — and, according to some judges, even the occupants — without a warrant.

But in late July, a judge in the Bronx said in a scathing opinion that officers claim to smell marijuana so often that it strains credulity, and she called on judges across the state to stop letting police officers get away with lying about it.

“The time has come to reject the canard of marijuana emanating from nearly every vehicle subject to a traffic stop,” Judge April Newbauer wrote in a decision in a case involving a gun the police discovered in car they had searched after claiming to have smelled marijuana.

She added, “So ubiquitous has police testimony about odors from cars become that it should be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny if it is to supply the grounds for a search.”

It is exceedingly rare for a New York City judge to accuse police officers of routinely lying to cover up illegal searches, but Judge Newbauer’s decision does exactly that. Her decision also shows how marijuana’s status as contraband remains deeply embedded in the criminal justice system, even as the police and prosecutors have begun to wind down arrests and prosecutions for marijuana.


Barry Kamins, a former New York City judge and an authority on search and seizure law in New York, said Judge Newbauer was “the first judge to really express an opinion about this type of scenario.” He said the opinion brought to mind a court decision from 1970, in which a judge accused New York City police officers of lying in a similar fashion.
Police lie all the time about stuff like this, and it's good that judges are beginning to express some skepticism about cops testilying.

So Not a Surprise

Deborah Ramirez had the grades to go to Yale in 1983. But she wasn’t prepared for what she’d find there.


During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.


“I had gone through high school, I’m the good girl, and now, in one evening, it was all ripped away,” she said in an interview earlier this year at her Boulder, Colo., home. By preying upon her in this way, she added, Mr. Kavanaugh and his friends “make it clear I’m not smart.”

Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his.

Ms. Ramirez’s story would seem far less damaging to Mr. Kavanaugh’s reputation than those of Dr. Ford, who claimed that he pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes while covering her mouth.

But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier; the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode.


Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.

Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. “‘We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else,’” Bill Pittard, one of Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, recalled the agents saying. “It was almost a little apologetic.”
It should surprise no one that Kavanaugh lied his ass off, and the FBI, likely at the direction at the DoJ, did its best to cover it up.

Unfortunately, even if the Dems were to control 2/3 of the Senate, the possibility of impeachment, or even a meaningful investigation are minuscule.

I would expect an appeal to Kavanaugh's decency or sense of shame to have to fail as well:  There is no evidence that he has either.

14 September 2019

Rule 1 of Facebook: Facebook Lies

Rule 2 of Facebook is see rule 1.

They lied about not doing location tracking on their users:
Facebook has been caught bending the truth again – only this time it has been forced to out itself.

For years the antisocial media giant has claimed it doesn’t track your location, insisting to suspicious reporters and privacy advocates that its addicts “have full control over their data,” and that it does not gather or sell that data unless those users agree to it.

No one believed it. So, when it (and Google) were hit with lawsuits trying to get to the bottom of the issue, Facebook followed its well-worn path to avoiding scrutiny: it changed its settings and pushed out carefully worded explanations that sounded an awful lot like it wasn’t tracking you anymore. But it was. Because location data is valuable.

Then, late on Monday, Facebook emitted a blog post in which it kindly offered to help users “understand updates” to their “device’s location settings.”


You may have missed the critical part amid the glowing testimony so we’ll repeat it: “... use precise location even when you’re not using the app…”

Huh, fancy that. It sounds an awful lot like tracking. After all, why would you want Facebook to know your precise location at all times, even when you’re not using its app? And didn’t Facebook promise it wasn’t doing that?


Well, yes it did, and it was being economical with the truth. But perhaps the bigger question is: why now? Why has Facebook decided to come clean all of a sudden? Is it because of the newly announced antitrust and privacy investigations into tech giants? Well, yes, in a roundabout way.

Surprisingly, in a moment of almost honesty which must have felt quite strange for Facebook’s execs, the web giant actually explains why it has stopped pretending it doesn’t track users: because soon it won’t be able to keep up the pretense.

“Android and iOS have released new versions of their operating systems, which include updates to how you can view and manage your location,” the blog post reveals.

That’s right, under pressure from lawmakers and users, both Google and Apple have added new privacy features to their upcoming mobile operating systems – Android and iOS – that will make it impossible for Facebook to hide its tracking activity.
So, Facebook is admitting that they lied only because continuing to lie is completely impossible.

