…the short version [DOT 12/8/21]

no, really...

…long story short…there are less hours before I ought to be out the door than I’ve had hours’ sleep…& there weren’t enough of the latter…so for once this might actually wind up being relatively brief…although I can’t promise it’ll make a whole lot of sense?

[…] hackers exploited a vulnerability in the digital contracts Poly Network uses to move assets between different blockchains, according to blockchain forensics company Chainalysis.

A person claiming to have perpetrated the hack said they did it “for fun” and wanted to “expose the vulnerability” before others could exploit it, according to digital messages shared by Elliptic, crypto tracking firm, and Chainalysis.


…but then is it maybe too much to expect that things make sense these days?

Lindell’s performance was yet another example of how, nearly nine months later, baseless efforts to dispute Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory are still coming in hot and heavy — but with no evidence to back them up.

“This is a big fat nothing and a distraction,” Harri Hursti, a longtime election security expert who attended the conference to fact check any technical evidence, told me. Hursti is among the most prominent critics of voting machine security but has slammed election-fraud claims by Donald Trump and his supporters for lacking any hard evidence.

“They have fed us with garbage just to control the narrative,” he told me by text message.

Lindell began the day claiming the conference itself was the victim of hacking. Throughout the lengthy day, he alleged bombshell evidence would soon arrive that never materialized.
His general claim ― which was presented without evidence ― is that Chinese government hackers changed thousands of votes in every state by accessing them over the Internet. That’s something for which election security experts have found zero evidence and they say would be effectively impossible.


Allow me to present to you the evidence that China stole the 2020 election. Please sit down; I don’t want you to be injured when you faint.

So: voilà.

Lindell, who has claimed for months and months that he had definitive proof that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by China, pledged to release that information at a “cyber symposium” that is underway in South Dakota. According to Lindell, someone captured Internet traffic in the days after the election that shows how votes were shifted away from Donald Trump and to President Biden. Instead of simply presenting this evidence to the public, he withheld it, offering $5 million to anyone who can prove that the information isn’t legitimate.

Rob Graham, a technologist and author, went to the summit to evaluate what Lindell claims to have. During a “breakout session,” he and others were provided with access to what Lindell’s team claims to have obtained. Graham shared what they were given — a collection of files that consists of 1) a list of computer Internet protocol addresses and 2) gibberish like that above. Well, technically they were given rich-text format files, some of which were inexplicably converted to hexadecimal encoding. Graham, an expert on Internet data, described the provided material as “a bunch of confusing stuff they can’t explain,” and said that those running the symposium pledged to hand over the “real” information Tuesday night or Wednesday. Meanwhile, Lindell’s live stream of the symposium — being watched by hundreds of thousands of people on one streaming feed — presses on, with the CEO mostly riffing on how toxic the media is. Promotions offer viewers codes for discounts at MyPillow, a useful bit of advertising given that Lindell’s conspiracy theories have cost his company placement in a number of retailers’ inventories.
Of course, it would also be easy for Lindell’s team to present the raw data in a format that people at the symposium could examine. Graham says they were told it was in a “proprietary BLX/PLX format,” maybe. So the gibberish above might be some kind of encoding, like some sort of compression. But then, you don’t convert that to rich-text format or identify it as an .RTF file. You share the compressed file and say it’s a compressed file. (Converting the text above to a compressed file did not make it accessible, by the way. Nor did converting it to a PDF, a JPEG or a PNG.) If you are trying to prove something, you prove it.

But what if you’re not trying to prove it? What if you’re trying to make some cash and you stumbled onto a big, juicy mark? What if there were a millionaire desperate to prove something, a millionaire who’s not exactly an Internet savant but one willing to hand over loads of cash for data you made up — as some of the data previously released by Lindell pretty obviously was? For a while, you’re skating, cashing checks and sending along reports on occasion. Eventually, though, you get closer and closer to the point at which you need to actually turn over your work.

This is how all cons end. Things stretch and stretch and stretch until: snap. So instead of presenting your data, you encode it and obfuscate it and promise that there’s actually something there, but wait, hmm, that is weird, let me see what’s happening. Instead you say things like that there was a medical emergency that slowed things down and just ask everyone to stick with you for a moment. It’s just buying time — like Trump calling senators on Jan. 6 — hoping that if another hour or so passes, you can somehow regain control.
On Monday, Cato Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez offered an insightful chain of thoughts about the overlap between those who believe false claims about the election being stolen and those who reject the coronavirus vaccine as dangerous.

In both cases, Sanchez wrote, the conspiracy theories “have the superficial trappings of real science. Links to journal articles on the one hand, or on the other, impressively hackery looking hex dumps & spreadsheets full of IP addresses” — a reference to Lindell’s information.

