31 January 2024

With Regret, I Must Announce the End of Say Fuck January

So it's back to %$#ing the swear words.

I am not quite sure why, when I started this shitty little blog, I decided to Bowdlerize the swear words, but the events of January 6 2021 required actual Anglo Saxon expletives, and I have continued to do this every January since.

I guess that it is my equivalent of Dry January (Come to think of it, I've actually not had anything to drink this month except for a teaspoon of cider that I am brewing in order to see if it needed more sugar), or Vegan January.

I'm sorry, but like all good things, this has to come to an end.

Let me leave you with one final Word:


Gee, You Think?

Kata'ib Hezbollah (no relation to the Lebanese Hezbollah) has announced that it will be suspending attacks on American troops in order to facilitate negotations between the US and Iraqi governments for the withdrawal of remaining US troops.

Imagine that.  You can get Iraqi insurgents to stop attacking American troops by giving them the reasonable hope that American Troops will be Fucking Leaving?

Now there is a fucking shocker.

We have spent about 20 years in Iraq, and our justification staying in Iraq is because insurgents keep attacking us?

The fucking self-licking ice cream cone needs to end:

A militia group that the Biden administration blamed for the deadly attack on U.S. forces stationed at a shadowy base in Jordan said Tuesday that it would stop targeting American troops in Iraq, a move that could clear the way for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers more than two decades after the 2003 invasion.

"We announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces—in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government," Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, the leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah, said in a statement. "Our brothers in the Axis, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they do not know how we conduct our Jihad, and they often object to the pressure and escalation against the American occupation forces in Iraq and Syria."

Pentagon officials have specifically named Kata'ib Hezbollah as one of the groups behind the drone attack on U.S. troops in Jordan over the weekend. U.S. President Joe Biden and administration officials have said they ultimately hold Iran responsible for the attack, accusing that country's government of funding and arming Kata'ib Hezbollah and other militia groups in the region.

Kata'ib Hezbollah's leader said in his statement that the group has launched attacks on U.S. forces at its "own will, and without any interference from others." Biden administration officials have admitted they have no evidence that Iran directed the Jordan attack.

We just need to get out.

IDF Says That They Have Started Flooding Tunnels

No word yet on the number of locations or the volume of seawater being pumped, but an IDF spokesman has announced that Hamas tunnels in Gaza are being flooded.

I am actually surprised that it took so long.

The Egyptians have used this technique to destroy under-border tunnels for years:

The Israeli army announced on Tuesday that it has flooded tunnels in the Gaza Strip in an effort to destroy them.

Foreign media had reported on Israel's plans to flood tunnels in Gaza, but Israel hadn't confirmed that it was using the tactic until now.

According to the army, tunnels have been flooded only in locations suitable for this method, without impairing the use of groundwater. The IDF added that pumps and pipes were installed in the Gaza Strip for this purpose.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had begun pumping seawater into tunnels, as a part of an operation called Sea of Atlantis. Three American sources who spoke to the newspaper at the time said the process is expected to last weeks and that Israel is using seven pumps.

According to the report, despite warnings that process could harm sewage infrastructure, buildings, and freshwater reservoirs, Israeli carried it out on a number of occasions, and even installed an additional pump in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip at the beginning of the month.

According to American officials, the operation turned out to be less effective than anticipated, largely due to obstructions and wall barriers which stopped the water flow. The Wall Street Journal reported that approximately 80 percent of Gaza's intricate network of tunnels remain intact despite weeks of Israeli attempts to destroy them.

I'm not sure what the final efficacy of the water pumping will be, but to quote the Doctor, "Water always wins."

Seriously though, I do not see a good end to this from the perspective of either Hamas or Israel, and once again the bulk of the Palestinian population is little more than a means to an end.

Ecch (Tweet) of the Day

You can see the data set that he uses for the graph here.

Covid isn't over, and it won't be over until the polity decides to take it seriously, and stop worrying about the economic impact.

The truth is that between excess deaths, and long Covid disability, the economic impacts are far less than actually confronting the pandemic.

Fed Wants More Layoffs

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee has held rates steady, and included a statement that they do not see a reason to lower rates in the near future.

The reality is that, notwithstanding all their rhetoric about engineering a soft landing, the Fed is waging a war on the average working American:

The Federal Reserve signaled it was thinking about when to lower interest rates but hinted a cut wasn’t imminent when it held rates steady at its first policy meeting of the year on Wednesday.

The central bank held its benchmark federal-funds rate steady in a range between 5.25% and 5.5%, the highest level in more than two decades, as it awaits more convincing evidence that a sharp downturn in inflation at the end of last year will endure. 

“It’s a highly consequential decision to start the process” of lowering interest rates “and we want to get that right,” said Fed Chair Jerome Powell at a news conference. “We’ve made a lot of progress on inflation. We just want to make sure that we do get the job done in a sustainable way.”


The Fed jettisoned guidance in its heavily deliberated policy statement that since July, when officials last raised rates, has suggested it was more likely to raise rates than to lower them. In its place, officials adopted a neutral view by noting that the risks to achieving its goals of healthy labor markets and low inflation “are moving into better balance.”

The Fed doesn’t expect to lower rates “until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%,” the statement said.

It should be noted here that but for the inclusion of imputed rent, a metric that is the exception and not the rule most other developed economies  is ALREADY below 2%.


Inflation excluding volatile food and energy prices fell to 2.9% in December from a year earlier, using the Fed’s preferred gauge. The six-month annualized inflation rate fell below 1.9% during the second half of the year, down from 4% in the first half.

So inflation is already running below 2% in the past ½ year.  Mission fucking accomplished, you sado-monetarist bastards.

Also, if you want to lower inflation using your current skewed numbers, then go after the private equity and hedge fund crooks who are trying to monopolize the rental market in various metropolitan areas across the country.

They are the epitome of what John Maynard Keynes called, "Destructive capital flows," though he was talking about international speculation, and not intranational investment.

What an Asshat

Ursula von der Leyen, in response to a wolf killing a family pony, is pushing for the reversal of decades of environmental policy and gone on a jihad against wolves in Europe, claiming, among other things, that wolves constitute a threat to people.

Wolves do not constitute a threat to human beings.  There has never been a documented wolf attack in the wild in North America, and there has not been even a poorly documented attack in Europe for over 500 years.

The technical term for this is self-important narcissistic destructive bullshit.

Fuck Ursula von der Leyen, and the horse that she did not ride in on, because wolves ate it:

It was a mild, windless night, sometime before dawn on 1 September 2022, when a large grey wolf trotted out of the woods beside Beinhorn, a hamlet of old barns and graceful wooden houses in the German state of Lower Saxony. The keen nose of the male wolf almost certainly scented that Dolly, a pretty chestnut pony with a white patch on her face, was vulnerable. The 30-year-old pony, kept in a paddock close to stables and a farmhouse, was not protected by high-voltage electric fencing designed to deter wolves. It was an easy kill. In the morning, Dolly’s body was found in the long grass; her owners spoke of their “horrible distress”.

Unluckily for the wolf, and perhaps for the entire wolf population of western Europe, Dolly was a cherished family pet belonging to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, one of the most powerful people in the EU. Last September, a year after Dolly’s death, von der Leyen announced plans that to some wolf-defenders looked like revenge: the commission wants to reduce the wolf’s legal protection.

