…a lot of hot air [DOT 12/2/23]

& that sinking feeling...

…so…how goes the cavalcade of nonsense?

The US intelligence community has developed a method to track China’s fleet of surveillance balloons that was only discovered within the last year, six people familiar with the matter tell CNN.
[…]
But the new method is important because the balloons are extremely difficult to track without it – they are slow-moving and can fly extremely high, in some cases as high as much as 60 miles up, and can evade the more traditional radars that are oriented toward detecting fast-moving missiles and counterterrorism threats, a lawmaker familiar with the intelligence told CNN.
[…]
On Thursday, officials revealed that they believe the spy balloons the US has discovered are part of a large fleet that is conducting surveillance operations globally on behalf of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army. So far, the US has traced the balloons to 40 countries across five continents, officials said.
[…]
“The point is, it’s not new that there are Chinese balloons,” the former official told CNN.

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/10/politics/us-balloon-tracking-method

…guess we’d better get used to it

“I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,” Trudeau tweeted on Saturday afternoon. A US F-22 fighter plane with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which protects Canadian and American airspace, shot down the object over Yukon, Canada.

Trudeau said that he had spoken with the US president, Joe Biden, on Saturday afternoon and that Canadian forces will recover and analyse the object.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/11/new-unidentified-object-shot-down-over-canada-says-trudeau

James Lewis, an expert on technology and public policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out that the use of balloons for intelligence has downsides.

“The problem with balloons is that they go where the winds take them. ‘Loitering’ is both unpredictable and not essential for collecting against static targets (like missile bases),” he said. China launched five low Earth orbit satellites last year, Lewis added.
[…]
“Any contribution to intelligence collection was marginal. Why not just send a guy in a camper van to drive around?”

…I can maybe think of a couple of reasons

However, Jim Himes, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, pointed to three potential advantages that balloons have when it comes to intelligence gathering.

“One obvious thing is they don’t cost a billion dollars, the way satellites do. Ten of them get shot down – who cares?” Himes told the Guardian. “Number two is dwell time. They have persistent surveillance capabilities that satellites don’t. And then third is that, although we are really good at taking pictures and picking up radio waves from space, physics tells you that the closer you are, the better the fidelity.”
[…]
China has so far insisted that its high-altitude balloons are for meteorological purposes, but articles published in the People’s Liberation Army Daily in recent years demonstrate its interest in military applications.

A piece on 24 December 2021 was titled: “Balloons – why a tool that looks ordinary has been so valued in the military realm?”, and pointed to the long history of military balloons in China, tracing them back to the 10th-century Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, when people tied bamboo strips into square frames, and pasted paper on to the frames to make lanterns. The base would be filled with burning turpentine, and the hot air would propel the lanterns into the air for military signalling.

The modern military uses of balloons, the article went on to say, include scouting and surveillance, communications relay when other means are down, air defence using tethered balloons, and guiding air strikes. The article claimed the US military was planning to use high-altitude balloons to spread large numbers of miniature radio frequency sensors behind enemy lines to help targeting.

Jacob Stokes, senior fellow for the Indo-Pacific security programme at the Centre for a New American Security in Washington, also suggested that surveillance may turn out to be just one of multiple roles for specialised balloons in a new age of atmospheric warfare. They could serve as back-up communications relays, if satellites are knocked out or blinded by counter-measures. Or a balloon could serve as a mother ship, carrying a canister containing a swarm of drones that could unleashed on enemy territory.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/10/china-spy-balloons-surveillance-high-altitude

…atmospheric warfare…there’s a term that’s open to interpretation

Last month, a camera from a telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i’s tallest mountain, captured something eerie: a wall of green lasers visibly shooting across the sky.

The light show, which has been described as resembling the green code from The Matrix, occurred on January 28 and was caught by a camera operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). Initially, NAOJ said in a YouTube video that the lasers had come from NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite, which maps and measures Earth’s surface in three-dimensional detail to keep track of sea ice and forests. If it was ICESat-2, the lasers would have come from its Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter (ATLAS) instrument, which emits laser beams that NASA says are “bright green on the visible spectrum.”

Mystery put to bed? Think again. On February 6, NOAJ updated the video’s YouTube description with a stunning notice: NASA confirmed that its satellite was not the source of the green lasers over Hawai’i. Rather, it was most likely a Chinese satellite.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvm9y5/green-lasers-sky-hawaii-chinese-satellite

…probably nothing to worry about…I mean…I’m sure there’s plenty of smart people getting right on that whole “are we being scanned?” thing

Nita Farahany, a Duke University professor and futurist, gave a presentation at Davos about neurotechnology that is creating “brain transparency”, something I previously associated more with a bullet to the head. The new technologies, which Farahany says are being deployed in workplaces around the world, may prove to be nearly as destructive. They include a variety of wearable sensors that read the brain’s electrical impulses and can show how fatigued you are, whether you’re focused on the task at hand or if your attention is wandering. According to Farahany, thousands of companies have hooked workers ranging from train drivers to miners up to these devices already, in the name of workplace safety. But what we are really discussing is workplace surveillance.
[…]
Farahany is a very smart person. But her professional milieu may have lulled her into falsely believing that corporations will not do the most unspeakable acts imaginable in order to make an extra dollar of profit. She argues that these technologies offer promising benefits for people to improve their own experiences at work, and that as long as we “make a choice to use it well”, and operate from a starting principle of “cognitive liberty” to protect individual choice, the future of workplace surveillance can be one in which workers and businesses alike are made stronger by the slow evolution of our brains into cybernetic, connected, measured mechanisms.

It is that fundamental sense of optimism that is, I’m afraid, screamingly naive. One need not be a futurist to divine how this will go. “Bossware” is common today, in the form of less flashy but equally invasive technologies of all sorts: what workers type, what they look at, how long they are “inactive” on their keyboards, how they drive, where they stop, when they apply the brakes, how direct the route they take is. A Coworker.org database of bossware found that more than 550 products are already in use in workplaces. Everywhere you look, workers are being tracked, watched, measured, scored, analyzed and penalized by software, human overseers and artificial intelligence, with the aim of wringing every last cent’s worth of productivity out of the flawed and fragile flesh-and-blood units of labor who must, regrettably, be used as employees until the robots get a little bit more manual dexterity. The crowning insult of it all is that in most cases, the people enduring the surveillance are paid much less than those who are inflicting it.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/09/boss-spies-brainwaves-dystopian-future

…that stuff always goes well

https://www.postofficescandal.uk

…maybe it’s just a question of who’s engaging with what…take twitter…you just have to crunch a few numbers

More than half of Twitter’s top1,000 advertisers in September were no longer spending on the platform in the first weeks of January, according to data provided to CNN by digital marketing analysis firm Pathmatics, in a striking sign of how far reaching the advertiser exodus has been following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company.
[…]
As a result of the pullback, monthly revenue from Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers plummeted by more than 60% from October through January 25, from around $127 million to just over $48 million, according to the data.

