31 January 2022

Clearly, the Only Ethical Solution Is to Put a Jackhammer in the Bathtub

We have all dealt with the problem in our philosophy class:

It would be nice if all of our ethical conundrums could be solved so easily.

Well, That’s One Way to Make a SH%$Ty Car Look Better

You would think for amount that Tesla charges for its cars, you would think that they would make decent seats.

It appears that this is not the case, because Tesla is monitoring how you use your power seats to determine if you are being, "irresponsible," and will shut down the seat adjustment function.

Speaking as a mechanical engineer (BSME, UMass, 1987), I think that it is a better practice, and better customer service, to make seats that can stand up to ordinary use.

If you have 4 drivers in the house, or curious children, watch out:

Tesla’s new vehicles rolling out of the factory will include a bizarre feature designed to prevent abuse of the seat adjustment controls. The new seats will track and measure the amount of adjustments users make and will disable the controls if they detect “excessive” changes. The feature was first identified by @greentheonly, an anonymous hacker and researcher, and subsequently covered by Jalopnik.

Tesla recently began installing new seat motors in some of its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, in addition to the seats it gets from China’s Yangfeng and the ones it makes in-house. The new motors come from Brose, a 110-year-old German company that supplies a lot of components to the automotive industry.

The difference between the Brose seats and Yangfeng and Tesla’s are what @greentheonly calls “‘seat abuse’ metrics.” This functionality will issue warnings to the users if they are making too many adjustments and eventually will disable the seat controls if the warnings are unheeded. Apparently, the car is tracking how many times users move their seats forward and backward, as opposed to lumbar support controls — though the feature could eventually include those controls as well.


(For anyone with trouble imagining under what circumstances someone would be screwing around with their seat controls for a full two minutes, allow me to introduce you to a concept known as “children.”)

In a direct message on Twitter, @greentheonly said they discovered the new feature while scanning Tesla’s latest firmware releases in order to compare them to old releases and see what new functionalities were coming. The hacker also had some theories on why Tesla decided on including the new seat control protections:

so there are two possibilities:
1. their historical replacement pattern show that motors fail like this.

2. they are using worse motors at the factory now so added this check into factory firmware first.

In the end I cannot tell you it’s one or the other for sure. This change is coincident with the BROSE seats config so may be just the Brose seats have this weaker motor? That would explain the first appearance is in the factory firmware too, then.

But may be it is based on historical data too and would apply to all cars and it’s all just a [coincidence]. I have no real way to know. I don’t even have a model3 car myself

There is a 3rd possibility, which is that as a result of Tesla's production push, it already infamously lax attention to build fit and finish is such that misaligned rails are placing undue loads on the motors, and instead of fixing the problem, they came up with a software limiter.

My money is on build quality problems


I've always found the glass armonica to be a fascinating instrument:

30 January 2022

Australia, Huh?

You know Australia, the land of the Funnel Web Spider, the Tiapan snake, geographer cone snail, the Irukandji jellyfish, and too many other highly venomous creatures to count.

Well, now we discover that Australian raptors are setting fires to flush out prey.  Yep, we now have pyromaniac dinosaurs (birds are dinosaurs).

I think that everything in that country is trying to kill people:

In more “WTF Australia” tales and referring specifically to the ferocious animals that ended up roaming that tiny little continent, the country’s birds of prey have officially evolved the cunning ability to start their own fires so they can smoke out dinner.

These flying Aussie monsters are deliberately picking up smoking embers from one fire and then dropping them in a grassland area to start a brand new inferno, so the local animals would have to make a run for it. That is some cold-hearted calculating crap. No wonder so many people just desperately want to believe that Australia doesn’t exist.

This horrifying behavior of birds willing to destroy entire habitats for a snack was first recorded back in 2016 in both black kites and brown falcons species. Since then, it has become clear that predatory birds are definitely doing this deliberately and capitalizing on lightning strikes specifically since that is how wildfires are often started in northern Australia. Truly, a magical place.

Aboriginal Australians have known about their frightening fire-wielding raptors for a long time. They’ve testified that the birds are indeed spreading fires and that the phenomenon could even explain how fires often jump fire breaks. It took quite a while for everyone else to take their tales of “the birds did it” seriously, but now that the cat’s out of the bag because it has to outrun another effin wildfire, people are paying attention, and accounts are stacking up.

Also sharks, including Great White Sharks.

This is surreal.


29 January 2022

Remember the Story of the Frog and the Scorpion?

Well, the National Labor Relations Board is accusing Amazon of being Amazon again, by which we mean illegally harassing its employees as a part of its anti-union activities.

This is perhaps the smallest surprise ever:

Federal labor regulators on Thursday accused Amazon of illegally surveilling and threatening workers who are trying to unionize a Staten Island, N.Y., warehouse.

The complaint, first reported by Bloomberg News, marks the National Labor Relations Board’s latest brush with the e-commerce giant over questions about its tactics. The NLRB wants to compel Amazon to take certain actions to inform workers of their right to organize, according to Kathy Drew King, a regional director for the agency.

Amazon “repeatedly broke the law by threatening, surveilling, and interrogating their Staten Island warehouse workers who are engaged in a union organizing campaign,” King said in a statement.


The Amazon Labor Union, an independent group of workers that isn’t connected to a major national union, recently collected the required signatures to hold a vote on Staten Island, an NLRB spokesperson said Wednesday. A hearing on the vote is scheduled for Feb. 16.

The NLRB complaint stems from four recent cases, the earliest of which was filed in May 2021, according to a legal document obtained by The Washington Post. It alleges the company threatened workers against unionizing, surveilled them in their activities and tried to solicit grievances in exchange for voting against the union. It names two human resources managers, one operations manager, two security guards and a consultant of acting on Amazon’s behalf to violate workers’ rights.

According to the complaint, the consultant “interrogated” employees about their organizing activities, called union organizers “thugs” and allegedly threatened employees by telling them it would be futile to select the union as their bargaining representative. The consultant also is accused of soliciting unspecified grievances from employees with the promise to remedy them if they reject the union.


The complaint contends Amazon has been “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees” who are exercising their rights under the law.

It seeks to require Amazon supervisors to undergo mandatory training describing employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. It also seeks to require the company to post notices describing workers rights on social media, in its electronic applications for workers, and in all employee bathrooms including in the stalls.
Unless and until senior Amazon executives are frog marched out of their offices for repeatedly ignoring the law, this will not change.

28 January 2022

The Benefits of Cable Cutting

It appears that people dropping their cable TV providers and getting their entertainment through streaming services is driving the networks to drop the right wing fringe "news" networks.

It's not surprising, MAGAts are probably not hipster cord cutters:

Before One America News Network host Dan Ball finished an interview with guest Jim Jordan this past week, he asked the Ohio Republican congressman for a favor.

