17 August 2022

People that I Neither Respect nor Support

One such person Liz Cheney, whose lopsided primary loss to Harriet Hageman has the "Very Serious People" expressing their unhappiness.

They are both awful people who have pursued policies that are bad for America and the world.

That Liz Cheney was right once in her life does not mean that her lionization is justified.

As to her opposing Donald Trump's coup attempt, to quote comedian Chris Rock. "Yhat’s what you’re supposed to do."

She should no more subject to adulation for this behavior than I should be for not baking my cats into pies.

In other election results, it appears there was an upset in the special election to replace the late Don Young in Alaska, with Democrat Mary Peltola likely to win the race to fill the last few months of Young's term.  She was likely helped in this by being the only Democrat in a race with 22 candidates.

For the next term, her success is less likely, as the top 4 primary vote getters, her, Sarah Palin (how I long for the day when I can add her to my list of They Who Must Not Be Named), Nick Begich III, and Tara Sweeney will compete in a ranked choice vote general election.

As to Lisa Murkowski, and what will likely be a tight race with Republican Kelly Tshibaka, the 2nd paragraph of this post applies to Ms. Murkowski as well.

16 August 2022

This is Their Definition of Success

We're now find that since Brexit, immigration from the EU to the UK has plummeted.

The good folks at the Grauniad treat this as another catastrophe that serves as an example of how the campaigners to leave the European Union have failed to deliver.

To put it mildly, the pro Brexit forces have not covered themselves with glory at any stage of this enterprise, but this counts as delivering on one of their promises.

This is a success by the Brexiteers standards.  This is something that they actively promised would be a direct consequence of disaffiliating from Brussels.

The number of EU citizens moving to the UK has plunged since Brexit closed the doors to low-paid workers, according to a report.

The dramatic decline in migration from the EU has hit hospitality and support services hard. But the Migration Observatory (MO) at the University of Oxford and ReWage, a group of independent experts, have said that while Brexit “exacerbated” chronic labour shortages in Britain, it was not the only cause.

Data shows that just 43,000 EU citizens received visas for work, family, study or other purposes in 2021, a fraction of the 230,000 to 430,000 EU citizens coming to the UK a year in the six years to March 2020, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates.

Of those who migrated – as opposed to travelling for business or pleasure – to the UK in 2021, EU citizens accounted for just 5% of the number of visas issued. “The figures available so far are therefore consistent with the possibility of a large decline in EU immigration,” says the report, titled “The end of free movement and the low-wage labour force in the UK”.

What they are saying here is that the they has a sad because they cannot use low wage immigrants to keep down wages.  It's called labor arbitrage, and it is a major contributor to corruption and inequality.

Brexit has been a bismol in this managed by its supporters, but what is going on here is an example of things going as planned.

Posted via mobile.

Seriously?

After its IPO imploded in one of the most spectacular failures since Juiciero, I kind of figured that Adam Neumann's days of being a darling or the venture capital crowd was over.

To quote Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, "I was misinformed."  It appears that the "Geniuses" at Andreeson Horowitz have decided that Neumann's latest meth addled fever dream is a good place to put their money.

How could anyone in their right mind do this?  Unless your goal was to ensnare unsophisticated rubes and cash out before the bezzle collapses, what possible reason ……… Oh, now I get it:

Venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is investing in Flow, a real-estate startup led by former WeWork executive and co-founder Adam Neumann.

The firm, known as a16z, is investing $350 million in Flow at a valuation above $1 billion, said a person familiar with the matter, making it one of the largest-ever investments for an early-stage startup. Flow was founded earlier this year.

Co-founder Marc Andreessen said in a blog post that Flow would seek to address problems in the rental-housing market, which he described as the inability for renters to own equity in their homes and a lack of social bonding between neighbors.

Mr. Neumann previously tried to reinvent work by adding a vibrant social community to shared office space as chief executive of WeWork. The company soared to a $47 billion valuation before pulling its planned public listing in 2019 amid mounting concerns over its financial state and Mr. Neumann’s management style. WeWork went public in October and is now trading at a market capitalization of $4 billion.

This is EXACTLY the same scam that Neumann ran at WeWork, jump into an existing and mature market, but use new age bullsh%$, such as WeWork's vegan only snacks and kombucha, to secure enough VC money to monopolize the space, and then change monopoly rents.

………

In a July trademark-application filing, an entity affiliated with Flow described its services as including cryptocurrency trading, providing an online social-networking platform, real-estate development, and temporary accommodations. It couldn’t be determined how Flow plans to incorporate cryptocurrency into its business.

As if it could not be any more obvious that this is a transparent fraud, they are adding cryptocurrency to the mix.

If we had meaningful fraud and RICO enforcement against the Banksters, Andreeson and Horowitz would both be making license plates in prison, because they have been doing the same pump and dump fraud for decades..

On Travel

Work is sending me to New Hampshire go a few days.

No more detail about what I am doing, because I do NOT blog about work.

I'm flying Southwest into Manchester.

Posted via mobile.

15 August 2022

Good

It appears that investors are losing their minds over a new law in Sierra Leone will allow local communities to have a veto of projects which steal their lands and poison them.

Good.

The current Neoliberal international economic model is little more than abusive colonialism with plausible deniability:

It is a struggle that communities across the world have faced: stopping companies from grabbing their lands, polluting their environment and forcing them to relocate.

When a major investor sees an opportunity to profit from a mine or large-scale agriculture, long-established ways of life, and even land ownership rights, often prove to mean little.
 
But in one West African country, Sierra Leone, the rules of such struggles may be about to change drastically.

Under new laws passed this week, companies operating in Sierra Leone will have to obtain the express consent of local communities before starting mining, industrial or farming activities. Residents owning land will be able to veto any project affecting it. And the government will have to help pay for any legal fees that the local communities incur in negotiations — meaning it will most likely finance legal expertise used against the companies.

Environmental and land rights experts have hailed the laws as a bold step for the nation of eight million people, which remains among the world’s poorest despite extensive natural resources, and even as intensive mining and palm oil and sugar cane plantations have led to deforestation, landslides and soil erosion.

………

The legislation has also generated pushback, with companies warning that it would hamper any new land development. At least one significant investor said that he would not attempt new projects in Sierra Leone because of one of the new laws.

Transnational investors basically arguing that if they cannot steal from the local population, taking their land, their clean water, and their health, it would be bad for business.

To quote Emilio Estevez in Repo Man, "F%$# that."

Nonprofits and international organizations have long fought to force governments and businesses to seek consent from local populations before starting large-scale projects, with Latin and Central American countries at the forefront of this fight.

And rather unsurprisingly, Latin and Central American countries have been subject to repeated coup and regime change efforts sponsored by countries where these investors come from.

………

Mr. Conteh, the legal expert at [legal nonprofit] Namati, said that until now families could easily be dispossessed of their lands, either because they had little proof of ownership, or because companies would strike deals with intermediaries.