“[I]n both cases, this evidence is absolutely useless to the target audience,” he continued. “They have neither the training nor the context to evaluate the quality or relevance of technical articles in medical journals — or even to understand what the article is claiming in many cases. … They are, however, being flattered by the INVITATION to assess the evidence for themselves — do your own research, make up your own mind!”

Instead of offering their trust on experts in their fields to explain complicated subjects, the audience is convinced that it needs only to trust itself — though, of course, they’re actually simply trusting the hustlers presenting incomplete or misleading information. What the hustlers offer the audience, Sanchez says, “is the illusion of not trusting an authority — unlike all those sheep who trust the mainstream authorities.”


…what are you gonna do?

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s promise of a “big surprise” to help Donald Trump’s election in October 2016 led to Democratic accusations the FBI was feeding him secrets about an investigation of Hillary Clinton.

But a newly obtained transcript shows the former New York mayor told federal agents it was okay to “throw a fake” when campaigning, to which his then-law partner added, “there’s no obligation to tell the truth.”

Giuliani’s comments came in a 2018 interview with agents for the Justice Department inspector general, conducted in a room at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington. The Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, sued for a copy of the interview transcript and provided it to The Washington Post on Wednesday.


…of course…lying your ass off can be…expensive

A federal judge on Wednesday denied requests by former president Donald Trump’s former lawyers and allies to throw out more than $3 billion in defamation lawsuits over false claims that a voting machine company’s technology was used to rig the 2020 presidential election.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols in Washington allows lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems against former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, as well as MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, to move forward.

In a written opinion, Nichols said that Powell and Lindell made their claims “knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth.”

“A reasonable juror” could conclude that Powell did not have a video of Dominion’s founder saying that “he can change a million votes, no problem at all,” as she had claimed, the judge wrote. Nichols also wrote that a sensible juror could conclude that Lindell’s insistence on “the existence of a vast international conspiracy that is ignored by the government but proven by a spreadsheet on an internet blog is so inherently improbable that only a reckless man would believe it,” referencing Lindell’s assertion that a spreadsheet he shared on Twitter as proof of Trump’s victory was evidence.
On Tuesday, Dominion filed separate defamation lawsuits against Newsmax, One America News, their executives and Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, Newsweek reported.
Dominion has also filed another defamation suit against Fox News, alleging that the network intensified false claims about the company for ratings purposes. Fox has asked for the case to be dismissed.

Dominion’s lawsuits against Trump allies can move forward after judge rejects arguments [WaPo]

…that’s the thing about lies…mostly they tend to have consequences

But increasingly, prominent Republican skeptics of vaccines and mandates are going well beyond raising concerns. In the service of denouncing mask and vaccine mandates, they’re trading in misinformation, faulty absolutist logic and other highly dangerous rhetoric that suggest the vaccines themselves don’t really work.

The most prominent example this week came, yet again, from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). While Greene has more than dabbled in vaccine conspiracy theories, she went so far as to claim in a tweet that the “vaccines are failing and do not reduce the spread of the virus.” Greene has been suspended from Twitter for one week for promoting misinformation.


…although…when it comes to the plot

YouTube on Tuesday removed a video by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for the second time and suspended him from publishing for a week after he posted a video that disputed the effectiveness of wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

YouTube suspends Rand Paul for a week over a video disputing the effectiveness of masks. [NYT]

…sometimes it thickens

Sen. Rand Paul revealed Wednesday that his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences — which makes an antiviral drug used to treat covid-19 — on Feb. 26, 2020, before the threat from the coronavirus was fully understood by the public and before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

The disclosure, in a filing with the Senate, came 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline set forth in the Stock Act, which is designed to combat insider trading.
The drug was initially invented as a hepatitis C drug a decade ago and tested for possible use against other infectious diseases, such as Ebola. Remdesivir gained emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in May of last year and was administered to then-President Donald Trump when he was sick with covid-19 in October, before it gained full approval. Results of a WHO-sponsored study released later that month raised doubts about the drug’s effectiveness, prompting the agency to reverse itself and recommend against its use as a treatment for covid-19. The drug brought in $2.8 billion for Gilead last year.

Remdesivir was backed on Feb. 24, 2020 — two days before Kelley Paul’s purchase — by a WHO assistant director general, who described it as the only known drug that “may have real efficacy” in treating the novel virus.

Rand Paul discloses 16 months late that his wife bought stock in company behind covid treatment [WaPo]

…funny how that works…well…not the drug maybe…since the conclusion seems to be that it doesn’t really…but the rest of that…maybe one day the other shoe will drop

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has banned local governments from implementing mask requirements even as he pleads for emergency medical help in combating a surge in coronavirus cases from the delta variant. In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi L. Noem welcomed hundreds of thousands of revelers to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that last year bore characteristics of a superspreader event for the virus.

