I Can’t Sleep [DOT 17/2/22]

...

I kept our resident DOT guru (who hates when I refer to him as that so this will likely be edited out) @splinterrip up all night so you’re stuck with this [frankenstein’s monster] as a DOT.
[…he’s right about that…well…not the guru part…obviously…that probably ought to say “your regularly scheduled provider” or something]

What nightmares keep you up all night?
[…well…I could probably think of one or two…but sometimes it’s what seems to be keeping others up at night that haunts us]

But for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the military base in Poland, and another in Romania, are evidence of what he sees as the threat posed by NATO’s eastward expansion — and part of his justification for his military encirclement of Ukraine. The Pentagon describes the two sites as defensive and unrelated to Russia, but the Kremlin believes they could be used to shoot down Russian rockets or to fire offensive cruise missiles at Moscow.

On Wednesday, Russia announced further troop withdrawals and Ukraine signaled a willingness to forgo its ambitions to join NATO, a critical issue in the current conflict with Moscow. But tensions ratcheted up later in the day when a U.S. official said that Russian claims about a reduced troop presence were “false” and that there was fresh evidence Moscow was “mobilizing for war.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/world/europe/poland-missile-base-russia-ukraine.html

&

“We now know it was false,” the official said, adding that as many as 7,000 troops have joined the 150,000 already near the border in recent days.

The official said troops were arriving as recently as Wednesday and Moscow could launch a false pretext to invade Ukraine at any moment. The official also gave one of the grimmest assessments yet for the possibility of reaching a diplomatic solution to avoid war.

“Russia keeps saying it wants to pursue a diplomatic solution, their actions indicate otherwise,” the official said. “We hope they will change course before starting a war that will bring catastrophic death and destruction.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraine-crisis-russia-troop-pullback-met-skepticism-west-ukraine-defiantlyholdsunityday

There are two clashing arguments about whether the threat of economic sanctions can be effective now in deterring Russian aggression in Ukraine. One is that sanctions against Russia following the 2014 invasion of Ukraine didn’t prompt any improvement in behavior, nor did sanctions promote good behavior when imposed against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Venezuela. So it’s unrealistic to expect sterner sanctions to work against Russia this time.

The contrary view is that sanctions would be effective now because they could cause real economic pain. It’s the Russians themselves, oddly enough, who have expressed this view most prominently. […]

After poking around this question for a couple of days I’ve concluded that the predictions of harm to Russia from a Swift cutoff are overblown, but sanctions can be at least somewhat effective. And even though sanctions are far from a perfect solution, they’re the only alternative to either armed conflict or acquiescence to Russian aggression. A war in Ukraine could be the biggest in Europe since 1945.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/opinion/sanctions-russia-ukraine.html

A senior U.S. official accused Russia of making “false” claims about its purported drawdown, saying Washington has confirmed that Moscow added as many as 7,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, with some arriving as recently as Wednesday. “Every indication we have now is they mean only to publicly offer to talk and make claims about de-escalation while privately mobilizing for war,” the official told reporters, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.
[…]
The U.S. assessment of Russian troop strength was buttressed by Britain’s chief of defense intelligence, Lt. Gen. James Hockenhull, who said in a rare public statement that the Kremlin “continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/17/ukraine-russia-putin-nato-munich/

The US and the UK have sought to fend off a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine in part by going public with an unusual amount of intelligence, hoping to rob Vladimir Putin of the element of surprise.
[…]
In doing so, the US and UK are trying to beat Russia at what has largely been Moscow’s game in recent years – or at least to provide better opposition.

“I think it’s the west getting a little more savvy on using intelligence in an actionable way,” John Sipher, a veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service, said. “It’s what we used to call – when the Russians did it – information warfare, and it’s something we’ve never got very good at.

