31 March 2022

So Far, So Good

There were two union votes at Amazon's Staten Island, NY and Bessemer, AL warehouses.

Rather surprisingly, both votes are close, with the Staten Island votes showing a clear lead as the votes are tabulated:

Amazon workers in New York are close to voting to form a union – a major win for labor activists who have failed in previous efforts to organize at the tech giant that is now the second largest private employer in the US.

Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island will find out on Friday whether or not they want to form a union, Amazon’s first in the US where it now employs over one million people.

The vote count began on Thursday afternoon. It is unclear when the results will be revealed, but the union is currently ahead after the first day of counting by 364 votes, 1,518 votes in favor to 1,154 against. Counting is set to resume on Friday.

There are still a lot of votes coming in, but 56.8% — 43.2% is a good showing so far.  By way of context, there are about 8,300 workers in Staten Island, so it is a 13.6% percent lead with about ⅓ of all potential votes counted.

In Bessemer, things are tilting about the same amount the other way:

The count for a separate worker organizing effort began simultaneously on Thursday in Alabama, where the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWSU) faces a tough challenge in a rerun election to unionize Amazon workers in the city of Bessemer.

The union said that the election had a turnout rate of about 39%, with only 2,375 of the nearly 6,100 eligible workers voting through mail-in ballots. Amazon provides the list of eligible workers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees the process.

Later in the afternoon, the Alabama count concluded with 993 votes against unionizing, versus 875 in favor – but, crucially, with hundreds of ballots that had been challenged and therefore not yet counted for either side still remaining to be addressed. According to the NLRB, there are currently 416 challenged ballots, which could affect the election outcome if the NLRB regional director decides to open and count any of the challenged ballots pending a hearing on the challenges that has yet to be scheduled.

That's 46.8% — 53.2%  the other way.

Rather interestingly, the effort in Staten Island is being run by a group unaffiliated with traditional organized labor, Amazon Labor Union (ALU), and it appears to have fared better than the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) backed effort in Alabama.

I think that traditional labor should be taking notes.


In New York, the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU) has led the charge in a fierce labor fight, where the nation’s second-largest private employer has made every effort to fend off labor organizers and Chris Smalls, a fired Amazon employee who now leads the fledgling group.

The warehouse in Staten Island employs more than 8,300 workers, who pack and ship supplies to customers based mostly in the north-east. A labor win is considered an uphill battle. But organizers believe their grassroots approach is more relatable to workers and could help them overcome where established unions have failed in the past. A second Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, LDJ5, is scheduled to begin a union election on 25 April.


ALU lacks official backing from major unions, which are traditionally well-staffed and well financed. Smalls, the leader, said his group has spent $100,000 it raised since it formed last year. As of early March, he said it had only about $3,000 left in its account and was operating on a week-to-week budget.

It ain't over until the fat lady sings, but it does look promising.

Yeah, This is Reassuring

Worrying rocket news from Korea, but with a twist, this time it's South Korea, who just launched a test satellite.

That it launched a satellite is not worrisome, but the fact that said rocket was solid fueled, a technology which is better for launching warheads than it is for launching commercial satellites, though it is also a good application for quick reaction surveillance satellites.

I rather imagine that their neighbors to the north are unamused by this development:

South Korea has said it conducted its first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket in what it called a major step towards acquiring space surveillance capability amid rising tensions on the divided peninsula.

Wednesday’s launch took place six days after North Korea said it carried out its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test since 2017, the latest in a flurry of weapons tests since the start of the year.

South Korea’s launch took place from Taean, 150 kilometres (93 miles) southwest of Seoul, in front of Defence Minister Suh Wook and other senior defence officials, with photos showing the rocket soaring into the sky before releasing a dummy satellite in space.

The ministry said the successful test marked an “important milestone” in enhancing South Korea’s independent space-based reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities.


Seoul secured US permission to use solid fuel for space launch vehicles in 2020, removing a 20-year mutually-agreed restriction over concerns that the use of the technology could lead to bigger missiles and trigger a regional arms race.

Last year, the United States lifted other remaining restrictions to allow South Korea to develop missiles with unlimited ranges.

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, said the development of the solid-fuel rocket would also contribute to improving South Korea’s missile technology, as ballistic missiles and rockets used in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines, and other technology. 

Lee Choon Geun's statement on the technology highlights how this could make an already volatile situation even worse.

It's Jobless Thursday

Initial unemployment claims remain low, but rose slightly last week:

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, indicating a strong labor market in which employers are holding on to their workers amid high demand.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, up from the week before when they reached a revised 188,000, matching the lowest level in more than 52 years reached back in December. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, decreased to 208,500 from a revised 212,000. ,

Continuing claims, a proxy for the total number of people receiving payments from state unemployment programs, moved slightly down to 1.3 million for the week ended March 19 from the previous week. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

We also have some consumer spending numbers coming out, and unlike the initial claims, they appear to show clouds on the horizon:

Consumer spending growth, a key engine of the economy, slowed sharply in February, as the Omicron surge of Covid-19 eased and inflation accelerated amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. households boosted their spending at a seasonally adjusted 0.2% pace in February from the month before, down from a revised 2.7% rate in January, when spending rebounded from an Omicron-related dip in December, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Once again, my thoughts on what this all means is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

30 March 2022

It's Predicted 18 of the Last 6 Recessions

The yield curve has inverted for US bonds.

In layman's terms, it means that the interest rate yield of the 2 year bond dipped below that of the 10 year bond, which is unusual, because people typically want more return for tying up their money for longer periods.

It's important to note that while every recession has been preceded by an inverted yield curve, not every inverted yield curve has been followed by a recession:

A closely watched recession signal flashed red on Tuesday, as investors fretted that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation will bring about a sharp slowdown in US economic activity.

Two-year Treasury note yields rose above those of the 10-year for the first time since August 2019, inverting a portion of the yield curve monitored closely by Wall Street and policymakers. Inversions typically signal malaise about the economy’s long-term growth prospects and have preceded every US recession in the past 50 years.

Typically, a recession has followed in the two years after an inversion of this measure of the yield curve.

Two-year yields, which move with interest rate expectations, rose as high as 2.45 per cent, the highest level since March 2019. The two-year yield has risen by 1.64 percentage points this year as the US central bank has tightened monetary policy, including its first rate rise since 2018 in order to combat inflation that’s at a 40-year high.

The 10-year yield, which moves with inflation and growth expectations, fell as low as 2.38 per cent. The benchmark yield has also risen this year, albeit at a slower pace, as tighter Fed policy has curtailed inflation and growth forecasts.

