31 May 2022

Great Caesar's Ghost!

I knew that it was a busy memorial day weekend, but I did not realize that there were 14 mass shootings.

Even for a 3-day weekend, that's a lot of senseless violence, even in the land of the free and the home of the gun:

It was a somber and bloody Memorial Day weekend, as at least 14 mass shootings erupted across the United States, leaving eight dead and 59 wounded, new data from a research group shows.

The spate of gun attacks — from Nevada to Texas to Pennsylvania — broke out amid calls for gun control following the May 24 school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

The deadliest Memorial Day weekend shooting occurred Monday in Philadelphia, when two people were killed and another two wounded as multiple gunmen opened fire at a holiday event, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

God bless America.

That Was Quick

US Attorney John Durham charged Michael Sussman with misleading investigators on "Russiagate," and it went to the jury today, and then came back from the in about 6 hours with a "Not Guilty" verdict.

Seriously, juries never come back this quickly on a case.

This case was beyond thin:

Michael Sussmann, a prominent cybersecurity lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was acquitted on Tuesday of lying to the F.B.I. in 2016 when he shared a tip about possible connections between Donald J. Trump and Russia.

The verdict was a significant blow to the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration three years ago to scour the Trump-Russia investigation for any wrongdoing.

But Mr. Durham has yet to fulfill expectations from Mr. Trump and his supporters that he would uncover and prosecute a “deep state” conspiracy against the former president. Instead, he has developed only two cases that led to charges: the one against Mr. Sussmann and another against a researcher for the so-called Steele dossier, whose trial is set for later this year.

Both consist of simple charges of making false statements, rather than a more sweeping charge like conspiracy to defraud the government. And both involve thin or dubious allegations about Mr. Trump’s purported ties to Russia that were put forward not by government officials, but by outside investigators.

Basically, Sussman was accused of denying to an FBI agent that he revealing this information in his capacity as a lawyer working for a client.  (His clients included the Clinton campaign)

There was one witness, who had repeatedly different recollections over time, which is kind of the definition of reasonable doubt.

Very weak tea, and the jury recognized this.

Protect and Serve, Huh?

Notwithstanding their potestations to contrary, 911 dispatchers relayed the fact that there were kids in the rooms with the shooters at the Uvalde elementary school.

And still they refused to act, a real profile in cowardice there.

As Edmund Blackadder would put it, "It was a viciously sharp slice of mango, wasn't it, sir."

The local cops were lying because usually, their lies are reprinted verbatim by the press.  Not so much this time:

Video obtained by ABC News, taken outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as last week's massacre was unfolding inside, appears to capture a 911 dispatcher alerting officers on scene that they were receiving calls from children who were alive inside the classroom that the gunman had entered -- as law enforcement continued to wait nearly an hour and a half to enter the room.

"Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims," the dispatcher can be heard saying in the video. "Full of victims at this moment."

An ABC News analysis of the video shows that was at approximately 12:13 p.m. -- about 40 minutes after the gunman entered the school.

"Is anybody inside of the building at this...?" the dispatcher asked.

Minutes later, the dispatcher says again: "Eight to nine children." 

Clearly the solution is more cops in schools. (Not)

In related news, now that the local police have discovered that no on is buying their lies, they have stopped cooperating with investigators.

I really hope that there is a criminal offense in all of this, because if not, then the law is a fool.

Uvalde spent 40% of its town budget on police.  Clearly this is not a wise allocation of resources.

30 May 2022


Enough votes have been counted in Clackamas County to confirm that Jamie McLeod-Skinner has defeated Kurt Schrader in the primary held 2 weeks ago.

Good riddance to a man called, "The House Manchin."

Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader has lost his primary in Oregon’s 5th District, losing to Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Despite the ballot-counting snafu that’s delayed results in Clackamas County, home to 45% of the district’s Democrats, enough votes have been tallied to make it clear that Schrader has no path to victory.

Both The Oregonian/OregonLive and the Associated Press called the race in favor of McLeod-Skinner Friday morning.

McLeod-Skinner said on Twitter that she was “honored” to be nominated.

“From Sellwood to Sunriver, Oregonians never stopped believing we can protect our families, our climate and our civil rights,” she wrote.

McLeod-Skinner won on the strength of her support in Deschutes County, where she outperformed Schrader by nearly 9,400 votes, pulling in a whopping 70%. Schrader, by contrast, is likely to collect fewer than 1,700 more votes than McLeod-Skinner in Clackamas County, the place where he has lived and served as an elected official for decades, a newsroom analysis shows.

McLeod-Skinner also netted a big lead over the incumbent in Multnomah County, pulling in 60% of that county’s vote. Districtwide, the final results are not expected to be close, with McLeod-Skinner on track to receive nearly 56% of votes cast.

I am stunned at her numbers in Deschutes County.  That's Bend, Oregon, east of the Cascades, and Eastern Oregon has long been considered a conservative stronghold.

Schrader lost, despite an endorsement from Joe Biden, because he is a profoundly disloyal Democrat:

Schrader also drew the ire of progressive Democrats across the district, who lambasted him for votes he took on pandemic aid and pharmaceutical regulation. In a sign of the spreading discontent, Democratic officials in four Oregon counties endorsed McLeod-Skinner in the run-up to the primary. It’s unusual for party organizations to actively work against an incumbent of their own party.

Schrader’s defeat came despite his sizable fundraising edge. He pulled in more than $2.5 million this election cycle, more than three times as much as McLeod-Skinner. Schrader also snagged an endorsement from President Joe Biden, shortly after appearing on stage with Biden during the president’s visit to Portland in April.

These efforts need to continue.  Corporate Democrats are a recipe for a permanent minority.

Yes, I did Make Barbecue

It is Memorial Day, after all.

Used a barrel type grill with a side box for smoking, and smoked brisket for Sharon* and I, and smoked chicken for the kids, who don't much like red meat.

It made a lot of sense, particularly given that it was above 90°F today, so cranking up the oven in the house is not a great idea.

Also cooked some potatoes and some zucchini on the grill.

Basically, some of my Indian (Curry) spice rub, smoke, and time.