“What’s interesting is this information isn’t meant for Americans or British citizens. It’s meant for one consumer: Vladimir Putin,” Sipher said. “He’s the one who knows whether it’s true or not. So if we put out intelligence that the Russians thought was secret, and Putin knows it’s true, he’s got to decide how it has consequences for what he was trying to do, and how it’s affecting his strategy.”
[…]
“We’re in an information war with the Russians and we have been for some time,” Angela Stent, director of Georgetown University’s center for Eurasian, Russian and east European studies, said. “I think the Russians have been taken by surprise. I think they didn’t realise how much the US and Britain knew about this, but also that they would put it out there publicly. So I think it’s possible that this has had the impact of making Putin maybe rethink some things he might do.”
[…]
Going public also serves a domestic political purpose, especially for a US administration that has been widely criticised for failing to predict the collapse of the Afghan government and Taliban takeover last year. If there is a Russian attack, no one will be able to say the Biden White House was taken unawares.

The flip side of that is if Putin does not attack, US and British intelligence will be accused of crying wolf and getting it wrong once more, especially as neither has shown evidence for their assertions. The Kremlin is already taunting the western media for reporting US and allied claims of imminent war.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/16/us-uk-russia-invasion-ingelligence-public-briefings

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/16/panic-boris-johnson-allies-brexit-unravelling-michael-heseltine

&

It has not been uncommon, in recent years, to hear Americans worry about the advent of a new civil war.
[…]
This isn’t just the media or the political class; it’s public opinion too. In a 2019 survey for the Georgetown Institute of Politics, the average respondent said that the United States was two-thirds of the way toward the “edge of a civil war.” In a recent poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard, 35 percent of voting-age Americans under 30 placed the odds of a second civil war at 50 percent or higher.

And in a result that says something about the divisions at hand, 52 percent of Trump voters and 41 percent of Biden voters said that they at least “somewhat agree” that it’s time to split the country, with either red or blue states leaving the union and forming their own country, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia (where I am a visiting scholar).
[…]
There is, however, a serious problem with this narrative: The Civil War we fought in the 19th century was not sparked by division qua division.
[…]
The point of this compact history, with regard to the present, is that it is irresponsible to talk about civil war as a function of polarization or division or rival ideologies. If those things matter, and they do, it is in how they both reflect and shape the objective interests of the people and factions in dispute.

Which is to say that if you’re worried about a second Civil War, the question to ask isn’t whether people hate each other — they always have, and we tend to grossly exaggerate the extent of this country’s political and cultural unity over time — but whether that hate results from the irreconcilable social and economic interests of opposing groups within the society. If it must be one way or the other, then you might have a conflict on your hands.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/opinion/second-civil-war.html

The Justice Department sued Missouri on Wednesday over the state’s far-reaching gun law, which discourages local officials from enforcing federal firearms measures.

The law, known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, is among the most severe state gun-rights bills in recent years. At least eight other states, including West Virginia, have recently passed similar measures, but Missouri’s has by far the sharpest teeth: A provision allows citizens to sue any local police agency for $50,000 for every incident in which they can prove that their right to bear firearms was violated, provided they were not flouting state law.

The department argued that the Missouri law, rammed through the state’s Republican-led legislature last spring, violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which prohibits states from overriding federal statute.
[…]
The bill’s supporters have argued that the new law is constitutional and does not prohibit federal agents from operating in Missouri. They have argued it only blocks state and local law enforcement officials from working on such cases without explicit proof that their actions will not contribute to the confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens.
[…]
The Justice Department said it had filed the suit to assert a larger constitutional principle.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/us/politics/missouri-gun-rights-law.html

&

The inflation rate has exceeded the 40-year high previously set in December, but what remains unclear to many is what is really causing that inflation and when it will come to an end. Obvious to many is that the pandemic has put its thumb on the economic scale, but what exactly is causing the purchasing power of the dollar to falter remains murky.

That’s not just an issue for the average person, however. While most economists tend to acknowledge the same causes of inflation, many disagree which elements are most driving the price increases that continue to vex American consumers.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/whats-causing-inflation-economists-point-fingers-different-culprits

But in the last few weeks, as corporations announced their financial performance for the final months of 2021, I’ve found it hard to focus on what might now go wrong for the tech industry.

Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft — the four American companies now worth more than a trillion dollars each (actually, Microsoft is above $2 trillion, and Apple nearly $3 trillion) — reported enviable growth in 2021. Even Facebook’s disappointing earnings were relative: The company’s profits grew by 35 percent in 2021, down from nearly 60 percent growth in 2020.
[…]
As Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge pointed out, Apple’s revenue grew by more than $90 billion in 2021, about a third more than its revenue in 2020 — and this despite a global shortage of computer chips. Amazon’s sales in 2021 were 67 percent larger than in 2019, the year before the pandemic; Google’s 2021 revenue was nearly 60 percent greater than in 2019.

I’ve worn down my thesaurus looking for superlatives to underline how gobsmacking these numbers are. These were already among the largest corporations ever to have existed; in 2018, Apple became the first American company to reach a trillion-dollar market valuation. Companies of that size are just not supposed to grow as quickly as they have. For years, pundits have been predicting that tech giants would eventually run up against the so-called “law of large numbers.” Yet Big Tech keeps breaking the law.
[…]
You see a similar trend across the industry — Big Tech’s not just getting more customers for its traditional businesses, but is expanding its ancillary businesses in ways that seem impossible.[…]

I wonder if a few years from now we’ll say that when it came to anticipating the future for Big Tech, we weren’t thinking big enough.

The Rise of Big Tech May Just Be Starting [NYT]

It is not the first time Silicon Valley billionaires have thrown their wealth at the ageing problem. In 2013, Google launched Calico – the California Life Company – with its own high-profile hires. With $1bn to burn, the secretive firm began studying mice, which have an average lifespan of six years, and naked mole rats, which, with a lifespan of 30 years, appear to have traded good looks for longevity. The company aims to map the ageing process and extend healthy lifespan, but has yet to produce any products.

Not that this has dampened Silicon Valley’s expectations. In a microcosm shaped by big tech, ageing is framed as code to be hacked, with death merely a problem to be solved. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and the big data analyst Palantir, has poured millions into anti-ageing research, notably the Methuselah Foundation, a non-profit that aims to make “90 the new 50 by 2030”. As powerful computation is brought to bear on biology, Thiel has claimed it will be possible to “reverse all human ailments in the same way that we can fix the bugs of a computer program. Death will eventually be reduced from a mystery to a solvable problem.”
[…]
Thiel, who hopes to live to 120, is one of the more adventurous advocates of anti-ageing therapies. One that caught his eye – although it is unclear if he has tried it – stems from a series of macabre experiments that found the muscles, brains and organs of old mice were partially rejuvenated when they shared the blood of a young animal. (The younger animals, in return, appeared to age.) Scientists are still trying to establish which blood components are behind the effect, with a view to slowing dementia and other age‑related diseases. But that didn’t stop a number of US firms from offering young blood transfusions for thousands of dollars – until the US Food and Drug Administration intervened, warning consumers that there was “no proven clinical benefit”.
[…]
In case death turns out to be a hard nut to crack, Thiel and others have hedged their bets and signed up with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which has been freezing bodies and brains of the dead since 1976. For about $200,000 and annual dues, the Arizona-based firm (motto: “A fulfilling life doesn’t have to end”) will keep your corpse on ice until science can reanimate you. For those of more modest means, Alcor will freeze your dead head for $80,000. Lord, at the University of Birmingham, describes the procedure as “total nuts”.
[…]
But what is it with middle-aged male billionaires and anti-ageing research? Has the penny dropped that they, too, will one day fade away? Is rejuvenation science poised to swell their fortunes further? Or – and humour me for a moment here – could this be about the greater good?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/feb/17/if-they-could-turn-back-time-how-tech-billionaires-are-trying-to-reverse-the-ageing-process

Ever heard of the overview effect? It was coined by a space writer called Frank White to describe how looking down at our little blue planet from above can create a shift in how astronauts think about Earth: all of a sudden you realise how fragile the Earth is and how important it is that we all work together to protect it. “Looking at the Earth from afar you realise it is too small for conflict and just big enough for cooperation,” the astronaut Yuri Gagarin said.

Alas, it looks like we needed to replace the overview effect with the avarice effect, because attitudes towards space seem to have shifted. Rather than making people imagine a better world, modern space exploration seems to be all about money, money, money. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been working with a Canadian startup on plans to launch satellites with billboards on them into space so that adverts can light up the night sky. No doubt some of those ads will be for space tourism: on Wednesday Virgin Galactic opened ticket sales to the public for the first time. And by the “public” I mean that the small sliver of the public that can afford $450,000 for a joyride 300,000 feet above Earth.