Action had already been taken against Dolly’s killer. DNA evidence harvested from the pony’s carcass revealed that the wolf was an individual known as GW950m. This mature male wolf, which heads a pack (a wolf family usually numbering eight to 10) living around the von der Leyen residence, appears to have developed a taste for livestock. DNA tests on other carcasses implicates him in the deaths of about 70 sheep, horses, cattle and goats. Experts believe younger pack members might have copied his hunting methods. Because GW950m was now classified as a “problem wolf”, a permit was issued to allow hunters to shoot him legally (wolves can only be killed under exceptional circumstances, according to EU law). It was the seventh such licence to be issued in Lower Saxony, a state the size of Denmark with a thriving population of at least 500 wolves – more than are found across the whole of Scandinavia.

Thankfully, for now at least, GW950m remains alive.


Wolves have adapted swiftly and surely to human-dominated landscapes. But people are struggling to adjust to the wolves. The concentration of packs, von der Leyen declared when announcing the commission’s review of wolf protection laws, “has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans”. In December, the commission proposed to reduce the wolf’s status under the Bern Convention from “strictly protected” to “protected” in order to introduce “further flexibility” – potentially enabling wolves to be hunted and populations reduced across the EU. Many populist politicians across Europe hope that talking up the threat of the wolf – alongside tough measures to tackle it – will win support ahead of next summer’s elections to the European parliament. It’s a low-cost way of showing rural voters you’re on their side. “Wolves are a subject that might change elections,” says one German conservationist.

Ms. von der  Leyen is lying.  We are talking livestock losses in the 4000 range annually, and as I have noted before, neither people nor pet dogs (there has been issues between hunting dogs and wolves) are at any meaningful threat.

A few thousand generations of evolution has convinced wolves that humans are best avoided.

People have woven myths, stories and fears around wolves since human culture began. For wolf-lovers, the animal’s recovery after it was hunted to extinction in much of Europe is a vital sign of hope – that nature can be restored; that humans can peacefully coexist with fellow predators; that the environmental benefits of returning an apex predator will cascade through the landscape. The impact of wolves returning to Yellowstone national park in the US – reducing grazing herbivores and allowing diverse vegetation to flourish – has caught the popular imagination (a YouTube video, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been watched 44m times), although scientists point out that wolf impacts have been overstated. On the other side, wolf-haters claim that this ruthless carnivore’s return has been naively championed by the tofu-munching wokerati who know nothing of the countryside, elevate the welfare of animals above people, and inflict misery upon farmers, hunters and country folk.


When [Wolf expert Kenny] Kenner first began these walks, “there was this excitement about how horrible the wolf was”. People were scared to stroll in the forest with their dogs. But that’s changed over time, he says. “We shouldn’t feel threatened, but we should feel awed. Seeing them is an honour. But I wouldn’t want to cuddle them.”

Just a note for my reader(s), I don't care if it's something cute and cuddly, like a raccoon, or a lynx, or a wolverine, or a diamondback rattlesnake, or a great white shark, Don't Cuddle Wild Animals! Just don't.


The Kenners are dismayed by what they see as populist and right-wing politicians creating a culture war over the wolf. To conservationists, von der Leyen’s comments about risks to people are inflammatory. During the wolf’s 23-year recolonisation of Germany, there are no documented cases of one even growling at a person; boar pose a much more frequent threat. There are no incidents of wolves killing people in the west of Russia in modern times; historic fatalities are from a bygone era when lone children shepherded animals in the forests. “In our society, the danger to children is nearly zero,” says Kenner. In countries such as Finland, wolves sometimes attack trained hunting dogs in the forests, but pets are rarely victims. And wolves are wary of people. Kenner shows me clips from his camera traps. One detects him walking in front of the trap. A few hours later, a wolf arrives, sniffs his tracks and moves swiftly in the opposite direction. “The wolf is not shy,” says Kenner. “He’s careful. He’s a predator, he needs to take care, but he has to take risks, too – that’s why he won’t learn from being shot.”

Von der Leyen, argues Kenner, is using her position “to start a campaign in favour of shooting wolves because of her personal ideas and experiences”. “This is a misuse of power. But it’s not just Ursula von der Leyen. In Lower Saxony, there are a lot of other politicians saying, ‘This is a catastrophe,’ and a lot of fact-free inducement to change policy.”

Von der Leyen is not, "Using her position," to launch a jihad against wolves, she is ABusing her position to launch a jihad against wolves.

I'm not surprised that Ursula von der Leyen is doing this.  Her entire life is a case study for failing up that would make Dick Cheney jealous.

30 January 2024

Amazon Loses

The EU has rejected Amazon’s proposal to purchase Roomba manufacturer iRobot.

The reasoning here is pretty basic, Amazon is attempting to monopolize the market, and they intend to use people's vacuum cleaners to spy on them.  (Using people's vacuum cleaners to spy on them is a complete mind-fuck, innit?) 

This is also important because it indicates a shift in opinion on antitrust, on that side of the Atlantic, at least:

Amazon will no longer pursue a $1.4 billion acquisition of iRobot, maker of Roomba robot vacuums after the companies announced today that they have "no path to regulatory approval in the European Union."


Amazon's proposed acquisition of iRobot drew concern and criticism from privacy and antitrust advocates and regulators almost immediately after it hit the news. iRobot and Amazon agreed to share data with the Federal Trade Commission after the FTC began a review into how the deal might bolster Amazon's market for connected devices and retail generally. There was also concern about potential new uses for the household maps generated by robot vacuums like the Roomba, according to Politico.

iRobot, for its part, claimed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that joining Amazon would give it an "inventive, customer-centric, long-term oriented culture where entrepreneurs thrive," as well as access to "Amazon's resources and technology."

By, "Inventive, customer-centric, long-term oriented culture where entrepreneurs thrive," iRobot means that, "A thoroughly enshittified monopolist who wants to pay us fuck-tons of money."

My heart bleeds borscht for Amazon and iRobot.

Your Moment of Schadenfreude

The Delaware Chancery Court has just voided Elon Musk’s multi-billion dollar Tesla pay package.

Chancellor Kathaleen Saint Jude McCormick should probably do something about the board of directors as well.  These are a collection of relatives and business partners of Musk, and not only allowed Musk's self dealing (Solar City) to continue completely unencumbered, but in many cases (Kendall Musk) profited from his double-dealing as well:

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, suffered a stunning rebuke Tuesday when a Delaware judge voided the pay package that helped make him a billionaire many times over and the world’s wealthiest human being.

In a decision that cast a harsh light on the behavior of Mr. Musk and Tesla’s board of directors, Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery said the chief executive had effectively overseen his own compensation plan — currently worth about $50 billion — with the help of compliant board members.

“The process leading to the approval of Musk’s compensation plan was deeply flawed,” the judge said. She ordered that the contract that gave Mr. Musk “the largest potential compensation plan in the history of public markets” be voided, and told parties in the case to work out how Mr. Musk would return excess pay.

Some compensation experts said the decision would send a warning to other companies that awarded their top executives very large pay packages.

I certainly hope that it sends a warning to other companies, but never underestimate the ability of American managers to not learn a lesson.


Greg Varallo, a lawyer who represented Tesla shareholders, said the shares would be canceled. That would substantially reduce Mr. Musk’s wealth and his stake in Tesla, which stands at about 13 percent after he sold shares to finance his acquisition of Twitter, the company he renamed X.