After inverting, the gap quickly widened and the yield curve turned positive again, where it hovered at about 0.02 percentage points. At the start of the year, it stood at 0.77 percentage points. 

The spread between five- and 30-year yields, another measure of the yield curve, on Monday inverted for the first time since 2006.

I have no inkling of when the next recession is going to hit, and neither do the financial journalists nor do the economists.

It will happen at some point, though probably not for at least 12 months, assuming that Covid does not explode over the next few months.

We're Boned

There has been a marked increase in instability in the ice in Antarctica, particularly in the western part of the frozen continent.

There have people who have pointed to the east, and noted that at least it's stable there.

Not so much any more:

For the first time since satellites began observing Antarctica nearly half a century ago, an ice shelf has collapsed on the eastern part of the continent, scientists said.

The collapse of the 450-square-mile Conger ice shelf in a part of the continent called Wilkes Land occurred in mid-March. It was first spotted by scientists with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and appeared in satellite images taken on March 17, according to the National Ice Center in the United States.

Ice shelves are floating tongues of ice at the end of glaciers that in Antarctica serve as outlets for the continent’s massive ice sheets. Stresses cause cracks in the floating ice, and meltwater and other factors can cause the fissures to erode and grow to a point where the shelf disintegrates rapidly.


The loss of a shelf can allow faster movement of the glaciers behind it, which can lead to more rapid ice-sheet loss and thus greater sea-level rise. Ice-shelf loss is a major concern in West Antarctica, where warming related to climate change is having a greater effect than in the east.

Several very large glaciers in West Antarctica are already flowing faster and if their ice shelves were to collapse completely, sea levels could rise on the order of 10 feet over centuries.

Given that we are now seeing temperatures that are 70°F (39°C) above normal, I think that we are looking at a 10 foot sea rise in decades, not centuries.


While some ice shelves have collapsed in West Antarctica — notably the much larger Larsen B, in 2002 — the Conger collapse is the first observed in East Antarctica since the era of satellite imagery began in 1979, said Catherine Walker, a glaciologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

I need to buy some beach front property in Denver.

The Boss Still Sucks

And we see another near record quit rate in February.


Americans continued to switch jobs at near-record rates in February, with 4.4 million workers leaving their positions in a historically tight labor market.

Employers hired 6.7 million people that month while reporting 11.3 million job openings, according to a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We continue to have an unusual amount of churn in the job market,” said Erica Groshen, an economist at Cornell University and a former head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “We were all just holding our breaths during the worst parts of the pandemic, but now that’s changing.”

People hate their bosses and their workplaces, and now it looks like 40+ years of managers eating their "Employee Goodwill" seed corn have finally come home to roost.

The Moral Bankruptcy of Access Journalism

I get it. Every journalist who has graduated from journalism school since 1977 has wanted to be in an underground parking lot interviewing Mark Felt.

The problem is that it produces really crappy journalism, and leads reporters, and editors, to do REALLY stupid things as "Beat Sweeteners".

At CBS, senior (mis)management has decided to hire Mick Mulvaney’s as a talking head, because they think that they will need Republican good will to get stories when they take over the House and Senate next year.

So, they are bringing in someone who has blithely and repeatedly lied to the press, and paying him a salary, because they fear that Republicans won't talk to them otherwise.

It appears that CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani does not understand that if you practice this sort of journalism, they talk to you because it serves their needs, and not that of the 5th estate.

CBS News’s decision to hire former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor is drawing backlash within the company because of his history of bashing the press and promoting the former president’s fact-free claims.

But a top network executive seemed to lay the groundwork for the decision in a staff meeting earlier this month, when he said the network needed to hire more Republicans to prepare for a “likely” Democratic midterm wipeout.

“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis, being able to make sure that we are getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms,” CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani told the staff of the network’s morning show, according to a recording of his comments obtained by The Washington Post. “A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.


In February 2020, while serving as President Donald Trump’s interim chief of staff, Mulvaney said that media coverage of the growing coronavirus pandemic was meant “to bring down the president.” He also infamously defended a Trump administration decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine for political purposes, and predicted in a Nov. 7, 2020, Wall Street Journal opinion column that Trump would gracefully accept electoral defeat.

“I know everyone I talked to today was embarrassed about the hiring,” said a CBS News employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. The frustration, this person said, was less about Mulvaney’s high-ranking role in the Trump administration and more about the inaccuracy of some of his past comments.”

It appears that William Lumbergh is prowling the halls at 530 W. 57th Street.

Can Always Be Counted to do the Right Thing. When it Means Nothing

I am referring, of course, to Susan Collins, who has announced, now that Manchin has sealed the deal on her nomination, that she will support the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

I guarantee you that if the proverbial fat lady had not sung, she would still be on the fence, and if Manchin had come out against Brown, which would have made her vote count, then she would not have announced this.

That is how her particular scam works:  If the vote is close, and her vote is crucial, she will always vote with her party.  (See Boschwitz, Rudy)

Senator Susan Collins of Maine plans to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, ensuring that President Biden’s nominee and the first Black woman to be put forward for the post will receive at least one Republican backer.

After a second personal meeting with the judge on Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Collins said Judge Jackson had alleviated some concerns that surfaced after last week’s contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, when Republicans attacked the nominee for her record and grilled her on a host of divisive issues.

“I have decided to support the confirmation of Judge Jackson to be a member of the Supreme Court,” Ms. Collins said in an interview after the meeting.

The centrist senator, often a key vote on Supreme Court clashes, said that she had been reassured that Judge Jackson would not be “bending the law to meet a personal preference” and that the nominee met her personal standard for serving on the court.

29 March 2022

24.7 Rosemary Woods

It turns out that there is a 7-hour gap White House phone logs on the day of the insurrection.

Richard Nixon and the plumbers, it appears, were complete amateurs.

Either someone erased the logs, or Trump was using a burner phone, and he would only do that if he were doing something that he knew would put him in legal jeopardy.

Otherwise, he'd use the White House phone, because of all the status and power that is implied by the whole process:

Internal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that were turned over to the House select committee show a gap in President Donald Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being violently assaulted, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The lack of an official White House notation of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021 — from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. — means the committee has no record of his phone conversations as his supporters descended on the Capitol, battled overwhelmed police and forcibly entered the building, prompting lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to flee for safety.

The 11 pages of records, which consist of the president’s official daily diary and the White House switchboard call logs, were turned over by the National Archives earlier this year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, documenting conversations that he had with at least eight people in the morning and 11 people that evening. The seven-hour gap also stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations he had with allies during the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — seeking to talk to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) — and a phone conversation he had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Trump has clearly broken some important laws, as a Federal Judge has stated in court, but I don't expect him to see the inside of a courtroom.