The data demonstrate the sharp decline of what was once a $4.5 billion advertising business for Twitter. After Musk completed his takeover of the company in late October, advertisers began to worry about the safety and stability of the platform given his plans to cut staff and relax content moderation policies. In early November, Musk said Twitter had seen a “massive revenue drop.”

Although Twitter’s ad business was always much smaller than that of competitors Facebook and Google, it was still responsible for the vast majority of the company’s revenue. Musk must now fill in that gap as he stares down interest payments for the debt he took on to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

…somehow I don’t think the superbowl is gonna save that ass

After initially clashing with advertisers, Musk now appears to be trying to woo them back to the platform. The company reportedly offered a Super Bowl “fire sale” deal for advertisers in an attempt to win them back for one of Twitter’s biggest audience days of the year. Twitter has also partnered with a third-party “brand safety” firm that says it can show advertisers if their ads appear alongside inappropriate or unsafe content on Twitter.
[…]
Even among thetop advertisers that remain, many have dramatically reduced their ad spending on the platform, according to Pathmatics data. HBO, for example, was Twitter’s top advertiser in September, spending nearly $12 million on ads that month, but for the month of January (as of January 25), it spent just over $54,000. (HBO, which is owned by CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/10/tech/twitter-top-advertiser-decline/index.html

…but…all those paid subscribers should make up for that…right?

Elon Musk may have to think of a lot more ways to make Twitter Blue appealing to potential subscribers if he wants the subscription service to be a major source of revenue. According to The Information, only 180,000 people in the US have been paying for a Twitter subscription by mid-January, and that’s apparently around 0.2 percent of the website’s monthly active users. The publication said it saw the information on a document, which also revealed that 62 percent of the company’s paying users reside in the US. That means Twitter has approximately 290,000 subscribers worldwide. 

Twitter Blue costs $8 a month for users who pay via web — or $7, if they pay for an annual subscription — and $11 for those who pay via Apple’s or Google’s app stores. Since the latter option gives the tech giants a cut of subscribers’ payments, Twitter still only gets $8 a month from users overall. With the current number of paying users, the website is only set to earn $27.8 million a year from its subscription services. […]

As The Information notes, Musk told Twitter employees last year that he wants half of the website’s revenue to come from subscriptions. Since the company has to pay over $1 billion a year in interests alone from the loans Musk took out when he purchased the website, the executive is aiming to take in a revenue of $3 billion for 2023. Twitter has to have quite a lot of subscribers to earn half of that from Blue. One avenue the company is considering to earn more from its subscription services is to offer a higher-priced membership tier that allows users to browse the website with zero ads. Twitter is also reportedly planning to charge businesses $1,000 a month for their gold verification badges and an extra $50 a month for each account affiliated with them. 

www.engadget.com/twitter-180000-paying-subscribers-us-mid-january-075214783.html

…&…naturally…as far as the wunderkind is concerned…that can’t possibly be because nobody’s buying his bullshit

“This is ridiculous,” he said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
[…]
Employees showed Musk internal data regarding engagement with his account along with a Google Trends chart. Last April, they told him, Musk was at “peak” popularity in search rankings, indicated by a score of “100.” Today, he’s at a score of nine. Engineers had previously investigated whether Musk’s reach had somehow been artificially restricted but found no evidence that the algorithm was biased against him.

Musk did not take the news well. 

…this fire-anyone-who-understands-twitter-from-twitter strategy is clearly what I think people call a “power move”…in the same way that the difference between stalling out a plane & actively heading for the unforgiving embrace of solid ground is that we call the latter a power dive

It has now been seven weeks since Twitter added public view counts for every tweet. At the time, Musk promised that the feature would give the world a better sense of how vibrant the platform is. 

Almost two months later, though, view counts have had the opposite effect, emphasizing how little engagement most posts get relative to their audience size. At the same time, Twitter usage in the United States has declined almost 9 percent since Musk’s takeover, according to one recent study.

Twitter sources say the view count feature itself may be contributing to the decline in engagement and, therefore, views. The like and retweet buttons were made smaller to accommodate the display of views, making them harder to easily tap.

An even more obvious reason for the decline in engagement is Twitter’s increasingly glitchy product, which has baffled users with its disappearing mentions, shifting algorithmic priorities, and tweets inserted seemingly at random from accounts they don’t follow. On Wednesday, the company suffered one of its first major outages since Musk took over, with users being told, inexplicably, “You are over the daily limit for sending tweets.”

It turns out that an employee had inadvertently deleted data for an internal service that sets rate limits for using Twitter. The team that worked on that service left the company in November.
[…]
Interviews with current Twitter employees paint a picture of a deeply troubled workplace, where Musk’s whim-based approach to product management leaves workers scrambling to implement new features even as the core service falls apart. The disarray makes it less likely that Musk will ever recoup the $44 billion he spent to buy Twitter and may hasten its decline into insolvency. 

“We haven’t seen much in the way of longer term, cogent strategy,” one employee said. “Most of our time is dedicated to three main areas: putting out fires (mostly caused by firing the wrong people and trying to recover from that), performing impossible tasks, and ‘improving efficiency’ without clear guidelines of what the expected end results are. We mostly move from dumpster fire to dumpster fire, from my perspective.”
[…]
“When you’re asked a question, you run it through your head and say ‘what is the least fireable response I can have to this right now?’” one employee explained.
[…]
At the same time, “[Elon] really doesn’t like to believe that there is anything in technology that he doesn’t know, and that’s frustrating,” the employee said. “You can’t be the smartest person in the room about everything, all the time.”
[…]
There is also a sense of unease about how recent changes will be reviewed by regulators. As part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, Twitter committed to following a series of steps before pushing out changes, including creating a project proposal and conducting security and privacy reviews. 

Since Musk took over, those steps have become an afterthought, employees said. “His stance is basically ‘fuck you, regulators,’” we’re told. 