I love the slam that the judge put in her ruling:

“In the final analysis,” she wrote, “Musk launched a self-driving process, recalibrating the speed and direction along the way as he saw fit. The process arrived at an unfair price.” The pay package was not necessary to retain Mr. Musk nor motivate him because he already owned Tesla shares worth tens of billions of dollars, Chancellor McCormick said. 

Information given to shareholders before they voted to approve the package was “materially deficient,” she said.

Of course the information given was materially deficient.  Elon Musk is a God-King, never to be questioned, and if he is never to be questioned, then shareholders need no information.


The decision also raises questions about how Tesla’s board will deal with a demand by Mr. Musk this month for an even greater stake in the company. Mr. Musk said he needed to own 25 percent of Tesla to avoid takeovers and have enough control of the company as it develops robots and other artificial intelligence technology.

If his demands are not met, Mr. Musk said, he will pursue unspecified ventures outside Tesla. The company’s board, which is led by Robyn Denholm, has not responded publicly to his demand for a bigger stake in the company.

The response is to tell him to go fuck himself.

There is no way that he can actually do these things without using tech developed at Tesla, and even in California, where non-compete agreements are illegal (they are very legal under Delaware law), you do not get to use proprietary technology from a firm that you leave.

Also, while the threat of a trade secrets lawsuit might not dissuade Musk, it would dissuade anyone who followed him out of Tesla, and Musk, not withstanding his delusions of adequacy, lacks the technical chops to do this on his own.

This is Positively UnAmerican

Of course, it's Israelis wot done it.

Special forces associated with the Shin Bet infiltrated a hospital near the Jenin refugee camp, and killed 3 militants.

The US would never do something like this.  We'd bomb the hospital.

If you don't believe me, just ask Donald Rumsfeld (You can't, he's dead).  He justified bombing a hospital in Afghanistan because Taliban were being treated there. 

I don't approve of the action, because I believe that this sort of targeted assassination, whether conducted by Israel OR the US, but it seems to me that not blowing up a hospital is preferable to blowing up a hospital:

Israeli forces dressed in doctors’ scrubs and women’s clothes have killed three Palestinian militants in an undercover operation in a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

A border police counter-terrorism unit and a unit from the internal security forces, known as the Shin Bet, entered Ibn Sina hospital on the outskirts of the city’s refugee camp early on Tuesday, CCTV footage of the aftermath of the operation showed.

The units made their way to a room on the third floor and shot all three men in the head using pistols fitted with silencers in an attack that took less than 10 minutes from start to finish, Israeli media said.


Israel said the dead men were Mohammad Jalamana, a spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, Basel Ghazawi, of Islamic Jihad, and his brother Mohammed. All three were allegedly active in the umbrella force known as the Jenin Battalion, a newly formed group that has engaged Israeli forces in fierce fighting during raids in the lawless city over the past two years.

The Israeli authorities said the three men had been involved in planning an attack similar to the one launched by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on 7 October that killed 1,140 people, according to Israeli data, and sparked the latest war in Gaza, which has killed 26,000 people in the strip, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory. About 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million population has been displaced from their homes in the dire humanitarian crisis.

Hamas claimed Jalamana as a member, while the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the two brothers were part of their Jenin cell. . In a statement, Hamas called the killings “a vile crime that will not go without response”. It said: “The resistance forces, who have sworn to fight the occupation until it is expelled, are not afraid of the assassination policy.”

Yeah, the assassination policy is unlikely to solve things.  It will only create more terrorists.

I'm glad that they did not just drop a bomb or fire a missile at the hospital, but this is a mistake.

Awesome Baby Pics

See Baby C. carcharias at about 7:30 in the vid
Baby Shark, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo

Yes, its the first ever video (and first ever picture period) of a newborn Great White Shark.

Cute little guy, who will one day grow up and be the terror of the seas:

A wildlife filmmaker and biology student have recorded something scientists have long been searching for: the first-ever glimpse of a newborn great white shark.

The young pup was spotted several hundred meters off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in July last year in some mesmerizing drone footage captured by filmmaker Carlos Gauna.

With its two black eyes poking out above the ocean surface and its milk-white body below, it could be mistaken for a dugong or manatee. But its protruding snout, sleek body, and angular caudal fin cannot be confused for anything other than a white shark.

White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), also known as great white sharks, are typically gray on top with a lighter, white underbelly. Pregnant females produce 'uterine milk', a yellowish and milky fluid for embryos to consume.

Guana had seen several seemingly pregnant sharks in the same area just days before the sighting. So the bright white shark immediately stood out to him when it surfaced.


The sighting has yet to be confirmed as a newborn white shark, although Gauna and coauthor Phillip Sternes, a shark biologist at the University of California Riverside, have published their findings in a peer-reviewed journal, describing how the pup might have been days or even hours old given its appearance.

What's more, the finding adds to earlier reports from 2020 of the smallest known white shark, just one meter long and thought to be a newborn, which was caught off the Pacific coast near the US-Mexico border.

"There are a lot of hypothetical areas, but despite intense interest in these sharks, no one's seen a birth or a newborn pup in the wild," says Sternes.

"This may well be the first evidence we have of a pup in the wild, making this a definitive birthing location."

He's a cute little tyke.

29 January 2024

Speaking of Boeing

Both the fuel dump and the RAT shown
I am not entirely sure what happened, but a Virgin Atlantic Boeing, hull number G-VZIG, aborted a flight from Heathrow to Seattle, dumped fuel, and landed with the ram air turbine (RAT) deployed.

Obviously, dumping fuel when aborting a flight that was going to be flying about 4800 miles (8000 km) is kind of a given, but deploying the RAT?  That is not normal.

On Saturday, January 27, a Virgin Atlantic aircraft was forced to return to its departure airport after an inflight incident, per The Aviation Herald. The aircraft, which was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, departed London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) in the United Kingdom when the flight crew was forced to halt its initial climb. The aircraft dumped its remaining fuel and returned to London Heathrow with its RAM Air Turbine extended and in operation. The Dreamliner returned to the airport safely with no further issues.

The Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner, which is registered as G-VZIG, was scheduled to perform flight VS-105. This operation connects London Heathrow to Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington. Typically, this flight departs London at approximately 12:25 local time. The aircraft then arrives in Seattle at around 14:20 local time, after about nine hours of flight time.

G-VZIG departed London about 15 minutes late, departing at 12:42 local time. The Boeing 787 departed from London Heathrow's runway 09R. The aircraft reached an altitude of about 23,000 feet (FL230) before the flight crew halted the aircraft's climb. The flight crew leveled off at 23,000 feet to dump fuel. While returning to London Heathrow, the flight crew deployed the aircraft's RAM Air Turbine. 

My guess would be an issue with the electrical system, probably the generators, otherwise the RAT would not have been deployed.

If anyone has any knowledge of WTF happened, please post in the comments. 

Boeing has had a very bad streak of luck lately, but, to quote John Milton, "Luck is a residue of design," and corollary, "Bad luck is a residue of bad design," appears to apply here.

Still Cannot Make Planes

Earlier this month, I noted that Boeing asked for an exemption for the engine deicing system on its 737 MAX aircraft, which could blow up an engine if operated in non-icing conditions for more than 5 minutes.

As a result of the cluster fuck with the fuselage plug blowing out, Boeing has has withdrawn the request.

My guess is that this was done grudgingly, and only after the FAA made it clear that they would not get their waiver as things currently stand.

I do not think that Boeing management had an attack of conscience.