The First Casualty of War

Is the truth.

The Wall Street Journal, with a tip from Bellingcat, the "Independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists," reported that members of the Ukrainian negotiating team were poisoned, and they pointed at Russia.

Well now, US intelligence sources are denying it.

My guess is that this is not the same people in US intelligence who are big on regime change in Russia, these people, are the ones feeding the "Collective" bullsh%$ about poisoning because they want to sabotage the negotiations.  (According to Bellingcat's "About" page, the group has received grants from the CIA cutout the National Endowment for Democracy.)

I'm not saying that the Bellingcat is a CIA cutout, but it's certainly CIA cutout adjacent:

A U.S. official said on Monday that intelligence suggests the sickening of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators was due to an environmental factor, not poisoning.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal and investigative outlet Bellingcat reported that Abramovich and the negotiators had suffered symptoms of suspecting poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv.

While I am certain that there are elements of the US State Security Apparatus who are not insane, and so want the war to end as soon as possible, there are also elements of the US State Security Apparatus who are eager to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, even if this increases the risk of nuclear war.

Needless to say, the second group are completely insane.

28 March 2022

Family, Huh?

My brother is right. This is our family to a T.

(on edit)It appears that my niece originally came up with this.

Well, This Sucks

It turns out that the same artificial intelligence tools that can be used to develop pharmaceuticals can be used to develop ferociously potent chemical weapons.

AI may kill us after all:

An international security conference explored how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for drug discovery could be misused for de novo design of biochemical weapons. A thought experiment evolved into a computational proof.

The Swiss Federal Institute for NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) Protection —Spiez Laboratory— convenes the ‘convergence’ conference series1= set up by the Swiss government to identify developments in chemistry, biology and enabling technologies that may have implications for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions. Meeting every two years, the conferences bring together an international group of scientific and disarmament experts to explore the current state of the art in the chemical and biological fields and their trajectories, to think through potential security implications and to consider how these implications can most effectively be managed internationally. The meeting convenes for three days of discussion on the possibilities of harm, should the intent be there, from cutting-edge chemical and biological technologies. Our drug discovery company received an invitation to contribute a presentation on how AI technologies for drug discovery could potentially be misused.


We had previously designed a commercial de novo molecule generator that we called MegaSyn2, which is guided by machine learning model predictions of bioactivity for the purpose of finding new therapeutic inhibitors of targets for human diseases. This generative model normally penalizes predicted toxicity and rewards predicted target activity. We simply proposed to invert this logic by using the same approach to design molecules de novo, but now guiding the model to reward both toxicity and bioactivity instead. We trained the AI with molecules from a public database using a collection of primarily drug-like molecules (that are synthesizable and likely to be absorbed) and their bioactivities. We opted to score the designed molecules with an organism-specific lethal dose (LD50) model and a specific model using data from the same public database that would ordinarily be used to help derive compounds for the treatment of neurological diseases (details of the approach are withheld but were available during the review process). The underlying generative software is built on, and similar to, other open-source software that is readily available. To narrow the universe of molecules, we chose to drive the generative model towards compounds such as the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic chemical warfare agents developed during the twentieth century — a few salt-sized grains of VX (6–10 mg) is sufficient to kill a person. Other nerve agents with the same mechanism such as the Novichoks have also been in the headlines recently and used in poisonings in the UK and elsewhere.

In less than 6 hours after starting on our in-house server, our model generated 40,000 molecules that scored within our desired threshold. In the process, the AI designed not only VX, but also many other known chemical warfare agents that we identified through visual confirmation with structures in public chemistry databases. Many new molecules were also designed that looked equally plausible. These new molecules were predicted to be more toxic, based on the predicted LD50 values, than publicly known chemical warfare agents (Fig. 1). This was unexpected because the datasets we used for training the AI did not include these nerve agents. The virtual molecules even occupied a region of molecular property space that was entirely separate from the many thousands of molecules in the organism-specific LD50 model, which comprises mainly pesticides, environmental toxins and drugs (Fig. 1). By inverting the use of our machine learning models, we had transformed our innocuous generative model from a helpful tool of medicine to a generator of likely deadly molecules.

Fig. 1: A t-SNE plot visualization of the LD50 dataset and top 2,000 MegaSyn AI-generated and predicted toxic molecules illustrating VX.

This is reassuring.

Media Fail

It looks like the New York Times has a narrative about the Covid-19 numbers in Africa that they decided to push despite ……… you know ……… the facts, as shown by their article, "Trying to Solve a Covid Mystery: Africa’s Low Death Rates."

They muse on why Africa's death rate is so much lower than it is in more developed nations, and suggest that maybe the people of sub-Saharan Africa should focus on things like malaria and cholera, and let white people keep all the vaccines.

Spoiler, it isn't any lower, it's just that the lack of infrastructure creates under reporting of illness and death from the Corona Virus.

This was quite literally the most likely explanation, but because of the innumeracy of your average journalist when juxtaposed with the subconscious racist "othering" of things African, we have the "African Paradox":

Almost one-third of more than 1,000 bodies taken to a morgue in Lusaka in 2020 and 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, implying that many more people died of COVID-19 in Zambia’s capital than official numbers suggest. Some scientists say that the findings further undermine the ‘African paradox’, a narrative that the pandemic was less severe in Africa than in other parts of the world.

This idea arose after health experts noticed that sub-Saharan nations were reporting lower case numbers and fewer COVID-19 deaths than might be expected. But researchers say that the findings from Zambia could reflect a broader truth — that a deficit of testing and strained medical infrastructure have masked COVID-19’s true toll on the continent. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed.

27 March 2022

It's the Corruption, Stupid

In the British Medical Journal Jon Jureidini, Leemon B. McHenry make the argument that evidence based medicine is a myth, because the process of research has been so thoroughly corrupted by the medical industry.

This is at the core of what some people refer to as, "Science Denial."  People are note (for the most part) claiming that scientists are stupid or lack knowledge, they are claiming that they are corrupt.

Given the enormous profit involved, this is not an unreasonable conclusion:

The advent of evidence based medicine was a paradigm shift intended to provide a solid scientific foundation for medicine. The validity of this new paradigm, however, depends on reliable data from clinical trials, most of which are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and reported in the names of senior academics. The release into the public domain of previously confidential pharmaceutical industry documents has given the medical community valuable insight into the degree to which industry sponsored clinical trials are misrepresented. Until this problem is corrected, evidence based medicine will remain an illusion.