………

Some firms have also criticized the legislation. Gerben Haringsma, the country director for Sierra Leone at Socfin, a Luxembourg-based company that has grown palm oil in the country for a decade and has faced accusations of land grabs, argued that the laws would make new large-scale investments in agriculture impossible.

The thief complains when theft is made illegal.

Destroying Public Health

This was a forseeable response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court's corrupt and partisan decision is going to kill a lot of people.

Quote of the Day

In response to my mentioning Elon Musk's admission that his "Hyperloop" project was just a ploy to destroy California's high speed rail project, my son Charlie, who is on the Autism spectrum, replied:

Elon Musk, you f%$#ing killed a rail project, and claim to be autistic?

You lying liar!

(I may have left off a few F-Bombs here)

Needless to say, I do not normally endorse the stereotyping of any group, but in this case, the stereotyping is being done by a member of the group, and it was funny as hell, AND Charlie gave me permission to quote him.

I'm not on the spectrum myself, (Sharon* who is a special education professional, asserts otherwise, but I do not have a formal diagnosis) but this is funny as f%$#.

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

Linkage

 

Cat Engineer is a job I want to have:

14 August 2022

Light Posting Tonite

 I am at an urgent care place having Sharon evaluated following a car accident.

She seems fine, but the same cannot be said about her car.

Posted via mobile

13 August 2022

Biden Has Been Very Good on This

While I have disappointed more often than not by Joe Biden, the people that he has hired to work antitrust and privacy are doing some good work.

Case in point, the aggressive actions by Lina Khan as Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are a major shift by the previously somnolescent organization.

This time, they are going after the stalker-capitalists:

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it would begin considering new federal rules to expand online privacy protections by targeting online surveillance and lax data-security practices by technology companies.

The FTC’s action, on a 3-2 vote divided along partisan lines, spurred immediate criticism that the agency is taking on a role better suited for Congress. If adopted, the rules could impose significant new responsibilities on businesses that handle consumer data, including potentially barring certain kinds of data collection and handling practices.

Of course it was a party line vote.

“Firms now collect personal data on individuals at a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts,” FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan said in announcing the action. “Our goal today is to begin building a robust public record to inform whether the FTC should issue rules to address commercial surveillance and data security practices and what those rules should potentially look like.”

The move is the latest indication of the five-member commission’s more aggressive approach under Ms. Khan, a Democrat who has been a vocal critic of big business, particularly large technology companies.

Her criticism is not of big businesses, it is of monopolistic businesses.

………

The FTC said it would be examining a range of concerns about the online environment, including the widespread use of algorithms to manipulate and leverage data, security practices that leave data vulnerable to hackers, and the growing evidence that some platforms might be “addictive to children and lead to a wide variety of mental health and social harms.”

The FTC also is expected to examine possible discriminatory effects of algorithms based on legally protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion and age, the agency said. It also suggested it would examine tactics companies use to coerce consumers into sharing their data.

………

The FTC’s action opens up a public comment period on the issue. Any rule could take years to enact.

Ms. Khan has made a number of moves to lay the groundwork for potential rule-making since taking office last year, including by voting with the FTC’s two other Democrats to change internal procedures to expand her control over the rule-writing process.

Early in his term, President Biden ordered the FTC to look at writing competition rules in a number of areas, including “unfair data collection and surveillance practices that may damage competition, consumer autonomy, and consumer privacy.”

This, along with similar actions is a very good thing.  

I would hope that these new, and desperately needed, changes to regulatory philosophy remain in force long enough to both change the culture of the regulatory organizations and to remake the economy in a freer and fairer way.

Well, That's a Damn Shame

5 weeks after an Italian auto executive took delivery of a £20 million super-yacht, it caught fire, and appears to be a write off.

Thankfully, the 7 crew and 9 passengers were evacuated without injury. 

Am a bad person because the destruction of a multi-million pound toy of some overpaid executive makes me smile?

To quote Descartes last words, "I think Not."

A brand-new £20m superyacht has been destroyed by fire in the Balearics weeks after it was delivered to its multimillionaire owner, the Italian car industry boss Paolo Scudieri.

The 43.7-metre Aria SF caught fire on Thursday afternoon while anchored at Cala Saona, on the west coast of Formentera, according to Salvamento Marítimo, the Spanish sea search and rescue agency.

Seven crew members and nine passengers on the ship were unharmed and evacuated to other boats nearby, but the Aria is thought to be unsalvageable. The cause and origin of the fire are as yet unknown. The yacht will be towed to Ibiza later on Friday.

The yacht, which had a gym and a pool and could accommodate up to 10 guests across five staterooms, was delivered to Scudieri late last month.

………

Scudieri, the president of Adler-Hp Pelzer Group, an automotive parts supplier, is estimated to have built up a $500m fortune. He owns a Ferrari that he races in the Ferrari Challenge, a race series for Ferrari owners.
I am amused.

I Hate Microsoft Updates

 45 minutes waiting after booting up for it to finish.

12 August 2022

Another Labor Data Point

For the first time in more than 3 decades, reporters at Reuters have gone on strike.

As journalism has moved from a craft to a college educated profession, at least in their own minds, reporters have become less supportive of labor, and less inclined towards labor activism.

This is a big change:

Reuters on Wednesday alerted customers that its U.S. journalists planned to go on strike in response to ongoing contract negotiations between management and the NewsGuild, which represents its unionized staff.

Why it matters: It's the first time in over 30 years that Reuters' unionized staff have prepared a strike over contract negotiations, per the NewsGuild.

Details: Nearly 300 Reuters journalists are walking off the job for 24 hours on Thursday "in protest of management's slow-walking contract renewal negotiations," according to a statement from the NewsGuild.

There is a greater significance to this:

  • The unions are becoming more aggressive and less tolerant of management delays.
  • Workers who used to think of themselves as professionals, and so not the sort to go on strike or picket have realized that this is not true.
  • The end of worker loyalty to their employers.  They now realize that if they take care of the job, their bosses will not take care of them.

I've always wondered what would happen when employers could no longer strip-mine employees loyalty.  It looks like we are about to find out.

An Explanation for Folks Who Have Played the RPG Paranoia

It appears that some of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago were Sensitive Compartmented Information. (SCI)

This is a big deal.  This is a couple of steps above Top Secret.

Think of it as, "Ultraviolet Clearance," from the game role playing game Paranoia on steroids.

(on edit)

The computer is your friend.

Word of the Day

Have you heard about, "Splooting?"

It is a behavior engaged in by some wild animals. They splay themselves on the ground to stay cool during hot weather.

It’s baking hot in New York, which can only mean one thing for the city’s small mammal population: it’s splooting season.

This week, with temperatures reaching 95F (35C), the city’s parks department urged residents not to worry about the health of squirrels seen sprawling on the ground, legs extended behind them like a person whose arms gave out halfway through a yoga class. “On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat,” the department tweeted.

Perhaps even more remarkable than the phenomenon itself was the word the government agency used. Splooting? Is that a real thing?