I do not thing that they have a conscience:

Under intense political pressure, Boeing on Monday withdrew its request for an exemption from key safety regulations to allow the 737 MAX 7 to be certified to carry passengers.

“We have informed the FAA that we are withdrawing our request for a time-limited exemption relating to the engine inlet de-icing system on the 737-7,” Boeing said in a statement. “We will instead incorporate an engineering solution that will be completed during the certification process.”

This means entry into passenger service of the MAX 7, the smallest model of the MAX family, will be significantly delayed until Boeing can design a fix for the flawed design and get it approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.


The FAA had determined last summer that a design flaw uncovered in the MAX’s engine inlet de-icing system could be potentially catastrophic.

The MAX’s engine inlet, the circular part at the front end of the pod surrounding the engine — known as a nacelle — is made from carbon composite, unlike earlier model 737s, which have a metal inlet.

Flying through cold, water-saturated air, the de-icing system — similar in purpose to the defroster on a car — blows hot air onto the engine inlet to prevent a buildup of ice.

But Boeing discovered after the MAX entered service that if the system remained switched on after leaving the icy air, it could overheat and damage the composite structure, possibly leading it to break off the nacelle.

In an August Airworthiness Directive, the FAA stated that debris from such a breakup could penetrate the fuselage, putting passengers seated at windows behind the wings in danger, and could damage the wing or tail of the plane, “which could result in loss of control of the airplane.”

Gee, that sounds bad.


However, that compromise solution couldn’t work for a jet like the MAX 7 that is not yet certified. To get that approval to carry passengers, it must meet all safety regulations.

Hence Boeing’s petition for a formal exemption for the MAX 7 from the safety standards until it designed a solution.

Yeah, their solution is to add a page to the flight manual.  This is not adequate.

If an aircraft if flying in icing conditions, even if it is certified for those conditions, pilots will have their hands full, and turning off bleed air as soon as they are out of icing conditions can be something that gets missed.

The fact that there are thousands of aircraft currently flying with a deicing system that can cause a catastrophic failure today does not reassure.

Yes, He Should Go to Jail

But can we also give Charles Littlejohn the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

He was just sentenced to 5 years in jail for leaking the tax returns of multiple rich bastards, including those of Donald Trump and Jeff "Batboy" Bezos.

A former government contractor who leaked a slew of confidential tax records filed by the wealthiest Americans, including those of President Donald Trump, was sentenced Monday to the maximum of five years in prison in what a federal judge called “the biggest heist in IRS history.”

Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty last year to one count of unauthorized disclosure of income tax returns. Littlejohn, 38, admitted that he leaked Trump’s confidential tax information to the New York Times in 2019 and then replicated his work the next year, filtering the tax returns and financial data of thousands of wealthy Americans to ProPublica. The news organizations published reports showing how Trump and the richest Americans for years paid little or no federal taxes.

U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes said Littlejohn deserved the maximum sentence she could impose, because he had targeted a sitting president and thousands of others. Prosecutors said Littlejohn had disclosed the tax returns of about 7,600 individuals and 600 entities.

I appreciate what he did, and it was a positive thing, but the IRS data is kept confidential for a reason, so I approve of the prison sentence, though I do think that the sentence was a bit harsh.


“A free press and public engagement with the media are critical to any healthy democracy, but stealing and leaking private, personal tax information strips individuals of the legal protection of their most sensitive data,” [prosecutor Jonathan] Jacobson and prosecutor Jennifer Clarke wrote. “Everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law.”

I agree.  I would also note that I think that as a matter of course, some tax returns should be public under the law, including corporations, LLCs, partnerships, federal elected officials and cabinet members, and people above a certain income threshold (not sure of the number).

But until the law changes, the records should be protected, and those who break the current law should be prosecuted.

Still, we can give him a medal too.

Headline of the Day

Google Cuts Thousands of Workers Improving Search After Search Results Scientifically Shown to Suck

This is not a surprise.

Having a near monopoly on search and being a part of the online advertising oligopoly, along with the criminal enterprise formerly known as Facebook™ and Amazon, Google has no reason to care about the enshittification of its search.

They don't care, they don't have to, they are Google.

28 January 2024


Comedy Central has announced that Jon Stewart will be returning to host The Daily Show on Mondays.

I am not particularly impressed.

First, it is clearly temporary, and at one day a week, it will not mean much.

Second, there is a legion of Daily Show alums who could host.  (I favor Roy Wood, Jr., and dream of Larry Wilmore)

Third, and most importantly, Jon Stewart is too meta.

He comes from the, "View from nowhere," where there is sort a, "Pox on both of your houses," attitude, and that time is long past.

Jon Stewart is returning to “The Daily Show.” The comedian who transformed Comedy Central’s satirical news show into a serious force in politics will now serve as a part-time host and full-time producer through this year’s presidential election cycle.

Starting Feb. 12, Stewart will host “The Daily Show” each Monday night while also steering the series as an executive producer, Comedy Central announced Wednesday. Stewart’s return comes as “The Daily Show” gears up to cover a fraught rematch looming between Joe Biden and Donald  Trump. The show’s cast of correspondents will take turns hosting on other nights.

Geography is Hard!

18 km from Al Tanf to the Border
In yet another example of things going pear shaped in the Middle East, 3 US soldiers were killed in an attack on a facility in ……… Jordan?? Syria?? ……… There does not seem to be a consensus between Amman and Washington on this.

The US maintains a base in Syria at Al Tanf, and the attack was either on that base, or at a facility called Tower 22, described as being some 20 km from Al Tanf, which would place it at most 2½ km (less than a mile) inside Jordan.

The US maintains that the attack was in Jordan, and Jordan maintains that the attack was in Syria, and margin for error here is such that Tiger Woods could probably hit a golf ball further than this distance.

If the strike was on personnel in Syria, who are inside the country without the invitation of any entity claiming to be the government of Syria, the attack is justifiable under international law pertaining to conflict.

If this strike was on personnel in Jordan, then a cross border raid of this sort is of dubious legality under international law, though common among militaries that play under USA rules of combat going at least as far back as Cambodia.

Three US troops have been killed and dozens injured in a drone attack on a US base near Jordan's border with Syria.

US President Joe Biden said the attack was carried out by "radical Iran-backed militant groups". He added: "We shall respond."

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack.

It is the first time that a strike has killed US troops in the region since Hamas's 7 October attack on Israel.

Jordan says the attack took place in Syria, not inside Jordan.
It should be noted that where the US troops were will have zero impact on the domestic US politics of this matter.  The usual suspects will be calling for an escalation, and we will get an escalation.

The proximate cause for boots on the ground in Syria was the presence of Daesh (ISIS), and with that group broken as an organized military and organized government, the only reason to keep troops in Syria is to keep troops in Syria.

This is a mess decades in the making.

UNRWA is Problematic

In fact, I literally quoted Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi 15 years ago to show that the Arab world, with the exception of Jordan, have made no effort at all to integrate Palestinians displaced in 1948, and noted that UNRWA is part and parcel to all of this.

As I have mentioned before the official policies of the host governments is to not keep Palestinians in camps and to keep them as stateless refugees in order to make sure that they, "Stay in the fight," which is why many of the Gulf states deny basic human rights to Palestinians, and (for example) Lebanon stripped Palestinians of the right to own land in 2001.

Unlike the other UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, which is chartered to work toward seeing the refugees settled in where they have fled, repatriated, or settled in a 3rd country, UNRWA is charged with maintaining the camps for the Palestinian refugees, and their descendants, until the sun has burned down to a cinder.