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

I Wish That I Lived in a Civilized Nation

While the callous murder, and police cowardice, that resulted in 21 deaths in Uvalde, TX won't result in any changes in the United States, Canada has presented legislation banning handgun sales and restricting assault weapons and high capacity magazines, including a mandatory buyback program.

They also have single payer healthcare.

It must be nice not to live in a 3rd world nation:

Most owners of what Canada calls “military-style assault weapons” would be required to turn over their firearms to a government buyback program under legislation introduced on Monday, which would tighten the country’s already stringent control of firearms.

The Canadian government also announced new regulations that will ban the sale, purchase, importation or transfer of handguns. “We are capping the number of handguns in this country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

The handgun sales ban and the proposed assault weapons law are the latest in a series of steps Mr. Trudeau has taken to restrict firearms since 22 people were killed in rural Nova Scotia by a gunman in 2020, in the deadliest rampage in the country’s history. The legislation, which could apply to tens of thousands of firearms, is expected to pass.


The buyback proposal comes as another mass shooting in the United States has reignited an often searing debate on gun violence. Last week a gunman used a military-style rifle to kill 19 children and two teachers in the town of Uvalde, Tex. Only 10 days earlier, a teenage gunman entranced by a white supremacist ideology opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., killing 10 people and injuring three more, almost all of them Black.


Automatic weapons have long been banned for civilians in Canada, and magazines for semiautomatic weapons are restricted: no gun may shoot more than five rounds without reloading.

It needs to tied to aggressive border controls, because otherwise, they are going to see a flood of firearms entering their country's southern border.

I'm Gonna Live Forever!

I need my coffee
A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that coffee drinkers have a lower death rate than their compatriots who eschew the beverage.

Needless to say, I am stoked about this:

People who drink coffee – whether with or without sugar – appear to have a lower risk of an early death, although experts caution the finding may not be down to the brew itself.


Previous studies have suggested the beverage may be beneficial to health, with coffee drinking associated with a lower risk of conditions ranging from chronic liver disease to certain cancers and even dementia.

Now researchers in China have found people who consumed a moderate amount of coffee every day, whether sweetened with sugar or not, had a lower risk of death over a seven-year period than those who did not.

Similar results were found for instant, ground and decaffeinated coffee.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on data from more than 171,000 participants of the UK BioBank – which has collected genetic, lifestyle and health information from more than 500,000 people since it began in 2006, including details of participants’ coffee-drinking habits.

The team used data from death certificates to track the participants for a median period of seven years from 2009, during which 3,177 people died.

After taking into account factors including age, sex, ethnicity, educational level, smoking status, amount of physical activity, body mass index and diet, the team found that, compared with those who did not drink the brew, people who consumed unsweetened coffee had the lowest risk of death.

This is glorious news.


OK, I understand the idea of protests, but I think that smearing cake on the bullet proof glass protective cover of the Mona Lisa is not an effective tactic.

A man dressed as an old woman in a wheelchair to get close, and then launched his assault.

Listen. Strange men play acting in wheel chairs smearing baked goods on glass is no basis for a meaningful protest.  Effective protest derives from direct action to address the problem, not from some farcical culinary ceremony.*

We live in strange times:

A 36-year-old man has been arrested and placed in psychiatric care after he smeared a glass screen encasing the Mona Lisa with cake in a purported protest against artists not focusing enough on “the planet”.


A Twitter user identified as Lukeee posted a video showing a museum employee wiping a mess off the glass and another showing a man dressed in white being escorted away by security guards.

A man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and attempted to smash the bulletproof glass of the Mona Lisa. Then proceeds to smear cake on the glass and throws roses everywhere, all before being tackled by security,” Lukeee wrote.

Speaking French, the man in the video says: “There are people who are destroying the Earth … All artists, think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet.”

This reminds me of the eternal question, "How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

The answer, of course is 2:  One to put the jackhammer in the bathtub, and the other to paint the giraffe.

*Yes, this is a Monty Python reference.


The invaluable Mark Rober unleashes his mad skilz on Indian spam phone banks:


29 May 2022

A Forever Story

Over at Vox, they have a story titled, "WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann’s carbon credit crypto project sounds like a scam within a scam."

Not to be one to state the obvious,* but EVERY article that includes the phrase, "WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann," is about some sort of a scam.

Neumann is a bunco artist, and not a particularly convincing one.

The fact that he has not been charged with fraud is a mark of  the dysfunction of our criminal justice system.

Other stories that you know what they will be about once you get to a listing of the people involved:

  • Congress + gun control = nothing happens.
  • Congress + anthropogenic climate change = nothing happens.
  • The Senate + filibuster = nothing happens.
  • The Supreme Court + campaign finance = legalizing bribery.
  • Republicans + LGBTQ = hate.
  • Tesla + self driving = dead people.
  • Blockchain = scam.

I'm sure that there are a few others that my reader(s) could add below.

*OK, I am one to state the obvious. It's a term of art.

Best Healthcare System in the World

Only in America would grieving parents be billed for donating their dead child's organs.

If this doesn't disgust you, you are not a decent human being.

(On Edit)

It appears that the tweet has been deleted, but here is a picture of the bill in question. Disgraceful.

Sign of the Apocalypse?

Vacuum/Siphon Brewing

Bali Honey Process
I actually got good coffee at a Starbucks today.

I don't mean that I had a good coffee drink, where the addition of various milk products and syrups obscure Starbucks signature "Burnt Roast" coffee, I mean that it was a truly superior coffee that I drank black.

We went to a Starbucks "Reserve" coffee shop.

There is a hierarchy of Starbucks stores:

  1. Starbucks license, which you find in grocery stores and book stores.
  2. Starbucks cafe, which are your standard stand alone coffee shops.
  3. Starbucks reserve, which have premium single origin coffees, special syrups, and additional brewing techniques, with 43 locations worldwide, including one in Baltimore.
  4. Starbucks reserve roasteries, which are Starbucks reserve, plus on premises roasting, serves alcohol, and a theme park experience.

I got a Bali honey process, which came with a card (pictured) describing the coffee.

Honey process is a roasting technique that does not wash off the last residue from the (sweet)  coffee fruit which surrounds the coffee bean (which is actually a seed).