“Please put some pressure on AT&T and DirecTV for us,” said Ball, whose “Real America” airs nightly on the right-wing cable channel. “OAN would love to continue broadcasting on that platform and we know for a fact it is all political behind the scenes on why they’re doing that to us.”

Earlier in the week, Ball solicited viewers to send him “dirt” on William E. Kennard, chairman of of the board at DirecTV parent AT&T, including any evidence of marital infidelity. OAN’s 80-year-old founder, tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, also went on camera to plead with viewers to ask other cable and satellite providers in their areas to add the channel to their lineups.

The desperate calls for help — which would be considered unseemly on a traditional cable news outlet — follow DirecTV’s Jan. 15 announcement that it will drop San Diego-based OAN from its service in April. DirecTV, which AT&T spun off last summer, accounts for nearly half of the 35 million homes that can receive OAN on cable or satellite TV. The channel is not broadly distributed enough to be measured by Nielsen.

The loss of DirecTV will deprive the channel of its major source of revenue and casts doubt on the future of the operation, where President Biden’s administration is called a “regime” and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic are described as hysteria. OAN correspondents have promoted efforts to audit the vote counts in the 2020 election.

OAN is not the only conservative outlet losing distribution. Newsmax, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based channel that is the TV home of former President Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, was dropped from four cable systems in January after it failed to reach new carriage agreements with those companies.


The pay TV providers who dropped OAN and Newsmax make the case that it’s not politics that drove their decisions but the upended economics of their business.

Cable and satellite companies are coping with subscriber loss as the emergence of streaming services, such as Netflix, disrupts TV habits. The number of pay TV homes declined by nearly 9% through the first nine months of 2021, according to research firm MoffettNathanson. DirecTV has seen significant subscriber losses as well.

The cost of a cable package is a major factor in the consumers’ decision to cut the cord, which means service providers are under pressure not to raise rates. Cable bills creep up when the cost to carry programming is passed along to consumers.


Morrow said carriage decisions on channels are based on “industry trends such as secular decline, programming price increases, competitive offerings with lower price points, our competitors’ offers, and consumers’ desire to have more narrow bundles.”

Breezeline, the Quincy, Mass.-based cable company formerly known as Atlantic Broadband, took a similar stance in its comment on its decision to part with Newsmax.

“While we worked in good faith to negotiate a fair agreement, Newsmax insisted on terms and conditions that we could not accept,” said Andrew Walton, a spokesperson for Breezeline. “The decision was not related in any way to the content on the network.”

Walton added that Newsmax’s demands for a higher fee “would have resulted in increased TV fees for all Breezeline customers — for a channel that is free online to other viewers.”

To quote Salvatore Tessio, "It was only business."

Time to Overthrow Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just criticized his western "Allies" for unhinged and hysterical statements that serve do little but stoke panic.

He's right, of course.  (Cue the National Endowment for Democracy starting another color revolution)

While Russia is clearly attempting to influence events in The Ukraine and NATO, and has redeployed troops with an eye toward this, the idea that they can stage a full-scale invasion, the frantic exhortations of, "Any day now," is more about protecting the profits of Lockheed-Martin than the immediate threat. (Russia's current redeployment is several hundred thousand light for a takeover of the country, or even just going to the Oskil River)

So, the Germans think that we are too bellicose, the French think that we are arrogant, and the Ukrainians think that we are blowing things out of proportion:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday criticized Western nations, including the United States, for their handling of Russia’s military buildup at his border, taking aim at his most important security partners as his own military braced for a potential attack.

The 44-year-old leader faulted the West for waiting to impose more damaging sanctions on Moscow — “that’s not the way to do it,” Zelensky said — while assailing decisions by the United States, Britain and Australia to withdraw some embassy staff and families, and accusing Western leaders of inciting “panic” with repeated suggestions that an invasion was imminent.


As his country takes in billions of dollars of economic and military assistance from the West, Zelensky expressed frustration with the public assessments made by the United States and other allies who believe an incursion is increasingly likely, and he appeared to criticize President Biden directly for statements earlier this week indicating Russian forces could advance on Ukraine as soon as next month.

“These signals have come even from respected world leaders, who speak openly and with undiplomatic language. They say simply ‘tomorrow there will be war.’ This is panic,” he said.

Zelensky’s criticisms have rankled and confused U.S. officials, who have tried to project an image of Western unity in support of Ukraine. Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops along with tanks and heavy artillery across large sections of the border while denying any intention to invade. Zelensky said satellite imagery alone was not sufficient to assess the Kremlin’s objectives.

I expect to start seeing negative stories about Zelensky in the US press from, "Intelligence sources speaking on the condition of anonymity," any day now.

The Ukrainian President is correct though:  The statements by elements of the US state security and foreign policy apparatus have been needlessly alarmist and provocative.

27 January 2022

It's Jobless Thursday!

Initial unemployment claims fell slightly, while 4th quarter GDP rose strongly.

It should be noted that while November was gangbusters, December was not:

Filings for unemployment benefits fell last week, showing a tight labor market with low layoffs and plentiful job openings even in the face of disruptions caused by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 260,000 for the week ended Jan. 22, a decrease of 30,000 from the revised level the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. A gauge of those on jobless rolls fell to the lowest level since 1973.

“Employers are still doing a lot to try to keep workers on staff because they know it’s hard to hire right now,” said Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the University of Minnesota. He described employees unexpectedly missing work because of Covid-19 as the biggest consequence of the surge in cases.

After declining through most of 2021, the number of new claims reached the lowest point in five decades by December. More recently, claims had moved higher as the Omicron variant began to ratchet up the number of Covid-19 cases throughout the country, causing some workers to call in sick, businesses to temporarily shut down and schools to pivot to online learning.

I think that it is safe to say that Omicron is having an effect.

As to GDP:

The U.S. economy grew rapidly in the fourth quarter of last year, advancing to a 6.9% annual rate, capping the strongest year of growth in nearly four decades as the country rebounded quickly from the pandemic-induced recession.

But growth recently has run into obstacles that could lead to more modest growth this year, economists say.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services, in the fourth quarter accelerated from the third quarter’s growth of 2.3%, adjusted for inflation, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The gain reflected solid spending by households, much of it occurring early in the quarter, and companies pushed to rebuild depleted inventories as they try to overcome persistent supply shortages.

Output grew 5.5% in all of 2021, when comparing the fourth quarter to the same period a year earlier. The economy hasn’t grown that fast since 1984, during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, when the country was rebounding from a double-dip recession and an era of high inflation.


Americans reined in shopping toward the end of the quarter, according to other Commerce Department data on retail sales, as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 triggered a new wave of infections and higher prices cut into their paychecks. A separate Commerce Department report Thursday showed sales of durable goods—long-lasting items such as cars, refrigerators and bulldozers—fell in December.  
January employment and GDP numbers should be interesting.