The philosophy of critical rationalism, advanced by the philosopher Karl Popper, famously advocated for the integrity of science and its role in an open, democratic society. A science of real integrity would be one in which practitioners are careful not to cling to cherished hypotheses and take seriously the outcome of the most stringent experiments. This ideal is, however, threatened by corporations, in which financial interests trump the common good. Medicine is largely dominated by a small number of very large pharmaceutical companies that compete for market share, but are effectively united in their efforts to expanding that market. The short term stimulus to biomedical research because of privatisation has been celebrated by free market champions, but the unintended, long term consequences for medicine have been severe. Scientific progress is thwarted by the ownership of data and knowledge because industry suppresses negative trial results, fails to report adverse events, and does not share raw data with the academic research community. Patients die because of the adverse impact of commercial interests on the research agenda, universities, and regulators.


The corporate university also compromises the concept of academic leadership. Deans who reached their leadership positions by virtue of distinguished contributions to their disciplines have in places been replaced with fundraisers and academic managers, who are forced to demonstrate their profitability or show how they can attract corporate sponsors. In medicine, those who succeed in academia are likely to be key opinion leaders (KOLs in marketing parlance), whose careers can be advanced through the opportunities provided by industry. Potential KOLs are selected based on a complex array of profiling activities carried out by companies, for example, physicians are selected based on their influence on prescribing habits of other physicians. KOLs are sought out by industry for this influence and for the prestige that their university affiliation brings to the branding of the company’s products. As well paid members of pharmaceutical advisory boards and speakers’ bureaus, KOLs present results of industry trials at medical conferences and in continuing medical education. Instead of acting as independent, disinterested scientists and critically evaluating a drug’s performance, they become what marketing executives refer to as “product champions.”


Our proposals for reforms include: liberation of regulators from drug company funding; taxation imposed on pharmaceutical companies to allow public funding of independent trials; and, perhaps most importantly, anonymised individual patient level trial data posted, along with study protocols, on suitably accessible websites so that third parties, self-nominated or commissioned by health technology agencies, could rigorously evaluate the methodology and trial results. With the necessary changes to trial consent forms, participants could require trialists to make the data freely available. The open and transparent publication of data are in keeping with our moral obligation to trial participants—real people who have been involved in risky treatment and have a right to expect that the results of their participation will be used in keeping with principles of scientific rigour. Industry concerns about privacy and intellectual property rights should not hold sway.

While the life sciences are a the area where corruption driven by corporate interests are most egregious, it is not limited to that sphere of endeavor.

Unless and until research is freed from the pernicious influence of the profit motive, it will remain unreliable.

In Comics, Veritas

This is absolutely brilliant.

Jeez, Men Just Really Refuse to Just Ask for Directions, Don’t They?

First, I should note that this is not from the current conflict, it's from 2020.

It occurred doing a remote basing training operation.  The pilot landed short, and struck a road sign.

It's a bad day at the office, though it could have been worse.

Also, the joke is not mine.  It came from an unimaginable eldritch horror posting on the Stellar Parthenon BBS, or an ordinary person posting by the name Cthulhu..

On the internet, no one knows if you are a Great Old One.

Still, not the best day at the office.

26 March 2022

She Shattered the Glass Ceiling for War Crimes and Cruelty

I am referring, of course, to Madeline Albright, who died 3 days ago at the age of 83.

She famously declared on 60 Minutes that the death of ½ million Iraqi children as a result of US sanctions was, "Worth it."

She has shown that a woman can be every bit as much a murderous psychopath as their male counterparts, which I guess is an achievement.

If there is justice in the universe, she will soon meet Henry Kissinger in hell:

Today, Madeleine Albright is remembered by few outside the U.S. elite.

But Albright, who died Wednesday at the age of 84, was a leading figure in “liberal internationalism,” a foreign policy school associated with President Woodrow Wilson and his dream of “making the world safe for democracy.” She played a central role in America’s foreign policy in the 1990s — first as a United Nations ambassador and then as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. That period of history, and its consequences for the war on terror, can’t be understood without understanding her actions.

In particular, Albright spearheaded Clinton’s disastrous stance toward Iraq. Albright’s approach was both vicious in its own right and helped lay the foundation for the 2003 Iraq War.

It was in her role as U.N. ambassador in 1996 that Albright uttered the most infamous words of her career, in an appearance on “60 Minutes.”

The show’s correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Albright about the effect that U.N. sanctions were having on Iraqi society, saying, “We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright responded with chilling equanimity: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

Later, she founded an investment firm that traded on her government connections and shilled for a sleazy MLM firm. 

It is interesting how sociopaths thrive in government senior government service.


A Maryland judge has ruled that Maryland’s new Congressional districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

From a philosophical perspective, this is probably an accurate statement.  A completely fair redistricting would probably have one or two safe seats, but what I am feeling is that this in one for the "L" column for the Democratic Party:

A Maryland judge on Friday rejected a General Assembly-approved map of the state’s congressional districts that had been challenged by Republicans, calling it “a product of extreme partisan gerrymandering.”

Two GOP groups contended the map was unfairly drawn to favor Democrats and doesn’t abide by Maryland constitutional guidelines.

In her decision, Lynne A. Battaglia, a retired state appeals court judge assigned to the Anne Arundel Circuit Court case, sided with the Republican challengers who had argued the map was drawn with “partisanship as a predominant interest.” She agreed with testimony stating Republican voters and candidates “are substantially adversely impacted by the 2021 plan.”

Yes, I know that my feelings reveal some level of hypocrisy on my part.

People Believe This Because It Is True

The most recent Gallup Poll finds that the percentage of people who believe that their employer gives a sh%$ about their well-being is falling back to previous low levels.

This is because their employer doesn't give a sh%$ about their employee's well-being:

Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing -- the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.

This finding has significant implications, as work and life have never been more blended and employee wellbeing matters more than ever-- to employees and the resiliency of organizations. The discovery is based on a random sample of 15,001 full and part-time U.S. employees who were surveyed in February 2022.

Prior to COVID-19, in 2014, about the same percentage (25%) of employees strongly agreed that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing. Then at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, employers responded quickly with a plan, communication, and what many employees believed was genuine concern for them, their work, and their lives. The percentage who felt cared about nearly doubled, reaching a high of 49% in May of that year. Since 2020, the perception has plummeted to the previous low levels.

This is just an acknowledgement of reality.