I decided to splurge and go with vacuum/siphon brewing, as my son Charlie had expressed an interest in the technique.  

Vacuum brewing is a technique where you place water in a vessel on the bottom, and bring it to a boil, and then a top vessel, with a seal and a filter, is placed on top.

The boiling water pushes the water into the top vessel , then coffee is added, and after a set amount of time, the heat is removed, and the condensing steam creates a vacuum which sucks the now brewed coffee back into the bottom vessel, from where you can decant your coffee.

It makes a very nice coffee, and it is fascinating to watch.  (see attached video)

Making it even better, the Baltimore Starbucks reserve is unionized.

And the Award for Biggest Troll Goes To

Am I a bad person for laughing at this?

BTW, I am well aware of the fact that this is a variant of a very old joke, "My grandpa died at Auschwitz ……… He fell off a guard tower."

28 May 2022

Speaking of Bad Economic News

Real declines in March and April

Biggest drop in over 15 years

Correlation with recessions
The real money supply has declined sharply, which is yet another indication of an oncoming recession.

The short version is that economic activity creates money, through things like loans and the like. 

Think of banking, where, if you need to hold 10% in reserve, $100 in the bank can allow you to make $90 in loans, and so there is actually $190 out there as a result.

In this case, both M1 (money readily available for spending, cash, bank deposits, etc/) and M2 (M1+ things like time deposits which might require a few months to get one's hands on).

Both are falling, and this indicates a drop in economic activity.

Essentially, M1 and M2 are an indication of the velocity of money, and if the velocity of money is decreasing, economic activity is decreasing.

The "Real" bit means inflation adjusted.

As Bondad notes (see link), "Real money supply is a long leading indicator, as shown in the below graph of both real M1 and real M2 going back over 60 years."

This will not be pretty.

A Giant Sucking Sound

Business economist Mark Zandi has announced that we are officially in a housing correction.

We knew that this was going to happen as soon as the Fed started raising rates, this is the most immediate response to any such action, but I did not expect one of the most prominent analysts in the field to announce it so soon:

Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi is ready to call it. He tells Fortune that we've officially moved from a housing boom into a "housing correction."

The real estate data rolling in for April and May shows that the U.S. housing market is softening. New home sales fell 19% to their lowest level since April 2020. Redfin reports 19% of home listings cut their price over the past month. Inventory is rising fast, while mortgage applications and existing home sales are also falling.

This drop-off isn't a result of seasonality, or a soft month or two. Zandi says it's a trajectory flip: Demand is pulling back—fast—in the face of mortgage rates that have spiked dramatically.

"The housing market has peaked…everything points to a rolling over of the housing market," Zandi says. "In terms of home sales, they're falling sharply. Housing demand is coming down fast. Home price growth [will] go flat here pretty quickly; we will see [home] price declines in a significant number of markets."

Unlike a stock market correction, which means a greater than 10% drop in equities, Zandi says a "housing correction" means the end of the housing boom and the beginning of a period where home prices will fall in some regional markets. Over the coming 12 months, he expects year-over-year home price growth to be 0%. If that comes to fruition, it'd mark the worst 12-month stretch since 2012. It would also be whiplash for real estate agents and brokers who've watched home prices soar 19.8% over the past year.

I think that he's being too optimistic. 

I expect every single urban market in the nation to see prices fall.

The combination of real estate mania with private equity jumping into real estate with both feet, has created a very fragile situation.

27 May 2022

Quote of the Day

As a Christian, the only comfort I can offer amid revelations of widespread sexual abuse facilitated by a generation of Southern Baptist leadership is this: When they get to Hell, they’re going to be surprised.

—Sam Thielman, about the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) sexual abuse scandal, in an essay rather evocatively titled, "You Guys Actually Worship Cthulhu"

You want to read this article, and including how two men, Paige_Patterson (fired as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary covering up sexual abuse and threatening victims) and Paul_Pressler (raped teenage boys) drove more moderate members of the convention out, and promulgated a theology known as the doctrine of total depravity,*, which, as near as I can ascertain, involves a doubling down on self loathing.

Having read up on these folks, I can understand why they might loathe themselves, I loathe them, and I've never met them.

In any case, it is a useful primer on how the SBC as it exists today would blame victims and cover up abuse.  The author actually makes a case for how the SBC how it exists today would be incapable of doing anything else.

Who knew that Tartuffe was a documentary?

*As Anna Russell would say, "I'm not making this up, you know."

26 May 2022

I Have a Cunning Troll

As some of my reader(s) may be aware, there has been an unprecedented outbreak of Monkeypox, and it has spread to the United States.

Luckily there are some treatments, both antivirals and vaccines, including the Smallpox vaccine, which provides decent protection against the virus.

This raises an interesting question, how does one best troll the antivaxxers who will (of course) refuse vaccines or any other sane public health measures.

Well, much like its cousin Smallpox, Monkeypox causes pustules to form, and much like its cousin Smallpox, these pustules can cause extensive scarring.

So if I run into an antivaxxer, I will explain how the disease will leave them with disfiguring scars, which is just the truth, not a troll.

Then I will tell them, "Monkeypox scars are the mark of the beast."

I think that this is a decent troll, though my knowledge of Christian eschatology is thankfully limited, so if any of my readers better versed in the Christian bible and related text want to correct me, you can do it in the comments.

Craven Cowards

We now know more about the shootings in Uvalde, or more specifically, what the cops did, or didn't do. 

They sat on their duffs for over an hour on the theory that there was no one left alive (there were kids left alive, and they were calling 911).

Also, even if everyone had been shot, there were likely some people would be alive today if they had received treatment in the so-called "Golden Hour," instead of being left to bleed out in a classroom with the shooter.

Through the aftermath of this, police have been lying repeatedly, and repeatedly changing their story, because, as Dan Froomkin pithily observes, "All police lie."

They do so routinely, and the press almost never challenges them on this.

They probably would not this time, only we have videos that went viral showing the police refusing to take action beyond harassing and cuffing parents who were demanding that they do something to protect their kids.

What these parents don't understand is that the police have no obligation at all to protect citizens, the Supreme Court said so in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzalez.