F%$# Zuck.  Better yet, how about a serious investigation of allegation of fraud regarding false users and ad sales?

13 September 2019

Tweet of the Day

Amazon Abided

Is anyone surprised that now that Amazon has bought Whole Foods, it is cutting out medical benefits for a large portion of its workers?

I'm not.

Jeff Bezos fetishizes cruelty toward his employees:
Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers, the company confirmed to Business Insider on Thursday.

The changes will take effect on January 1 and affect just under 2% of Whole Foods' total workforce, a Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider.

Whole Foods has about 95,000 employees, so it means about 1,900 people will lose benefits.

The benefits that the company is cutting are offered to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week. The changes will not affect full-time employees.

Whole Foods said it was making the change "to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model."
When I hear, "Create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model," I think irregular schedules and more precarious work situations.

In Bezos world, happy employees are a sign of failure.

Boeing Cannot Make Aircraft Anymore

The 767 first flew in 1981. The first cargo variant from the plant, as opposed to a conversion, was delivered in 1995.

And they cannot make the f%$#ing cargo tie downs work?

The financialization of Boeing is complete:
The U.S. Air Force has identified a potential new design flaw with the KC-46A tanker and banned the fleet from carrying cargo or passengers until a solution is found and delivered.

Multiple cargo locks embedded in the floor of the aircraft released inadvertently during a recent operational test and evaluation flight, according to a statement by Air Mobility Command (AMC).


An uncommanded release of the cargo locks could allow pallets of cargo or passenger seats to shift position during flight, potentially changing the center of gravity of the aircraft.

In response, the Air Force generated the third unresolved Category 1 deficiency report charged to the KC-46 program, AMC says. A Category 1 deficiency reflects an identified risk that jeopardizes lives or critical assets.

The Air Force agreed to accept the first KC-46 last January despite two Category 1 deficiencies still pending.
Seriously, whiskey tango foxtrot.

12 September 2019

Live (Drunk) Blogging the Debates

10:48 pm:
Debate over, not listening to the talking heads.

I am not drunk enough.

10:44 pm:
Cory Booker says that, "The election is not a referendum on Donald Trump, it is a referendum on us."

Very eloquent, and also a good strategy.

Julian Castro just used the southernism, "Y'all." It did not sound authentic.

10:39 pm:
Checking Twitter, and I think that the heckle was, "3 million departed."

They should have done this when immigration had been the subject. Also, they should ENUNCIATE.

Cory Booker just said "Dagnabit".  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?  Take a drink.

10:33 pm:
Questions about resilience, and what your worst personal failure was.

Biden just got heckled. I cannot make out what is being said.

He's asked about professional setbacks, and he mentioned his wife and daughter's deaths in an auto accident, and his son's death of cancer.

Warren talks about getting fired as a teacher because she is pregnant. Humble beginnings, drink by the Taibbi rules.

Sanders talks about his electoral failures before he becomes mayor of Burlington.

10:26 pm:
Ad break.
Alzheimers society advertising a lot too, as is some sort of student loan scam called Sofi, which sounds like a dotcom.

10:21 pm:
Julian Castro notes the documented fact that charter schools do not perform better than conventional public schools, and notes that they need more transparency and accountability.

Cory Booker comes out with a pro charter patter, and then goes back to environmental racism, which he has at least twice before.

10:18 pm:
Lindsay Davis calls out Biden's racist statements in the 1970s.

Biden sputters word salad.

This format, and 10 people on stage, is exhausting.

10:10 pm:
Yang is a big backer of charter schools. F%$# that.

Buttigeig: Step 1 is to appoint a secretary of education who actually supports public education.

Lindsay Davis asks Warren if she is "in bed" with teachers unions. Lindsay Davis can go Cheney herself.

Warren mentions that she was a public school teacher. Good for her. (optional drink taken)

Sanders finally gets called on. Talks up his debt forgiveness.

10:06 pm:
Anthropogenic climate change: Moderate Jorge Ramos seems to be hostile to the idea of global warming.

Sanders is being studiously ignored on this question.

Andrew Yange is talking up "Democracy Dollars". There is someone who did too much LDS in the 1960s. When does he start swimming with humpback whales?