The science certainly is. Squirrels’ bellies have less fur than other parts of their bodies, so splooting helps them cool down, says Dan Blumstein, a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. It’s a popular trick among mammals, including the marmots he studies, which “on hot days will lie on rocks as it gets hot, because the boulders are still cooler”, he says.

………

Grant Barrett, a lexicographer and co-host of the radio show A Way With Words, explains that the term comes from Doggo language, a form of canine-inspired internet-speak that has grown into its own tongue. Typically appearing on social media with pictures of dogs, the language features an array of cutesy words including “bork” (a version of “bark”), “mlem” (a kind of tongue movement) and “pupperino” (self-explanatory).

While I have made a lot of various German compound words, "Backpfeifengesicht," is a classic, the English language, has its own marvelous idiosyncrasies.

11 August 2022

Time for the Thursday Economic Update

And, wouldn't you know it, initial unemployment claims rose to their highest level in 2022, up to 262,000, and the US Producer Price Index (PPI) fell to the lowest level since October, down to 9.8% year over year and down ½% for the month.

If the Fed were not hell bent on making the world safe for useless rich people, they might consider a pause in their rate hikes.

Me, I still think that they are going to raise rates by 75 basis points (¾%) at their next meeting.

U.S. workers’ filings for unemployment benefits edged up last week, reaching their highest level so far this year.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 last week from a revised 248,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The weekly number has been on an upward trend since reaching a 50-year low in March.

Last week’s total was slightly above the prior 2022 peak set in July of 261,000 and was above the 2019 weekly average of 218,000.
And
U.S. suppliers raised prices in July at the slowest annual pace since last fall as energy costs dropped, adding to signs price pressures in the economy have eased slightly.

The producer-price index, which generally reflects supply conditions in the economy, increased by 9.8% annually in July, the smallest annual rise since October 2021’s 8.9% increase, the Labor Department said Thursday. Producer prices climbed 11.3% in June from a year earlier.

Producer prices decreased a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in July from the prior month, down sharply from June and the first decline since April 2020, when the pandemic drove the U.S. economy into a short, deep recession.

The PPI report comes a day after the Labor Department said consumer prices rose 8.5% in July from the same month a year ago, down from a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. Taken together, the latest price data suggest that inflation pressures could be easing.

262K initial claims is not a horrible number, it was pretty typical in the before times, and the decrease in both consumer and producer inflation is good news.

The Fed, of course, is a servant of capital, so it will continue to try to beat down labor.

Too Expensive

I mean seriously.  Who would pay ¼ million dollars just to shoot John Bolton?

OK, who apart from about ⅔ of his former cow-orkers would even consider paying ¼ million dollars just to shoot John Bolton?

What's more, paying the money to the  Islamic Republic of Iran, or the their Republican Guard is EXTREMELY difficult due to sanctions.

How could they possibly expect to get any takers for this offer. 

………

Wait

………

They are paying the would be contract killer, not the other way around?

Damn, the line of applicants will be longer than that for the opening to be Katy Perry's boob adjuster:

The Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on Wednesday with planning to assassinate John R. Bolton, who served as the national security adviser to President Donald J. Trump, as payback for the killing of a senior Iranian official.

The charging document, filed in federal court, read like the synopsis of an international espionage novel — but the scheme, had it been carried out, would have resulted in the murder of a prominent American critic of the government in Tehran, and the plot’s disclosure has further jolted an already shaky relationship between the United States and Iran at a critical moment in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

………

The accused plotter, Shahram Poursafi, 45, is not in custody and remains at large, presumably in Iran. Pictures purporting to be Mr. Poursafi show a man with fashionable glasses, wearing Revolutionary Guards fatigues or clad in stylish Western-style clothes.

………

It was a ruse, prosecutors said. Mr. Poursafi was working on behalf of his government to recruit a network to murder Mr. Bolton, likely in retaliation for the United States military’s killing in January 2020 of Qassim Suleimani, the top commander of the Revolutionary Guards, a branch of Iran’s military that is a power base for the country’s ruling military and political elites, officials said in the court filing.

………

By November, Mr. Poursafi had been introduced to several other Americans on an encrypted messaging platform, and made a stunning offer to one of them, the person who turned out to be the informant: He would pay $250,000 to “eliminate” Mr. Bolton, who had left the White House in late 2019 after a tumultuous year-and-a-half tenure.

One of the things that officials in the United States seem to forget is that in the United States, where guns are plentiful and easy to get, and our society has relatively free travel, is that they are even more exposed than the political leaders they so glibly try to whack.

This has never been good policy.

10 August 2022

Boycott Amy's Kitchen

In response to unionization activities, Amy's Kitchen has engaged in a vociferous anti-union campaign, which has culminated in their shuttering their San Jose factory in response to workers unionizing.

Organic frozen food company Amy’s Kitchen dealt workers another blow in an ongoing series of retaliatory actions in response to workers’ demands for safer conditions, fair pay, and a union. Last month, Amy’s Kitchen announced the abrupt and unexpected closure of its San Jose, California, facility, whose workers have been organizing with Unite Here, a union representing approximately 300,000 workers in Canada and the U.S. Workers at Amy’s Kitchen have been organizing since the start of the year and say that the company has shown a pattern of retaliation, including firing a worker after he spoke to management about his concerns, a lack of bathroom breaks, and penalties for sick days. Now, the company has escalated their union-busting and shut down an entire facility, resulting in over 300 workers losing their jobs.

………

Employees at the manufacturing headquarters in Santa Rosa have also experienced safety concerns. Over the last decade, the Department of Labor’s Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined the company more than $100,000 to settle federal health and safety violations at the California location, with additional incidents at the Oregon and Idaho locations. Complaints have detailed workers getting their fingers or pieces of their fingers amputated by machinery, and others describe an employee fracturing their hip while tripping over a forklift. Most recently, workers filed a safety complaint that was opened by Cal/OSHA on Jan. 26 of this year saying they have not been given access to the bathroom or drinking water during shifts. After multiple requests to their managers for better working conditions went unheeded, they filed the complaint.

Workers have been keen to point out the incongruity between Amy’s Kitchen’s public image as a socially responsible brand that uses organic ingredients and the inhumane treatment of their workers. Grocers and co-ops have been showing solidarity with the workers and are boycotting Amy’s Kitchen products. Rosa, likewise, said she hopes Amy’s consumers will boycott the products in support of the worker’s unionizing efforts.

According to Tho Do, Northern California Organizing Director at Unite Here, the company performed union-busting activities including requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings, disciplining employees for participation in labor activities, and firing two employees for supporting the union. Unite Here is seeking a temporary injunction to stop the alleged practices.

There is a special place in hell for hypocrites who claim to be making the world a better place, and sh%$ can it all when it becomes inconvenient.

F%$# them.

A Podcast Recommendation

I've been listening to Keith Olbermann's new Countdown podcast, and it's pretty good.

The first episode was a bit weak.  Unsurprisingly, it was too self-referential, but subsequent episodes, particularly his homage to Baseball sportscaster Vin Scully, are pretty good.