UNRWA is paid to support people in refugee camps as refugees, and the UNHCR is paid to get people  out of refugee status and to become normal citizens.

This, along with its focus on only one group of displaced people does not produce best outcomes for the people that they ostensibly support.

Under these circumstances, it is inevitable that supports for conflict and militants would become part of the de facto mission of the UNRWA.  Direct support of militants has been documented on multiple occasions, and this is a feature, not a bug.

Therefore the revelation that some employees of UNRWA were participants in the October 7 massacres is not a surprise.

What is a surprise is that when Israel provided evidence of this, some of the largest donor nations to UNRWA suspended payments.

It is well past the time for UNRWA to be folded into the UNHCR.  It would be better for peace in the region, and far better for the Palestinians left in limbo for nearly 80 years:

The decision by the US, UK and other western nations to freeze ­funding for the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees will significantly worsen the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have warned.

Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Finland joined the United States, Australia and Canada in pausing funding after UNRWA, the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, revealed an investigation had been launched into 12 members of staff who allegedly took part in the 7 October attack led by Hamas that killed 1,140 people.

Switzerland?  Given historical Swiss neutrality, whatever evidence that has been presented must be VERY convincing.

Also, Japan has also suspended funding to UNRWA.


The UN secretary general, António Guterres, pleaded on Saturday for donor states to “guarantee the continuity” of the body.

“While I understand their concerns – I was myself horrified by these accusations – I strongly appeal to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations,” Guterres said in a statement.

I actually think that the continuity of UNRWA operations are the problem, at least in the longer term.

Placing the provision of aid to refugees under the auspices of the UNHCR, WITHOUT transferring senior staff to the other agency, is probably the best alternative for all of the stakeholders in this process.

The refugees should have some sort of normalcy in their lives, and UNRWA is an impediment to this process.

27 January 2024

Well, This is Fucking Reassuring

What do you do when a crucial material for healthcare and technology is in short supply

What if the largest stockpile of this material is federally on an operated?

Why you privatize it, of course, so that a private entity, driven by private profit motives and the demands of Wall Street bankers,can it take control and manipulate the supply and price.

I am referring, of course, to the last of the national helium reserve, which is due to be auctioned off.

As an ironic side note, it should be noted that helium is the second most common substance in the universe.

Helium has a number of applications for which it is literally irreplaceable.

Most notably, it's use in super cooling objects such as superconducting magnets for things like MRI machines and in the manufacturer of microchips make it a crucial strategic material.

Of course, this didn't matter when President Bill Clinton got the Helium Privatization Act passed in 1996. 

Privatizing, and financializing, government assets and government functions was kind of his thing.

Well that, and putting Black and Brown people in jail in record numbers.

Well that, and repealing Glass-Steagall, leading to an orgy of largely unprosecuted fraud by the Wall Street banisters.

Well that, and sanctioning a decades long witch hunt against gays in the military with, "Don't ask, don't tell."

I'm beginning to don't like the Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" sketch.

Posted via mobile.

26 January 2024

She Will Never See a Dime

E. Jean Carroll has won yet another defamation suit against Donald Trump, this time for $83,300,000.00.

If there is any constant to the human stain that is Donald John Trump, it is that he does not pay.

He never pays anyone.

Former President Donald J. Trump was ordered by a Manhattan jury on Friday to pay $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her in 2019 after she accused him of a decades-old rape, attacks he continued in social media posts, at news conferences and even in the midst of the trial itself.

Ms. Carroll’s lawyers had argued that a large award was necessary to stop Mr. Trump from continuing to attack her. After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury responded by awarding Ms. Carroll $65 million in punitive damages, finding that Mr. Trump had acted with malice. On one recent day, he made more than 40 derisive posts about Ms. Carroll on his Truth Social website.

It should be noted here that this is the Second defamation suit that the rapist has lost to his victim, E. Jean Carroll.

After he lost the first case, he has continued to defame Ms. Carroll.


The verdict vastly eclipsed the $5 million a separate jury awarded Ms. Carroll last spring after finding that Mr. Trump had sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s and had defamed her in a Truth Social post in October 2022. The verdict came after Mr. Trump attended nearly every day of the latest trial, and testified, briefly, this week.

I do not know if Donald Trump is really this stupid, or if he is this immature, or if he is senile, my guess is that it would be all three, but this is stunningly self-destructive.

DJT is a profoundly stupid mother-fucker.

Needless to say, I am amused.

Break Out the Red Cape and Goggles, I'm Celebrating

So, I'm minding my own business on Ecch (Twitter), and I reply to an Ecch (Tweet) which notes that self regulation does not work.

I respond with a line that I have been using for some time, I say that, "Self-Regulation is to Regulation as Self-Importance is to Importance."

It gets a fair number of likes, which amuses me, because I am insecure and I need validation.

I think that it's important to savor life's little victories, and this one is exceedingly small.

Then I discover that journalist, S.F. author, activist, and IP and privacy activist Cory Doctorow quoted me in the conclusion of today's post on Pluralistic, his ad free and tracker free blog. (slightly reformatted to fit my style or lack thereof, Doctorow puts out "naked" links in order to demonstrate that there are no URL shenanigans)

One of the weirdest aspect of end-stage capitalism is the collapse of auditing, the lynchpin of investing. Auditors – independent professionals who sign off on a company's finances – are the only way that investors can be sure they're not handing their money over to failing businesses run by crooks.


Attentive readers will have noticed that there is an intrinsic tension in an arrangement where someone is paid by a company to certify its honesty. The company gets to decide who its auditors are, and those auditors are dependent on the company for future business. To manage this conflict of interest, auditors swear fealty to a professional code of ethics, and are themselves overseen by professional boards with the power to issue fines and ban cheaters.

Enter monopolization. Over the past 40 years, the US government conducted a failed experiment in allowing companies to form monopolies on the theory that these would be "efficient." From Boeing to Facebook, Cigna to InBev, Warner to Microsoft, it has been a catastrophe. The American corporate landscape is dominated by vast, crumbling, ghastly companies whose bad products and worse corporate conduct are locked in a race to see who can attain the most depraved enshittification quickest.


And of course, crooked auditors were behind the Enron fraud, a rare instance in which a fraud triggered a serious attempt to prevent future crimes, including the destruction of accounting giant Arthur Andersen. After Enron, Congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), which created a new oversight board called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

The PCAOB is a watchdog for watchdogs, charged with auditing the auditors and punishing the incompetent and corrupt among them. Writing for The American Prospect and the Revolving Door Project, Timi Iwayemi describes the long-running failure of the PCAOB to do its job.

For example: from 2003-2019, the PCAOB undertook only 18 enforcement cases – even though the PCAOB also detected more than 800 "seriously defective audits" by the Big Four. And those 18 cases were purely ornamental: the PCAOB issued a mere $6.5m in fines for all 18, even though they could have fined the accounting companies $1.6 billion 


But though these improvements are decidedly moderate, they are grounded in a truly radical break from business-as-usual in the age of monopoly auditors. It's a transition from self-regulation to regulation. As @40_Years on Twitter so aptly put it: "Self regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance".

Needless to say, I'm going to be feeling smug about this for about a week.

After that, I'll probably go back to uninformed and very poorly written rants.

Today in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

10 days ago, we had the first significant snow in the Baltimore area in 3 years. 