9:53 pm:
Sanders to Biden: I never believed what Cheney and Bush said. Righteous!!! Drink, because it was epic.

9:48 pm:
Afghanistan. How the F%$# did we get out?

Biden now disavows the AUMF that allowed Bush to invade Iraq.

He claims that he's a critic of the Iraq war. Bullsh%$.

9:42 pm:
Sanders makes a cogent statement about how "Free Trade" is really about labor arbitrage.

Biden cries, "Think of the intellectual property." Not incoherent, but morally bankrupt.

Cory Booker: “I’m the only person on stage who finds Trudeau’s hair very menacing but they’re not a national security threat.” I laughed, and I am definitely got a buzz on.

Win from Taibbi:

Harris sounds seriously off.

9:36 pm:
Trade policy questions, and the responses from everyone is fuzzy.

No one wants to come out against tariffs, so they are criticizing Trump's incoherence.

Harris is really sounding awful.

9:26 pm:
Ad break. Notable ads:
The New York Times is advertising the sh%$ out of the debates.
I am depressingly sober. It's what happens when I drink something with the alcohol content of a strong wine.

9:16 pm:
Beto speaks Spanish, Taibbi rules, drink.

9:11 pm:
Biden is challenged about Obama being deporter-in-chief. Good.

9:05 pm:
If Booker mentions that he moved to Newark one more time, I think that I am going to scream.

Warren says that Republican opposition to gun control is corruption. Warren, corruption, drink.

8:57 pm:
Kamala Harris was poorly prepped for this debate. She is sounding like an airhead, and she is not an airhead.

I think that someone convinced her that she needed to be more "Feminine" and it was a bad move.

Beto, "Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15." Swear word, drink.

O'Rourke sounds remarkably animated and sincere, because, IIRC, he is animated and sincere about the ammosexual threat.

Klobuchar called out McConnell. Drink.

8:49 pm:
Best question so far, a challenge to Kamala Harris about how she opposed law enforcement accountability, marijuana legalization, etc., as a prosecutor.

A close second is a question to Klobuchar over her awful record as a prosecutor.

8:45 pm:
Quote of the night so far, Beto O'Rourke: "We have a white supremacist in the White House, and he constitutes a mortal threat."

I am impressed that O'Rourke is not doing his pre-El Paso shooting unity bullsh%$.

8:42 pm:
Andrew Yang, "I'm Asian, so I know a lot of doctors." Sounds like Joe Biden stupid sh%$. (Drink)

8:38 pm:
So much sucking up to Barack Obama when discussing healthcare.

Julian Castro just said to Biden, "Did you just forget what you said 2 minutes ago?" Burn! (Drink)

8:33 pm:
Kamala Harris sure picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. Complete word salad and invoking John f$#@ing McCain? (Drink)

8:30 pm:
Butgigeig says, "Damn," quoting Sanders, and sounds completely uncomfortable doing so. Awkward, take a shot.

8:26 pm:
Elizabeth Warren says that she's never met anyone who loves their insurance company. Too true. (No drink)

Sanders notes that Americans pay twice as much as everyone else in the world, Biden interrupted, "This is America." Stupid sh%$ from Biden. Take a shot.

8:22 pm:
Stephanopoulos whines to Warren and Sanders about taxes, and refuses to consider the savings of single payer.

Sanders says damn. Take a shot.

8:18 pm:
Stephanopolous serves up a big slow one over the center of the plate for Biden, basically asking if Warren and Sanders are icky socialists.  Take a shot.

8:12 pm:
Sanders sounds a bit hoarse in his opening statement.

8:06 pm:
Castro's opening statement had both Spanish and a sports reference.  2 Shots.

Yang just announced that his campaign will give 10 people $1000.00/month for a year.  Literally a lottery offer onin his opening statement.  Definitely a shot.

We are finally down enough candidates that they will all be on one stage, so I guess that I have to live blog this, so I will be drinking, because, forget it Jake, it's ABC.

It's only the primaries, so I'm doing Buttershots, Butterscotch liquor that is only 15% ABV.

I will be playing a drinking game based loosely on Matt Taibbi's 3rd debate drinking game.

I will be posting at the top, with each update having a time in H:HMM pm format.

(On edit)
Watching on ABC and have some comments about ads.