The real money, of course, is not in intergalactic billboards or short space trips: it’s in plundering space for resources. Apparently, the race to privatize the moon is on. Of course, many people who are starry-eyed about space mining would balk at the idea that they’re suffering from the avariceeffect: they’d argue that it’s all for the good of mankind. Take, for example, the forward-thinking folk at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), an influential thinktank that champions free markets. To achieve peace and prosperity on Earth, we need to sell off pieces of space, “with a particular focus on plots of moon land”, the ASI recently declared in a paper.

Privatising the moon may sound like a crazy idea but the sky’s no limit for avarice [Guardian]

[…some things are as plain as the nose on your face]

The facial recognition company Clearview AI is telling investors it is on track to have 100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure “almost everyone in the world will be identifiable,” according to a financial presentation from December obtained by The Washington Post.

Those images — equivalent to 14 photos for each of the 7 billion people on Earth — would help power a surveillance system that has been used for arrests and criminal investigations by thousands of law enforcement and government agencies around the world.

And the company wants to expand beyond scanning faces for the police, saying in the presentation that it could monitor “gig economy” workers and is researching a number of new technologies that could identify someone based on how they walk, detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.

The 55-page “pitch deck,” the contents of which have not been reported previously, reveals surprising details about how the company, whose work already is controversial, is positioning itself for a major expansion, funded in large part by government contracts and the taxpayers the system would be used to monitor.
[…]
In the presentation, Clearview argues that the industry-wide caution is a huge business opportunity. The company included its rivals’ logos to note that it has little domestic competition — and that its product is even more comprehensive than systems in use in China, because its “facial database” is connected to “public source metadata” and “social linkage” information.
[…]
Clearview has built its database by taking images from social networks and other online sources without the consent of the websites or the people who were photographed. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have demanded the company stop taking photos from their sites and delete any that were previously taken. Clearview has argued its data collection is protected by the First Amendment.
[…]
Clearview’s cavalier approach to data harvesting has alarmed privacy advocates, its peers in the facial recognition industry and some members of Congress, who this month urged federal agencies to stop working with the company, because its “technology could eliminate public anonymity in the United States.” Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) last year introduced a bill that would block public money from going to Clearview on the basis that its data was “illegitimately obtained.”

Clearview is battling a wave of legal action in state and federal courts, including lawsuits in California, Illinois, New York, Vermont and Virginia. New Jersey’s attorney general has ordered police not to use it. In Sweden, authorities fined a local police agency for using it last year. The company is also facing a class-action suit in a Canadian federal court, government investigations in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom and complaints from privacy groups alleging data protection violations in France, Greece, Italy and the U.K.
[…]
Clearview has dismissed criticism of its data collection and surveillance work by saying it is built exclusively for law enforcement and the public good. In an online “principles” pledge, the company said that it works only with government agencies and that it limits its technology to “lawful investigative processes directed at criminal conduct, or at preventing specific, substantial, and imminent threats to people’s lives or physical safety.”

But the presentation shows the company has based its “product expansion plan” on boosting corporate sales, from financial services and the gig economy to commercial real estate. On a slide devoted to its “total addressable market,” government and defense contracts are shown as a small fraction of potential revenue, with other possible sources including in banking, retail and e-commerce.

Is there anything “they wouldn’t sell this mass surveillance for?” asked Jack Poulson, a former Google research scientist who now runs the research advocacy group Tech Inquiry. “If they’re selling it for just regular commercial uses, that’s just mass surveillance writ large. […]”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/02/16/clearview-expansion-facial-recognition/

but […currently at least] more importantly (emphasis mine), […sort of]

&

[…that one’s a thread that goes into a little more detail if you go back to the beginning]

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/ny-attorney-general-fires-back-trumps-defense-financial-statements

In a rambling emailed message, Mr. Trump referred to a “June 30, 2014 Statement of Financial Condition” prepared by the accounting firm, Mazars USA, showing that the year before his first presidential run his net worth had been $5.8 billion. But that is not what he said back then.