Same as it ever was.
Today, I'm walking to my car, and the sun is setting, and it's 69°, in January.

And so today, I find myself sitting behind the wheel of my (Parked) car asking myself, "Well, how did I get here?"

This is in no way shape or form normal.

Posted via mobile.

25 January 2024

If It's Boeing, I Ain't Going

We now have a leak from what appears to be an inside source at Boeing that it was Boeing, and not Spirit AeroSystems that misinstalled the screws. (Original source is a commenter at Leeham News)

Going into great detail on the nature of the work, and the specifics of the various manufacturing and quality systems at the plant, he notes that the plugs and doors are routinely removed at the Renton facility for either access or repair:

The fuselage panel that blew off an Alaska Airlines jet earlier this month was removed for repair then reinstalled improperly by Boeing mechanics on the Renton final assembly line, a person familiar with the details of the work told The Seattle Times.

If verified by the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, this would leave Boeing primarily at fault for the accident, rather than its supplier Spirit AeroSystems, which originally installed the panel into the 737 MAX 9 fuselage in Wichita, Kan.

That panel, a door plug used to seal a hole in the fuselage sometimes used to accommodate an emergency exit, blew out of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 as it climbed out of Portland on Jan. 5. The hair-raising incident drew fresh and sharp criticism of Boeing’s quality control systems and safety culture, which has been under the microscope since two fatal 737 MAX crashes five years ago.

Last week, a different person — an anonymous whistleblower who appears to have access to Boeing’s manufacturing records of the work done assembling the specific Alaska Airlines jet that suffered the blowout — on an aviation website separately provided many additional details about how the door plug came to be removed and then mis-installed.

“The reason the door blew off is stated in black and white in Boeing’s own records,” the whistleblower wrote. “It is also very, very stupid and speaks volumes about the quality culture at certain portions of the business.”

The self-described Boeing insider said company records show four bolts that prevent the door plug from sliding up off the door frame stop pads that take the pressurization loads in flight, “were not installed when Boeing delivered the airplane.” the whistleblower stated. “Our own records reflect this.”

NTSB investigators already publicly raised the possibility that the bolts had not been installed.

As an aside, major props to the writer of this story, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates, for crediting the online source of this revelation, and providing a link further down in the article.

You rarely, if ever, see this in papers like the New York Times or Washington Post.rarely acknowledge online reporting.

The account goes on to describe shocking lapses in Boeing’s quality control process in Renton.

The work of the mechanics on the door plug should have been formally inspected and signed off by a Boeing quality inspector.

It wasn’t, the whistleblower wrote, because of a process failure and the use of two separate systems to record what work was accomplished.

Boeing’s 737 production system is described as “a rambling, shambling, disaster waiting to happen.”

If that account of what happened is indeed fully documented in Boeing’s system it should be readily verified by the investigation.
This is huge if true.

Hell, if even only the underlying processes and procedures are largely as described, and no smoking gun is found, this is huge.

Greetings from the Great State of Maryland

Where it appears that the standards of due diligence for appointing someone to the Maryland State Board of Elections does not involve checking to see if they were ever involved in an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States of America.

I would kind of understand this happening in Alabama, or Mississippi, or Texas, or our neighbor to the south Virginia, but the Free State was on the side of the union during the Civil War.

Step up your game, nimrods:

A Republican member of the Maryland State Board of Elections resigned from his post Thursday after being charged with participating in breaching the U.S. Capitol amid rioting on Jan. 6, 2021.

Carlos Ayala was arrested on multiple charges on Tuesday, according to federal court records. His resignation was official on Thursday, according to a statement from Michael G. Summers, chairman of the elections board.


Ayala could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Jim Trusty, declined to comment. Trusty previously represented former President Donald J. Trump in one of his court cases.


Federal prosecutors charged Ayala in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with the felony charge of civil disorder as well as multiple misdemeanors in connection with the pro-Donald Trump mob that overran the Capitol as lawmakers were certifying the results of the 2020 election.

Prosecutors allege that Ayala, wearing a hooded American flag sweatshirt, is seen on footage from the day climbing over police barricades and reaching the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol building.


She [Maryland Republican Party Chairwoman Nicole Bues Harris] added that Ayala resigned to ensure that the 2024 election in Maryland is not “muddled with distraction.”


The good-government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland said Ayala’s arrest should be a wake-up call for state officials, who should consider changing the process for appointing members to the elections board.

“It is sickening to think that Ayala was making decisions about our elections after allegedly participating in the attempted insurrection,” Morgan Drayton, Common Cause policy manager, said in a statement.

The fact that he got caught does not mean that the system worked.

As Randall Munroe has noted under similar circumstances, this should never have happened at all.

Ecch (Tweet) of the Day

To quote David Byrne, "Same as it ever was."

RIP Ingenuity

It appears that there has been an incident on Mars, and extraterrestrial helicopter Ingenuity has broken a rotor blade, which means that it will no longer be operational:

Something has gone wrong with NASA's Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars. Although the US space agency has not made any public announcements yet, a source told Ars that the plucky flying vehicle had an accident on its last flight and broke one of its blades. It will not fly anymore. (Shortly after this article was published, NASA confirmed the end of Ingenuity's mission).

When it launched to Mars more than three years ago, the small Ingenuity helicopter was an experimental mission, a challenge to NASA engineers to see if they could devise and build a vehicle that could make a powered flight on another world.

This was especially difficulty on Mars, which has a very thin atmosphere, with a pressure of less than 1 percent that of Earth's. The solution they landed on was a very light 4-lb helicopter with four blades. It was hoped that Ingenuity would make a handful of flights and provide NASA with some valuable testing data.

But it turns out that Ingenuity had other ideas. Since its deployment from the Perseverance rover in April 2021, the helicopter has flown a staggering 72 flights. It has spent more than two hours—128.3 minutes, to be precise—flying through the thin Martian air. Over that time, it flew 11 miles, or 17 km, performing invaluable scouting and scientific investigations. It has been a huge win for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the greatest spaceflight stories of this decade.


Also, NASA really needs to come up with better names for its robotic vehicles.

24 January 2024

So they Were All Coked to the Gills?

I was aware that there was a Presidential physician, as well as some sort of a clinic in the White House, but I was unaware of the existence of a White House pharmacy, and that they were handing out Ambien and Provigil to staffers like it was candy.

The fact that they were all abusing puppy uppers (Provigil) and doggie downers (Ambien) to create an illusion of normalcy says a lot:

The White House has its own pharmacy that, until recently, could perhaps best be described as a hot mess, according to a recent investigation report from the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General.

For years, the White House Medical Unit, run by the White House Military Office, provided the full scope of pharmaceutical services to senior officials and staff—it stored, inventoried, prescribed, dispensed, and disposed of prescription medications, including opioids and sleep medications. However, it was not staffed by a licensed pharmacist or pharmacy support staff, nor was it credentialed by any outside agency.

The operations of this pseudo-pharmacy went as well as one might expect, according to the DoD OIG's alarming investigation report. The investigation was prompted by complaints in May 2018 alleging that an unnamed "senior military medical officer" was engaged in "improper medical practices." This resulted in the OIG's investigation, which included 70 interviews of Military Office officials who worked in the White House between 2009 and 2018 and covers the office's activity until early 2020. However, the investigation heavily focused on prescription drug records and care between 2017 and 2019 during the Trump administration.