The FTC plans to audit the company this quarter, we’re told, and employees have doubts that Twitter has the necessary documentation in place to pass inspection. “FTC compliance is concerning,” one says. 

Last year, before Musk took over, the FTC fined Twitter $150 million for breaking its agreement. Another breach would almost certainly result in millions of dollars in additional fines and a flurry of news coverage — just the thing, perhaps, to get the views on Musk’s tweets trending up again.

https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/9/23593099/elon-musk-twitter-fires-engineer-declining-reach-ftc-concerns

…uh huh…& driving away long-time commenters from kinja was a brilliant bit of business strategy…I mean…I get they’re just trying to be funny at the end there…but all told those numbers look to add up to the kind of crunch that makes me think of…I dunno…a delicate appendage in a vice…or…another multi-billion-dollar loser

How Sam Bankman-Fried and his band of millennial millionaires lost a $40bn crypto empire [FT via archive.ph]

…I know the if-it-ain’t-illegal crowd are generally all over the ‘net…but…I guess I wonder…if the people making the laws understand this shit worse than the people giving it the full

…what are the chances that’s going well?

Federal and state regulators have faced high-profile losses in recent years in their efforts to bring the tech giants to heel. But Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, one of the Democratic state leaders leading the campaign, says he’s not throwing in the towel. 
[…]
I caught up with Weiser on Sunday on the sidelines of a Silicon Flatirons conference, a University of Colorado program that he founded in 1999, to talk about the state of play on tech regulation, competition policy and teen mental health online. Here are the highlights:

[re: the FTC failing to block meta’s VR acquisition]
It’s fair to say that this potential competition doctrine [the idea that an acquisition may entrench a company down the line] is not one that we should reach a conclusion on based on one case alone, and the FTC and the DOJ and states should keep thinking about, “Are there other cases that we should be looking at?” The last 20 years this doctrine has been underused and enforcers have been intimidated by bringing such cases.
[…]
If we could see a functional Congress, antitrust and privacy would both be issues that should pass. The idea that Congress fails to act in areas that we know there’s bipartisan support is a failure of Congress to govern. I am an optimist. I am looking forward to the day when on privacy, teen mental health, antitrust, we’re going to see congressional action.

As for the courts, I think there’s a lot of data points that need to play out before I would give too quick a judgment. A lot of important cases are still early in the pipeline, and we’re going to see other cases happening. I think it’s too soon to say.
[…]
You’ve said you’d support a federal privacy law that overrides Colorado’s if it’s as strong. What protections do you see as particularly important to preserve?

We’re going to have a universal opt-out mechanism, and so that’s one of them. A second one: Under Colorado law, consumers have a right to see data profiles collected about them, and to say, “That data is false, you’ve got to change it.” Third, Colorado law requires businesses to do data assessments to make sure the data they’re collecting, they really need. Those three examples are building blocks of what we need in a federal law.

…I don’t know how many of you have taken a look at the sheer number of vendors that GDPR thing makes some sites list in their do-you-wanna-opt-out pop-ups…but I can tell you it’s a lot…& in most cases if you say “nah” they retain what they euphemistically call the ones claiming “legitimate interest”…they don’t declare what that interest might be so you generally have to take their word for it being legitimate…unless you want to hunt down the better part of a hundred businesses you’ve never heard of & try to guess…just so you can look at something someone told you was funny…so…I’d say it depends pretty heavily on the implementation…but if they used a halfway decent definition of the term “really need”…twitter isn’t the only spot that might be looking to get blown up…& if anyone has a right to their “data profiles”…if nothing else it’d likely make it a little bit obvious both how flawed a bunch of that “big data” is…& very probably that “really need” =|= “eh, it’s right there & it ain’t like they’ll even notice”…so…remind me again how we all know how to monetize the internet on account of how everyone’s so online?

If you end up with an interpretation of Section 230 that says, “Algorithms that feed content are also protected,” that will make our cases harder. There’s no two ways about it. Law enforcement that addresses actions by algorithms is a critical tool. To the extent that algorithms are themselves causing harm, they should be subject to enforcement. We are concerned about that sort of ruling. We think it would be a grave mistake by the Supreme Court. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/10/colorado-ag-says-fight-rein-tech-giants-only-just-beginning/

…the supreme…oh…well, I guess we’re all pretty much boned, then…the question is maybe more by way of how

Northern Virginia is home to about 275 data centers, handling at least a third of the world’s online use, with dozens more of the massive structures either under construction or planned as local officials seek to tap into the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue generated by an industry that requires few government services in return.

And as more people use cloud computing devices in their daily lives — streaming video, storing files, Zooming to work — their actions fuel a demand for even more data centers to store, process and disseminate that digital information.

The growth in the industry, underscored by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) announcement last month that Amazon plans to invest $35 billion by 2040 to build multiple data centers across the state, has sparked debates about local land use policies in neighborhoods where data center buildings — some the size of several football fields — sit less than 100 feet from the nearest home.
[…]
Inside [the concrete and glass buildings just off Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn] is the beating heart of the internet in the eastern United States. Informally known as the MAE-East network access point, the Ashburn site owned and operated by the Equinix digital infrastructure company is one of several “primary nodes” for the internet in the world. From it springs a web of underground fiber-optic cables linking to the region’s growing number of data centers and to trans-Atlantic cables that connect Northern Virginia to other parts of the world.

Ashburn became the center of the internet on the East Coast in the 1990s, after AOL and WorldCom Inc. moved their operations there, saidJosh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition trade group. Because the success of online computing is measured by the least amount of delay — or latency — in the movement of data,physicalproximity to the MAE-East primary node is key, leading many of the earliest data centers to also set up their operations in Loudoun, Levi said.
[…]
Today, nearly 13,500 people in Virginia work in the data center industry, which supports 45,000 total jobs, with the state offering tens of millions of dollars in tax exemptions to attract more data centers, according to state economic development officials.

Local jurisdictions can tax the value of the computer equipment inside the buildings without having to provide many government services — giving Northern Virginia a steady stream of funds that, officials say, can go toward schools or affordable housing.

…so…northern virginia leads the nation in availability of affordable housing & its schools are the envy of all? …what’s that? …not so much? …but…officials said…like…officially & shit…damn…I mean…who can you trust?

Former president Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign commissioned an outside research firm in a bid to prove electoral-fraud claims but never released the findings because the firm disputed many of his theories and could not offer any proof that he was the rightful winner of the election, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The campaign paid researchers from Berkeley Research Group, the people said, to study 2020 election results in six states, looking for fraud and irregularities to highlight in public and in the courts. Among the areas examined werevoter machine malfunctions, instances of dead people voting and any evidence that could help Trump show he won, the people said. None of the findings were presented to the public or in court.