Given that the killer spent nearly 15 minutes shooting at people and things before entering the school, and police did not respond, and once they arrived, it took them over an hour to move in, it appears to me that someone screwed up.

What's more, given that the story that the police have offered has shifted repeatedly since the shooting, it is not unreasonable to assume that there is an ongoing coverup, at least by the Uvalde police, and likely by other state and local law enforcement agencies.

First, there was a school resource officer that the shooter walked past, and then there wasn't.

Uvalde police immediately entered the school, and then they didn't, and then they did, but waited nearly an hour to do something.

I'm not sure of a lot, but I do know that the Town of Uvalde, population 16,122 16,101 is spending 40% of its municipal budget on police, and it sounds like they could get more bang for their buck if they replaced ⅔ of them with potted plants.

To be honest, I might feel differently about this if my house were burgled.  After all, after something like that, I would expect to have to water 5½ hours to get a dismissive shrug.

It's my right as a taxpayer.

Finland Lost the Winter War

Military analysts observing the conflict in the Ukraine and the state of affairs there seem to two camps, one in which the Ukrainian forces are near victory, and one where the Russian forces are successfully, albeit glacially, grinding down the Ukrainian forces.

Well, we now have a report in The Washington Post, arguably the most bellicose of the mainstream US media, suggesting that the latter view may be more accurate.

Particularly tellingly, members of the military want on the record, by name, specifically 5th Separate Rifle Battalion commander Serhi Lapko and a platoon commander Vitaliy Khrus.

See as this is both a statement against interest, and a court martial offense, both of them have been taken into custody, this seems to be a significant data point.


Ukrainian forces have succeeded in thwarting Russian efforts to seize Kyiv and Kharkiv and have scored battlefield victories in the east. But the experience of Lapko and his group of volunteers offers a rare and more realistic portrait of the conflict and Ukraine’s struggle to halt the Russian advance in parts of Donbas. Ukraine, like Russia, has provided scant information about deaths, injuries or losses of military equipment. But after three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.

The volunteers were civilians before Russia invaded on Feb. 24, and they never expected to be dispatched to one of the most dangerous front lines in eastern Ukraine. They quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of war, feeling abandoned by their military superiors and struggling to survive.


When they could take it no longer, Lapko and his top lieutenant, , retreated with members of their company this week to a hotel away from the front. There, both men spoke to The Washington Post on the record, knowing they could face a court-martial and time in military prison.


But Lapko and Khrus’s concerns were echoed recently by a platoon of the 115th Brigade 3rd Battalion, based nearby in the besieged city of Severodonetsk. In a video uploaded to Telegram on May 24, and confirmed as authentic by an aide to Haidai, volunteers said they will no longer fight because they lacked proper weapons, rear support and military leadership.

“We are being sent to certain death,” said a volunteer, reading from a prepared script, adding that a similar video was filmed by members of the 115th Brigade 1st Battalion. “We are not alone like this, we are many.”


Hours after The Post interviewed Lapko and Khrus, members of Ukraine’s military security service arrived at their hotel and detained some of their men, accusing them of desertion.

I think that this article is significant because the editors of the Post greenlit it.  This is not the narrative that the paper is pushing on the Ukraine war.

It does appear to have some echos of the Finnish Soviet war of 1940 though.  While the Finns inflicted 5 times their casualties on the Soviets, they lost that war, ceding more land had originally been demanded by Stalin.

Thursday Jobless Numbers

And initial unemployment claims fell last, though continuing claims rose slightly.

Consumers are still spending like crazy, but the updated numbers GDP show a slight reduction.

New applications for unemployment benefits fell last week and hovered near historic lows in a sign of a tight U.S. labor market.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, decreased to 210,000 last week from the previous week’s level of 218,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Claims remain near 2019 prepandemic levels, when the job market was also historically tight. The four-week average for claims, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, rose to 206,750 last week.

Thursday’s report showed continuing claims, a proxy for the total number of people receiving payments from state unemployment programs, increased slightly to 1.35 million for the week ended May 14 from 1.32 million a week earlier. They remain near the lowest level since 1969. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

The economy continues to feel the effects of Covid-19 and related supply disruptions. Gross domestic product in the first quarter fell at a 1.5% annual rate, down slightly from an initial estimate of a 1.4% contraction, the Commerce Department said in revisions released Thursday. The U.S. economy’s contraction in the first quarter was driven by weaker inventory investment, a wider trade deficit and less government spending.

Consumer spending in the first quarter was revised up to a 3.1% annual growth rate from 2.7%. Many economists expect GDP to resume growth in the second quarter, though there are risks to the outlook, including a slowdown in the housing market and elevated inflation.

The latest Federal Reserve minutes are saying that they are looking at a 50 basis point (½%) rate increases at each of the next two or three meetings, so my money is on a recession sooner rather than later.

25 May 2022

I’ve Heard This Song Before

Yeah, It Looks Like a Drop

Right off a cliff

Running into a wall

A primer in statistics

Real world consequences of the example

Spiking Mortgage Rate

Supply chain still f%$#ed

Just 14 years after the last housing crash, it looks like we are headed for another one.

Low end house sales have fallen off a cliff, interest rates are spiking, the housing inventory is spiking, as is time on the market.

Seems like old times, doesn't it?

Given that Wall Street is even more involved in real estate than it was before the last recession, I more than one Bear Stearns type collapses, followed by a multi-trillion dollar bailout, because, to quote (not) Tallyrand, they have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing:

Sales of new single-family houses in April plunged by 16.6% from March and by 26.9% from a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 houses, the lowest since lockdown April 2020, according to the Census Bureau today. Sales of new houses are registered when contracts are signed, not when deals close, and can serve as an early indicator of the overall housing market.


Unsold inventory of new houses spiked in a historic month-to-month leap of 34,000 houses, and by 127,000 houses from April last year, to 444,000 unsold houses, seasonally adjusted, the highest since May 2008.

Both, the month-to-month leap and the year-over-year leap were the largest leaps ever recorded, both in numbers of unsold houses and in percentages.


