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Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.

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29.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Football news Permalink to this item

This morning's sports section featured local and not-so-local football news, as usual, starting with a teaser about a coach coming or going from Auburn. ("Where's Auburn?" Jeanette asked when I mentioned that.) Then Idaho State's head coach is going off to an assistant job at Arizona State, after his ISU Bengals went 1-10 this year; an NFL piece about the Seattle Seahawks game; and the inevitable Boise State feature article, ahead of the Mountain West title game. That starts about coaching, more than football, but gets around to it before the jump. Inside, NFL CAPSULES for the weekend, the Community Connector, with a surprising number of scores from Nampa Bowl(ing), the SCOREBOARD (mostly football), the first page jumps, and two AP college football stories.

Finally, on B4, the real football news, from the World Cup, yesterday's four games summarized (and nothing about Sunday's four), and then U.S. has clear World Cup task against Iran: win or go home from Ronald Blum for the AP. It's an elimination game today, don't you know. Blum's coverage is mostly not about coaching, although I did learn that Iran's coach, Carlos Queiroz, "coached Major League Soccer’s MetroStars in 1996 and served as a USSF adviser in 1998, writing a player development blueprint aimed at winning a World Cup by 2010." (An ambitious plan back in the day, even if we already had won the World Cup, in 1991, winning all six matches we played, and outscoring opponents 25-5 along the way.) Queiroz praised growth in the U.S. (men's) team, saying this World Cup showed “they jumped from soccer to football.” That made more sense than the last word the AP gave him, after dissecting the political tit for tat (including the "flag flap," ha ha) ahead of today's game.

"During unusual pre-match news conferences, [US team captain Tyler] Adams was asked to defend the U.S.’s treatment of Black people and chastized for pronoucing the opponent “Eye-ran” instead of “E-ran.” American coach Gregg Berhalter was questioned about U.S. immigration and Naval policy and apologized for the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to strip the emblem of the Islamic Republic from Iran’s flag on social media.

Screenshot of Tyler Adams at yesterday's press conference

Queiroz chipped in a cross to say “we have solidarity with the humanitarian causes all over the world, whatever they are or who they are. If you talk about human rights, racism, kids that die in schools with shootings, we have solidarity to all those causes, but here our mission is bring the smiles for the people at least for 90 minutes.” Adams parried with an apology about his pronunciation and noted that “there’s discrimination everywhere you go.”

“One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in in different cultures and kind of assimilating to different cultures, is that in the U.S. we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”

Well-handled by the 23-year-old, wouldn't you say? MSN provides more depth about the "antagonistic and deeply surreal press conference" the US coach and captain were subjected to. They gave Quieroz props for being "an urbane, charismatic presence" who "flashed the cleverness by which he has endeared himself to so many across the nation [of Iran]," which didn't come through in the AP's piece. Also not mentioned in the latter were the loud ovations for the Iranian coach and captain by the Iranian press, or the fact that "a FIFA official not offering any of the women journalists in the room a chance to pose a question."

The "fusillade of grievance" for the US reps included the question: “Why is it that you do not ask your government to take away its military fleet from the Persian Gulf?” One of them could have taken the match by saying: "It hadn't occurred to us to give advice to our government about protecting the Arabian Gulf, just as they don't give us advice about football strategy."

I added to my own sporadic sporting commentary yesterday with a breezy take on World Cup 2022 (in process).

Now then, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FÚTBOL?

28.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

How is your crypto deal going? Permalink to this item

The Web3 is Going Just Great (...and is definitely not an enormous grift that's pouring lighter fluid on our already smoldering planet.) blog has a lot going on. My ticket in was about BlockFi filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy "in the wake of the FTX collapse." Something something "$250 million loan from FTX" something "$400 million credit facility" something 100,000 creditors. Or as BlockFi itself put it today,

"...our team has explored every strategic option and alternative available to us, and has remained laser-focused on our primary objective of doing the best we can for our clients. These Chapter 11 cases will enable BlockFi to stabilize the business and provide BlockFi with the opportunity to consummate a reorganization plan that maximizes value for all stakeholders, including our valued clients.

"Rest assured, we will continue to work on recovering all obligations owed to BlockFi as promptly as practicable."

I don't know about you, but I can rest more assured not knowing what being their client would be like, and not having any of their foo, never mind the laser-focus.

At the bottom of the Web3isGoingJustGreat timeline, it says, "No JavaScript? That's cool too! Check out the Web 1.0 version of the site to see more entries," which is mighty friendly of them. The site is chronicalling a river of financial sewerage, so content warning: there isn't a lot of good news. The item about delivery of a statue of Elon Musk delivered to Tesla HQ might be as close as it gets.

Screencap from ElonGOAT vid

"The group spent $600,000 and six months on a six-ton statue that's supposed to be Elon Musk's head on a rocket ship, but looks rather like a giant Elon Musk caterpillar.

"The group then delivered the sculpture to Tesla HQ in Austin, Texas, and is reportedly refusing to leave until he accepts the statue. Unfortunately he may be too busy burning Twitter to the ground to have noticed."

It's a cryptocurrency group, no less, marketing an "Elon GOAT Token," which could be for the Greatest Of All Time, or the devil incarnate, take your pick. Either way, it's "a $600,000 monument on the back of a semi trailer" which can be erected to look more like a rocket ship than a torpedo, with a funky likeness of Musk's head atop the body of a supposed goat, which yeah, does look more caterpillar-like than goat-like. Viewed from the side, it's transparently empty. The "biblical sized gift" is a cryptocurrency promotion that seems to be turning out flaccid. Perfect.

In better crypto news, New York became the first state to enact a temporary ban on new cryptocurrency mining permits at fossil fuel plants, a move aimed at addressing the environmental concerns over the energy-intensive activity. There's a tidbit down in the story that "China banned [cryptocurrency mining operations] last year in an effort to meet its climate goals," I hadn't noticed that go by.