It's the same formula  as the original show, plus some dishing on his days on MSNBC and ESPN.

I pop it in for my commute.

I do wish that it was not distributed by the rat-f%$#s at the the criminal enterprise formerly known as Clear Channel Communications™ though.

No interviews yet.

Better than Jon Stewart or Trevor Noah

I am referring, of course, to John Oliver, whose take down of Alex Jones is simply epic.

Stewart was always too deeply into both-siderism, and Noah, while freer about his opinions, does not go deeply enought into the topics.

Oliver kicks ass and takes names:


You can watch him on Youtube, if, as I do, you do not have HBO Max.

Cue Inspector Renault


I'm shocked! Shocked! To find that gambling is going on this establishment!
Your winnings, sir.


So, the 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh was a all a charade directed by Donald Trump and his Evil Minions™

The Trump administration micro-managed the investigation, studiously avoiding things like allegations of sexual misconduct and serious financial irregularities. (6 figures of debt mysteriously vanished shortly before his nomination was announced)

Back when then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was undergoing his Senate confirmation hearing in 2018, the FBI set up a tip line to field information regarding the mounting sexual assault and misconduct claims piling up against him.

We already knew that the FBI didn’t investigate a number of these tips, even those made first-hand by the accusers themselves. We’ve known from the start that the “investigation” that laid a clear path to Kavanaugh’s confirmation was a total sham. But I guess there’s something comforting about finally hearing it confirmed by the head of the FBI himself.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, has been hounding FBI Director Christopher Wray about the investigation process for years. He raised questions about the tip line and what was done with that information in 2019. In March of 2021, he sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking the Department of Justice to investigate the investigation, which he called “fake.”

This week, Whitehouse finally got Wray—who somehow still has his job—to admit that the FBI did not investigate the tips that came in. Rather, they “reviewed” them, but only to separate out the relevant ones about Kavanaugh. They then sent those tips to the Trump White House, to do with whatever they pleased, which definitely didn’t include any sort of investigation.

Yes, why does Christopher Wray still have a job? 

He's been covering this up for years, and this is a legitimate reason to kick is sorry ass to the street.

Quote of the Day

The money produced by art has not disappeared. The issue is not that the people of the world value television less than they did in the 1990s. The reality is that the people with the most money have devised, at every turn, new and more bulletproof ways for them to make and keep more money, and for the people who make things to make less. This is the eternal story of labor and management; it just has hot people in it, in this case.
—Kelsey McKinney at The Defector

This grows out of a discussion of the precarity of the financial situation of Emmy nominated actress Sydney Sweeney, despite her being the latest, "Big thing," finds her financial situation uncertain.

There is, of course, more money than ever going into entertainment, it's just that the parasites, managers, executives, brothers-in-law of the executives, are extracting a greater proportion of the product of their workers than ever:

………

In 2021, Endeavor mogul Ari Emanuel made $293.7 million in stock awards. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav made $246.6 million in total pay. Disney Chairperson Bob Iger took home $45.9 million. Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings made $38.2 million; his co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, also made $38.2 million. I do not care that some of this money was made in “options” or “bonuses” or the other kinds of ways that rich people hide how they pay themselves. That’s how much they made; that much money, which might have gone anywhere and to anyone in the way that money does, instead wound up stopping with them.

………

But Sweeney isn’t one of those people. She comes from a family that could not afford to financially support her at all when she finished school. She will not have the luxury of relaxing as her inheritance pours in. Everyone deserves to be able to take six months off to have a baby. Everyone. The fact that Sydney Sweeney cannot is a reminder that the reason American workers do not have paid family leave is also the reason each generation has more nepotism babies than the last. We do not tax rich people enough and they do not pay their fair share; the fact of that, over decades, has intruded upon and warped every aspect of American life. Sweeney has to work, like everyone else, and has to do so for whatever she can get, and she has to do it knowing that what reaches her was the absolute minimum figure that people who are paid much more than her had determined that she would be willing to take. She’s not alone.

The money paid to Sydney Sweeney is for a service which has value.  The amount of money paid to Emanuel, Zaslay, Iger, or Hastings is completely out of proportion to the value that they provide.

There is a f%$# load of dead weight in our system, and it is not that kid delivering pizzas or that home health aid changing sheets.

The Latest Inflation Numbers are Out

Inflation fell by more than expected to 8.5% year over year.

In fact, driven by the rapid decline in gas prices, consumer prices actually fell marginally in the month of July:

The pace of price increases slowed in July as energy costs dropped, pulling annual U.S. inflation down slightly from a four-decade high.

The Labor Department on Wednesday said the consumer-price index, a measure of what consumers pay for goods and services, rose 8.5% in July from the same month a year ago, down from 9.1% in June. June marked the fastest pace of inflation since November 1981.

On a monthly basis, the CPI was flat in July after rising for 25 consecutive months, the result of falling energy prices such as gasoline. Core CPI, which excludes often volatile energy and food prices, eased to 0.3% last month, down sharply from June’s 0.7% gain.

………

The average national price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fell to $4.00 on Wednesday, more than $1 cheaper than in mid-June but still higher than a year ago, according to OPIS, an energy-data and analytics provider owned by Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Food prices could moderate in coming months as supply improvements filter through to consumers, Mr. Bethune said. “For the things that really eat a hole in our pockets, gasoline and food, we’ve seen the turning point in gasoline and I think we’re on the cusp of some declines in food.”

Of course, this won't stop the Federal Reserve from raising rate, because they want to put an end to wage increases and increased unionization, because worker power is always the problem.

09 August 2022

Fact Checker, My Ass

Remember when Washington Post "Fact Checker" Glenn Kessler listed the report of a 10 year old rape victim being forced to leave the state of Ohio in order to get a potentially life-saving abortion?

Kessler did his "Due Diligence", and implied that the doctor was not to be trusted, because, it was only one doctor, and that when he contacted child welfare agencies across the state, "None of the officials we reached were aware of such a case in their areas," and, when the truth came out, he added the correction, "Unlike similar Ohio county agencies we contacted, Franklin County officials did not offer a response."

It appears that Kessler sees it as his mission to fight against the perception that,  most succinctly stated by Stephen Colbert, that, "Reality has a well known liberal bias," which is an odd position for a fact checker to hold, but he is what he is.

His debunking turned out to be wrong.  The alleged rapist was charged, and all the circumstances, including the necessary regulatory filings were confirmed, so the story was true.

What is important here is the, "None of the officials we reached were aware of such a case in their areas," quote, because he made that up. It is flat out fabulism. 

Over at The Lever, Andrew Perez, dug a little bit, and by dint of freedom of information act requests, got the email exchange between Kessler and the Franklin County Children Service DID respond to Kessler's inquiries, and noted that, "Their agency could not comment on specific cases, because this information is treated as confidential under Ohio law."

So basically, Kessler made up the quotes, and non-quotes in his column.