25 March 2022

Support Your Local Police

When an inspector general says that 41 LA County deputies are in, "Gang-like groups, what they are really saying is that these deputies are in criminal gangs in which being a sworn officer for the LA County Sheriff's is a requirement for membership.

Yeah, this police force needs to be defunded:

The top watchdog for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has identified more than 40 alleged members of gang-like groups of deputies that operate out of two sheriff’s stations.

In a letter dated Monday, Inspector General Max Huntsman said his office has compiled a partial list that includes 11 deputies who allegedly belong to the Banditos, which operate out of the East L.A. sheriff’s station, and 30 alleged Executioners from the Compton sheriff’s station.

He wrote that the list is based on information gleaned from investigations conducted by the Sheriff’s Department. Huntsman did not name the deputies and said his office has identified additional possible members from other sources.

“LASD has never thoroughly investigated allegations of gang corruption, and this case is no exception,” Huntsman told The Times.


The inspector general’s new figures add to a growing body of information about the secretive groups, which have existed in the Sheriff’s Department for decades. Members typically get matching tattoos and go by names such as the Grim Reapers and Jump Out Boys. 
When I say that the edifice of law enforcement in the United States needs to be taken apart brick by brick and rebuilt in a completely different way, news like this provides useful backup for my conclusion.

Tweet of the Day


They Are All Shams

A whistle-blower in Australia is claiming that Australia’s carbon credit scheme is, "largely a scam."

This is a feature, and not a bug, of carbon offsets, and to a slightly lesser degree cap and trade, as shown by the Nature Conservancy, where the bulk of their funding comes from their sales of fraudulent ecological offsets. (Selling offsets to save forests that will never be logged under any circumstances)

The problem with, "Market based solutions," to climate change, as opposed to explicit regulations or taxes, is that they inevitably require a lot of involvement from the finance industry, and corruption is how the finance industry makes money:

A whistleblower who spent years working on the integrity of the Australian government’s carbon credit system has launched an extraordinary attack on the scheme, describing it as a fraud that is hurting the environment and has wasted more than $1bn in taxpayer funding.

Prof Andrew Macintosh, the former head of the government’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, said the growing carbon market overseen by the government and the Clean Energy Regulator was “largely a sham” as most of the carbon credits approved did not represent real or new cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

His critique – outlined in four new academic papers – has major implications for the credibility of the Coalition’s $4.5bn “direct action” emissions reduction fund, through which the government buys carbon credits from rural landholders and other businesses.

It also raises questions for the rapidly growing number of polluting companies promising to buy carbon credits to offset their impact on the planet. The private market in carbon credits was worth $150m last year.

24 March 2022

I Can Haz Impeachment?

It has been known for some time that Clarence Thomas and his wife Virginia have been a sterling example of conflict of interest and corruption, with the Associate Justice steadfastly refusing to recuse himself on matters that his wife has aggressively lobbied for, and in some cases has received payment for:


The claim that the Justices’ opinions are politically neutral is becoming increasingly hard to accept, especially from Thomas, whose wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, is a vocal right-wing activist. She has declared that America is in existential danger because of the “deep state” and the “fascist left,” which includes “transsexual fascists.” Thomas, a lawyer who runs a small political-lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, has become a prominent member of various hard-line groups. Her political activism has caused controversy for years. For the most part, it has been dismissed as the harmless action of an independent spouse. But now the Court appears likely to secure victories for her allies in a number of highly polarizing cases—on abortion, affirmative action, and gun rights.


Clarence and Ginni Thomas declined to be interviewed for this article. In recent years, Justice Thomas, long one of the Court’s most reticent members, has been speaking up more in oral arguments. His wife, meanwhile, has become less publicly visible, but she has remained busy, aligning herself with many activists who have brought issues in front of the Court. She has been one of the directors of C.N.P. Action, a dark-money wing of the conservative pressure group the Council for National Policy. C.N.P. Action, behind closed doors, connects wealthy donors with some of the most radical right-wing figures in America. Ginni Thomas has also been on the advisory board of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student group, whose founder, Charlie Kirk, boasted of sending busloads of protesters to Washington on January 6th.

Normally, this litany of wrongdoing would be fairly anodyne, the Supreme Court is not held to the same ethical standards as the lower courts, and Thomas' corrupt behavior is public knowledge.

But these are not normal times, and Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are reporting that Ginny Thomas was intimately involved in the attempt to overthrow the elections results,  texting Trump officials on strategies to keep Trump in office and including giving a speech at what became the January 6 insurrection. .

Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages – 29 in all – reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.


The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner circle to promote and seek to guide the president’s strategy to overturn the election results – and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

The text messages were among 2,320 that Meadows provided to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The existence of messages between Thomas and Meadows – 21 sent by her, eight by him – have not previously been reported and were reviewed by The Post and CBS News. They were then confirmed by five people who have seen the committee’s documents.


Thomas has publicly denied any conflict of interest between her activism and her husband’s work on the Supreme Court. “Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, for an article published March 14.

Ginni Thomas, in that interview, also acknowledged that she had attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, but said that she left early because it was too cold and that she did not have any role in planning the event.


The text exchanges with Thomas that Meadows provided to the House select committee pause after Nov. 24, 2020, with an unexplained gap in correspondence. The committee received one additional message sent by Thomas to Meadows, on Jan. 10, four days after the “Stop the Steal” rally Thomas said she attended and the deadly attack on the Capitol.

In that message, Thomas expresses support for Meadows and Trump – and directed anger at Vice President Mike Pence, who had refused Trump’s wishes to block the congressional certification of Biden’s electoral college victory.

This gets more interesting because Clarence Thomas was the only Supreme Court justice to vote against releasing White House documents, including the aforementioned text messages, to the House committee investigation the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection.

While there is no direct evidence (yet) that Clarence Thomas knew of Ginny Thomas' actions, it does not require any great leap to conclude that he did know of her actions, and that he attempted to cover up her involvement.

Obviously, impeachment is problematic, because the Senate is not going to get the ⅔ required to convict, but a criminal investigation of both Clarence and Ginny is justified:


The work of the January 6 select committee has already come before the Supreme Court. In January, the court did not stand in the way of the release of thousands of documents from the Trump White House despite the former President suing to keep them secret under executive privilege. The vote on the matter was 8-1, with only Thomas dissenting.

(emphasis mine)

Nothing to see here, move along.

As True as Taxes Is


And nothing is truer than them.

23 March 2022

Of Course They Do

It turns out that the messenger and dialer apps supplied by Google for Android are surreptitiously recording data and sending it back to the advertising and search giant without notifying its users or providing an opportunity to opt out.