When he declared his candidacy in 2015, he produced what he called his “Summary of Net Worth as of June 30, 2014” with a very different number: $8.7 billion. A month later, he upped the ante, releasing a statement pronouncing that his “net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.”
[…]
“My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” he testified in 2007 as part of his unsuccessful lawsuit over a book that suggested he was not really a billionaire.
[…]
For Mr. Trump, such casual dalliances with inaccuracies and lies have long been central to his modus operandi, which he once famously described as “truthful hyperbole.” He has employed this “very effective form of promotion,” as he called it, to sell himself and build the brand that ultimately helped vault him to the White House.

For Trump, a Perilous Exclamation Point to Years of Wealth Inflation [NYT]

…as always

The Pacific Legal Foundation is behind lawsuits that challenge elite public high schools that are changing their admissions policies to diversify their student body.
[…]
The organization argues that the school’s new admissions process was designed to racially balance the student body at the expense of Asian American students. The group is pushing for the school’s new process to be scrapped, saying that it discriminates along racial and ethnic lines.

If the lawsuit prevails, it could block future efforts at elite public high schools that are trying to diversify their students by race and income.
[…]
The decision, which could be issued sometime soon, will occur at an already volatile time for elite schools that are considering how to admit students. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the question of whether Harvard and the University of North Carolina can consider race as a factor in admissions.
[…]
Justin Driver, a Yale law professor, called the lawsuit aggressive because the plaintiffs were taking on a practice that no current Supreme Court justice had ever stated was a problem — the use of what school administrators say are race-neutral criteria to pick students.

The issue, he said, is “the next battle in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision that would eliminate affirmative action.”

“These cases,” he continued, “are the next wave in this effort.”

Conservatives Open New Front in Elite School Admission Wars [NYT]

…feel free to jump to the bottom of this long post if TL;DR

Sarah Palin’s loss of her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times has reaffirmed, for now, more than a half-century of legal precedent that protects journalists when they make inadvertent — even sloppy — mistakes.

But her case still may have achieved another aim that she and her lawyers said they had all along: to shine an unflattering light on the process of producing daily journalism, and to nudge the courts to reconsider why the law sets an extremely high bar to prove defamation cases against media outlets.
[…]
Some Supreme Court justices have indicated they would like to revisit the issue. But First Amendment scholars said no single lawsuit at the moment appeared to be an ideal vehicle for that. There are several cases, however, that would highlight the paradoxes inherent in American libel law, lawyers sympathetic to adjusting the law said.
[…]
The questions about what kind of speech in the media should remain constitutionally shielded from liability are especially pressing when the proliferation of false information threatens to further destabilize the nation’s deeply polarized political system.
[…]
A recent study that tracked every reference to the press in Supreme Court opinions found what the authors, Ms. Andersen Jones and Sonja R. West of the University of Georgia School of Law, characterized as “troubling trends” in language from the bench that suggest the current justices will be more willing to scale back longstanding constitutional protections for journalists.
[…]
In one key finding, the study revealed that phrases like “freedom of the press” — once routinely acknowledged by the justices — have now all but “dropped out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s collective vocabulary.” At times, the study noted, the court has seemingly gone out of its way to describe the news media as an institution in decline.

And these opinions aren’t limited to the justices’ opinions. In a speech to the Federalist Society, Justice Samuel A. Alito recently criticized as “sinister” the media’s depiction of the court’s practice of delivering late-night, unsigned opinions as a “shadow docket.”

Effort to Weaken Press Protections Isn’t Likely to End With Palin Case [NYT]

Rogue waves are unusually large swells that occur in open water and grow to more than double the height of other waves in their vicinity. These unpredictable and seemingly random events are sometimes known as “freak” or “killer” waves, and not much is known about how they form.

Johannes Gemmrich, a research scientist at the University of Victoria and the lead author of the study, said that proportional to surrounding waves, the 2020 event was “likely the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded.”