About a dozen people at the firmworked on the report, including econometricians, who use statistics to model and predict outcomes, the people said. The work was carried out in the final weeks of 2020, before the Jan. 6 riotof Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol.
[…]
“They looked at everything: change of addresses, illegal immigrants, ballot harvesting, people voting twice, machines being tampered with, ballots that were sent to vacant addresses that were returned and voted,” said a person familiar with the work who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private research and meetings. “Literally anything you could think of. Voter turnout anomalies, date of birth anomalies, whether dead people voted. If there was anything under the sun that could be thought of, they looked at it.”
[…]
The research also contradictedsome of Trump’s more conspiratorial theories, such as his baseless allegations about rigged voting machines and large numbers of dead people voting.
[…]
Senior officials from Berkeley Research Group briefed Trump, then-chief of staff Mark Meadows and others on the findings in a December 2020 conference call, people familiar with the matter said. Meadows showed skepticism of the findings and continued to maintain that Trump won. Trump also continued to say he won the election. The call grew contentious, people with knowledge of the meeting said.

…why is the theme always asshole-insists-they-know-better-than-people-who-know-better-for-a-living?

The Berkeley research came about, according to people familiar with the matter, after Trump as well as some of his advisers became convinced the election was stolen. Others on his team wanted a sober analysis of what they could say and prove, some of the people said. Some of Trump’s advisers even hoped that a definitive report from Berkeley Research Group might tamp down some of the false claims.
[…]
The Berkeley research was done through a subsidiary company called East Bay Dispute and Advisory. Federal Election Commission filings show the Trump campaign paid East Bay Dispute and Advisory more than $600,000 in the final weeks of 2020. A person familiar with the matter said there were also other researchers commissioned to help prove electoral fraud from outside Berkeley Research Group. The payments were described as consulting fees.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/11/trump-campaign-report-electoral-fraud/

…they…keep “trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”

But instead, as the multi-year investigation winds down, it is ending with accusations that unethical actions by that special counsel – John Durham – and ex-attorney general William Barr “weaponized” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to help Trump.

Former DoJ officials and top Democrats are voicing strong criticism that Durham and Barr acted improperly in the almost four-year-old inquiry, citing an in-depth New York Times story that added to other evidence the inquiry looked politically driven to placate Trump’s anger at an investigation he deemed a “witch-hunt”.

The Times report provided disturbing new details, for instance, about how a key prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, quit Durham’s team in 2020 over “ethical” concerns, including his close dealings with Barr, and discussions about releasing an unorthodox interim report before the 2020 election that might have helped Trump, but which didn’t come to fruition.

Critics of the Durham inquiry also noted early on that Barr on several occasions, and contrary to longtime DoJ policies, suggested publicly that Durham’s inquiry would yield significant results, which in effect would help validate Trump’s charges that some officials at the FBI and CIA had led a political witch-hunt.

Further, Barr and Durham, in highly unusual public statements early in their investigation, tried to undermine a chief conclusion of a report by the DoJ inspector general, Michael Horowitz, that the Russia investigation was based on sufficient facts to warrant opening the investigation in 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/10/donald-trump-fbi-durham-investigation

…until the shart of the deal strikes again

The day after leaving the White House, Kushner created a company that he transformed months laterinto a private equity firm with $2 billion from a sovereign wealth fund chairedby Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Kushner’s firm structured those fundsin sucha way that it did not have to disclose the source, according to previously unreported details of Securities and Exchange Commission forms reviewed by The Washington Post. His business used a commonly employed strategy that allows many equity firms to avoid transparency about funding sources, experts said.

A year after his presidency, Trump’s golf courses began hosting tournaments for the Saudi fund-backed LIV Golf. Separately, the former president’s family company, the Trump Organization,secured an agreement with a Saudi real estate company that plans to build a Trump hotel as part of a $4 billion golf resort in Oman.

The substantial investments by the Saudis in enterprises that benefited both mencame after they cultivated close ties with Mohammed while Trump was in office — helping the crown prince’s standing by scheduling Trump’s first presidential trip to Saudi Arabia, backing him amid numerous international crises and meeting with him repeatedly in D.C. and the kingdom, including on a finaltrip Kushner took to Saudi Arabia on the eve of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

New details about their relationship have emerged in recently published memoirs, as well as accounts in congressional testimony and interviews by The Post with former senior White House officials.Those revelations include Kushner’s written account of persuading Trump to prioritize Saudi Arabia over the objections of top advisers and a former secretary of state’s assertion in a book that Trump believed the prince “owed” him.

They also underscore the crucial nature of Trump’s admission that he “saved” Mohammed in the wake of the CIA’s finding that the crown prince ordered the killing or capture of Post contributing opinion columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
[…]
“The financial links between the Saudi royal family and the Trump family raise very serious issues,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and for several years has been investigating various ties between the Saudis, Trump and Kushner, “and when you factor in Jared Kushner’s financial interests, you are looking right at the cat’s cradle of financial entanglements.”

Those concerns come at a high-stakes moment in the fraught U.S.-Saudi relationship. The investments by the Saudis came as the U.S. State Department said in a 2021 report that there continued to be “significant human rights issues” in Saudi Arabia, citing “credible reports” of torture and executions for nonviolent offenses.President Biden, who has backed away from a campaign pledge to hold the kingdom to account for human rights abuses, clashed openly with Riyadh in the fall over cuts in oil production. Trump, if he is reelected, may be less likely to confront the Saudi regime in future crises due to his financial entanglements, experts say.

Retired military personnel are required under ethics rules to obtain approval to work for foreign governments like Saudi Arabia.But there’s no requirement for Trump, a former commander in chief, nor for former senior White House officials such as Kushner, to disclose if they have financial ties to foreign governments, according to Don Fox, former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics. He said their work has exposed a glaring shortfall in ethics laws that needs to be fixed by Congress.

“I think the Congress had a certain vision in mind for what the post-presidency looks like, such as creating a library and museum and some speaking and writing a memoir,” Fox said. “I don’t think it ever occurred to the drafters of these ethics laws that a former president would actually try to cash in on his years of office this way.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/12/after-helping-princes-rise-trump-kushner-benefit-saudi-funds/

…for realsies? …that seems…how can I put this…hopelessly fucking naïve…have they never heard of…I dunno…the carlyle group or some shit?