I'm not surprised, but I am a bit disappointed.

Google's Messages and Dialer apps for Android devices have been collecting and sending data to Google without specific notice and consent, and without offering the opportunity to opt-out, potentially in violation of Europe's data protection law.

According to a research paper, "What Data Do The Google Dialer and Messages Apps On Android Send to Google?" [PDF], by Trinity College Dublin computer science professor Douglas Leith, Google Messages (for text messaging) and Google Dialer (for phone calls) have been sending data about user communications to the Google Play Services Clearcut logger service and to Google's Firebase Analytics service.

"The data sent by Google Messages includes a hash of the message text, allowing linking of sender and receiver in a message exchange," the paper says. "The data sent by Google Dialer includes the call time and duration, again allowing linking of the two handsets engaged in a phone call. Phone numbers are also sent to Google."

The timing and duration of other user interactions with these apps has also been transmitted to Google. And Google offers no way to opt-out of this data collection.

If law enforcement were doing this, it would be called a, "Pen Register or Trap and Trace," and it would require a court order, though not a search warrant as is required for a wire tap.

This sort of crap is not going to end unless and until Sundar Pichai is frog marched out of Google's Mountain View offices in handcuffs.

Once Again, the Iron Law of Institutions

For those of you who do not recall this dictum, it states that, The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution."

In this case, I am referring to the super PACs that the Connor Lamb campaign is coordinating with in has battle to be the Democratic nominee for US Senate in Pennsylvania against Lt. Governor John Fetterman.

Lamb is a DINO and a disloyal Democrat, (he's a part of the "Problem Solvers" caucus) so it is no surprise that they are going after Fetterman with accusations that are both false and damaging to the party.

It's kind of what the so-called moderates do:

A super PAC backing Pennsylvania Senate candidate Conor Lamb is warning prospective donors that he is trailing frontrunner John Fetterman by 30 percentage points in the Democratic primary — and that the public’s perception of his opponent’s ideology must change for Lamb to have a shot.

“[P]rimary voters don’t yet see Fetterman as the liberal he is,” reads a memo circulated by the pro-Lamb group Penn Progress, which was obtained by POLITICO. “For Conor Lamb to have a path in the primary, this dynamic needs to change.”

Unlike the bloodbath taking place in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary, the contest on the Democratic side has been a relatively tame affair. Fetterman and Lamb haven’t laid a finger on each other on TV, and no outside Democratic groups have aired attack ads on television either.

The nine-page slide deck disseminated by Penn Progress after a recent fundraising call with donors suggests that could soon change.

The document highlights the testing of aggressive negative messaging against Fetterman, who is Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, including that he is a “dangerous radical who proudly calls himself a socialist,” “supports far-left policies like a $34 trillion-dollar government takeover of healthcare,” and has “spoken at Defund the Police rallies and wants to release convicted felons back onto our streets.”
This is all lies (Fetterman does support M4A, but tepidly), but when all you have as an asset is big money donors, you spend it like water, enriching the consultants, and run against your own party, because you are pond scum:

Abby Nassif-Murphy, Lamb’s campaign manager, shot back: “This material did not come from our campaign. But the fact that John Fetterman thinks only Fox News Republicans oppose socialism, defunding the police, and banning all private health insurance shows how out of touch he is with reality and why the Republicans are dying to run against him in the fall.”

A recent email promoting the pro-Lamb group to potential donors said the congressman would join an upcoming call, after which a leader of the super PAC would speak. Though many Democrats bristle at the practice, it is legal for candidates to talk to super PAC donors and even attend their fundraisers, as long as they don’t personally ask for contributions in excess of their own campaign finance limits.

And here is the kicker:


The presentation also showcased a separate survey done in mid-February on a potential general election match-up. It found Fetterman initially leading celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz by 9 percentage points, while Lamb was ahead by 3.

Yeah, the "electable" moderate is doing 6 points worse.

Standing on a hillside, screaming, "Better things aren't possible," is not a winning electoral strategy.

H/t Atrios.

Something That You Can Rely On

David Frum is wrong about everything, always.

Tweet of the Day

Yes, I understand how Gloomy Gusses shouldn't Go and Grandstand about Grammar GeeGawing when a Guy a Goes to the Great beyond, but it's a hard "G", dammit.

22 March 2022

Good Point

Over at the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie states a historical fact that is often ignored in the interminable discussions of federalism, that the Constitution was designed to eliminate much of the power of the states.

It's obvious when it is finally presented to you:  The power of the state was supreme under the Articles of Confederation, and the US Constitution was designed to roll back this power.

The next time someone blathers about states rights, remind them what the Constitution was designed to do.

In fact, you could argue that it was its primary purpose:

As millions of Americans see it, the Constitution was written to protect and extend the powers and prerogatives of the states. It established a “limited” national government and preserved, for state governments, any number of rights and responsibilities.

The whole point of the Constitution, in this view, is to restrain the federal government as much as possible. If there is one reason, beyond partisanship, that anyone is attracted to a plainly deficient idea like the independent state legislature doctrine (which I wrote about last week), it is that it’s in line with the widespread belief that state governments have pride of place within the American constitutional order.

But this is a misunderstanding. Even in the age when state governments were more independent and autonomous than they are today — the nearly 80 years between ratification and Appomattox — it was still understood that states were subordinate to the federal government. In turn, the federal government had considerable power to act on and influence the states. Why else would the statesmen of antebellum South Carolina develop a theory of nullification, if not to challenge the prevailing view that states were bound to submit to the will of the national government?

Go back a little further, to the first years of the American republic, and you will see that one of the key goals of the Constitution was to curb the power of the states and leash them to the broader authority of a new national government led by a powerful legislature and an unusually strong elected executive.


In a letter to Edmund Randolph, then serving as governor of Virginia, Madison said outright that an “individual independence of the states” is “utterly irreconcilable with the idea of an aggregate sovereignty.” And while it may be impractical to try to achieve a total “consolidation of the states into one simple republic,” Madison thought that the convention should nonetheless try to find a middle ground that “will at once support a due supremacy of the national authority and leave in force the local authorities so far as they can be subordinately useful.”


Congress’s broad and nearly unlimited power to levy taxes, its limitless power to raise and maintain an army, its power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce and its general grant to do whatever is “necessary and proper” to fulfill its obligations are all a direct response to the weakness of the articles and the way that weakness empowered states to run roughshod over common interest.

The supremacy clause — “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding” — is likewise a product of the framers’ desire to bring state governments to heel as much as possible.