“Only a few rogue waves in high sea states have been observed directly, and nothing of this magnitude,” he said in a statement. “The probability of such an event occurring is once in 1,300 years.”
[…]
For centuries, rogue waves were thought to be nautical myths, dismissed as exaggerated accounts cooked up by mariners on the high seas. In recent decades, however, scientists were able to confirm the existence of rogue waves, though they are still difficult to observe and measure.
[…]
“The potential of predicting rogue waves remains an open question,” he said, “but our data is helping to better understand when, where and how rogue waves form, and the risks that they pose.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/largest-rogue-wave-ever-observed-swelled-coast-british-columbia

…let us know BTL…

[…you’ll notice myo didn’t pick any tunes, for example…& I’m out of time…just sayin’]

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About myopicprophet 135 Articles
Kinja refugee. Rants often. Right sometimes.

54 Comments

  1. Ok so random question for the Deadsplinter brain trust…

    My 80 year old parents (mother with Alzheimer’s) recently had their phone service shut off with no warning (that they know of) due to ATT legacy systems being shut down. I find it impossible to believe that copper landlines are obsolete in the whole region (Ohio), as I was told by ATT. Their billing is up to date, and was over $300/month for phone, fax, and long distance.
    They are currently without any phone, other than a flip phone my father has for emergencies. Oh and ATT took the phone number they’ve had since 1972 and put it back in the pool of numbers. (I’m pulling it to my company’s Vonage so we don’t lose it.)
    Does this seem accurate? “People” must still have landlines. Not everyone in America has a cellphone, ubiquitous as they are.

      • A high school friend of mine saw my Facebook post about this and the Office of the President of ATT just called me as she escalated it up the chain over there!

        Stay tuned!

    • That sounds incredible & shady… but I don’t really know the current/going rates, because the places in MN where I go updated the hardware in the 90’s & early 2000’s to broadband (found out from a college friend years ago, that that’s why Verizon is SO strong in my home section of Central MN–the local/rural Cellular cooperative saw where tech was headed & invested in the infrastructure–then got bought out for $$$$$$$$ by Verizon)

      Check into Lifeline in their area–it’s the service for low income & elderly folks, and they may qualify (it’s the “Obamaphone” thing R’s were railing about a few years back–started before Obama,but that admin made it more broadly known about, so R’s freaked out);

      https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers

    • A bunch of states including Ohio have ended laws and regulations requiring landlines. It’s been a huge priority for telecoms with their biggest success rate, of course, being red states.

      ATT being ATT, they probably gave plenty of warning in the form of small print notices in paragraph 14 of those annual letters with terms and conditions changes, right after the announcement of a two cent annual surcharge for 911 calls and before the announcement of a three cent credit for settlement of a 1996 lawsuit over rural switching center processing charges.

    • AT&T does this sort of thing.  Back in Chicago, they told us we needed to upgrade to fiber or lose service.  We were a few months away from moving, so I told them to pound sand and raised holy hell so they would keep our service current and let us keep our phone numbers.

      Telecoms are not easy to deal with, and AT&T especially.  I can’t imagine doing it under your parents’ circumstances.

    • I’d heard about the 3G shutdown but not the landlines.  You know how it is–it’s all about the money, and if landlines are too expensive, they’re shutting that shit down.  Even the theoretical “landline” service that providers like Verizon offer aren’t what your parents would be used to.  They require electricity and (likely) a live internet connection.  They’re probably stuck with getting cell phones at this point, and if that’s the case I would recommend biting the 5G bullet to provide them with some degree of future-proofing.

      • Old people. My parents’ bill last month was $329.91 for a phone line and a fax line.

        $29.85 for Long Distance

        $223 for Local(!)

        $77.86 for Taxes.

        It’s crazy. I’m sure they’ve been paying this since at least the 80s.

    • We still have a landline of sorts.  Comcast does that triple play thing where you get phone, internet and cable all together.  Every time we negotiate our rate with them I try to get rid of the phone and find that it is cheaper for me to keep it than drop it.  I use it as a spam number for places I HAVE to give a number and I can listen to voicemail online but don’t actually have a handset anymore.  No long distance charges, I also thought that was a thing of the past.

      • Same. I go through Spectrum. It’s more trouble than it’s worth to drop the landline, and yes, I use it when I need to give a number to someone that’s likely to telemarket me. We never answer it (we do have a handset) and periodically we run through and delete the messages.