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/carlyle-group/summary

…they’ve had long enough

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2012/01/11/the-love-affair-between-politicans-and-private-equity/

…maybe…I dunno…that youngkin fella could set ’em straight?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-04/ex-carlyle-boss-racked-up-bad-bets-before-switching-to-politics

In January 2020, Glenn Youngkin, now the Republican governor of Virginia, got some welcome news. A complex corporate transaction had gone through at the Carlyle Group, the powerful private equity company that Youngkin led as co-chief executive. Under the deal, approved by the Carlyle board and code-named “Project Phoenix,” he began receiving $8.5 million in cash and exchanged his almost $200 million stake in the company for an equal amount of tax-free shares, according to court documents.
[…]
The Project Phoenix payout came on top of $54 million in compensation Youngkin had received from Carlyle during the previous two years, regulatory records show. Youngkin retired from Carlyle on Sept. 30, 2020; he won the governor’s election in November 2021. 
[…]
Meanwhile, the Carlyle insiders who received the payouts escaped a tax bill that would have exceeded $1 billion, according to the complaint, which accuses Rubenstein, Youngkin and other Carlyle officials of lining their own pockets at the expense of people like police officers and firefighters.   

“The kind of impunity that Carlyle’s control group acted with is shocking and unacceptable,” lawyers for the Pittsburgh pension fund said in their complaint.
[…]
Private equity investors already receive special tax treatment on their earnings, under what is known as the carried interest loophole. Much of their income is taxed at 20%, far below the 37% maximum paid by high-earning salaried workers. Initially, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which just passed the Senate, had narrowed the loophole’s benefits, but the change disappeared at the insistence of Kyrsten Sinema, the holdout Democratic senator from Arizona, according to news reports.
[…]
Under normal circumstances, TRA payouts can be a win-win for both a company and its insiders, market participants say, because both parties get something of value — the insiders get stock, and the company gets a tax benefit when they sell it. 

But in a highly unusual move that was unfair to Carlyle’s shareholders, lawyers for the Pittsburgh pension fund say, Carlyle paid cash to the insiders and structured its deal as a tax-free exchange of the insiders’ holdings, allowing them to avoid huge tax bills on the stock they received in the deal. This meant the transaction generated no tax benefits to the company.
[…]
According to the lawsuit, the cash payout and tax-free exchange was “an extreme outlier” among such agreements, designed by the Carlyle insiders “to maximize the benefits for themselves in every possible way, to the detriment of the company and the public stockholders.”

Asked to respond to the lawsuit’s allegations, a spokesperson for Youngkin provided this statement: “When Mr. Youngkin was a member of Carlyle’s leadership, the Carlyle board and an independent special committee retained independent experts and advisors to consider and approve a transaction that had significant benefits for the company and its shareholders. The plaintiff’s allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended against.” 

…baseless…uh huh

The $344 million Carlyle payout sprang from two related events, the lawsuit states. The first was a change in Carlyle’s corporate structure, from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation. The second was the buyout of a tax receivable agreement the insiders had previously struck with the company. 

Youngkin was one member of an eight-person committee of high-level Carlyle officials working on the TRA deal, the lawsuit says. 
[…]
Tax-free payouts to executives of top private equity firms are notable because the tax code already allows them to pay much lower tax rates on their earnings. The tax treatment has helped propel many top private equity executives to billionaire status in recent years. 

Private equity firms use large amounts of debt to buy companies that they hope to sell at a profit in a few years. The firms have taken over large swaths of the U.S. economy, acquiring companies in almost every industry, including health care, fast food, retailers, residential rental properties, nursing homes and pet care.  

The firms say they resurrect struggling companies, but academic research shows they can also have a pernicious effect on the companies they buy, including job and benefit cuts, as well as pension depletions. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/unusual-deal-gave-virginia-gov-glenn-youngkin-85-million-stock-paid

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/02/how-the-case-of-arrested-fbi-agent-charles-mcgonigal-is-tied-to-a-russia-linked-influence-effort/

…still…it’s kind of impressive how many clowns they still have crammed in that little car of theirs

Already, it is safe to say that the brand-new House Republican majority is off to an awful, abysmal, amateurish and appalling start. And those are just the applicable adjectives that begin with the letter A.
[…]
On Thursday, the House Judiciary select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), held its first hearing, with the aim of proving that the FBI and the Justice Department have somehow become … well, I don’t know exactly what, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) testified at the hearing, and this is what he wrote in his prepared opening remarks:

“They operate as vital partners of the left wing political movement that includes most members of the mainstream media, Big Tech social media giants, global institutions and foundations, Democratic Party operatives and elected officials.”
[…]
I can think of ways House Republicans could more profitably go about trying to highlight mistakes or shortcomings of the Biden administration. I suspect that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can, too. But McCarthy owes his job to the MAGA extremists in his caucus, so the GOP majority’s one chance to make a first impression is being squandered on conspiracy theories and personal grievances.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/02/09/republican-antics-congress-self-sabotage/

…he who pays the piper & all that

For much of the last decade the Koch-funded group has pledged to move away from far-right Republicans, before sending tens of millions of dollars towards those very officials.

As the investigative newsletter Popular Information put it: “The reality is that few individuals have spent more money to legitimize Trump and his allies than Charles Koch.”

…foreign state actors don’t count, I’m guessing

In announcing its move away from Trump, AFP Action said: “The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles.”
[…]
AFP Action said it would get involved in elections “earlier and in more primaries” in a bid to turn out more voters and elect what it described as “better people”.

But in inviting Schmitt and Ogles – their attendance was first reported by the Washington Post – AFP Action sent a mixed message. Both candidates have tied themselves to a former president that Koch’s network says it is ready to ditch.
[…]
Ogles, a former county mayor who previously described himself as the “most conservative mayor in Tennessee”, said people were “defrauded out of a true and honest election” as he denied the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory.
[…]
“We’re at war. This is a political war, a cultural war, and it’s a spiritual war,” Ogles said in his victory speech in November. “And as we go forward, we’ve got to get back to honoring God and country.”
[…]
As Missouri attorney general, Schmitt was one of the Republican attorneys general who challenged election results in Pennsylvania in 2020. He also signed on to a separate lawsuit, which attempted to overturn election results in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

While in the same office, Schmitt signed a lawsuit, with others, arguing LGBTQ people were not protected against discrimination under federal law.