It's not that often that you read something that makes you smack your head and think, "Of course, why didn't I realize it earlier," particularly on the Times editorial page.

Yeah, They Aren’t Letting Cuomo Back

Bummer of a Birthmark, Andy
On the way up, he had his dad's legacy, and a eventually, a group of people who hated him less than they were frightened of him.

Well, not any more, as the blistering audit revealing the former Governor's incompetence and corruption in dealing with nursing homes and Covid-19 shows.

Were Cuomo in power, this audit would never a seen the light of day.

Stick a fork in "Rat Faced Andy".  He is done:

The administration of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo failed to publicly account for the deaths of about 4,100 nursing home residents in New York during the pandemic, according to an audit released on Tuesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli.

The audit found that Health Department officials at times underreported the full death toll by as much as 50 percent from April 2020 to February 2021, as Mr. Cuomo faced increasing scrutiny over whether his administration had intentionally concealed the actual number of deaths.

The 41-page report concluded that the Health Department often acquiesced to the narrative Mr. Cuomo and his top officials wanted to promote during the pandemic, sometimes failing to meet its “ethical” and “moral” imperatives to act transparently.

“Our audit findings are extremely troubling,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”


The audit marks the third state inquiry to corroborate how Mr. Cuomo’s administration significantly downplayed the number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. Those efforts coincided with Mr. Cuomo’s attempts to elevate his public image at the height of his national popularity in 2020, including through daily televised briefings and the publication of a book that burnished his response to the pandemic.


But the comptroller’s report refuted that assertion, finding that the administration was aware of the higher death toll and continued to withhold it even after it had apparently corrected most discrepancies by May 2020, a few months into the pandemic.

“Rather than providing accurate and reliable information during a public health emergency, the department instead conformed its presentation to the executive’s narrative, often presenting data in a manner that misled the public,” the report said.


The audit’s release comes as Mr. Cuomo is wading back into public life, seeking to rehabilitate his image after his resignation in August.

At a Brooklyn church earlier this month, he railed against “cancel culture,” blaming it for his downfall in his first speech since his resignation. He released a television ad on Monday that touts his record as governor, including his response to the pandemic, and claims that, “some have attempted to rewrite history.” And on Thursday, he is expected to meet with Rubén Díaz Sr., the reverend and former state and city lawmaker, at his Bronx church.

It sucks to be you, Andrew,
Your political career is dead, you f%$#-head,
You are going away, while the rest of us say, "Yay,"
You've been put on a shelf, so go f%$# yourself.

What can I say, it inspired me to compose the above doggerel.

21 March 2022

About Bloody Time

The White House has finally stated that the Tatmadaw (Burmese Military) committed genocide.

It would be nice if they listed members of what was then the civilian polity who aggressively supported these actions, such as Nobel Peace Price Winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Unfortunately, unlike the Japanese military, the Tatmadaw was never cleansed of the brutality instilled in when the Kōgun (Japanese Army) created the force during WWII.

Still, this is long overdue


It appears that Eric Greitens, whose blackmail and rape of a lobbyist his hairdresser led to his resignation as Governor of Missouri, now has credible allegations of spousal and family abuse lodged against him by his ex-wife. (Of course, he is a Republican)

Given that he is the leading candiidate in the Republican primary to replace retiring Senator Roy blunt, (Did I mention that he was a Republican?) this gives the distinct possibility that the primary will be brutal, and the general much closer than it should be, particularly since his wife says that, he admitted to her that he took the blackmail pictures at the core of his blackmail and rape allegations.

Yes Virginia, he's a Republican,. so he is at this time still leading the primary race. 

The former wife of Eric Greitens, a leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, has accused him of physically abusing her and one of their sons in a sworn affidavit that could have serious implications in the race for the seat of Senator Roy Blunt, who is retiring.

Mr. Greitens, whose campaign denied the allegations on Monday, abruptly resigned as governor in 2018 amid a swirling scandal that involved a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser and allegations that he had taken an explicit photograph of her without her permission. He was also accused by prosecutors of misusing his charity’s donor list for political purposes.

But until the latest revelation, his attempt at a political comeback had appeared improbably successful, despite efforts by Missouri’s Republican establishment to block it. Mr. Greitens, 47, a former Navy SEAL, had aligned squarely with former President Donald J. Trump, cheered on anti-vaccine and anti-mask protesters, and surged to the lead in a crowded Republican primary race for a key open Senate seat.

He now faces fresh calls from his opponents to drop out, lest he turn a reliably red seat competitive in November.


Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who as the state’s attorney general in 2018 pressed Mr. Greitens to resign as governor, wrote on Twitter, “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate.”

Let me state the obvious here, if Josh F%$#ing Hawley is on the side of the angels, something is very, VERY wrong.


Part of a continuing child custody dispute, the sworn affidavit from Sheena Chestnut Greitens, 39, a professor of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin, accused Mr. Greitens of physical abuse and “unstable and coercive behavior.” The 41-page affidavit, filed on Monday in Boone County Circuit Court in Missouri, said that Mr. Greitens had become increasingly violent in 2018 as his sex scandal threatened to end a once-promising political rise that he hoped would take him to the White House.

“Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cellphone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home,” wrote Dr. Greitens, who has two young sons with Mr. Greitens and whose divorce from him became final in May 2020.

She added that his “behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then-3-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by his hair.”

As to the rape and blackmail admission:

Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens privately admitted to taking the "revenge porn" photo that led to his indictment on invasion of privacy charges and his resignation as Missouri's governor in 2018, his ex-wife said in a new court filing.

In a signed affidavit made public on Monday, Sheena Greitens accused her ex-husband of violent and abusive behavior amid an ongoing child custody dispute between the former couple. Eric issued a blanket denial of Sheena's allegations in a statement on Monday and his campaign called Sheena "deranged." 

The affadavit, which contains graphic descriptions of Eric's alleged behavior, also contains another notable allegation: despite repeatedly denying that he took a compromising nude photo of a hairdresser with whom he had an extramarital affair in 2015 and threatened to blackmail her, Eric privately owned up to taking the photo early last year. Sheena said Eric warned her not to reveal his admission to anyone.

"After Eric admitted to me in late January 2021 that he had taken the photo that resulted in the invasion of privacy charge, he threatened that I would be exposed to legal jeopardy if I ever disclosed that fact to anyone, even family members or a therapist," she wrote.

Lovely fellow, and an exemplar of good Republican family values.

We are Screwed

We have seen a number of data points indicating the reality, and severity, of anthropogenic climate change, but perhaps none so stark as the current temperatures in Antarctica, which are 70°F (39°C) above normal.