Supply of unsold new houses spiked in a historic month-to-month leap from an already high 6.9 months’ supply in March to a dizzying 9.0 months’ supply in April, having nearly doubled from a year ago:

The bottom fell out under $400,000. At the top end, things weren’t so bad: sales were flat year-over-year in the $400,000 to $750,000 range, though they fell on a month-to-month basis. But you cannot maintain a housing market by just selling to the wealthy.

The basically, the cheaper houses are first houses, and if you can't buy first houses, you cannot buy second houses, and this percolates up the chain.

There was a brief opportunity to break the power of parasitic finance in 2009, that opportunity was missed, and we are going to suffer from this failure again, and again, and again, and again.


Don’t Tell Me about Your Morality, Show Me

Why am I not surprised that the Southern Baptist Convention has spent decades covering up sexual abuse and dismissing the credibility of the victims.

Morality is what you do when no one is looking:

Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention on Sunday released a major third-party investigation that found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. Evidence in the report suggests leaders also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years.

The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves throughout a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Baptists was small.

The investigation finds that for almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention’s administrative arm to report alleged child molesters and other accused abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff members. Many of the cases referred to in the report were considered outside the statute of limitations, the time survivors can report sex abuse, so it’s unclear how many abusers were criminally charged.

The report, compiled by an organization called Guidepost Solutions at the request of Southern Baptists, states that abuse survivors’ calls and emails were “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” by leaders who were concerned more with protecting the institution from liability than from protecting Southern Baptists from further abuse.


Sex abuse survivors, many of whom have been sharing their stories for years, anticipated Sunday’s release would confirm the facts around many of the stories they have already shared, but many were still surprised to see the pattern of coverups by the highest levels of leadership.

“I knew it was rotten, but it’s astonishing and infuriating,” said Jennifer Lyell, a survivor who was once the highest-paid female executive at the SBC and whose story of sexual abuse at a Southern Baptist seminary is detailed in the report. “This is a denomination that is through and through about power. It is misappropriated power. It does not in any way reflect the Jesus I see in the scriptures. I am so gutted.”

The report also names several senior SBC leaders who protected and even supported alleged abusers, including three past presidents of the convention, a former vice president and the former head of the SBC’s administrative arm.


For decades, the findings show, Southern Baptists were told the denomination could not put together a registry of sex offenders because it would go against the denomination’s polity — or how it functions. What the report reveals is that leaders maintained a list of offenders while keeping it a secret to avoid the possibility of getting sued. The report also includes private emails showing how longtime leaders such as August Boto were dismissive about sexual abuse concerns, calling them “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.”


For a denomination designed to give more democratic power to its lay leaders or “messengers” who voted to commission the third-party investigation, the report shows how lay Southern Baptists allowed a few key leaders, including [former SBC executive committee VP] Boto and the convention’s longtime lawyer, James Guenther, to control the national institutional response to sex abuse for decades. Guenther, the longtime lawyer for the SBC, said he had not read the report yet. Attempts to reach Boto on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Who knew that Elmer Gantry was a documentary?

Financial Innovation, Huh?

When you go to to the casino and gamble, you know that you are likely to lose.  It's how they set up the games. 

They know the odds, and they know the numbers, and even if there is a way to beat the house (counting cards) they will blacklist you.

So I am completely unsurprised to find out that the Wall Street banksters made out like raped apes while the investors got screwed during the SPAC mania.

Whenever you hear about financial innovation, hold onto your wallet.

Nothing will change until we start seeing the head of the Wall Street firms frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs:

Investment banks have raked in billions of dollars by feeding the frenzy for blank-check companies, and they have done so largely without risking any of their own money on hundreds of deals that have left many investors with punishing losses.

A look at one of these deals shows how.

In late 2020, Acies Acquisition Corp tapped into investor demand for blank-check companies – formally known as special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs – with an initial public offering that raised $215 million. Among the investment banks Acies signed up to underwrite the IPO were JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley and Oppenheimer & Co.

When the offering closed, Acies, essentially a shell company, followed the SPAC template. With the cash it had raised, it had two years to find and merge with a private company seeking a stock market listing, or return the money to investors. Acies’ management team announced it was on the hunt for a business in the “experiential entertainment industry.”

The team didn’t have to look for very long. Hours after the IPO closed, bankers advising Playstudios Inc contacted Acies managers to tell them the Las Vegas-based maker of mobile casino games was for sale, regulatory filings show. Those bankers were also with JPMorgan. In early 2021, the two companies announced plans for a merger that valued Playstudios at $1.1 billion.

In the run-up to the merger and the listing of the combined company’s shares, Playstudios touted a rosy future. It forecast that surging ad sales, a new role-playing game and cross-marketing offerings to game players would bring a 20% rise in revenue in 2021 and a 33% jump this year.

Since then, the company has scrapped the new game, and revenue fell far short of predictions. Retail investors suffered the consequences. The stock is down more than 50% since shareholders approved the merger last June.

“Playstudios is one that looks like crap right now,” Dan Ushman, a 37-year-old Chicago-area entrepreneur, said earlier this year. He put about $26,000 into Acies after it announced its deal with Playstudios and soon saw his investment drop more than 35%.

Investment banks involved in the deal fared much better, having risked none of their own money, based on a Reuters review of regulatory filings.

JPMorgan, in particular, pocketed hefty fees for its dual role as an underwriter for the Acies IPO and as an adviser to Playstudios – perfectly legal, despite the apparent conflict of interest, if the bank discloses its role, as JPMorgan did.

The bank has not disclosed its fees, but financial data provider Refinitiv estimates that JPMorgan earned $4.7 million in underwriting fees and $14.2 million as a sell-side adviser. It also received $1.6 million for helping Acies raise additional capital through a maneuver known as private investment in public equity, or PIPE, according to financial research firm Morningstar Inc and a Reuters analysis. PIPEs, which tap big institutional investors, are often necessary to close a SPAC merger.

Morgan Stanley earned about $5.9 million and Oppenheimer about $1.2 million in underwriting fees, according to Refinitiv estimates. Each bank also got about $1.6 million in PIPE-related fees, according to Morningstar and a Reuters analysis. LionTree Advisors, another Playstudios adviser, earned $6.2 million on the deal, according to Refinitiv estimates, plus $1.6 million in PIPE fees, according to Morningstar and a Reuters analysis.

JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and LionTree declined to comment. An Oppenheimer spokesman said the bank had a minor role in the Acies IPO.

Playstudios noted that the JPMorgan teams it and Acies worked with came from separate divisions of the bank. The company said it has “a robust framework for evaluating, approving, executing and optimizing its game initiatives,” and that it is continually “revisiting the conditions and decision to either advance or suspend an initiative.”


The SPAC market has sagged since the collapse of some high-profile blank-check listings amid overall grim market conditions. And in March, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed new rules that would increase disclosure requirements and potential legal liability for SPACs and their banks. Facing these market and regulatory challenges, some banks have been pulling back from the business.

Whatever happens to the SPAC market, the Reuters examination reveals in detail for the first time how, over the past couple of years, Wall Street banks have enriched themselves by aggressively promoting the deals in the absence of the legal guardrails and financial risks associated with traditional IPOs.
Fraud enforcement against high finance is woefully lax.  This needs to change.


The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) does seem to have an unholy fascination with toxic assholes who will not only do the wrong thing, but they will knife their benefactors he back at a an opportune moment.

I used to think that it was stupidity, but increasingly I think that this fealty to their corporate paymasters is just old fashioned corruption.

It is a recipe for futility.

Charles de Gaulle Would Have Called Him an Egotist

I am, of course, referring to the man who is making people long for the days of Bill de Blasio, Eric Adams, who, when commenting on the most recent subway shooting in New York, said, "I thank God I’m the mayor right now and not those that don’t understand the urgency of this moment."

What a surprise.  A Mayor of New York City who has both a corruption problem and an incompetence problem also thinks that a mentally ill person shooting a random banker on the subway is all about him.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is bringing Adams in to help them with communications.

They have brought him to talk to the DCCC and to ask him advice on communications.

Needless to say, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is completely bereft ideas or even a clue.

As Anna Russell would say, "I'm not making this up, you know."

24 May 2022

Tweet of the Day

I am so this obstacle.

Another day, another gruesome mass shooting at an elementary school, this one in Texas.

19 children and two adults are dead, and there may be some more deaths yet.

God bless America.

An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.

The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.

Greg Abbot's answer will doubtless be, "Moar Gunz."

The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.


The attack also came just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that added to a yearslong series of mass killings at churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed as dim, if not dimmer, than in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.

Of course nothing will happen.  The Ammosexual community controls our politics, and the rest of us bury the costs of their perverted desires.


The tragedy in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally in the state, which has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.


The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

And this kid couldn't wait for that convention, where his bullets might have done some real good.

Fuck the shooter, fuck Greg Abbot and fuck the rest of the Republican party of death, and fuck the NRA.

Needless to say, all of the above rat-fucks will only offer.

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23 May 2022

I Don’t Want to Live on This Planet Any More

I weep for the children.

On a more serious note, worries about monkeypox, a member of the same genus as smallpox, has been an object of concern for years.

As to the Brownstone Institute, they are literally an organization opposed to public health measures of all forms, because, Ayn Rand, I guess.

I used to laugh at these folks, but seeing as how they are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and millions of people world wide, I don't think that laughter is the appropriate response.

We're just lucky that the current outbreak, which includes community transmission, is of the West African clade, with a mortality of around 3% untreated, as opposed to the Congo Basin clade, which has a mortality rate above 10%.

Maybe You Should Have Reported This When It Mattered

So, some anonymous New York Times chose a the hed, "How Jack Welch’s Reign at G.E. Gave Us Elon Musk’s Twitter Feed," for an article which spends much of its time detailing just how complete and how poisonous the fraud during Welch's tenure at General Electric.

The headline buries the revelation that Jack Welch fraudulently massaged GE's finances to hit the numbers for nearly two decades.

This was clear when Jack Welch was defrauding shareholders while he was still running GE. 

GE beat its numbers every quarter for nearly 20 years.  It was a preternaturally smooth curve, much like what we saw from Bernie Madoff.

In so doing, he shut down much of GE's manufacturing and moved into finance, and now GE has collapsed, and was broken into separate component parts.

Finance reporters had to be willfully blind not to notice this in real time:

When Jack Welch died on March 1, 2020, tributes poured in for the longtime chief executive of General Electric, whom many revered as the greatest chief executive of all time.

David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Discovery and a Welch disciple, remembered him as an almost godlike figure. “Jack set the path. He saw the whole world. He was above the whole world,” Mr. Zaslav said. “What he created at G.E. became the way companies now operate.”

People are still trying to emulate him, and his proteges are still running companies into the ground.


Yet a closer examination of the Welch legacy reveals that he was not simply the “Manager of the Century,” as Fortune magazine crowned him upon his retirement.

Rather, he exerted a powerful and lasting influence on American business, informing how workers are treated, how shareholders are rewarded and how C.E.O.s comport themselves in an increasingly divisive age. When Donald J. Trump is elected president, when Jeff Bezos argues about inflation with the White House, when Elon Musk negotiates his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter by using the poop emoji — this is the world that Jack Welch helped create.

This is literally the one of two references to Elon Musk losing what is left of his sanity on Twitter, and comparing it to Welch's post retirement antics, but some editor decided that this afterthought needed to be the hed, because  ……… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

For the past several years, I have written the Corner Office column for The Times, speaking with hundreds of executives about their careers and approaches to leadership. And time after time, Mr. Welch’s name kept coming up. Some wanted to model themselves after him, while others sought to define themselves in opposition to all he stood for. Either way, it was clear that Mr. Welch still looms over the corporate world, living rent-free in the minds of C.E.O.s around the globe.

 And this is why there should have been a reckoning when Welch was still alive, or, better yet, while he was still running GE into the ground.


Almost immediately after Mr. Welch retired in September 2001 with a $417 million severance package, G.E. went into a tailspin from which it would never recover.

His pupils, though, went on to run dozens of other major companies, including Home Depot, Albertson’s, Chrysler and Boeing. Most of them failed.

(emphasis mine)

Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark. 

More importantly, Jack Welch left a legacy of control fraud that has metastasized throughout the American economy:  Hit the numbers by any means, fair or foul, get stock options, and cash out.