Since then, Schmitt has spoken of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which charges that Democrats are seeking to disempower white people through changing the racial makeup of the US. Democrats, Schmitt said, are “fundamentally trying to change this country through illegal immigration”.
[…]
As Popular Information reported, this is not AFP Action’s first contradiction.

In 2018, Koch criticized Trump’s presidency, and said he would be willing to back Democrats. AFP Action went on to spend $3,948,640 supporting Republicans and $2,835,924 opposing Democrats, Popular Information reported, and zero dollars on Democrats.

Going back further, Koch said in 2016 that he not support Trump – or Hillary Clinton – in the presidential election. But, Popular Information found: “He spent millions on ads that, while formally opposing Democratic Senate candidates, savaged Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.”

Given Koch’s, and AFP Action’s history, it seems unlikely there will be much change in the future.
[…]
On an AFP Action “national scorecard”, which gives elected officials scores out of 100 for their performance in office, so far every single Republican has a score of 100.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/11/koch-brothers-afp-action-advocacy-far-right-republicans

…same old, same old then, I guess

In retrospect, the Mueller report was a cry for help.
[…]
Its conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice became a Washington classic of needle-threading ambiguity: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” The office declined to call Trump a criminal, however much it might have wanted to.
[…]
The two highest-profile congressional investigations of Trump that followed — the 2019 report by the House Intelligence Committee on Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine as well as the recently released report by the select committee on the Jan. 6 attack — read like deliberate contrasts to the document produced by Robert Mueller and his team. Their presentation is dramatic, not dense; their conclusions are blunt, not oblique; their arguments are political as much as legal. And yet, the Ukraine and Jan. 6 reports seem to follow the cues, explicit or implied, that the Mueller report left behind.

Read together, these three major investigations of the Trump presidency appear in conversation with one another, ever more detailed drafts of a most unorthodox historical record — a history in which these documents are characters as much as chroniclers.
[…]
The effect is cumulative. While the Mueller report evaluates Trump’s behavior as a series of individual, unrelated actions, it knows better, stating near the end that the president’s “pattern of conduct as a whole” was vital to grasping his intentions. The Ukraine and Jan. 6 reports took up that task, establishing links among Trump’s varied transgressions.

While the Mueller report wonders whether Trump and his advisers committed certain acts “willfully” — that is, “with general knowledge of the illegality of their conduct” — the investigations into his strong-arming of Ukraine and the Capitol assault seek to show that Trump knew that his actions violated the law and that his statements ran counter to the truth.

And while the Mueller report grudgingly posits that some of the president’s questionable actions might have been taken with the public, rather than the private, interest in mind, the Ukraine and Jan. 6 reports contend that with Trump, the distinction between public and private always collapsed in favor of the latter.
[…]
ALL THREE REPORTS INCLUDE quintessentially Trumpian scenes, consistent in their depictions of the former president’s methods, and very much in keeping with numerous journalistic accounts of how he sought to manipulate people, rules and institutions.
[…]
All three reports show Trump deploying the mechanisms of government for political gain. Less than four months into his term, Trump relies on a Department of Justice memo as cover to fire the F.B.I. director; he uses the Office of Management and Budget to delay the disbursal of military aid to Ukraine in 2019; and he attempts to use fake state electoral certificates to upend the results of the 2020 vote.
[…]
Still, each investigation offers a slightly different theory of Trump. In the Mueller report, Trump and his aides come across as the gang that can’t cheat straight — too haphazard to effectively coordinate with a foreign government, too ignorant of campaign finance laws to purposely violate them, often comically naïve about the gravity of their plight. When Michael Flynn resigns from the White House after admitting to lying about his contacts with Russian officials, Trump consoles him with the assurance, “We’ll give you a good recommendation,” as if Flynn were a departing mailroom intern rather than a disgraced ex-national security adviser.
[…]
The Mueller report rebuts the Trumpian notion that the president can employ his legitimate authority regardless of the illegitimacy of his purpose. “An improper motive can render an actor’s conduct criminal even when the conduct would otherwise be lawful and within the actor’s authority,” the report states, in the patient tone of a parent explaining household rules to a child. But even in the damning sections on Trump’s potential obstruction of justice (in which the office all but states that it would have charged Trump if it could have), the report theorizes that the president may have been attacking the inquiries against him out of concern that they hindered his ability to govern, not because he was hiding some nefarious activity.

The Ukraine report, by contrast, regards Trump as more strategic than chaotic, and it does not wallow in the netherworld between the president’s personal benefit and his public service. “The president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security,” Representative Adam Schiff declares in the report’s preface.

The three investigations tell different stories, but the misdeeds all run together, more overlapping than sequential. The president’s effort to squeeze Zelensky’s government into investigating the Biden family (ironically, under the guise of Trump’s anti-corruption concerns) was an attempt to manipulate the 2020 election, while his desire for Ukraine to investigate its own supposed U.S. election interference (on behalf of the Democrats, naturally) was part of Trump’s ongoing battle to defend the glorious memory of his 2016 victory. “We were struck by the fact that the president’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president,” Schiff writes. Indeed, several weeks before Trump’s famous phone conversation with Zelensky on July 25, 2019, Trump had already ordered a hold on hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, which it would dangle as leverage. And the purely political nature of the enterprise was made plain when the report notes that Trump did not care if Ukraine in fact conducted any investigations. It simply had to announce them.

…I’d say you couldn’t make this shit up…but they did…& they’ve really buckled down to it since

The Mueller report argues that viewing the president’s “acts collectively can help to illuminate their significance.” The Ukraine report shows that the conversation that Trump described as “a perfect call” was not the ask; it was the confirmation. When Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor, though,” Zelensky and his aides had already been notified of what was coming. The Ukraine scandal was never about a single call, just as the Jan. 6 report was not about a single day.
[…]
The Jan. 6 report takes seriously the admonition to view the president’s actions collectively, not individually; the phrase “multipart plan” appears throughout the report, with Trump as the architect. Several observers of the Trump era have described how the president learned to maneuver his way through the executive branch and grew bolder in his abuses of it; in the Jan. 6 report, that transition is complete. No longer the bumbling, reactive and instinctual occupant of the Oval Office, here Trump is fully in charge — purposely spreading false information about election fraud, pressuring Pence to refuse to certify the Electoral College count, leaning on state and local electoral officials to change the vote totals, summoning tens of thousands of supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, and urging them to march to the Capitol, then standing by for hours as the violent attack was underway. “The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report concludes.
[…]
That Trump would rile people up and then sit back and watch the outcome on television was the least surprising part of the day. It was how he spent his presidency. In calling out Trump’s failure to act, the Jan. 6 report was imagining that Trump, in that moment, might have become presidential at last, shocked by what his own actions wrought into being something other than himself. In its condemnation of Trump, the report still longed for his transformation. After so many pages, so much testimony, so much analysis, it still struggled to understand him.