Still Can't Make Planes

Boeing has not been able to deliver as many of its 787 Dreamliners as it wants because the planes roll off the line unable to meet FAA quality specifications.

Hoocoodanode that Boeing's non-union assembly plant in South Carolina would have quality issues?

Boeing Co.said production problems and delivery delays with its 787 Dreamliner jet would cost it another $4.5 billion as the plane maker reported its third annual loss in a row.

The company said it expects to deliver more of its 737 MAX and Dreamliner jets this year and iron out the production problems that have hamstrung its business. While it booked charges at all three of its business units last quarter, it also stopped bleeding cash for the first time in more than two years.

Airlines are continuing to recover from pandemic-driven travel restrictions that left global capacity down 27% last year from 2019 levels. Boeing delivered only half as many jetliners last year as rival Airbus SE but secured more orders and said it plans to boost production further in 2022.


A series of factory defects and regulatory snags has largely prevented Boeing from handing over the popular wide-body Dreamliner to customers for more than a year. Chief Financial Officer Brian West said Boeing finished 2021 with 110 of the jets in inventory. The planes are worth more than $25 billion.

The latest charge includes $3.5 billion to compensate customers for the delays, with unanticipated production costs now forecast to double to $2 billion over the next two years as Boeing slowed output. Mr. West said the increase in factory costs related to fixing areas surrounding passenger and cargo doors.

Deliveries of the Dreamliner aren’t expected to resume until April at the earliest. The delays have prompted airlines to shuffle their fleet plans or in some cases reduce flight schedules. Boeing is awaiting regulatory approval for pre-delivery inspections.

This is what happens when the finance types take over.

Tweet of the Day

This statement is both unequivocally true, and deeply illustrative of the depraved values of our polity.

What Do You Call People Who Burn Books Critical of Nazis?

If you answered, "Nazis," that is correct, but if you answered, "Every member of the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board," that would be correct as well.

As to how you would distinguish between the two, I am not entirely sure:

A school board in Tennessee voted unanimously this month to ban “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, from being taught in its classrooms because the book contains material that board members said was inappropriate for students.

According to minutes of its meeting, the 10-person board, in McMinn County, Tenn., voted on Jan. 10 to remove the book from the eighth-grade curriculum. Members of the board said the book, which portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats in recounting the author’s parents’ experience during the Holocaust, contained inappropriate curse words and a depiction of a naked character. [Spoiler this is the a depiction author's mother suicide in a bathtub]

“There is some rough, objectionable language in this book,” said Lee Parkison, the director of schools for McMinn County, in eastern Tennessee, according to minutes of the meeting.

Art Spiegelman, the author of “Maus,” said he was baffled by the decision. “This is disturbing imagery,” he said in an interview on Thursday, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day. “But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”

After reading the minutes of the meeting, Mr. Spiegelman said he got the impression that the board members were asking, “Why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?”

It appears that the McMinn County Na ……… School Board thinks that they need a kinder and gentler Holocaust. 

Did I mention that Maus won a Pulitzer?

How Dangerous Is It to Be a Cop?

Less dangerous than being a roofer, a lumberjack, a construction worker, a fisherman, or a pizza delivery guy.

Of course, police deaths have been up this years, but that is due to Covid, which is rather evocatively described by Cory Doctorow as, "Suicide by cop union."

Cops, or at least the officials at PBA locals, seem to be the people most likely to object to masking and vaccines.

Police officers do not have a uniquely dangerous job, but they do have a uniquely murderous job, being avatars of the state's monopoly on violence in the civilian sphere.

A recent Tiktok has gained some traction pointing out that being a delivery driver is actually more dangerous than being a police officer. It features a Papa John’s delivery driver getting ready for work, ironically steeling up for the dangers at hand.

The tiktok seems to pull statistics from this reddit post, which further pulls from this USA Today article citing statistics from 2016 Bureau of Labor reports.

These reports say that you’re more likely to die on the job as a delivery driver (24.7 annual deaths per 100k workers) than as a police officer (14.6 annual deaths per 100k workers). On the USA today list of the 25 most dangerous jobs in America, working in law enforcement is only number 14. The most dangerous is logging jobs.

If someone suggests that cops should be given a pass on a requirement that they be judicious in their application of violence because of the danger of their job, perhaps you should ask them about whether or not pizza drivers should be able to behave that way.

26 January 2022

Adding to My List

Following the right wing sh%$ storm after a minor rebranding, I am adding the M&M's advertising mascots to my list of They Who Must Not Be Named.

I may continue to discuss candies, but the CGI advertising avatars that have turned into a right wing hissy fit because the Green M&M has changed footwear?  I am done with them.

The juxtaposition of right wing faux outrage and right wing foot fetishes is way past my limit.

Also, I prefer Almond Roca:

The green M&M has a new look. Not everyone is impressed.

The problem? The once-sexy cartoon candy seems to have been stripped of her mojo, some say.

In photos and videos released by candy company Mars Inc., the humanlike green M&M no longer has her signature pose—one hand on her head, and another by her hip. The peachy skin tone on her legs and arms is now a cartoonish white. And her high-heeled boots have been swapped for sneakers, which the company said reflects what people are wearing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 This is where Rule 34 goes to die.

This Is Not a Surprise

With all of the time effort spent on making the social safety net as cruel and as means tested as possible, an important fact is ignored, that when you give money to poor people, you get healthier and smarter kids:

A study that provided poor mothers with cash stipends for the first year of their children’s lives appears to have changed the babies’ brain activity in ways associated with stronger cognitive development, a finding with potential implications for safety net policy.

The differences were modest — researchers likened them in statistical magnitude to moving to the 75th position in a line of 100 from the 81st — and it remains to be seen if changes in brain patterns will translate to higher skills, as other research offers reason to expect.

Still, evidence that a single year of subsidies could alter something as profound as brain functioning highlights the role that money may play in child development and comes as President Biden is pushing for a much larger program of subsidies for families with children.

Of course, our policy is being driven by people like Joe Manchin, who opposed extension of the child tax credit, because he thinks that the parents will spend the money on drugs, so the whole, "The Cruelty is the Point," abomination will continue unabated.

First, Biden Will Slow Walk It, and Then President Manchin Will Kill It

As you may have heard, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement, meaning that Joe Biden should get to nominate his replacement.

Unless, of course, Biden takes weeks to pick a nominee, which he probably will, and Manchin or Sinema decides to grand stand about the nominations, pushing it past the elections day, when now majority in the Senate Republicans will refuse to approve any Supreme Court Justice that he nominates.