And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is waging war on school districts seeking to defy his executive order prohibiting mask mandates for students — while the state sees its rates of hospitalization from covid surge past the worst levels of 2020.

The three Republican governors — all frequently mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2024 — are at the vanguard of GOP resistance to public-health mandates aimed at stemming the tide of the delta variant, which has caused a new spike in coronavirus cases as the country attempts to reopen schools, restaurants and other businesses.

They and other national and local GOP officials cast their opposition to such measures as an effort to protect personal choice. But some fear the party is on track to make itself the face of the delta variant — endangering fellow Americans while also risking severe political damage in the long term.

Republicans risk becoming face of delta surge as key GOP governors oppose anti-covid measures [WaPo]

…& then there’s the voting rights thing

The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday authorized state law enforcement to round up and potentially arrest absentee Democrats who fled the Republican-led chamber to block action on polarizing election legislation.
After the vote, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the Texas House, signed 52 civil arrest warrants which will be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms Wednesday morning for service, Enrique Marquez, the speaker’s communications director, said in an email.

The move by the Texas House, sitting in Austin, came hours after the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, acting on a petition by Gov. Greg Abbott and Mr. Phelan, overturned an earlier ruling. That ruling, from a district court in Austin’s home county of Travis, had determined that the two officials, both Republicans, did not have the authority to order the arrest of their fellow elected officials.


…that’s some legal fig leaf to try to hide behind given where they’re coming from

The Senate left Washington for a month-long summer recess early Wednesday morning without showing new progress on voting rights legislation, a top-priority agenda item for Democratic leaders and a slew of liberal advocates amid a national effort to pare back voting access in GOP-controlled state legislatures.

Under mounting pressure to advance the issue, Senate Democrats moved to set the stage for a new round of procedural votes in mid-September after Republicans objected to the immediate consideration of several voting bills in the wee hours Wednesday.

“Let there be no mistake about what is going on here,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after a brief 4 a.m. debate. “We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to oppose any measure — any measure, no matter how common sense — to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy.”

Senate adjourns until September without advancing voting rights legislation [WaPo]

…so…maybe it’d just be better if those folks could be…well…ignored?

Hours after the Senate advanced a bipartisan bill to improve the nation’s infrastructure, Democrats forged ahead independently on a second front — adopting a $3.5 trillion budget that could enable sweeping changes to the nation’s health care, education and tax laws.
Chiefly written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the $3.5 trillion blueprint sets in motion Democrats’ plans to expand Medicare, combat climate change and boost federal safety net programs, including those that target children and low-income parents. It paves the way for universal prekindergarten and new family leave benefits, and it aims to help immigrants obtain legal permanent residency status. Democrats aspire to finance the array of new initiatives through tax increases targeting wealthy families and profitable corporations, undoing the rate cuts imposed under President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers still must translate their newly adopted budget into fuller legislation, meaning the more difficult fights over its exact contours are set to begin in earnest in September. Adding to the challenge, one of the Senate’s most pivotal swing votes, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), said hours after he voted on the measure that he has “serious concerns” about its price tag.
For now, though, the successful adoption of the budget still unlocks for Democrats the next step in the process: a legislative move known as reconciliation. The maneuver allows the party, once ready, to bypass a Republican filibuster in the narrowly divided Senate — but only if the caucus remains united.
House Democrats have drawn the firmest lines in the sand, a position driven by the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, without which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cannot move either proposal through the chamber. The caucus led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) reissued its ultimatum on Tuesday, after the Senate adopted the infrastructure bill and began considering the budget.

“Our caucus is clear: the bipartisan bill will only be passed if a package of social, human, and climate infrastructure — reflecting long-standing Democratic priorities — is passed simultaneously through budget reconciliation,” Jayapal said in a statement. “We know that Congressional Democrats are committed to delivering immediate and transformational improvements for the lives of the American people, and will hold firm to meet that promise.”
The GOP’s opposition also threatens to spill beyond the budget, as lawmakers led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have said they are unwilling to supply any votes to address the debt ceiling, the statutory limit on how much money the United States government can borrow. McConnell said an increase or suspension of that borrowing limit should be a part of reconciliation, an approach Democrats have opted not to take, putting the Senate on a potential collision course ahead of a key deadline this fall.


…although…of course…it’s not really that simple

We learned last week that Facebook had disabled our Facebook accounts and our access to data that we have been using to study how misinformation spreads on the company’s platform.

We were informed of this in an automated email. In a statement, Facebook says we used “unauthorized means to access and collect data” and that it shut us out to comply with an order from the Federal Trade Commission to respect the privacy of its users.