Given his previous history:

  • He called Bernie Sanders' statement that there were millions of Americans working two jobs false because it was only 8 million Americans, which is only about 5% of the workforce. (WTF?)
  • That a Republican plan to privatize Medicare did not end Medicare as we know it, because it kept the name.
  • Claiming that Bernie Sanders (Yeah, he has an issue with Bernie) statement that there are over ½ million bankruptcies a year caused by medical issues is false, because the study cited was not peer reviewed.
  • Claiming that the Sander's statement that the Trump tax cuts overwhelmingly benefited the rich and large corporations was false, contradicting the Post's own reporting.

It appears that there is a pattern of dissembling in order to promulgate a right of center viewpoint.

Still, I would note that this latest case is particularly egregious.

This is not just a hack pundit tying themselves in knots to support their own preconceptions, this is a case where a complete, and almost certainly knowing, falsehood was published.

For this, and plagiarism, the response should be an immediate termination.

Pass the Popcorn

Over the past 24 hours, the FBI executed a search warrant on Donald Trumps residence in Mar-a-Lago, and The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the IRS must turn over Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Ways & Means Committee.

Needless to say, both of these, at least when executed against a former President* of the United States, are unprecedented.

As to the first, I do not believe that a violation of the Presidential Records Act would be sufficient to stage a raid.  If I had to venture a guess, it would be that some of the documents are being used to grease the skids of some sort of deal between Trump, or Jared Kushner, and some foreign entities, which would merit an unnanounced FBI raid, as opposed to some Library of Congress lawyers showing up to the front gate with a court order in a U-Haul.

As to the latter, the House Ways & Means Committee has the statutory right to request tax returns from anyone at any time, on the theory that since they write taxes, they are allowed to examine returns for loopholes and the like.

Of course, a detailed examination of Trump's taxes would undoubtedly reveal that the six times (twice thrice?) bankrupt real estate mogul is a crap-load poorer than he admits to.

I am intrigued.

*It's just an asterisk, no note.

It's a Watergate reference.

If Gordon Brown Does Not Shut Up, Someone Will Accuse Him of Being a Member of the Labour Party

Seriously, talking about poverty and inequality? 

I'm pretty sure that Kier Starmer will have former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown turfed out for saying, "Britain is creating a left-out generation of young boys and girls, without the cash to participate in what their friends are doing and whose childhoods are starting to resemble shameful scenes from a Dickens novel."

Labour does not do those things any more.

Boris Johnson and the Tory leadership candidates should agree an immediate emergency budget tackling the spiralling cost of living, Gordon Brown has said, or risk “condemning millions of vulnerable and blameless children and pensioners to a winter of dire poverty”.

………

“The reality is grim and undeniable: a financial timebomb will explode for families in October as a second round of fuel price rises in six months sends shock waves through every household and pushes millions over the edge,” Brown writes in Sunday’s Observer.

“The more the Conservative leadership election heats up, the more the remaining candidates have resorted to claiming the moral high ground. Raising debt is ‘immoral’, Rishi Sunak is saying. ‘High taxes are immoral,’ retorts Liz Truss. But there is nothing moral about indifferent leaders condemning millions of vulnerable and blameless children and pensioners to a winter of dire poverty.”

He adds: “Boris Johnson, Sunak and Truss must this week agree an emergency budget. If they do not, parliament should be recalled to force them to do so.”

It follows the Bank of England’s grim forecast last week that inflation will soar to 13% in October. There have also been predictions that UK energy bills could reach more than £3,600 a year this winter.

Given the fact that Starmer seems more interested in purging the party of people who do things like walk the picket lines and criticize him at meetings that he is at supporting, well, labor (with or without the "u"), what the hell is Gordon doing?

Tweet of the Day


We may not make anything in the US any more, and our entrepreneurial class is corrupt and incompetent, but credit where credit is due, the opportunities to sell out in the US remain unparalleled.

08 August 2022

It Seems That the Bloom Is off the Rose

One of the assets that Elon Musk has generally, and Tesla Motors has in particular, has been the willingness of the public, and regulators, to overlook the constant dissembling (lying) of Elon Musk about things like delivery schedules, price, capabilities, and the existence of his products, because he was seen as a visionary man of singular genius.

Some of these are merely annoying, (Tesla's poor build quality) some probably constitute securities fraud (demonstrating non-existent solar shingles), and some kill people, like Tesla's Autopilot and related self-driving features.

In the space of 3½ months, his behavior has led people to realize that they are not dealing with an, "Eccentric genius billionaire," but rather an, "Actually dangerously delusional  rich guy," 

All of this without his even pausing at, "Donning a superhero costume and pursuing criminals at night," which is a bit of a bummer, because I was hoping that he would be inspired by his first college mascot, and we would see him in an Oom Gert suit. 

More significant than seeing an electric version version of the Batmobile, is the fact that regulators are no longer blithely tolerating his deceptive business practices.

Case in point, after nearly a decade of lying about the capabilities and schedule of its self driving technology, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has filed complaints against Tesla and its dealer network for false adverting.

This should have happened years ago:

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) last month filed two complaints against Tesla alleging that the car marker violated state law by misrepresenting that its vehicles can drive autonomously.

The complaints [1, 2] [PDF] were filed with the Golden State' Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and allege that the company violated its manufacturer and dealer Occupational Licenses.

At least five times between May 28 and July 12 last year, the complaints assert, Tesla made misleading statements about its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) using terms like "Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving Capability," in conjunction with claims that the system can navigate to a destination "with no action required by the person in the driver's seat."

"Instead of simply identifying product or brand names, these 'Autopilot' and 'Full Self-Driving Capability' labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with the ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles," the complaints say.

………

Tesla has until the end of this week to respond by filing a Notice of Defense if the company wishes to challenge the accusations. Otherwise, the matter will be resolved by a default decision.

If Tesla chooses to respond, there will be discovery and response filings, leading to a hearing before an OAH administrative law judge. And if Tesla dislikes the result, it has the option to file an appeal in Superior Court.

………

In June, the US National Transportation and Highway Safety Administration expanded its investigation of Tesla's ADAS to an engineering analysis amid a broader inquiry into a dozen other automakers' ADAS systems that began last year.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the Feds are looking into this bit of humbug as well? (Nope, mentioned this 2 months ago, but then it was just the NTSB, which only gathers information, and now it is the NHTSA, which can issue regulations and assess penalties.)

Tesla dominates the numbers in driver assist involved crashes, even though they are a small fraction of the cars with advanced driver assistance programs.

As to whether this is an issue of their technology, Tesla has never used Lidar, and has now eschewed radar, or as a result of their overselling their capabilities, I'll leave it to the regulators.

In the interest of completeness though, it should be noted that Tesla appears to be engaging in deceptive practices to minimize the number of reported accidents:

………

The supposed absence of accidents during ADAS usage may be the result of intentional disengagement – automated systems disabling themselves moments before impact. NHTSA is looking into 16 accidents involving Autopilot in which Tesla vehicles struck parked emergency vehicles. In its report [PDF], the NHTSA said, "On average in these crashes, Autopilot aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact. "

This is not just fraud, it is murderous fraud, and applying the criminal justice to Tesla managers, including Musk, who have promulgated this should happen sooner rather than later.