Schumer wants to hit the ground running, and match the speed with with Barrett was approved, but I'm figuring that we will see at least 8 weeks of West Wing bullsh%$ from the Biden administration:

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the senior member of the Supreme Court’s three-member liberal wing and a persistent if often frustrated advocate of consensus as the court moved sharply to the right, will retire upon the confirmation of his successor, people familiar with the decision said, providing President Biden a chance to fulfill his pledge to nominate a Black woman.

Mr. Biden is expected to formally announce the retirement at the White House on Thursday, but the partisan machinery that has built up in recent decades around Supreme Court confirmations was already swinging into action on Wednesday as word of Justice Breyer’s decision raced through Washington.

Justice Breyer, 83, the oldest member of the court, was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 allowed President Donald J. Trump to appoint Justice Amy Coney Barrett as her replacement, Justice Breyer became the subject of an energetic campaign by liberals who wanted him to step down to ensure that Mr. Biden could name his successor while Democrats control the Senate.

Yeah, I'm cynical as hell about this.

Why People Think That the Medical Establishment Is Corrupt

It's not because people just don't trust science, it's because the medical establishment is corrupt.

Case in point:  After acknowledging the problem for decades, medical journals are still not requiring authors fully disclose financial conflicts. 

To be fair, everything is corrupt, this is what end stage capitalism looks like:

A new analysis finds that 81 percent of authors whose work appeared in the Journal of American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 failed to disclose conflicts of interest in the form of industry payments. 

The analysis reviewed 31 clinical trial reports from each of the two journals that were published in 2017 and identified 118 authors who, in total, received $7.48 million dollars in industry payments. The payment information came from Open Payments, a US government website where drug and device makers must report payments to physicians and health care providers. The analysis was posted as a preprint on medRxiv on January 1 and has not yet been peer-reviewed. 

Of the 118 authors on the included papers, only a dozen did not receive any payments, according to the preprint. Of the 106 researchers who received payments, the payments ranged from as little as $6.36 to as much as $1.49 million. Researchers received payments for travel, food, speaking, and consulting services, among other things, STAT News reports. The 23 researchers that received the largest payments received a total of $6.32 million, of which $3 million was undisclosed.


When publishing in ICMJE member journals, which includes JAMA and NEJM, researchers are required to follow the disclosure guidelines promoted by the ICMJE—which include disclosing payments. But this expectation was not met by many of the authors of the papers included in the analysis. According to STAT, the authors of the preprint say that their results suggest voluntary disclosure may not be adequate for avoiding financial conflicts or ensuring transparency.

It's not just the authors though, the editors of these august publications are taking lots of industry money too

Corruption is as corruption does, I guess.

25 January 2022

Today in Geriatric Dysfunction

Nancy Pelosi is running for reelection.

I'm thinking that the geriatric (and corrupt) leadership of the Congressional Democrats really need to go, but they continue to cling to power.

It serves no one but themselves. 

We need some new blood among the leadership, because as January 6, 2006 shows, the alternative is blood on the streets:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that she is running for reelection, citing the “crucial” need to defend American democracy through legislation on voting rights and other issues.

Pelosi, 81, has served in Congress since 1987.


Pelosi has led House Democrats for 19 years through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now President Biden. She was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Affordable Care Act during Obama’s tenure; Democrats’ focus on preserving the law helped the party reclaim the House majority in 2018.

In 2018, Pelosi said this term would be her last as speaker, but she made no mention of her plans in the announcement Tuesday.

Since the losing the House in 2022 is almost a certainty, that point is largely moot, but my guess is that she tries to remain as minority leader, to the detriment of the party and the nation.

And the 14th Amendment Wins

Following a torrent of opprobrium from basically everyone, the whack-doodle judge in Wisconsin has withdrawn the injunction against hospital employees who wanted to move to a non-psychopathic employer.

So, ThedaCare loses, and the employees can move to Ascension, and they have a 5 figure GoFundMe:

Seven health care workers will be able to start their new jobs at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton after a judge dismissed a temporary restraining order Monday that was barring them from doing so at the request of their former employer, ThedaCare.

Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Mark McGinnis ruled that ThedaCare's arguments were not enough to uphold the injunction.

McGinnis said he signed the initial restraining order Friday because of the gravity of the situation that ThedaCare laid out in their complaint. Wisconsin statute says the court should give "substantial weight" to any adverse impact on public safety when deciding what to require in the order.

Lawyers for ThedaCare had argued the region would be in danger of not having health care for severely injured patients or people who had suffered strokes if the seven employees moved to Ascension for their Monday start date.

But after Monday's hearing, McGinnis said ThedaCare could rely on alternate staffing solutions it already is pursuing to preserve care, including cross-training employees who do similar jobs at ThedaCare's Appleton hospital.

The broader case, in which ThedaCare argues that Ascension inappropriately group-recruited these employees, will go forward in court, but the employees are free to begin their new jobs on Tuesday.

How can you inappropriately recruit at-will employees? 

This was profoundly evil on many levels, and ThedaCare is going to have real trouble recruiting after all of this, which is a good thing.

F%$# That

Descendents of the last King of Italy want the royal jewels back.

Let me explain this simply:  You got this by massacring Libyans, Ethiopians, and Southern Italians.  They belonged to the Crown, not the King, and so are the property of the state.

I'd like to see them leave the safe deposit box and go to a museum, but they should not go to the House of Savoy, who acquired this wealth through the power of the state, including support for Benito Mussolini:

For more than 75 years, they have been squirreled away in a vault in Rome – a dazzling collection of tiaras, earrings, necklaces and brooches.

Now, Italy’s once-exiled royal family wants them back.

The royal House of Savoy has embarked on a campaign to reclaim the collection of jewels, which they lost in 1946 when the monarchy was abolished and Italy was declared a republic.

Ever since, the jewels, which were worn by Italian princesses and queens, have been kept in a vault in the Bank of Italy in Rome.

They have never been formally valued but there are reports that they are worth up to €300 million.

Yeah, and they are claiming that it's not about the money:

The Savoys, who provided Italy with kings from unification in the mid-19th century until their demise just after the Second World War, argue that they are private property that was never ceded to the Italian State and should be given back.

“Italy should do what is right and fitting and restore the jewels to my family,” said Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, the highest-profile member of the former royal dynasty.

“The monetary value of the jewels doesn’t interest us. What is more important is the historical and sentimental value that they have for the family,” he told The Telegraph.

But it's about the money:

Asked if the Savoys would establish a museum in which to display the collection, the prince said: “We have to take this step by step. First, the Bank of Italy must return them and then the heirs of the royal family will decide what to do with them.”

Seriously, Italy made a bad decision in 2003 when it allowed those inbred tyrants back into the country.

Tweet of the Day

I tend to feel the same way, but just about public anti-vaxxers, and public assholes, though with Sarah Palin testing positive, it's a hat trick.