During that time, staff at the White House pharmacy kept handwritten records of prescriptions, the OIG found. The records frequently contained errors in medication counts, illegible text, and crossed-out text and lacked medical provider and mandatory patient information. The pharmacy let White House staff pick up over-the-counter drugs from open bins, in violation of Navy medical regulations. It didn't dispose of controlled substances properly, increasing the risk of diversion. Staff provided prescriptions without verifying patients' identities and provided prescriptions to people who were ineligible for care. And it dispensed pricey brand-name products freely, rather than generic equivalents that are considerably cheaper—also a violation of regulations.

In one interview, a White House pharmacy staff member said an unnamed doctor asked "if I could hook up this person with some Provigil as a parting gift for leaving the White House."

Provigil is a drug that treats excessive tiredness and is typically used for patients with narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. Brand-name Provigil is 55 times more expensive than the generic equivalent. Between 2017 and 2019, the White House pharmacy spent an estimated $98,000 for Provigil. In that same timeframe, it also spent an estimated $46,500 for Ambien, a prescription sedative, which is 174 times more expensive than the generic equivalent. Even further, the White House Medical Unit spent an additional $100,000 above generic drug cost by having Walter Reed National Military Medical Center fill brand-name prescriptions.

(emphasis mine)

If I were working for Donald Trump, I'd probably need to abuse drugs too.

Cue Nelson Muntz

The "No Lasbels" political group is being sued by Durst family members for allegedly defrauding them out of their donations.

They are claiming that they were told that this was a group intended to facilitate bipartisan governance, and instead they got a group determined to rat-fuck the Democratic Party.

I dunno if they can win this lawsuit.  The founding chairman of "No Labels" is Joe Lieberman, who has spent this entire century doing his level best to rat-fuck the Democratic Party, so the rat-fucking is implicit in the whole enterprise.

What part of Joe Lieberman don't you get?

Two members of the powerful Durst real estate family in New York have sued the centrist group No Labels, accusing it of pulling a “bait and switch” by seeking donations for a bipartisan governing group and then moving to fund a third-party presidential candidacy.

The breach of contract and “unjust enrichment” suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday by the chairman and president of the Durst Organization, Douglas and Jonathan Durst, who are cousins. It seeks damages and reimbursements after the Dursts donated $145,000 years ago, when No Labels was founded on the promise of finding governing solutions.


“This case seeks to hold No Labels accountable for the consequences of its misguided actions that have left its original benefactors like the Dursts feeling bewildered, betrayed and outraged,” the suit says.

“No Labels has shifted seismically from its original mission, and its donors, like the Dursts, who believed in the mission and financially supported it, should not have to stand idly by,” the suit contends, adding that had “No Labels ever given any indication that it might pursue such a gambit, the Dursts never would have funded the organization.”

Joe Lieberman's whole schtick has been to be a Democrat who fucks with Democrats for his entire career.

After he washed out in the 2004 Presidential primaries, and then lost his 2006 Connecticut Senate primary, he has had a white hot burning hatred for his nominal party.

I am glad that the Dursts are suing, but this was the obvious outcome from the start.

23 January 2024

Yeah, I Know, New Hampshire

Trump just won New Hampshire, 54% to 43% over Nikki Haley.

Joe Biden got about 65% on the Democratic side as a write-in. (The Democratic Party does not recognize the NH primary, and Biden was not on the ballot)

I am not sure what to make of this, except to note that Nikki Haley's 43% in 2024 is better than Eugene McCarthy's 42% in 1968.

I think that Trump will get the nomination, and I hope that Haley goes after him hammer and tongs, particularly over the rumors of tertiary syphilis, but I really do not expect her to last more than 6 weeks.

On the Democratic side, Dean Phillips face planted, that what it is when you are out-polled 3:1 by a writ-in candidate, (he got less than 20%) and Marianne Williamson polled behind not-Biden write-ins, (>5%) so stick a fork in it it, their campaigns are done.

I am a bit bummed that Vermin Supreme polled only ½%.  I was hoping that he would break the 1% barrier.

What the Fucking Fuck?

As the reader(s) of my blog may know, I am not a big fan of Elon Musk.  I think that the Apartheid Era Emerald Heir Pedo Guy™ was born on third base, and thought that he hit a triple.

This is a guy who wanted to move PayPal's back-end to Windows® in 1999, when Microsoft could not get a Hotmail to work on Windows for another 5 years, and email hass the most fault tolerant software application in common use since the days of 300 baud modems.

Needless to say, I do not have a high opinion of him, but when Musk went Auschwitz, he put on a dog and pony show demonstrating that Ecch (Twitter) would have prevented the Holocaust.

First, we already know that social media has been used to foment and organize genocide.  Most notably the criminal enterprise formerly known as Facebook™ in Myanmar, but Twitter has been used aggressively by Hindu nationalists for similar purposes, with Musk's personal acquiescence. 

Elon Musk is more Julius Streicher than he is Adolph Ochs:

Elon Musk said that X, his social media platform, could have saved Jews from the Holocaust after visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Monday.


The tech mogul has drawn criticism over several antisemitism controversies in recent months, including his endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory, vicious spats with the Anti-Defamation League and a documented spike in antisemitic posts on X — formerly known as Twitter — since he took over the company.

I understand what he is doing, he is presenting an impossible to disprove counterfactual argument, because he is an antisemitic fuckwad who wants to pretend that he is not. (You can find a list of particulars here)

But he was treated as a heroic figure at the EJA [European Jewish Association] conference, in keeping with his reception among right-leaning Jewish audiences generally. To demonstrate how X might have mitigated the mass murder of Jews, EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin played a video that scrolled through an imagined X feed during World War II.

Set to dramatic music, the posts included messages such as, “The Nazis told the Jews to get inside the synagogue – entire families, infants in their mothers’ arms, right? They’ve closed the doors and windows with metal bars and then SET IT ON FIRE! OH. MY. GOD. The world must know!”


Musk endorsed this alternate historical universe. “If there had been social media, it would have been impossible to hide,” he said about the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews. “If there had been freedom of speech, as well. One of the first things the Nazis did when they came in is they shut down all the press and any means of conveying information.”

Let's be clear.  We know how social media is used with regard to genocide, and it is largely a tool of the perpetrators. 

Let's also be clear, the European Jewish Association are a bunch of Kapo.

We also KNOW that when the Modi government demanded censorship from Musk just ahead of Indian elections, he gave them their censorship.

Every time that I think that one of these right wing nut-jobs cannot go any lower, they resume digging.

I am not cynical enough.

22 January 2024

This Is Not a Problem, It Is a Solution

This kills people and destroys the planet
It turns out that the trend towards oversized murder mobiles is happening in Europe as well.

There are now problems with the newer cars fitting in parking spaces, because cars,SUVs drive trend for new cars to grow 1cm wider every 2 years.

The article notes that parking spaces will need to be widened.

I have a better idea.  Make the parking spaces narrower by 1cm every 2 years, and ticket aggressively.

The SUV road maggots kill people and waste resources.  Do not accommodate their excesses:

New cars in the EU and UK have grown 1cm wider every two years, the Guardian can reveal, driven by large luxury SUVs whose sales show no sign of slowing.

“It’s unrelenting,” said James Nix, an analyst at the Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group and author of the report. “Spurred on by sales of the largest SUVs, vehicles are getting wider every year.”

New cars have become so bloated that half of them are too wide to fit in parking spaces designed to the minimum on-street standards in many countries, the report found. The average width of a new car in the EU and UK passed 180cm in the first half of 2023, having grown an average of 0.5cm each year since 2001.