Well, I'm almost 60, so I'll probably be dead before the sh%$ hits the fan:

The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.

“This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email.

The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.

“This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,” said Jonathan Wille, a researcher studying polar meteorology at Université Grenoble Alpes in France, in an email.


The historically high temperatures in Antarctica follow a pulse of exceptional warmth on the planet’s opposite end. On Wednesday, temperatures near the North Pole catapulted 50 degrees above normal, close to the melting point.

At this rate, we are going to see sea level rise on the order of  tens of cm a year.  (By way of comparison, we have gotten 20cm of sea level rise over the past century).

Anyone want some beach front property in Denver?

Interesting Idea

Someone has suggested installing banks of solar panels above California canals it would both generate power in an otherwise unused area, and it would reduce water loss through evaporation as the water flows hundreds of miles to its end users.

Seems like a win-win:

A public-private-academic partnership plans to install solar panels over water canals in California in a bid to produce clean energy and help preserve the state's dwindling water resources.

OK, let me qualify that: Except for the whole "Public-Private Partnership" bit, it sounds like a win-win.

When you think of PPPs, think, "Chicago Parking Meter Deal."

The purpose of such deals is to allow private actors to use public infrastructure to extort from the public.


Project Nexus was inspired by a 2021 study by University of California researchers that was published in the journal Nature Sustainability. 

Typically, 1% to 2% of the water that circulates through California’s canals evaporates, a number that is expected to increase due to the climate crisis.

Using data from satellites, climate models, and automated weather stations, the peer-reviewed study estimated that covering all of the approximately 4,000 miles of California’s canals could drastically reduce evaporation, saving 63 billion gallons of water annually—comparable to the amount of water required to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the water needs of more than 2 million people. 

If California better managed its water resources, things like requiring farmers to pay the actual cost of water, and mandating low water technology in agriculture, they would probably save 10 times as much.

Note that agriculture accounts for 80% of all water use in California.

The Greatest Living Baltimorean (It Ain't David Hasselhoff)

The Charm City has been the birthplace of many remarkable people, and the evaluation of those past is really beyond my ken, so my declaration excludes people like Thurgood Marshall, H. L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Henrietta Szold, George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Emily Post, and Frank Zappa. 

What I can state with complete confidence is that is the greatest Baltimorean alive today, as this wide ranging interview with the New York Times, clearly shows.

It begins promisingly, when Waters, with his characteristic modesty, says, "The mainstream has in the last 10 years begun to accept me, for reasons I’m not sure I understand. Maybe because they can’t get rid of me."

(Reformatted for readability, interviewer in italics Waters in bold)

You used to get in trouble for what your movies showed, like lobster rape or eating poop, and not so much for their ideas. Now it seems as if a filmmaker is more likely to make people upset by expressing objectionable ideas rather than anything they might depict. What do you make of that shift? Do you think that shift — 

Did you say “that shift” or “that [expletive]”? 

You decide. 

Shift, with an “f.” I’m happy at the social change, the craziness of it. The main difference, though, is when I was young — and I hate people that say that; it means you’re old — we used political incorrectness as a weapon against our enemies, but we made fun of ourselves first. The trigger-warning crowd does not make fun. I’m actually for going further: We should have fecal mobs go out and perform turd terrorism to prove that we’re serious about policing pronouns. The Jan. 6 people, they [expletive] in Nancy Pelosi’s office. So maybe we should go even crazier politically correct the other way and have fecal flash mobs going out there.


What about when people become pariahs for things that are outside the work? Which has happened to folks you’ve worked with — Johnny Depp, for example. What’s your view of that?  

It’s a good thing we are not going retroactive here because practically every artist would be canceled. I have a thing about who I would cancel: J.K. Rowling. Give her some Preparation H for that transphobia. What’s the matter with her? There are people I would like to cancel, but at the same time I’m saying it humorously. I’m not going to go through each person who’s been canceled and say what I think, but I never saw Johnny Depp act negatively to a woman in my entire life — and I did drugs and got drunk with him.  


Do you see differences in the way those on the left and on the right try to provoke each other? 

The right used to be my censors. They aren’t anymore. I don’t have any. If I did, it would be young woke liberals. But I always try to use humor to put everything in perspective because I question my own values. Why is this OK and that isn’t? The only way you can do that is with humor.  


What makes you personally uncomfortable?

Nothing makes me totally uncomfortable. 

Any obsessions or fetishes that you feel guilty about? 

You think I would tell you?  


Do you think young filmmakers are still interested in making feature-length films that shock? 

What is shocking to me is that they’re not interested in art movies. They want to go to a mall. They want to sit in stadium seating. They want special effects. To me, cheesy special effects are much more fun than these new ones. I’m in the minority here obviously. That’s why I write books. But Criterion keeps putting my stuff out. It’s easier to see my work than ever. “Pink Flamingos” probably violates more values now than it did then. 


I know that being a defense lawyer is your fantasy alternative career. Why that job? 

Because somebody has to stick up for the worst people in the world. They weren’t born bad. I don’t believe anyone was born bad. The mystery is people’s behavior. I’m fascinated by people’s behavior, especially people I can’t understand. Being a lawyer would be a way to be obsessive about it: It’s your job. Otherwise you’re just a crime groupie hanging around courthouses.

John Waters is a national treasure, and the President should award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bestowing this on him would horrify some people, but none more than John Waters himself.


Nit picking, but gentle and loving nit picking about The Princess Bride:

20 March 2022

America's Finest News Source

The Onion has published an article, "In Defense Of Mass Censorship," and it is brutal and witty, and better than anything that has come off of their keyboard for years:

When The Onion’s editorial board convened to discuss the tumultuous events of the previous month, one conclusion became evident: The world stands at a crossroads. Two visions of our collective future stand before us: On one side is a free and enlightened society, dedicated to the principles of openness, tolerance, and debate; the other is built upon ignorance, fear, and the suppression of dissent. Today, the path forward could not be clearer.

Simply put, we need mass censorship now.

Our country was founded upon the admirable principles of a moneyed elite spoon-feeding its beliefs to the ignorant and unwashed masses, and yet today that legacy stands in tatters. For too long, our nation has tolerated the mewling and rambling of the confused public. For too long, we have watched the God-given right to suppress free speech slip away. That’s why The Onion now stands united in calling on all governments, domestic and foreign, to immediately muzzle protesters, dissidents, and citizens of all stripes who take part in the blighted pestilence on human affairs known as freedom of expression.

Read the whole thing, it is a masterpiece.