        In Florida, however, landlines can be useful during hurricane season. Landlines generally work when the power is out. I’ve got solar charging batteries for my phones, but in the unlikely event I lost power for days it could be awkward to keep the cell phones charged. Yeah, you can sit in your car with the engine running, but if gas gets short, that can cause problems too.

          • Ours doesn’t route through the modem. It works just fine with no power. I have used it. The thing I do have to watch out for is the handset. We’ve got a wireless one and the power will run down on that. I have an old school wired handset for emergencies.

  2. He are three things that cause me nightmares, in increasing order of magnitude:

    https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/593865-anthony-weiner-to-host-radio-show-with-ex-nyc-gop-mayoral-candidate

    In hell, you re consigned to a vast waiting room for all eternity, sit on hard plastic seats, and this show plays on a loud, continuous loop.

    https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/16/de-blasio-congress-00009203

    Bill de Blasio has abandoned his putative run for Congress (in a district that contains Staten Island no less), as he did his trial-balloon run for Governor, and before that his Presidential run, something that kept the entire city in stitches for about two months. But I just know he’s not done yet. NYC is a wonderland of feeble Democrats and at some point BdB, the smartest guy in the room housing the single-seat lavatory, will go after one of them.

    https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/12/andrew-cuomo-governor-attorney-general-00008138

    This is truly concerning, as Susan Collins would say. This is “Nightmare on Elm Street—Capital Region” sequel stuff. There are plenty of people who are still fans of the old Emperor, not just the tens of thousands he corralled through intimidation and/or sweetheart deals. This is why I keep a big bottle of digitalis on my nightstand and wear a “Do Not Resuscitate” medallion around my neck at all times.

     

    • BDB even thinking of running for a US rep seat where he would represent about 10% of the voters in NYC and have a staff of maybe 20 is a sign of how far he’s fallen.

      I think the most likely landing pad is chairing some quasi-academic center at a place like Columbia or NYU and writing the occasional thinkpiece in the NY Times. He’s too lazy for anything more.

  3. My nightmare is the fall of American democracy, and the need to move to another country.  You’d have to park half a dozen 30-yard dumpsters in my driveway to weed out all the shit I’ve got.

  4. One of the good things about the Mazars development is that it forces editors to take the issue of Trump scandals away from the political reporters and share it with beats where reporters do more than recycle conservative spin. Ohio diners and Lyndsey Graham don’t cut it anymore, at least not alone.

    The reporter of that NY Times article, Mike McIntire, is notably not out of the Times DC bureau or National desk, which have led the charge for GOP normalization for years.

    He is out of the Investigations group for the Times, and he fills his article with the kinds of solid facts and historical perspective that is notoriously missing from the source opinion recycling and fixed narratives that DC and National reporters focus on.

    And what’s also striking is how much more readable his article is than the typical DC desk article, and how much less patronizing it is than the National desk reporting. We’ll see if Times management understands any of this, though.

      • …maybe…although it might be different when your face is all over the stuff…pretty sure liz herself never has any cash on her

        …whether that excuse works for the rest of the family I couldn’t say?

        • Now that it is HM’s Platinum Jubilee Year the hagiographies are coming fast and furious. In one photo I saw she was at Ascot and someone was handing her her winnings from picking the right horse. The caption was something like, “Contrary to popular belief, the Queen does sometimes carry money!” Her Most Gracious Majesty, she’s just like us!

          When she was here for Bicentennial in 1976 I wonder if she popped into an Off-Track-Betting (OTB) and put down any bets on the races at Aqueduct. Those OTB places were amazing. Tiny, no frills, bulletproof glass, reeking of cigarette smoke, full of characters benign and malign. Sadly they all got closed down. Why? Because New York City, like Donald Trump, could not figure out a way to make money from running gambling operations. That takes a certain kind of (very stable) genius.

    • In the 70s (the inflation decade) Nixon imposed Wage and Price Controls (a first in a non-wartime scenario*) and Jerry Ford had his widely ridiculed Whip Inflation Now (WIN) campaign. All for nought, and it got even worse under Carter. Reagan applied the brakes, the cost of which was a temporary time of double-digit inflation and unemployment, but everything pretty quickly stabilized and he overwhelmingly won a second term in 1984.