Big cars are more likely than small cars to kill people in crashes because they weigh more and have tall front ends that trap victims beneath them instead of knocking them to the side. They also pump more toxic gas into the air and eat up more space on roads and pavements.

You may not be able to ban these 4 ton death machines, but if they cannot fit in a parking space, people will not buy them.

Ecch (Tweet) of the Day

White supremacists think that they can rule the world, but they cannot figure out how a turnstyle works.

In Mel Brooks, veritas.


Mark Rober once again puts an animal through a maze. This time, it is an Octopus:

21 January 2024

Bye Felicia

Ron DeSantis has ended his Presidential campaign.

I wonder if he is going to continue to go with his 5 inch heel cowboy boots. 

The problem with the Ron DeSantis campaign was Ron DeSantis, who is creepy and inauthentic in a way that never worked.

It doesn't matter in Florida, whose state Democratic Party is arguably the most ineffectual state Democratic Party in the nation, (Now there is a complete mind-fuck) but in places like Iowa or New Hampshire, where people expect to see and interact with the candidates, his whole serial killer rapist vibe did not worr.

20 January 2024

Yeah, About That Canal

This graph of traffic through the Suez Canal is rather alarming.

Given the amount of trade that passes through the waterway, I'm thinking that we will be seeing some significant economic blowback from this:

Between the conflict in the Red Sea, and the water shortages in Panama, we are likely to be seeing increases in transit times for large container ships to increase by weeks.

90 Year Ban. It Should Have Been Her Sentence.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services has banned Elizabeth Holmes from participating in any federal health program for 90 years.

I believe that she can, for example, still be covered by Medicare when she turns 65, but she could not, for example, work as a receptionist in a doctor's office if said physician took any sort of federal money:

Elizabeth Holmes—the disgraced and incarcerated founder of the infamous blood-testing startup Theranos—is barred from participating in federal health programs for nine decades, according to an announcement from the health department Friday.

The exclusion means that Holmes is barred from receiving payments from federal health programs for services or products, which significantly restricts her ability to work in the health care sector. It also prevents her from participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs. With a 90-year term, the exclusion is lifelong for Holmes, who is currently 39.


In today's announcement, the health department noted that the statutory minimum on exclusions for convictions like Holmes' is just five years. But other factors are considered when determining the term, including how long the fraud took place, the length of the prison sentence, and the amount of restitution ordered. In addition to her 11-year prison sentence, Holmes was ordered to pay approximately $452,047,200 in restitution, the HHS-OIG noted.

Still, this shows the most important rule of US Jurisprudence and regulation:  Do not steal from rich people.

19 January 2024

Yeah, We're Fucked

The collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet is accelerating faster than our most dire predictions.

If the Greenland Ice Sheet melts we can expect to see sea level rise of nearly 10 meters.
Nearly every glacier in Greenland has thinned or retreated over the past few decades, leading to glacier acceleration, increased rates of sea-level rise and climate impacts around the globe. To understand how calving-front retreat has affected the ice-mass balance of Greenland, we combine 236,328 manually derived and AI-derived observations of glacier terminus positions collected from 1985 to 2022 and generate a 120-m-resolution mask defining the ice-sheet extent every month for nearly four decades. Here we show that, since 1985, the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has lost 5,091 ± 72 km2 of area, corresponding to 1,034 ± 120 Gt of ice lost to retreat. Our results indicate that, by neglecting calving-front retreat, current consensus estimates of ice-sheet mass balance have underestimated recent mass loss from Greenland by as much as 20%. The mass loss we report has had minimal direct impact on global sea level but is sufficient to affect ocean circulation and the distribution of heat energy around the globe. On seasonal timescales, Greenland loses 193 ± 25 km2 (63 ± 6 Gt) of ice to retreat each year from a maximum extent in May to a minimum between September and October. We find that multidecadal retreat is highly correlated with the magnitude of seasonal advance and retreat of each glacier, meaning that terminus-position variability on seasonal timescales can serve as an indicator of glacier sensitivity to longer-term climate change.

The mainstream media summaries put it in a somewhat more accessible way:

Greenland’s expansive ice sheet is known to be shrinking, especially since the 1990s, because of warming from climate change. It’s a fate shared by the Antarctic Ice Sheet as well as glaciers around the world. Now, a new study reveals that about 20 percent more of the Greenland ice sheet has disappeared than previous estimates show.

The missing ice has been breaking and melting from the ends of glaciers around Greenland’s perimeter. The new research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, provides a detailed accounting of a process that scientists knew was happening but had struggled to measure comprehensively.

Our shortsightedness and our greed will destroy us all.

Busy Past Few Days of Economic Stats

First, we have the initual unemployment claims from yesterday, and they fell by 16,000 to 187,000 the lowest level since September 2022, with continuing claims falling to 1.81 million and the 4-week moving average falling to 203,250.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment rose to the highest level in nearly 3 years, and with the 2-month gain being the largest since 1991.

Meanwhile, US home sales fell to the lowest level since 1995, down 19%, with housing starts falling but building permits rising.

My guess is that people are expecting the Fed to lower rates significantly over the next few months, but this is still some pretty confusing shit.

18 January 2024

Another Reason to Hate Bill Clinton

One of the biggest scams ever promulgated onto the American public was their reinventing government initiative.

The stated purpose was that by privatizing core government functions, we would get better services and save the taxpayers money.

The reality was that core government competencies were gutted, and it became a looting spree by contractors and consultants.

Of course, the reality was the goal.  It was the PMC generating profit opportunities for the PMC, and the rest of us could, and did, just get fucked.

Ecch (Tweet) of the Day

Yes, this is a good description of the differences between various fur babies. 

Seeing as how an Ecch embed does not show the whole picture, here it is.

This is truer than taxes:

Enshittification is Real

Is anyone surprised that  web search engines are complete pants these days?

Google does not care, it doesn't have to, it's the monopoly search provider:

No, it's not just you - search engine results really are getting worse as the internet is flooded with low-effort garbage from SEO farms and affiliate link sites, a group of German researchers has concluded.

The boffins made their determination after spending a year reviewing results for 7,392 product review queries on Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, which they said is the first systematic review into the question of worsening search engine result quality.

After poring over countless links for the past year, the team has concluded everyone complaining about Google's declining quality seems to be correct, and things are probably only going to get worse with the advent of generative AI - just like we predicted. See the above-linked study for the full details, including comparisons between Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Google.

"We can conclude that higher-ranked pages are on average more optimized, more monetized with affiliate marketing, and they show signs of lower text quality," the researchers wrote. They also found that while a small portion of product reviews use affiliate marketing, the majority of search engine results do use the tactic, which is only adding to the problem of glum search engine results page (SERP) quality.

They got a reply from Google about this, and it's the standard PR bullshit.

"This particular study looked narrowly at product review content, and it doesn’t reflect the overall quality and helpfulness of Search for the billions of queries we see every day," a Google spokesperson told The Register post-publication.

"We’ve launched specific improvements to address these issues – and the study itself points out that Google has improved over the past year and is performing better than other search engines. More broadly, numerous third parties have measured search engine results for other types of queries and found Google to be of significantly higher quality than the rest."
Yes, there are more people who are more aggressively and more competently working to game the system for personal game, but Google hasn't looked beyond its latest quarterly they bought out Doubleclick in 2008.