Dad Humor

If I were more clever, I would have come up with this joke. (I wish)

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Whiny Bitches

I am referring to the San Diego Police Department, who has a sad because they will be required to reveal the technology that they use to spy on their citizens, because cops are always about, "Accountability for thee, but not for me."

They don't want any sort of civilian review of how they do their business, because the police believe that they should not be subject to any sort of accountability by the citizens whose taxes pay their salaries.

The term for what police want is a police state:

There’s very little that seems to anger public servants more than mandates requiring them to serve the public. For years, the San Diego police department has expanded its surveillance programs. And for years, these expansions have gone unchallenged.

But now that the city has passed an ordinance requiring more direct oversight of police activity, cops are singing the thin blue line blues and claiming the public has no business overseeing the business of public agencies. The cop pushback against slightly increased accountability has begun, as David Hernandez reports for the San Diego Union-Tribune. (h/t Michael Vario)
After years of work to create oversight of surveillance technologies in San Diego, an ordinance that will govern how the city uses the technology received final approval from the City Council this week.

The work began after residents learned in 2019 that the city had installed a network of about 3,000 cameras on streetlights three years earlier, and police used the technology to investigate certain types of crimes. Some residents expressed concerns over potential civil liberty violations and over-policing, particularly in communities of color.

Under the ordinance, the City Council must approve the use of technology that can monitor and identify individuals. City staff members will need to issue reports that outline the intended use of such technology, and the public and a newly created privacy advisory board will be asked to weigh in.

I know, this seems pretty anodyne, allowing civilian review of what sort of technology is being purchased by the police department, and how it is being used, but the police don't see it that way:

But this minimal push towards accountability has been greeted by the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) as a declaration of war on the department. Cops may have guns, badges, and a shitload of power, but any time someone demands a little more accountability, police officials make it clear cops have the thinnest skin and the most extreme sense of entitlement.

San Diego police Capt. Jeffrey Jordon said the department uses a host of technological devices that will require approval, including body-worn cameras, polygraphs and forensic lab equipment.

“I’m not aware of any other cities in America that have to report out this many pieces of technology,” he said.

If there is anything that the past 100 years or so of professional policing has shown us, it is that police cannot be be trusted with these decisions.  They will always abuse these powers for their own benefit and their own convenience.

That is what the whole corrupt "Thin Blue Line" is all about.

Tweet of the Day

This is truer than taxes.

It's mindless contrarianism for Gladwell, as opposed to the condescending populism of Rogan, and he is far more corrupt than Rogan could even imagine, insisting, among other things, that smokers dying young was saving Social Security, favoring over-medicating America's children with psychological medications, attempted to alibi Enron's massive fraud, defending big pharma, etc., all while getting INCREDIBLY lucrative speaking gigs.

Rogan and Gladwell are in the same business, deflecting responsibility from the people who are robbing us blind, it's just that they have different audiences.

I Wish That I Had Been at That Run


Tentacles, or perhaps Nineticles
My Second year of college, I was out east in Western Massachusetts, at Hampshire College, while Daniel, my younger brother, and hairless wonder of the family (referring to body hair, he's the only one who is not a walking carpet) was running a Call of Cthulhu game in Portland, Oregon.

This is a game based on the works of HP Lovecraft, and is of course intended to convey the dread and terror of a hostile and uncaring universe populated by creatures of inconceivable power.

Existential dread is a part of the deal, or at least it's supposed to be.

Daniel has a pretty good record of communicating fear and existential dread, and that day, he was at the top of his form.

The players were on edge, and then one of them (hi, Kevin) cracked, and started singing, (filking) to the tune of the Olivia Newton John song Physical, "I want to get tentacles."

From the descriptions that I heard, this broke the mood of the game, with everyone, including my normally quite dignified brother, breaking out into giggles. The end result was that with every eldritch horror that was revealed, the intensity of the hilarity increased.

If you are wondering why I am bringing up an event from 40 years ago, one that I was literally 2000 miles away from it is because the singer who mad this song a hit, Olivia Newton John, just died at age 73.

While was never a fan of hers, I am grateful for her role in this story, and for the 2nd hand memories that I have as a result.

07 August 2022

So it Passed the Senate

The shriveled remains of Joe Biden's already inadequate Build Back Bitter bill just passed the US Senate as a part of the reconciliation package, which, as you probably know, is not subject to a filibuster.

Unfortunately, the price controls for insulin were ruled out of order, and it can be legitimately be called the most effective legislation on anthropogenic climate change ever passed, if just because there has been no other legislation on dealing with climate change:

The Senate passed legislation on Sunday that would make the most significant federal investment in history to counter climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs, as Democrats banded together to push through major pieces of President Biden’s domestic agenda over unified Republican opposition.

The measure, large elements of which appeared dead just weeks ago amid Democratic divisions, would inject more than $370 billion into climate and energy programs. Altogether, the bill could allow the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

It would achieve Democrats’ longstanding goal of slashing prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare for the first time to negotiate the prices of medicines directly and capping the amount that recipients pay out of pocket for drugs each year at $2,000. The measure also would extend larger premium subsidies for health coverage for low- and middle-income people under the Affordable Care Act for three years.

And it would be paid for by substantial tax increases, mostly on large corporations, including establishing a 15 percent corporate minimum tax and imposing a new tax on company stock buybacks.

It should be noted that the sections on drug negotiation allow for only 10 drugs to be so covered, so it's less than one would really hope.

………

Republicans did succeed in forcing the removal of a $35 cap on insulin prices for patients on private insurance, challenging it as a violation of Senate rules in a vote that Democrats were all but certain to use as a political weapon against them ahead of the midterms. The insulin price cap for Medicare patients remained untouched in the bill, with the potential to help millions of seniors.

This will be scant solace for the millions of people, many of them children, who need insulin to live and have to pay hundreds of dollars a month for the long out of patent hormone essential for the survival of people suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

As part of its landmark climate and energy initiative, which would put the Biden administration within reach of its aim to cut emissions roughly in half by 2030, the bill would offer tax incentives to steer consumers to electric vehicles and lure electric utilities toward renewable energy sources like wind or solar power. It also includes millions of dollars in climate resiliency funding for tribal governments and Native Hawaiians, as well as $60 billion to help disadvantaged areas that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

………

The legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of up to 10 prescription drugs initially, beginning in 2026, and give seniors access to free vaccines. Coupled with a three-year extension of expanded health care subsidies first approved last year as part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid law, the package amounts to the largest change to national health policy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Call me a cynic, but on substance, this bill is pretty, "Meh," and I'm not sure if it's any better on the politics.

I Am Shocked, in a Good Way

In response to discovering that their entire police force was full of racist dirt-bags, the town of Vincent, Alabama has disbanded its entire police force.

Obviously there are cases where this not possible, I'm thinking of Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota, but this is a remarkably sane and constructive response to this situation.