Yeah, This is Contemptible

The California State University system has added caste based discrimination to its list of prohibited behavior.  This is a good thing, as a number of students in the system have complained about discrimination on the basis of their Dalit (Untouchable) status.

The California State University system last week updated its nondiscrimination policy to include caste, making it the first university system in the country to enact such a policy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While caste is banned in India and other South Asian countries, the system of social hierarchy still exists in practice, and some California State students of Asian descent have reported encountering caste discrimination on campus. The systemwide policy, which will cover all 23 campuses, will allow students to report anti-Dalit bias, or discrimination against what has historically been the most oppressed caste. The move comes after years of activism among Dalit students, including Prem Pariyar, a Nepali Dalit social worker and alum of California State University, East Bay, who first advocated for caste protections in the department of social work.

“When I faced caste discrimination within the campus and outside in the community, I felt very disappointed and low. I thought I had left caste discrimination behind in Nepal,” Pariyar said in a press release. “But I was wrong. I have been experiencing caste discrimination in every sphere of my life even in the U.S.”

So caste discrimination is a problem, but some of the faculty of the Cal State system have are offended that they will be denied their right to discriminate on the basis of caste:

After over 80 Indian-origin professors at California State University (CSU) in the US opposed its move to add caste as a ‘protected’ category under its anti-discrimination policy, students and alumni of the institution have hit back, alleging that the professors were “attempting to silence Dalit voices”.


Prem Periyar, a Nepali Dalit and CSU alumni who has been leading the movement to introduce caste as a ‘protected’ category in the university’s policy, told ThePrint that it was “disheartening” to see professors of South Asian decent object to the same.

“During the meeting of the academic senate, when the draft resolution was being discussed, a professor of South Asian heritage objected saying that this is an Indian issue and was not relevant in the US. How is it an Indian issue if I am being ostracised here, on campus, for being a Dalit student?” he added.

The 30-year-old further said: “When I left Nepal in 2015 to come to the US, I thought I had left my caste identity behind. This letter is nothing but an attempt to silence Dalit voices.”

Krystal Raynes, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at CSU Bakersfield, told ThePrint over phone that attempts have been made by Asian professors to “gaslight” Dalit students.


Manmit Singh, a student at San Francisco State University, told ThePrint over phone: “These threats and intimidation tactics not only expose the impunity with which these caste bigots act, but also indicate the necessity for caste protections.”

The California State Student Association (CSSA) had passed a resolution to add ‘caste’ as a category to the CSU anti-discrimination policy in April last year. The CSSA describes itself as “the single recognised voice” for more than 4.8 lakh [480.000] students at the university.

However, in an open letter, more than 80 Indian-origin professors of CSU had called the move “a misguided overreach” and demanded that the Collective Bargaining Agreement — a legal contract between the students’ union and the university — be approved “only after removal of the discriminatory insertion of ‘caste’ as an additional category”.

This sounds an awful lot like segregationists in the south defending their "heritage".  It's a pity that the many both the "Good old boys" and the many of the high caste Indian Americans can't let go of their old bigoted ways.

Call me naive, but America should not be about this.

24 January 2022

This and $11.85 Will Get You a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte with Eight Shots of Espresso, Seven Pumps of Pumpkin Sauce, and One Pump of Maple Pecan Sauce at Starbucks

The Arizona Democratic Party has censured Kyrsten Sinema over her voting rights rat-f%$#ery.

This, of course, means nothing.  In fact, I expect Sinema to use it in her campaign ads.

The time to do this was when Schumer started clearing the path for her.  They have known that she was a narcissistic sociopath for quite some time:

Kyrsten Sinema was censured by the Arizona Democratic Party on Saturday morning, after the senator's longstanding opposition to modifying Senate rules to pass voting rights bills culminated in the legislation stalling in Congress.

The Arizona Democrat has received substantial criticism for her position against creating a carveout in the filibuster for voting rights, along with fellow centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.). A number of top donors threatened last week to stop funding Sinema if she didn’t reevaluate her stance, saying voting rights passage was “life or death important.”

When one looks at "Moderates" of both parties, there is a difference.

Looking at someone like Susan Collins (R-ME), she will go on the Sunday talk shows, and criticize the Republican Party's lack of commitment to civility, but when it's important, and their vote is crucial to the agenda of their party, she will always vote with the Republicans.

Looking at people like Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), they will go on the Sunday talk shows, and criticize the Democratic Party's lack of commitment to civility, but when it's important, and their vote is crucial to the agenda of their party, they will always vote with the Republicans.

Notice the difference.


Tweet of the Day

More adventures in the 2nd worst OP/ED page in the nation, courtesy of Matt Taibbi.

It could be a change in cleaning products insecticide, it could be people made uncomfortable by frogs and crickets, (It happened to me on Grenada), or it could be mass psychosis, but the whole "Sooper Sekrit" annoying weapon has always been complete bullsh%$.


Yes, this is Pat Boone covering Smoke on the Water:

23 January 2022

Real World Tests of the Effects of Land Speculation

In a case of, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings," we have massive online games revealing the corrosive and deflationary impact of land speculation.

Specifically, it appears that it is essential for there to be disincentives for people who speculate in proxies for traditional real estate (i.e. limited supply) without making improvements.

That we can observe this in games gives us two advantages on the real world:

  • The effects of speculation and regulation can be observed over a very short time.
  • You don't have to fight the real-estate industry to implement regulations.
  • You are not actually going to kicking people out of their homes if you make a bad call.

While the author is not primarily writing about the real world, it is clear that he understands that this does have real world analogues:

The hot new trend these days is games featuring "digital real estate." I'm concerned these will lead to digital land speculation bubbles that will make players, developers, and investors alike lose stupid amounts of money. If you're developing or investing in a game or app like this and expecting to ride a blistering wave of growth to a multi-billion dollar valuation you'd better take a hard look at the fundamentals before you run smack into a brick wall.

Digital real estate is not actually a new phenomenon, and history consistently shows that when "digital land" sufficiently resembles the economic properties of physical land, we see digital land speculation, digital housing crises, and even full-blown digital recessions. That means a period of exciting growth suddenly grinds to a halt once scalpers corner precious digital property and keep it out of the hands of those who actually want to play the damn game or perform valuable and productive activities for the community.

Take Axie Infinity, for example:


I can tell you exactly what's going to happen here, because it's what always happens – speculators will buy up all the land and hold it. If there's no cost to holding onto this scarce asset that everybody needs and wants, and this asset will predictably rise in value, speculators will just sit on it and watch the price shoot through the roof and anyone who wants to use land will have to pay out the nose. This will have a negative drag on the game's entire economy, and the speculators will get rich at everyone else's expense. All this talk of emergent and spontaneous user creations built on a beautiful "digital nation" will grind to a halt, crushed by the weight of rent-seeking parasites.