The challenges of interpreting and describing what another person was thinking, doing or intending at a particular moment — even a person as overanalyzed as Donald J. Trump — come alive in one passage, or rather, one word, of the Jan. 6 report. The issue is not even the word itself, but the form in which it is rendered.
[…]
As always, Trump wanted a bigger crowd. Hutchinson said she heard him say something like, “I don’t F’ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the F’ing mags away. Let my people in.”

They’re not here to hurt me. Which word should one emphasize when uttering that sentence aloud? If it is the verb “hurt,” the sentiment would be somewhat benign. They are not here to hurt me, the president might have meant, but to praise or cheer or support me. If the emphasis falls on “me,” however, the meaning is more sinister. They’re not here to hurt me, the implication would be, but to hurt someone else. That someone else could be Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, an officer of the Capitol Police or any of the lawmakers gathering to fulfill their duty and certify Joe Biden as president.
[…]
Of course, the less ambiguous interpretation of Trump’s words is that either inflection — whether “hurt” or “me” — still means the president was unconcerned about anyone’s safety but his own. Perhaps “I don’t F’ing care” is the most relevant phrase.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/09/opinion/trump-mueller-ukraine-jan-6.html

…I guess it’s no surprise these people don’t seem to care…caring is sharing…& we know how they feel about that shit

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26 Comments

  1. you know….only the gubment would worry about what anyone might be able to see with a bloon…. makes you wonder what they are trying to hide

    but hey look on the upside

    if they need bloons…i guess their satelites suck

    (edit)

    if satellites are knocked out or blinded by counter-measures. Or a balloon could serve as a mother ship, carrying a canister containing a swarm of drones that could unleashed on enemy territory.

    drones?…that seems more reasonable than the chemical warfare options ive seen thrown about elsewhere…

    comes a point you gotta wonder tho…..would they…or are you projecting?

    • …yeah…the maybe-the-balloon-is-full-of-biotoxins-so-when-you-shoot-it-down-we’ll-all-get-sick narrative is…something else

      …at least with a drone swarm they’re into a higher calibre of sci fi territory

      …there’s a great bit in excession where a lot of…well, they’re maybe a mite bigger than drones…but there’s definitely enough to call them a swarm when they get deployed…I’d quote the passage but it’s late in the book & arguably something of a spoiler

      …but…while I’m considering the iain m. banks of it all…that “brain transparency” stuff…the sort of shit mr I-get-banks’-sci-fi wants his neuralink lot to roll out so he can…make bank, I guess…yeah…that would be a lot like a “neural lace”

      It was a little bundle of what looked like thin, glisteningly blue threads, lying in a shallow bowl; a net, like something you’d put on the end of a stick and go fishing for little fish in a stream. She tried to pick it up; it was impossibly slinky and the material slipped through her fingers like oil; the holes in the net were just too small to put a finger-tip through. Eventually she had to tip the bowl up and pour the blue mesh into her palm. It was very light. Something about it stirred a vague memory in her, but she couldn’t recall what it was. She asked the ship what it was, via her neural lace.

      ~ That is a neural lace, it informed her. ~ A more exquisite and economical method of torturing creatures such as yourself has yet to be invented.

      …technically that’s also from excession…but I don’t think it could be considered a spoiler?

      • …to the (extremely limited) extent that I understand it…balloons are a lot cheaper than satellites…& they loiter for longer…so there’s some stuff they arguably make sense for…but otoh…they are not exactly a precision deployment sort of a thing…so…I dunno…there must be a reason they’ve been floating them about but I don’t know how much they really learn that they couldn’t have found out otherwise?

  2. I was leafing through the print edition of my college alumni magazine some years ago and was astonished to learn, in the Alumni Notes section, that a classmate I knew slightly was “checking in to say hey” and that he, his wife, and three children were living in one of the small Gulf States, where he had set up and ran the local Carlyle Group operation. But aside from that, one of his kids had just accepted a spot at our alma mater, and thought we should know.

    I immediately took action, contacting everyone I knew who might have known him, and said, “Do you remember [Nickname, Last Name]? He can now buy and sell our entire graduating class ten times over and here’s why.”

     

     

    • …the european arm of the thing is extremely fond of looking at ex-politicians as an employment pool

      …what exactly do you think they imagined they’d get out of hiring…say…john major?

      • Both George H. W. and George W. Bush were Carlyle Board members at one point, I believe. But back to Britain, Nick Clegg is somewhat famously doing whatever he does at Facebook Meta, and David Milliband, of all people, is the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. The IRC is now focused on relief efforts in post-earthquake Turkey and Syria. God help those people.

        • …david was the milliband that everyone thought had the mojo…but then ed went ahead & had relations with the unions so he pissed off to the states…some say in high dudgeon…but quite possibly just to stop ed being serially undercut by his better-thought-of brother

          …the BBC likes to wheel him out from time to time to sound all serious & worldly about something awful

          …but I don’t know as I’d be over the moon to find out that’s the face of international rescue…he’s no thunderbird…although I suspect there may still be strings involved?

  3. unrelated to everything….but my supermarket has a new bouncer

    and she is utterly fascinating to me

    about my size….which is rare in and of itself

    seems easy going enough too…… but i have never met a person that set off my not to be fucked with alarm like her before

    dunno where they found her….but i really hope i am nearby when someone crosses the line…. itll be glorious

        • We have “loss prevention” people at my favorite grocery store in the bad part of town.  At night they use actual cops.  The store has so many homeless & drugged out tweekers they have to.  Not that this stops them.  Everyone asks me why I shop there but I find great deals because nobody buys the better cuts of meat, seafood & wine so they mark it down more often.  I just put my headphones on & ignore the shitshow.

        • its actually nothing to do with that….to save on costs the supermarkets employ teenagers

          and as teenage boys are mostly fucking useless…that means the whole store is run by teenage girls…and a couple managers

          im in a fairly rough neighbourhood full of drunks and druggies….come closing time the girls need any help they can get

  4. The thing about that brain scan tech is that it’s absolutely, unquestionably BS.

    Doctors lack even basic the ability to look at a scan and know whether it shows a traumatic event like a concussion. There is simply no way they can evaluate people for  much narrower, less significant events like that Guardian article quotes her.