Normally, there would just be statements of outrage, followed by throwing a few thousand dollars at some consultant to provide useless training.

This particularly surprising given the demographic makeup of the town, it's about 75% white:

The small city of Vincent in Alabama has voted to disband its police force after the revelation of racist text messages exchanged between two of its officers.

………

The messages were first reported by AL.com on Tuesday, the same day the Vincent city council met to decide on the issue.

Earlier on Tuesday, the police chief, James Srygley, had said the department had “conducted an internal investigation” and that they had taken “appropriate disciplinary action”.

But on Thursday, Srygley himself was identified as one of the officers who was terminated. Assistant chief John L Goss was also terminated, and the city council then voted to disband the whole department.

My guess is that the either chief, or the assistant chief, was the sender of the text, and the other one was the recipient of the texts.

It doesn't matter though.  What does matter is that the city council looked at the racist corrupt dirt bags, and defunded the police. 

This should be an obvious response to this sort of rot in the police force, but it's actually politically quote risky.  The electorate is typically both racist and mindlessly pro law enforcement.

06 August 2022

Haberdashery Advice for Would Be Journalists

You wear this hat:


You can get it here (Etsy) for $130, or you can get it at Baron Hats for $560, but the cheaper one is actually closer to the authentic original. 

I know what some of you are thinking, what original, and why should any journalist wear this?

That's because you either never saw, or forgot, the 1970s TV series Kolchak, The Night Stalker, starring Darren McGavin.

In it, the intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak, played by McGavin, pursued all sorts of paranormal phenomenon and creatures, only to be frequently stymied by the powers that be, who did not want this information to get out.

If this sounds a bit like The X-Files, this is because Chris Carter, the creator of that series was inspired by The Night Stalker when he developed his series.

It's more than just an inspiration though.  While the plots are sometimes a bit simplistic and formulaic, the dialogue and characters are exquisitely done, and given that their special effects budget could not have been much more that the cost of a Starbucks Venti, their special effects were remarkably well done.

McGavin's performance to this day seems to be to be the very epitome of what a journalist should be, not Robert Redford hanging out in a parking garage waiting for Mark Felt.

The show is coming on in about 15 minutes on MeTV.

Also, his camera was a Rollei 16s, not a Kodak sub-miniature.

Kind of Neat, but Useless



A cranked flying wing, as expected

Russia is looking to have a first flight of its new strategic bomber in 2024.

Much like the US B-2, and upcoming B-21, and the Chinese Xian H-20, it is a subsonic flying wing.

It will be fitted with two non-afterburning engines, probably a variant of the Kuznetzov NK-32, probably with a larger fan, so I would guess that it would provide about 150 kN (34,000 lbf) of force, which would give a maximum gross weight of something on the order of 70,000 kg (155.000 lbs).

This compares with a gross weight for the B-2 of 152,200 kg  (336,500 lb), with the B-21 is expected to be somewhat less, so it appears that it will be significantly smaller.

This is not surprising.  Russia does not have the far flung empire of the United states, so an aircraft more on the order of the medium bomber like the B-47 makes sense.

Well, it would if the concept made any sense at all.

Apart from bragging rights, this sort of expensive strategic bomber platform does not make a whole bunch of sense.

More conventional bombers, along with standoff missiles, seems to make more sense:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, subsequent sanctions by the West and embargoes on the supply of aerospace components do not appear to have deterred Moscow from development of its next-generation strategic bomber, the Tupolev PAK DA. In fact, the first flight of a prototype aircraft may come in 2024.

In May, an extremely interesting table showing the production plans of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex for 2022-30 could be found on the internet for just a few days. The numbers for civil aircraft in the table indicated the data was fresh, produced after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and under current economic conditions.
My guess would be that the PAK DA was explicitly designed to minimize foreign content, so the direct impact of sanctions would be pretty minimal.

………

From other sources it is known that three flying test aircraft are planned to be built. Final assembly of the PAK DA bombers is set to be done by the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant, a branch of the Tupolev Co.

The presence of the PAK DA in the leaked document means that the new wartime reality has not changed Russian plans—Moscow has no intention of abandoning this project.

Work on the new Russian strategic bomber has been launched and stopped several times, and for a long time it did not progress beyond projects on paper.

This one probably should be kept on paper.  Except possibly for striking a carrier group, it does not appear that this generates much bang for the buck.

 ……

But there are two arguments in favor of the PAK DA program. First, strategic bombers are the most important component of the Russian Air Force. Second, the program is so advanced that relatively little effort is required to complete the construction of several test aircraft.

This is called throwing good money after bad, and the idea that this program is "important" to the RuAF does not mean that it is actually similar to the defense needs of Russia.  The debacle known as the B-1 bomber is an excellent indication how the organizational imperatives of a military branch may not be the same as the defense needs of the nation.

In addition to its military significance, the PAK DA is important for Russia’s public image. During the Army exhibition in August 2021, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov was asked to compare the PAK DA and the U.S. Air Force’s B-21. “We set ourselves the task of creating technology that surpasses the technology of other countries in terms of capabilities,” he replied.

Dick swinging is never a good justification for a major defense procurement program.

05 August 2022

Should I Start Including Emojis?

I have a question for my reader(s): there are certain catch phrases that I frequently relegate to footnotes, and I am wondering if I should perhaps go with emojis to spice everything up a bit.

Generally, I mark it with an asterisk, and then put it in the footnotes, but I am wondering if perhaps I might be better served putting in an emoji sign.

Of course, the first image is not on of these phrases that I use routinely.  For the meme unaware, you have been Rickrolled.

If you don't know what that means, you have led a blissfully sheltered life.

More often these are explaining that I am an engineer, not a doctor (or lawyer, or pastry chef, or dance instructor, or whatever) dammit!


Or what I post when I refer to Sharon, because a proper level of respect is crucial to a marriage, and I really do not deserve her. (And yes, for some bizarre reason she likes Comic Sans, so I use Comic Sans for this one).


Or how I refer to the Democratic Party Establishment.


Or when I try to explain how something is not satire. 

So, would this be an improvement? 

Yes, no, of in between?

Only About a Year Late

Boeing has finally gotten FAA approval to restart deliveries of the 787.

Following the dual debacles of the 737 MAX and 787, the FAA did not allow Boeing to self certify its solution to the problems.

They still don't know how to make planes.

In fact torturous path to getting the plane out the door in the first place, where Boeing attempted to foist off most of the serious engineering and manufacturing onto, "Risk Sharing Partners," strongly implies that they aren't interested in making planes.

They have done their best to reduce everything to marketing and financial engineering, and not actual engineering:

Boeing Co. received preliminary US regulatory clearance to restart deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft, paving the way for the end to a drought that drained cash and dented the planemaker’s reputation for quality.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s plans to inspect and repair tiny manufacturing flaws in the Dreamliner’s carbon-composite frame, two people familiar with the plan said late Friday. The jet manufacturer had largely halted deliveries since late 2020 as its engineers found improperly filled gaps in about 20 locations.