We know this for two reasons – first, it's exactly what happens in the real world economy, and second, we've seen it happen multiple times before in the digital economy. Ultima Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and EVE Online are all prominent examples of virtual worlds with sophisticated internal economies that have all suffered from digital land shortages fueled by scalping and speculation. Two of those games are still suffering from land shortages to this very day, but one of them was able to solve their crisis thanks to a quick-thinking economist who took a page out of the book of the 19th-century populist firebrand Henry George.

Here's a spoiler if you are not familiar with Henry George: Taxing land at a different, and higher, rate than what is on the land discourages unproductive speculation and actually ends up driving the price of land, and hence unproductive rents, down while encouraging things like higher population density development.

We could theoretically run a simulation on real-estate regulation and population for a few pennies, and find the most effective way to prevent the rent from being too damn high.

What About the 14th Amendment?

It appears that a someone at a the ThedaCare hospital found that jobs at  Ascension Northeast were better:  Better pay, better benefits, and better work/life balance.

They went to management asking for a counter-offer, and management told them to pound sand, so they left.

Hospital management responded by getting an injunction preventing the better hospital from bringing these people onboard, because making a job better might interfere with senior management bonuses.

Needless to say, the management of ThedaCare are, to quote Douglas Adams, "A bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

It was unclear whether a group of former ThedaCare employees would be allowed to start their new jobs at Ascension Northeast Wisconsin Monday after lawyers for both health systems made their first appearance in court Friday morning.

The uncertainty is the latest development in a battle over health care employees that began late Thursday and is now playing out in court. It comes as staff shortages strain health systems nationwide — nearly one in five health care workers have quit their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ThedaCare requested Thursday that an Outagamie County judge temporarily block seven of its employees who had applied for and accepted jobs at Ascension from beginning work there on Monday until the health system could find replacements for them. 

The employees were part of an 11-member interventional radiology and cardiovascular team, which can perform procedures to stop bleeding in targeted areas during a traumatic injury or restore blood flow to the brain in the case of a stroke. Each of them were employed at-will, meaning they were not under an obligation to stay at ThedaCare for a certain amount of time.

Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Mark McGinnis granted ThedaCare's request and held an initial hearing Friday morning. The case will get a longer hearing at 10 a.m. Monday.

In case you are wondering what sort of f%$#ed up judge makes this ruling, see here, here, and here.  He's a trip.


In the complaint, lawyers for ThedaCare wrote that Ascension had "shockingly" chosen to "poach" the employees during a stressful time for health care. More COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the Fox Valley now than at any other time during the pandemic, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association data, and ThedaCare has canceled non-emergency surgeries to make space. 

A Thursday statement from Ascension said the employees were not recruited but instead decided to apply for open job postings. It was Ascension's understanding that ThedaCare had the opportunity to make counter-offers but declined, the statement said. 


Muth argued that ThedaCare had weeks to come up with better offers to keep their employees or figure out alternate staffing solutions and instead chose to initiate court action days before the workers were set to start at Ascension, resulting in "a mess of ThedaCare's own making."

In the complaint, ThedaCare attorneys wrote that the organization found out Dec. 21 that four interventional radiology technicians had accepted offers with Ascension, and learned Dec. 29 that two nurses planned to make the same move. On Jan. 7, they learned one additional nurse planned to quit and work at Ascension.

Ascension had offered the employees a better benefits package that ThedaCare did not match, Muth said. 

Timothy Breister, an Appleton resident and one of the seven employees involved in the systems' dispute, submitted a letter to McGinnis Friday before the hearing describing his experience.

One of his colleagues received an offer from Ascension that was attractive "not just in pay but also a better work/life balance," which caused others on his team to apply, Breister wrote.

After approaching ThedaCare with the chance to match the offers they'd been given, Breister wrote that they were told "the long term expense to ThedaCare was not worth the short term cost," and no counter-offer would be made. 

This whole saga has attracted a lot of attention nationwide, and hopefully both ThedaCare and the judge will be receiving some serious scrutiny as a result.

Hopefully this will result in negative consequences.

22 January 2022

Well, This Explains a Lot

It should not surprise me that ¼ of Wharton MBA wannabees think that the average wage in the united states is over $100,000.00, but it does.

This helps explain why the "Captains of Industry" out there are so disconnected from the actual struggles of ordinary people, they are living on another planet:

A simple question from a university professor caused a social media firestorm and led to a major discussion about the U.S. wealth gap this week.

Nina Strohminger, a legal studies and business law professor at Wharton, the number two ranked business school in the U.S., wrote on Twitter that one quarter of her students thought the average American salary was over six figures, and one even thought it was $800,000 a year.

“I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures,” Strohminger tweeted on Wednesday. “One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k).”


The average annual wage in the U.S. 2021 was $53,383, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s nearly $30,000 less than the annual tuition at Wharton which is $80,432 per year.

“It tells me that these Wharton students grew up in privilege and never experienced an eviction notice,” Twitter user Sandra Bucciero replied to Strominger’s tweets.


Many Americans, for instance, think the Black-white wealth gap is 40 to 80% smaller than it actually is, according to The Institute for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. And wealthy Americans in particular have skewed ideas about wealth distribution—they overestimate the average wealth of the wider U.S. population, according to the Journal of Psychological Science. Studies on the correlation between money and moral behaviors have also found that wealthy people are less likely than low-income people to relate to the suffering of others, as compared to poor participants in a lab setting, and score worse in demonstrations of compassion.

The rich are different from you and me, they are worse human beings, and completely clueless. 

I would argue that their blindness to these issues is on some level deliberate, if they really thought about the true scope of the misery that they inflict, they would feel a need to actually do something about it.

Gee, There's a Surprise

After FAA foot dragging on dealing with this issue, they have had years to deal with this, and the FCC not particularly interested in bailing the flight safety agency out, the airlines are faced with the cancellation of thousands of flights.

Well now, the the airlines are crying uncle, and saying that the activation of the frequencies in question won't be a big problem.

Between this and the 737 MAX debacle, the Federal Aviation Administration is not looking good:

The Federal Aviation Administration's fight against AT&T's and Verizon's new 5G deployment appears to be coming to a temporary close, with the FAA having cleared about 78 percent of US planes for landing in low-visibility conditions. Airline CEOs are striking an upbeat tone, with one saying the process of ensuring that airplane altimeters work in 5G areas is "really not that complicated."

Over the past week, the FAA announced clearances for 13 altimeters that can filter out 5G transmissions from the C-band spectrum that is licensed to wireless operators, accounting for those used by all Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787, and MD-10/-11 models; all Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350, and A380 models; and some Embraer 170 and 190 regional jets. More approvals will presumably be announced soon, bringing the US closer to 100 percent capacity.