G.E., too, is still reckoning with Mr. Welch’s legacy. For two decades after he retired, a succession of C.E.O.s tried and failed to return the company to its former glory. Then last year, G.E. management admitted defeat and made an announcement — the company would be broken up for good.

This is what it means when someone says that they, "Want to run the government like a business."

If you hear this, run away.


G.E. was worth $14 billion when Mr. Welch became C.E.O., just months after Ronald Reagan took office. Not long before Mr. Welch retired, just days before Sept. 11, 2001, the company was worth $600 billion, the most valuable company on Earth.

But the ways in which Mr. Welch created so much shareholder value often did more harm than good.

He was a compulsive dealmaker, fueling G.E.’s growth with a relentless series of mergers and acquisitions that took G.E. far from its industrial roots and set in motion a wave of corporate consolidation that would reduce competition in industries as diverse as airlines and media.

He closed factories and fired employees by the tens of thousands, unleashing a series of mass layoffs that destabilized the American working class. He devised systems like “stack ranking,” which mandated that the bottom 10 percent of workers be fired each year, and took root at other companies. And he embraced offshoring and outsourcing, sending labor overseas and turning to other companies to provide back-office functions like accounting and printing.

It was enough to earn him the nickname he hated but could never shake: “Neutron Jack,” a reference to the neutron bomb, which purportedly kills people while leaving buildings intact.

But more than the downsizing or the dealmaking, it was Mr. Welch’s obsession with finance that allowed him to steadily inflate G.E.’s valuation in the public markets.

G.E. was an industrial company when he took over — making most of its money selling appliances, light bulbs, power turbines and jet engines. By the time he retired, the company derived much of its profit from GE Capital, which was essentially a giant unregulated bank. Mr. Welch called it “the blob” — it was an amorphous, ever-changing collection of financial assets, capable of delivering whatever adjustments were most advantageous to the parent company in a moment’s notice.

The term for this is fraud.


Mr. Welch denied that GE Capital was employed as a tool to keep the company’s stock price rising. “We managed businesses — not earnings,” he once said. But his own deputies told a different story, acknowledging that the finance division was used to keep the stock price ticking up.

“There was very little transparency,” said Beth Comstock, a longtime G.E. marketing executive. “G.E. had a financial army that was able to close the quarter the way we’d said we would.”

Mr. Welch was never called to account for this questionable financial engineering while he was C.E.O. But in 2009, G.E. announced that it had settled sweeping accounting fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission that pointed to decades of impropriety.

"Impropriety," my ass.  This was fraud.


This wasn’t a one-off anomaly, as the S.E.C. made clear. Distorting earnings was a well established practice inside the company. In its complaint, the S.E.C. took pains to note that G.E. met or beat analyst expectations every quarter from 1995 through 2004.


The roaring success Mr. Welch found at G.E. inspired countless imitators, as an entire generation of managers sought to emulate his techniques, his growth strategies and his values. And in G.E., Mr. Welch had the perfect apparatus to disseminate his ideology.

For the better part of a century, G.E. was the most influential company in the country when it came to organizational design and executive development.

Bernie Madoff levels of consistency, as is described in the article they cheated in order to, "Beat analysts’ estimates for nearly 80 quarters in a row.

And what were the consequences of this?  More fraud and incompetence at other companies:


For a time in the early 2000s, five of the top 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average were run by men who had worked for Mr. Welch. “That’s why they got hired,” said William Conaty, G.E.’s longtime chief of human resources. “Because they had the playbook. They had the G.E. tool kit. And boards back then thought that was the answer.”


The Welch protégés who struck out on their own rarely fared well. At Home Depot, Albertson’s, Conseco, Stanley Works and many other companies, the same story seemed to repeat itself ad infinitum.

A G.E. executive was named C.E.O. of another company. News of the appointment sent the stock of that company soaring. The incoming leaders were lavished with riches when they took their new jobs, signing multimillion-dollar contracts that ensured them a gilded retirement, no matter how well they performed. A period of job cuts usually ensued, and profits sometimes rose for a few quarters, or even a few years. But inevitably, morale cratered, the business wobbled, the stock price sank and the Welch disciple was sent packing.


More than any company besides G.E., it was Boeing that was most directly shaped by Mr. Welch.

Over the past 25 years, a succession of men who worked for Mr. Welch refashioned the airplane maker’s culture to resemble G.E.’s, transforming a company that once made a priority of aeronautical engineering into one that thrived on financial engineering.

As I have noted before Boeing can't make aircraft any more

The same could be said for much of American industry, which is one reason while transnational supply chains breaking down has had such a devastating effect on the economy.

Heck of a legacy.  

"Neutron" Jack is to decent corporate governance as Mary Mallon is to the catering industry.

22 May 2022

This Explains A Lot

I have had a hard time understanding British politics, but this makes things much clearer.

Fact: Prince Charles claims to be a descendant of Vlad the Impaler.

It's enough to make someone a (small r) republican.

Least Surprising News of the Day

The latest CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) conference was held in Hungary, and it hosted Hungarian talk show host Zsolt Bayer as a speaker.

Bayer is a racist and anti-Semitic Magyar nationalist.

Come to think of it, this is remarkably consistent branding:

A notorious Hungarian racist who has called Jews “stinking excrement”, referred to Roma as “animals” and used racial epithets to describe Black people, was a featured speaker at a major gathering of US Republicans in Budapest.

Zsolt Bayer took the stage at the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Hungary, a convention that also featured speeches from Donald Trump, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

The last featured speaker of the conference was Jack Posobiec, a far-right US blogger who has used antisemitic symbols and promoted the fabricated “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory smearing prominent Democrats as pedophiles.

Bayer, a television talkshow host in Hungary, has been widely denounced for his racism. During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, he wrote on his blog: “Is this the future? Kissing the dirty boots of fucking [racist epithet] and smiling at them? Being happy about this? Because otherwise they’ll kill you or beat you up?”

In 2011, he used the phrase “stinking excrement” to refer generically to Jews in England, and in 2013 wrote: “a significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals and they behave like animals.”

This is my shocked face: 

Hoocoodanode that racist Republicans would bring in racist speakers at their racist Konklave?