This is deeply misleading. We collect identifying information only about Facebook’s advertisers. We believe that Facebook is using privacy as a pretext to squelch research that it considers inconvenient. Notably, the acting director of the F.T.C.’s consumer protection bureau told Facebook last week that the “insinuation” that the agency’s order required the disabling of our accounts was “inaccurate.”

“The F.T.C. is committed to protecting the privacy of people, and efforts to shield targeted advertising practices from scrutiny run counter to that mission,” the acting director, Samuel Levine, wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive.

Our team at N.Y.U.’s Center for Cybersecurity has been studying Facebook’s platform for three years. Last year, we deployed a browser extension we developed called Ad Observer that allows users to voluntarily share information with us about ads that Facebook shows them. It is this tool that has raised the ire of Facebook and that it pointed to when it disabled our accounts.

In the course of our overall research, we’ve been able to demonstrate that extreme, unreliable news sources get more “engagement” — that is, user interaction — on Facebook, at the expense of accurate posts and reporting. What’s more, our work shows that the archive of political ads that Facebook makes available to researchers is missing more than 100,000 ads.


…& they did get around to getting rid of some of that misinformation

A network of 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts was traced back to Fazze, an advertising and marketing firm working on behalf of an unknown client. The network used fake accounts to spread misleading claims that disparaged the safety of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. One claimed AstraZeneca’s shot would turn a person into a chimpanzee. The accounts targeted audiences in India, Latin America and, to a lesser extent, the US, using several social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

…which sounds like the a good effort…but

The Fazze network also contacted social media influencers in several countries with offers to pay them for reposting the misleading content. That ploy backfired when influencers in Germany and France exposed the network’s offer. Along with removing the network’s accounts, Facebook also banned Fazze from its platforms. Messages seeking comment from the company were not immediately returned on Tuesday.
As social media companies have improved their ability to spot and remove fake accounts, disinformation campaigns have had to adjust. Paying social media influencers to repost their content provides the potential of exposure to the influencer’s audience, but there is the risk that influencers will refuse or, as happened in this case, call them out.


…so…a cynic might wonder what would have happened had there not already been people talking about it in places they couldn’t control…but…well…that’ll have to join the lamentably long list of stuff I don’t have time to cram into this…like the spying thing…or yet more dumbassery coming from a would-be insurrectionist…or the god-awful mess we’re making out there in the high seas…or how plausible it might sound to take a solid swing at the foundations of the petrochemical edifice



  1. we stole 600m just to show you a security flaw and are returning the monies kinda sounds like oh fuck we underestimated the world of shit we just put ourselves in to me

    • That’s what I thought. “Hey, we didn’t really expect this to work. Now what?” Kinda like the car-chasing dog that actually catches up to a car and then stops dead with no idea what to do next. 

  2. tHeY’Re kiLLiNg tHEir oWn vOtERs.
    Wait.  Back up and look at the long game.  Do you think it’s an accident that they’ve chosen schools as the locus of mask wars?  This could end with the gutting of public education.  In districts that defy orders and require masking, anti-maskers will demand vouchers to private and charter schools that ReSpEcT mY FrEEdOmS.  In districts where masking is not required, vast numbers of parents will opt for home schooling.  Either way, the population of public schools drops drastically, and Republican-led legislatures will see no need to fund them any longer.  The result is a whole new crop of poorly- or selectively educated voters who have been cultivated and indoctrinated to vote for GuNz aNd bAyBeeZ.  Today’s sacrifice is tomorrow’s gain.

    • …all things are relative…there’s pretty much only today-stuff from the one place…it’s generally somewhere between four & a round half-dozen?

      …& only two tunes from one artist

      …which is arguably light?

  3. À propos of nothing, and probably not unusual nowadays, remember how I told you all that I bought Barb and Frank Sinatra’s Celebrity Cookbook? When I ordered it on August 8th (it’s coming from a Goodwill in the Midwest, via Amazon) I was told it would arrive in a week or two. I just got a notice that it will be here on September 27th. 

    I’m not really upset, the last thing I need is another cookbook, and September 27th will predate our Holiday Open House, which I really hope we can resume this year. Instead, I’m imagining its journey. I am hoping a stagecoach and the Erie Canal are involved in some way. 

  4. Can we move the bitcoin link to yesterday’s “Things That Make Me Feel Old” NOT? Because i can’t read “I have internet tokens!” and not think ” ok, kiddo, pick out a stuffed animal from the wall. Fifty internet tokens will get you something from the third row.”
    Ok, if China was hacking us over the innernets to change votes, then why are they scrutinizing paper ballots in Arizona for bamboo?

  5. On Monday, Cato Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez

    You know your standards are in the sub-basement when you’re quoting someone from the Cato Institute as the voice of level-headed reason. 

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