      *20th-century Republicans, moderate Keynesians, Roe vs. Wade supporters, ERA supporters, Nixon created the EPA and inaugurated the first Earth Day—they bear no resemblance to the loathsome creatures who took over in the Reagan years, amped up in the Gingrich era, went over the edge with the Tea Party movement, and swarmed into the loving arms of QAnon.

    • That certainly has something to do with it. I do believe that corporations act in ways to influence the political environment, and hiking prices is a pretty easy one. It also lets them pay any increased tax burden.

      Overall, it’s a flawed premise though. Inflation doesn’t increase under Democrats. On average from Truman to Obama, inflation was 2.89% under Democrats and 3.44% under Republicans.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._economic_performance_under_Democratic_and_Republican_presidents

      The economy has always performed better under Democrats. Always. Republicans promote magical thinking that tax cuts for the rich cure everything (actually, it’s a cynical cash grab) while Democrats typically pursue more sound economic policies that benefit more people than the 1%. And when more people have more money, they buy shit from the 1%. But the 1% can’t see that — they only see TAXES TAXES TAXES.

        • It’s funny, I was thinking of oil companies when I mentioned price hikes, because they obviously collude on pricing. I hadn’t thought about all the other example Reich cites, which make sense.

          My point, which wasn’t very clear, is that “inflation” is now a corporate boogeyman and yes, they’re using it as an excuse to raise prices. It’s not a Biden/Dem issue (honestly, it’s got more to do with Trump’s idiocy that Biden inherited — people bought more goods during Covid and less services, driving up prices) and over the years, Dems have done a better job with it. It’s very likely that it will stabilize as all that stuff settles down.

          So yeah, any company that’s screaming about inflation and raising prices is probably part of the problem.

          • Oil companies and other like-minded polluters really don’t want to see BBB or any regulations happen and will do anything to sabotage the Dems.  OPEC & Russia would obviously rather see the Orange Menace back in office or some similar traitors that they can control.  Biden needs to play hardball with everyone.  I hope you are right on the stabilize thing but think it will take more than just more supply and ship unloading.

  5. and now for farscy’s friday weather forecast!

    https://nltimes.nl/2022/02/17/trains-cancelled-2-pm-many-flights-scrapped-ahead-storm-eunice

    *bells,whistles and alarms* we are all going to die! yaaaaay!

    anyways…i took tomorow off…theres many things i’d go out in 90mph winds for…including for the fun of it….but work isnt one of them

    if im going to take a roof tile to the face its going to be coz im playing outside in a storm…not coz im struggling to get to an underpaid job

    • …presumably it won’t happen this side of an appeal…but if they used the best arguments they had already in a sane world there’s no grounds to overturn that result

      …so…50/50 we get to see it…hopefully before the midterms?

      …you know if just one time he doesn’t plead the fifth he hangs himself one way or another testifying under oath…but aside from perjury being more certain than his chances of retaining even the appearance of being coherent I can only imagine how deep a hole he could dig himself given a day in court…at least for now…with any luck eventually I won’t have to?

      • 3 weeks to testify!  I don’t think he could possibly drag it out until the midterms.  He won’t get it overturned unless he can get it in front of the Trumpiest judge out there.  Pleading the 5th is his only option to not commit perjury.

      • Hell, Rip, we don’t even need to see him at a day in court, we just need to get the bumbling numpty to disclosure…

        I’m sure (judging by the babbling he did this past week, ’bout knowing all about the accounting going on, the day *after* his lawyers promised in court, that he knew NOTHING about the accounting😈😱🤣🤣🤣), that he’ll dig enough of a hole for himself in Disclosure, that someone in Siberia (or there-abouts!) will have to turn him around & send him back through the center of the earth, because they have enough global-warming worries & don’t need his hot air added to their part of the atmosphere😉

    • Came here to post that and you beat me. Captain Combover has soiled his Depends this day. I’m betting his spawn are similarly distressed. Pops will sell them out in a second to protect his own skin. Even Ivanka, if push comes to shove.

      The absolute hysteria in Trumpworld today will be delicious.

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