    What they may be able to do is collect data, and variations in that data. But that is simply not the same as diagnosis. Not even remotely close. Even if they could do a tiny fraction of what she claims, underlying issues of false positives and negatives which have bedeviled polygraphs will remain.

    And that’s the fundamental bias inherent in Nita Farahany’s argument. She is so wedded to the idea that this technology is feasible that her warning fails to note the basic reality. She’s blowing the horn that the tech will be used accurately for bad reasons. The fact is that it will be used wildly inaccurately for bad reasons.

    It’s phrenology, which was refined into a remarkably precise discipline which was also complete and utter nonsense, and like phrenology the fake precision will also lead it to be used for the most idiculous purposes.

    • …I forget who it was that said it but basically if the human brain were simple enough for us to understand it…we’d be too simple-minded to even try…so claiming to be able to “know” stuff about exactly what will result in what & how to measure it is shaky ground at best

      …but in accessibility terms there’s certainly some interesting stuff that has been successfully rigged up to allow people to do specific things that they otherwise couldn’t…particularly when it comes to being able to operate stuff…so it’s fair to say there is potential…even if grafting cybernetics into someone’s cranium seems like the height of stupidity under most comercial circumstances

      …one thing that big data sets are helpful for/with though is not so much diagnosis as prognosis…if X happens in terms of brain trauma & Y days later there’s been A indications of this or that it can let you plot that progression against known data & say “there’s a pretty good chance these things are short-term symptoms but these ones over here are probably here to stay” which can be pretty useful in treatment

      …whether or not that could be improved by increasing the amount of data points in the way you presumably would by permanently installing sensors is…plausible but debatable?

      …whether any kind of tech that jumps from wearable to integrated in an actual person seems like the stuff of dystopian nightmares & almost certainly not worth it for the overwhelming majority of people…seems like it ought to be a shorter debate…& yet…here we are?

      • Big data is a nice comparison, because it’s turning out that more and more of the grandiose promises are turning out to be nonsense.

        The warning sign that all of the futurists blew past is the basic fact that data is not diagnosis, just like correlation is not causation.

        What sometimes is possible is narrow implementations, but even then practitioners have been far too glib about entire hosts of issues, like cost effectiveness, opportunity costs, interference from data collection, and more.

        There’s huge money in this stuff, along with enormous ego rewards for the TED talkers, and it creates sick opportunities for ideologues. And it’s incredibly important for skeptics to get a better historical sense of how grand unifying theorists fail.

        • …I know I go on about the whole GI:GO thing a lot…but when it comes to all things “big data”…that really is a big chunk of why some of it doesn’t work even when arguably it should

          …it does have some significant corollaries though…where you assume parity of input but the data being collected is neither identically sampled nor quantified you don’t have a foundation for accurate comparative analysis, much less extrapolation

          …us old fashioned types tend to mention apples & oranges at this point

          …then you have your compound errors…where you start out with a variable standing in for a thing…like a behavior or an identifier or some such…then you take your poorly sampled data & assume your calculations are so good (read “aggregate so many data points”) that you can go ahead & claim the variable “is” the thing…& wouldn’t you know it you can throw in some doubtless impeccably determined weighting…& now you know how to make that variable dance & people should let you decide stuff on the basis of what makes your numbers move up & down

          …don’t have to look further than pharma dosage calculations to see how that all combines to some people getting a raw deal…& in terms of the underlying relationship between observations made & the relative complexity of the math brought to bear upon it…that’s practically a trivial exercise compared to something like cambridge analytica from a technical perspective

          …is there something to it that’s potentially extremely useful…yes…does it bear more than a passing resemblance to a lot of talk that gets talked…also yes…is the underlying mechanics of the thing suspect as all get out…even before the hype men start making claims they can’t justify…that’s pretty much a “hell, yeah”

          …is there anything that’s going to prevent me from apparently living through the process of that stuff becoming endemic to life in a first world country?

          …I dunno…maybe…but the only things I can think of that would make the possible list in that category might actually be worse to live through

          …I guess that’s why they call them “data scientists”

  5. This year just keeps getting weirder and weirder.  We lost another friend and surfing icon way too young.  A year ago I went to San Diego to honor another fallen waterman film hero & now we have lost another.  Larry & I both had the exact same water housing built at the same time & I thought I could compete with him and others in surf photography.  I quickly learned that he had WAY more stamina & dedication.  I wanted him to be the competition but he was too nice to not just be a friend.  RIP Larry!

    https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2023/02/12/what-happened-to-legendary-surf-photographer-larry-haynes-aka-fluid-vision/

  6. …despite the amount of them I come across “in the wild” so to speak, I don’t really use twitter as such…so I don’t really have much in the way of familiarity with how to best curate a livable feed out of the algorithmic morass from within the ecosystem…so my fascination with how fucking poorly it’s being handled is more by way of a spectator sport than feeling like I have actual skin in the game

    …that said, I know a few folks hereabouts would not only miss it if it went away…but might miss those parts of it even while it zombies on judging by the way it seems to be going…so… apologies for reposting a whole thread…but…this seems a) not good & b) like another example of not understanding how the expensive toy works & spouting what you think are impressive-sounding excuses for why it matters more that you assuage your bruised ego than you allow your users to manually edit out the asinine hellscape you keep “improving” their personal media landscape with

    …I mean…if the reasons he gave for why the “services” he cites were as busted as he makes out…then that whole thing is held together with…not even duct tape…bubblegum & high hopes or some shit…& it took his unique genius to figure out that obviously something had to be broken if he wasn’t getting more attention

    …meanwhile…if some accounts are being blocked by individual users, bots or otherwise, in such statistically high proportions it’s indicating that they ought to be smothered rather than promoted…which sounds like something that’s a net gain to almost everyone…& that being gamed as a below-the-radar DDoS attack vector…that needs more attention than actually. making. sure. your. shit. works.

    …this is starting to sound like the colonial forces fighting the indians

    …mind you…ockham & his trusty razor could maybe whittle a few probabilities & possibilities off that & cook it down into something altogether more pathetic…in which case…does fucking with the block function count as keeping the quiet part quiet?

    …I’m just trying to understand the new rules of this game, really…so apologies if nobody much cares

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