Unfortunately, there could be another showdown in about six months, when AT&T and Verizon lift temporary 5G restrictions around airports—we'll cover that later in this article. For now, airline CEOs appear to be satisfied, even though the FAA hasn't said definitively that altimeters will continue working after the temporary 5G limits around airports are lifted.

"It's taken a while to get to the right spot, but I feel like we're in the right spot," American Airlines Doug Parker said yesterday, according to a CNN article. "I don't think you're going to see any material disruption going forward because of this."

Translation, "This is what happens when your pet agency drops the ball, and no one is there to bail you out."


These statements marked a sudden shift, coming just three days after Parker and Kirby signed a letter claiming that 5G on the C-band would cause "catastrophic disruption" to air travel.

Mandy Rice-Davies applies.*

The biggest recent development is that the FAA finally started a process to evaluate and approve altimeters after claiming without proof that 5G on C-Band spectrum (3.7 to 3.98 GHz) would disrupt altimeters that use spectrum from 4.2 GHz to 4.4 GHz. While the Federal Communications Commission created a 220 MHz guard band to protect airplane equipment, poorly built altimeters may be unable to filter out transmissions from other spectrum bands.

The FAA didn't start its process of evaluating the actual altimeters used by airplanes after February 2020, when the Federal Communications Commission approved the use of C-Band spectrum for 5G. The FAA also didn't start this evaluation process after the FCC auctioned off the spectrum to wireless carriers in February 2021. Instead, the FAA continued arguing that 5G deployment should be blocked long after carriers started preparing their equipment and towers to use the C-band.

Harold Feld, a long-time telecom attorney and senior VP of consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Ars today that the FAA should have started setting up the process to evaluate altimeters shortly after the FCC approved the use of the spectrum for 5G—or, at the very latest, shortly after the $81 billion spectrum auction went forward.

(Full disclosure: Mr. Feld is a family friend.)

The FAA needs to be fixed.

*Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Seriously, know your history.

My Heart Bleeds Borscht

The neo-Nazi group Patriot Front got owned by some leet haxors who released their sensitive internal files to the public.

While I do not personally endorse violating computer intrusion laws, if someone chooses to do so, you could not find a more deserving group than this group of bigots:

Chat messages, images, and videos leaked from the server of a white supremacist group called the Patriot Front purport to show its leader and rank-and-file members conspiring in hate crimes, despite their claims that they were a legitimate political organization.

Patriot Front, or PF, formed in the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one of the attendees rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 35 others. PF founder Thomas Rousseau started the group after an image posted online showed the now-convicted killer, James Alex Fields, Jr., posing with members of white supremacist group Vanguard America shortly before the attack. Vanguard America soon dissolved, and Rousseau rebranded it as PF with the goal of hiding any involvement in violent acts.

Since then, PF has strived to present itself as a group of patriots who are aligned with the ideals and values of the founders who defeated the tyranny of the British in the 18th century and paved the way for the United States to be born. In announcing the formation of PF in 2017, Rousseau wrote:


But a published report and leaked data the report is based on present a starkly different picture. The chat messages, images, and videos purport to show Rousseau and other PF members discussing the defacing of numerous murals and monuments promoting Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ groups, and other social justice causes.


Friday’s published report said that the leak comprised about 400 GB of data and came from a self-hosted instance of RocketChat, an open source chat server that’s similar to Slack and Discord. It’s only the latest example of a hate group being hacked and its private discussions being dumped online. In 2019, the breach of the Iron March website revealed, among other things, that many of its members were members of the US Marines, Navy, Army, and military reserves.

File this under, "This is what you get for fist-f%$#ing a cobra."

21 January 2022

Stopped Clock: Emmanuel Macron Edition

In his speech on ascending to the President of the EU, Macron called for negotiations between Europe and Russia over the situation in the Ukraine.

The EU must open its own talks with Russia rather than rely on Washington, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has said as he warned of the prospect of the “most tragic thing of all – war”.

In a wide-ranging speech in Strasbourg, Macron said it was not sufficient for the US to negotiate with the Kremlin over its threats to peace but that Europe needed to have its voice heard.

Macron said he hoped to revitalise four-way talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, known as the Normandy format, to find a solution to the escalating crisis.

The French president, who was speaking to mark the start of his country’s six-month presidency of the EU, told MEPs: “I think our credibility vis-a-vis Russia lies primarily in entering into demanding dialogue.

“And we see that looking at the dialogue that the US and Russia are currently undertaking. I think that it is good for there to be coordination between Europe and the US but it is vital that Europe has its own dialogue with Russia.

This is significant because the current definition of trans-Atlantic unity on this issue, at least from Washington, DC, is that unity is paramount, and that unity is defined as having the European governments play not any meaningful role in negotiations.

The fact that the French in particular, and the rest of the EU in general, might want a greater role to address their own interests where they diverge from those of the US in discussions with Russia is really not too shocking.

Needless to say, the usual suspects, both in the foreign policy establishment and the press, completely lost their sh%$:

French president Emmanuel Macron called on the EU to forge its own plan for “security and stability” with Russia, in a move that risks undermining western solidarity in the face of Kremlin aggression towards Ukraine.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Macron called for EU states to “conduct their own dialogue” with Russia rather than support ongoing diplomatic efforts led by the US and Nato — and in sharp contrast to a plea from US secretary of state Antony Blinken for “unity”.

Macron said that despite the joint EU-US diplomacy, Europeans had to offer Russia a solution to de-escalate tensions with Moscow in the “coming weeks”.


It also breaks a united front between the EU and US on Russia forged by what officials have described as unprecedented levels of diplomatic outreach by the US to engage Brussels in the ongoing dialogue with Moscow.

Macron is correct here.  (I cannot believe that I just said that)  European interests differ from those of the US, which in this consist of expanding its markets for its weapons and maintaining the US position as the sole superpower in the world.

Macron could go further, and, as de Gaulle did with the UL's accession to what was then the European Economic Community in the 1960s, and say, "Non," explicitly stating that he will oppose the admission of The Ukraine and Georgia, which requires unanimity of all current members.

Obviously, this would not bind his successors, but it would go a long way toward defusing the current crisis in the near term.

Of course, the US foreign policy establishment, aka, "The Blob," would blow a gasket, as they believe that a precondition to all negotiations with the United States must involve capitulation of the parties on the other side of the table, but they have engineered failure after failure for at least a generation.

I'd Do Anything for Love, But I Won't Get Vaxxed*

Marvin Lee Aday, better known by his nom de plume Meatloaf, has died of Covid at the age of 74. He was anti-vaccine.