Finally, a Story with a Happy Ending

Remember, Christian Cooper?

He was a bird watcher who confronted a woman for allowing her dog to run unleashed in an area of Central Park where it was forbidden, and the woman Amy Cooper (no relation) called the cops and told them that a black man was threatening her.

Video of the, "Central Park Karen," as she became known, went viral, and she lost her job and was charged with making a false police report.

Well Christian Cooper has now been hired by the National Geographic channel:

Christian Cooper, the bird-watching Black man who was the target of false accusations during an encounter in New York City's Central Park in 2020, has a new TV show airing on National Geographic.

The channel announced this week that Cooper, a lifelong bird-watcher, will host a series called Extraordinary Birder. In the series, Cooper will take viewers into the "wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds," according to National Geographic.

"Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above," the network said in a statement.

The channel has yet to announce a premiere date for the show.

In an interview with The New York Times, Cooper said his love for bird-watching began at age 10, and he told the newspaper he "was all in" when National Geographic approached him about the possibility of a TV show nearly a year and a half ago.

"I love spreading the gospel of birding," he said in the Times interview.

The good guy won this time.

21 May 2022

Drip, Drip, Drip

I've always viewed Elon Musk as an abusive fraud.

  • PayPal was an exercise in regulatory arbitrage, not innovation in either finance of technology
  • Tesla does a very bad job of making cars.  (Injury rates and fit and finish are the worst in the industry)
  • His tunnel mass transit proposals don't work.
  • He has engaged in blatant and illegal stock manipulation. 
  • Extensive self dealing in his financial transactions.  (The Tesla bailout of SolarCity)

Also, his behavior both as a boss and as a human being have been abusive, whether it be his tolerance of racism at Tesla, his extensive use of NDAs to silence his critics, etc.

Now, we have reports that Elon Musk sexually assaulted a stewardess on his private jet.

Color me unsurprised, though, given Musk's reputation for savage retribution, I am surprised that this came out:

SpaceX, the aerospace firm founded by Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest man, paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018, Insider has learned.

The attendant worked as a member of the cabin crew on a contract basis for SpaceX's corporate jet fleet. She accused Musk of exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage, according to interviews and documents obtained by Insider.

The incident, which took place in 2016, is alleged in a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant and prepared in support of her claim. The details in this story are drawn from the declaration as well as other documents, including email correspondence and other records shared with Insider by the friend.

The next paragraph strongly indicates that this was not an isolated incident, and that Musk had exploited his company to facilitate his sexual predation:

According to the declaration, the attendant confided to the friend that after taking the flight attendant job, she was encouraged to get licensed as a masseuse so that she could give Musk massages. It was during one such massage in a private cabin on Musk's Gulfstream G650ER, she told the friend, that Musk propositioned her.

So, they asked her to get certified as a masseuse on her own dime.  Everyone involved in the operation of his $70 million jet has to be aware of this, or they would not have asked his victim to get massage lessons.


The flight attendant told her friend that the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder asked her to come to his room during a flight in late 2016 "for a full body massage," the declaration says. When she arrived, the attendant found that Musk "was completely naked except for a sheet covering the lower half of his body." During the massage, the declaration says, Musk "exposed his genitals" and then "touched her and offered to buy her a horse if she would 'do more,' referring to the performance of sex acts." 

Really classy, Elon.

SpaceX places a special emphasis on massages, going so far as to employ in-house massage therapists as a perk for executives. According to the friend, the flight attendant was encouraged by her superiors to purchase her own professional massage training for her sessions with Musk.

"They encouraged her to get licensed as a masseuse, but on her own time, on her own dime," the friend said. "They implied that she would get to fly more often if she were to do this because she'd be able to give Elon proper massages. I thought that was kind of strange because — you weren't hired to be a masseuse. You were hired to be a flight attendant. And if Elon likes massages, then he should be paying for you to go to masseuse school. But she was just so happy and eager to have the job and be able to travel."

In 2018, after becoming convinced that her refusal to accept Musk's proposal had diminished her opportunities at SpaceX, the attendant hired a California employment lawyer and sent a complaint to the company's human resources department detailing the episode. Around that time, the attorney's firm contacted the friend and asked her to prepare the declaration corroborating the claims.

The attendant's complaint was resolved quickly after a session with a mediator that Musk personally attended. The matter never reached a court of law or an arbitration proceeding. In November 2018, Musk, SpaceX and the flight attendant entered into a severance agreement granting the attendant a $250,000 payment in exchange for a promise not to sue over the claims.

The agreement also included restrictive non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses that bar the attendant from ever discussing the severance payment or disclosing any information of any kind about Musk and his businesses, including SpaceX and Tesla.

You know, for someone who says that they favor free speech, Musk seems to love NDAs to prevent people from talking about him.

Given numerous other reports about his personal behavior, including a truly essay about his bizarre behavior from his first wife, I am inclined to believe that this is true.

Normally, I Do Not Approve of Pranks Involving Firearms

But I am impressed at both the sense of humor and the mad shooting skilz of whoever did this in Kingsland, Arkansas:

The alleged shooter looks exactly as I imagined, and the local constabulary has arrested Timothy Sled and charged with multiple crimes, which is fight and proper.

What he did was vandalism of public property, and the repairs will cost a rather significant amount of money for a town of only 514 residents.

Still, it is funny as hell:

Deputies have released the identity of the man who they said shot the Kingsland, Arkansas, water tower, springing a leak and bringing a national spotlight onto the birthplace of Johnny Cash.

According to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, Timothy Sled of Kingsland is facing two felony charges tied to the vandalism, which caused a leak in the tower in a spot where a silhouette of the music legend was, making it look as though the Man in Black was relieving himself.

Deputies said Sled, 38, could face up to $20,000 in fines and 16 years in prison for the incident.

Repair work to patch the leak started Wednesday, Mayor Luke Neal said. The spray had been costing Kingsland $200 a day in losses, and repairs were expected to cost more than $5,000, great expenses for a small town of only 514 residents.

16 years and $20,000.00, huh?  That's a lot to do for the lulz, "I shot a man in Kingsland, just to watch him pee."