The FAA agreement is a milestone for the company, but it won’t immediately resume deliveries. Boeing must still make required fixes and get FAA inspectors to approve each aircraft, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information hasn’t been publicly announced. While timing of delivery resumptions remains unclear, the company is aiming to begin in the week of Aug. 8, one of the people said.

………

The resumption of shipments will mark a financial turnaround for Boeing after years of operational lapses that have frustrated customers, suppliers and investors. It’s also a potential catalyst for Boeing shares, since the Arlington, Virginia-based company will start to unlock nearly $10 billion in cash tied up in Dreamliners stashed around its factories and in desert storage, according to Rob Spingarn, an analyst with Melius Research.

………

The chief problem for the 787 had been how the plane’s carbon-fiber fuselage sections were joined, which didn’t meet Boeing’s design specifications but wasn’t deemed to be a safety hazard.

The company’s plan to resume sales also includes addressing how the planemaker constructed the so-called forward pressure bulkhead, the structure near the nose that maintains pressurized atmosphere, and other issues that had arisen during the past year, said one of the people.

This is what happens when the marketing and finance guys take over.

This Was an Epic Troll


I am feeling the urge for mustard and rye
One of the most prominent physicists in the world has presented slice of sausage as the latest photograph from the James Webb telescope.

Étienne Klein has since apologized for posting a picture of a slice of chorizo while claiming that it was an image of Proxima Centauri.

He intended to do this to encourage people to use a skeptical eye on images that seem to be too good to be true.

Well played, my Gallic plaisantin:

If you’re not an expert on the cosmos, it’s very easy to confuse a view of a burning star with that of a sliced up piece of sausage. Well, only if it’s a particularly majestic-looking Chorizo tweeted by a famed astronomer.

French physicist Étienne Klein recently trolled his followers on Twitter by posting a picture of a Chorizo slice, and claiming that it was the star Proxima Centauri as captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). “This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day,” Klein wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was liked and retweeted by more than 20,000 thousand people before Klein revealed that the image was, in fact, a piece of Spanish smoked sausage, not the closest star to the Sun. Klein later apologized to those who fell for the joke, adding that he “simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own.”

"Simply wanted to urge caution with images," my ass.  He was punking us all, and laughing about it.

Not surprising for a people who made a fart act the most popular entertainer at the turn of the last century.*

*Joseph "Le Pétomane" Pujol, a French flatulist, "Some of the highlights of his stage act involved sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing "'O Sole Mio" and "La Marseillaise" on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus."

New Jobs Report Today


The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever, showing that a pandemic killing millions does less damage to the economy than your average banker


And jobs have finally caught up to where they were 30 months ago

We have the monthly jobs report out, and the workforce grew by 528,000 and the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% to 3.5%, which by most definitions is a fairly robust employment state.

Specifically, job growth beat expectations by about 250,000, so the job growth was double most forecasts. 

The only question now is whetehr the Fed raises rates by 75 or 100 (0.75-1.00%) basis points at their next meeting.

U.S. employers added a robust 528,000 jobs last month, helping the economy recoup the 22 million positions lost early in the pandemic, as hirers clamored for workers despite a slowdown in economic growth.

The jobs recovery took nearly 2½ years and included a stretch in the first half of the year when payrolls grew faster than during any other post-World War II period that also featured the start of an economic contraction. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% last month, a half-century low also seen just before the pandemic in early 2020, the Labor Department said Friday.

………

The labor-force participation rate—or the share of adults working or seeking a job—ticked down to 62.1% in July from 62.2% a month earlier. While the economy has recovered all the jobs it lost since February 2020, there are still 623,000 fewer people in the workforce, a factor that has pushed up wages due to a demand for workers that is well above the number of available workers. 

One of the reasons that the labor force participation rate has not hit pre-pandemic levels is because somewhere north of 2% of the workforce is now suffering from long Covid and cannot return.

Also note, that normal employment growth in the before times was on the order of about 175,000 jobs a month, so we are still about 5¼ million behind where we would have been.

04 August 2022

The Best Thing You Well See All Day

Mark Hamill working at a Jack in the Box drive-through.

That would be epic, but when he explains the back story, it leaps into the mythic:

It's Jobless Thursday

And initial unemployment claims rose to 260,000, the second highest this year, just below the count of 261,000 last month.

Worker filings for unemployment benefits rose last week, holding close to the highest level of the year as the U.S. labor market showed several signs of cooling.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased slightly to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 last week from a downwardly revised 254,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The total is close to the 2022 peak set earlier in July of 261,000 and above the 2019 prepandemic weekly average of 218,000, when the labor market also was strong.

Continuing claims, a proxy for the total number of people receiving payments from state unemployment programs, rose by 48,000 to 1.4 million in the week ended July 23. That was the highest level since the spring. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

The Federal Reserve will be getting the recession that it claims that it does not want. (Spoiler, they are lying.  They do want a recession)

(on edit)

U.S. factories growth fell as did new orders

We are not headed for a soft landing.

Remember What I Said About Lucy and the Football?

It turns out that Kyrsten Sinema is demanding a roll back of taxes on her rich donors for her vote, and even then, she is not promising to vote for the bill in the final vote.

Negotiating with psychopaths, particularly stupid ones who think that they are super-geniuses, is a losing proposition.

Force her to make her demands public, because their is no upside in being nice to her:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said she would soon be ready to “move forward” on a revised version of Senate Democrats’ health-care, climate and deficit-reduction package, opening the door for party lawmakers to adopt the long-stalled bill as soon as this weekend.

Sinema offered her must-have support after Democratic leaders agreed to scale back some of their original tax proposals, capping days of speculation about her public silence and moving her party one step closer to fulfilling a central element of President Biden’s economic agenda.

In a statement, Sinema said Democrats had “agreed to remove” a key tax policy targeting wealthy investors that aimed to address what is known as the “carried interest loophole.” She also signaled they had made additional tweaks to a second provision that imposes a new minimum tax on corporations that currently pay nothing to the U.S. government.

The carried interest loophole is the most unfair, and least popular, tax loophole in the nation, but Ms. Sinema needs to raise campaign funds, so she killed it.

………

From here, Sinema said she would await a final review from the chamber’s parliamentarian — a critical step in the process that allows Democrats to move their spending bill — at which point she would “move forward” on the measure known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Biden hailed the development, describing it in a statement late Thursday as a “critical step toward reducing inflation and the cost of living for America’s families.”

………

Under the new plan, Democrats now seek to impose a new tax on the money that companies spend to purchase back their own stock, the two sources familiar with the matter said. Party lawmakers long have taken issue with such practices, arguing they benefit large firms’ stock prices at the expense of workers and the economy at large.

Stock buybacks were generally illegal until SEC Rule 10b-18 was adopted in 1982, when the Reagan administration decided that it was a good thing for executives who were largely remunerated with stock options to manipulate their stock to increase their own pay.

Just make stock buybacks illegal.

As to cutting a deal with Sinema, it's like the parable of the frog and the scorpion.  It is like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.