I liked his first album, Bat out of Hell, pretty much everyone did, his turn as Eddy on Rocky Horror was good, and his role as Robert Paulson in Fight Club was excellent. 

He should have gotten the f%$#ing vaccine:

Meat Loaf, the singer and actor best known for his bestselling Bat Out of Hell albums and roles in films as varied as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, died Thursday at the age of 74.

The news was confirmed by the singer’s family in a post on his official Facebook page. A cause of death was not given.

“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda, and close friends,” the family wrote. “We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man. We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.”


*Not my bon mot. JR at the Stellarparthenon BBS came up with it.

I Believe That They Will Call It the Voter Protection Squad

Republicans are now proposing election police, for the obvious purpose of intimidating minority voters and voting officials who do not attempt to suppress minority votes.

You could call them, as I noted in the hed, the Voter Protection Squad, but I think that it sounds better in the original German, "Wähler Schutzstaffel," or in English, they could just call it the "Voter ᛋᛋ,"

The Schutzstaffel, of course, are better known to most Americans as the SS, the combat arm of the Nazi Party before and during World War II.

They have already embraced the Confederate flag, so it's not much of a step to embrace this:

Reprising the rigged-election belief that has become a mantra among their supporters, Republican politicians in at least three states are proposing to establish police forces to hunt exclusively for voter fraud and other election crimes, a category of offenses that experts say is tiny at best.

The plans are part of a new wave of initiatives that Republicans say are directed at voter fraud. They are being condemned by voting rights advocates and even some local election supervisors, who call them costly and unnecessary appeasement of the Republican base that will select primary-election winners for this November’s midterms and the 2024 presidential race.


Supporters say the added enforcement will root out instances of fraud and assure the public that everything possible is being done to make sure that American elections are accurate and legitimate. Critics say the efforts can easily be abused and used as political cudgels or efforts to intimidate people from registering and voting. And Democrats say the main reason Republican voters have lost faith in the electoral system is because of the incessant Republican focus on almost entirely imagined fraud.

The most concrete proposal is in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the State Legislature last week for $5.7 million to create a 52-person “election crimes and security” force in the secretary of state’s office. The plan, which Mr. DeSantis has been touting since the fall, would include 20 sworn police officers and field offices statewide.

These people are not the opposition, they are an enemy of the Republic, and should be treated as such.

20 January 2022

A Feature, Not a Bug

We now know that a secret US special operations unit known as Task Force 9 called in an air strike on a Syrian dam which has been listed as a protected site that was not to be bombed.

It appears that Task Force 9 called in an emergency airstrike which avoided the chain of command, something which the unit has done repeatedly, and took power out for a large area and risked a dam failure which would have killed thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Once and I would call it an error, but Task Force 9 does this routinely, so I have to conclude that this is a deliberate policy of the military command, and that the secretive unit is deliberately used as a cutout to obscure war crimes.

The fact the the senior command uses this to lie about such actions reinforces my suspicions:

Near the height of the war against the Islamic State in Syria, a sudden riot of explosions rocked the country’s largest dam, a towering, 18-story structure on the Euphrates River that held back a 25-mile-long reservoir above a valley where hundreds of thousands of people lived.

The Tabqa Dam was a strategic linchpin and the Islamic State controlled it. The explosions on March 26, 2017, knocked dam workers to the ground and everything went dark. Witnesses say one bomb punched down five floors. A fire spread, and crucial equipment failed. The mighty flow of the Euphrates River suddenly had no way through, the reservoir began to rise, and local authorities used loudspeakers to warn people downstream to flee.

The Islamic State, the Syrian government and Russia blamed the United States, but the dam was on the U.S. military’s “no-strike list” of protected civilian sites and the commander of the U.S. offensive at the time, then-Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, said allegations of U.S. involvement were based on “crazy reporting.”

“The Tabqa Dam is not a coalition target,” he declared emphatically two days after the blasts.

Townsend, of course, was lying through his teeth, but he had the whole, "Secretive special operations unit," get out of jail free card, so, by the standards of the military, no harm, no foul.

In fact, members of a top secret U.S. Special Operations unit called Task Force 9 had struck the dam using some of the largest conventional bombs in the U.S. arsenal, including at least one BLU-109 bunker-buster bomb designed to destroy thick concrete structures, according to two former senior officials. And they had done it despite a military report warning not to bomb the dam, because the damage could cause a flood that might kill tens of thousands of civilians.

Given the dam’s protected status, the decision to strike it would normally have been made high up the chain of command. But the former officials said the task force used a procedural shortcut reserved for emergencies, allowing it to launch the attack without clearance.

Later, three workers who had rushed to the dam to prevent a disaster were killed in a different coalition airstrike, according to dam workers.

Yeah, they bombed the dam, and then they bombed the people trying to keep the dam from flooding a highly populated valley.  Seems deliberate to me.

The two former officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the strikes, said some officers overseeing the air war viewed the task force’s actions as reckless.
Gee, "Reckless," you think?

The two former officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the strikes, said some officers overseeing the air war viewed the task force’s actions as reckless.

This is not recklessness.  This is deliberate policy.  It's all about PR and plausible deniability for war crimes.

It all comes down to this:

The United States went into the war against the Islamic State in 2014 with targeting rules intended to protect civilians and spare critical infrastructure. Striking a dam, or other key civilian sites on the coalition’s “no-strike list,” required elaborate vetting and the approval of senior leaders.

So they adopt nice sounding rules, and then, structure the chain of command is set up such that you can ignore these rules.  That is what TF9 is all about:  Providing a way to ignore the rules of war when it is inconvenient.


The task force’s solution to this problem too often was to set aside the rules intended to protect civilians, current and former military personnel said.

Soon, the task force was justifying the vast majority of its airstrikes using emergency self-defense procedures intended to save troops in life-threatening situations, even when no troops were in danger. That allowed it to quickly hit targets — including no-strike sites — that would have otherwise been off limits.

Rushed strikes on sites like schools, mosques and markets killed crowds of women and children, according to former service members, military documents obtained by The Times and reporting at sites of coalition airstrikes in Syria.


The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces dismissed reports of serious damage as propaganda. A spokeswoman said the coalition had struck the dam with only “light weapons, so as not to cause damage.”

A short time later, General Townsend denied the dam was a target and said, “When strikes occur on military targets, at or near the dam, we use noncratering munitions to avoid unnecessary damage to the facility.”

By non-cratering munitions, they mean 2000 lb armor piercing bombs. Again, a flat out lie. 

But the US military investigated, didn't it?  Well ……… no.

No disciplinary action was taken against the task force, the officials said. The secret unit continued to strike targets using the same types of self-defense justifications it had used on the dam.
Like I said, the recklessness of TF9 is a feature, not a bug.  

If this were not the case, someone would have experienced negative consequences.  (I kid)