27.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The gift that keeps on trying to help itself Permalink to this item

Mastadon logo image

Yet another remnant of that brief, shining moment I registered Republican in order to have my choice of primaries to vote in: Email from Mammoth Nation, I thought it might have something to do with Mastodon, but no. It styles itself "America's Conservative Marketplace," and is selling half-priced (ha ha) Lifetime Memberships, with which I could shop for overpriced-then-discounted Steaks & Grilling; Survival & Emergency; Automotive & Hardware; Apparel & Accessories; Spirits, Wine & Cigars; Hunting & Fishing; Cellular & Technology; Coffee & Tea; Beauty & Health; Home & Garden; Fitness & Supplements; and Hotels & Travel. (There's a SEE MORE button, in case that haven't struck your fancy with This & That.) It's AS SEEN ON OAN, Newsmax, The Post Millennial, and the Bongino Report. Out of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ugh.

Oh, and less than 8 hours before that, they sent spam featuring snarky anti-Biden stuff, including a misplaced asterisk shibboleth. ("How the Biden's stole Thanksgiving") This one offers me a 35% discount, and works the "Patriotic" angle even harder.

Thanks for the memories Permalink to this item

It's Sunday, which means we have a new one in print. I don't often get right to it, and even when I do, I'm usually distracted before getting very far. One of the distractions is that almost everything that seems worth reading also seems worth commenting on.

This morning, I see the "front" section is split into four pieces, pages 1-34. Somebody has decided that 8 or 10 pages is the most that should go together? Scanning the front page, it was the Quick Cash at Steep Rates story that lured me into taking the first jump. Leave it to the "free market" to find a way to capitalize on the needs of the wrongly imprisoned upon their exoneration, loaning money at annual interest rates of 28 or 33%, banking on big cash settlements to make everyone whole. (Some animals are more whole than others.)

Screen shot of interactive 'Active Agency Map'

On my way to the rest of the story, there was the NYPD's interest in doorbell camera feeds (along with "over 2,000 of the nation's public safety agencies" that have signed on to collaborate with Amazon's Ring), and our new sort of "weather" map, for the pandemic (richly interactive, online, versus half of p.19 in b&w).

Before getting into the obituaries on page 23, there was the expert on "shrinkflation" (and its follow-on, "skimpflation") and a brilliant portrait of him by Simon Simard. And the story about the guy in Maine making Ukranian flags. And let's Meet the Voters Who Fueled New York's Seismic Tilt Toward the G.O.P., thanks to its relentless (and largely false) fear-mongering, doomsday ad campaign.

The second obituary on p.23, for Ed Rudy, who chronicled The Beatles first trip to the US on radio, included this tidbit about the record album Rudy made, and inflation:

"The album went on sale in the spring of 1964 for as little as $2.19 (about $21 in today’s money)."

That was back in the day when my sense of "the value of money" was being formed, income from shoveling sidewalks and raking leaves for small change, and small bills. My first album purchase was the monaural version of Meet the Beatles, because the family did not yet have one of those new-fangled stereos.

Image from IBM archives in NYT online obit

But the first obituary captured more of my attention, and further digging: Frederick P. Brooks Jr., an innovator of Computer Design, and author of The Mythical Man-Month with its pithy truism that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Somebody biffed the layout-filler subhead, compelling me to read it all carefully to see if there was an "IMB" in the history of computers that I'd missed. Nice picture of him in his younger days online, from the IBM archives, that didn't fit the print. (I couldn't find that image in the archives, myself.) He's surrounded with memory of various sorts, including drum, disk, tape, and I'm not sure what, in the middle. This Computer History Museum entry for Transformer Read Only Storage (TROS) might be it?

While looking for that, and not finding it in IBM's 7-page web version of Fifty years of storage innovation, I did find a snippet connecting to my contribution to said history, across page 6 and 7. After gushing about their Magstar product line, and the "revolutionary tape architecture [] unveiled in 1996," this:

"An informal, internal push began in late 1997 within the IBM tape development lab to move the exciting technology developed for the Magstar MP 3570 into the existing product architectures. Eventually, this push evolved into an aggressive effort to establish with other storage industry leaders a truly open systems tape solution -- Linear Tape Open (LTO). IBM delivered key ingredients of the format and the enabling technology for this effort.² In less than two years, this technology moved from the laboratory to the marketplace. The IBM Ultrium LTO drive brought with it new automation solutions and reemphasized the cost advantage of tape storage. It also provided new fuel for the future. As the 20th century drew to a close, the IBM LTO was announced and a new technology roadmap began for tape."

Footnote 2: "IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Seagate are the Technology Provider Companies for Linear Tape Open."

The "Transition to a New Century of Magnetic Tape Storage" followed, complete with the Y2K non-disaster from which "the IT world" was "confident that if things had gone awry, data recovery would have succeeded largely because of tape storage." Reminds me of tape guys joking about Write Once Read Never (WORN) storage. "IBM distinguished engineer John Teale" got his $.02 in:

"We believe this achievement reinforces IBM's leadership in this key storage industry," said John Teale, IBM distinguished engineer at IBM Tucson. This advantage was achieved using advanced particulate tape technology coupled with improved high-density track placement made possible by utilizing novel track following, timing-based servo invented by IBM and the most advanced recording head technology used in linear tape drives.

1997 image of prototype tape cartridge

Writing in the early '00s, "the future looks good," with "one terabyte only a milestone, not a barrier." Since that history, Quantum subsumed Seagate, and technology has marched on to the 9th generation, with 18TB native capacity. There are 5 more generations mapped, up to more than half a petabyte in the same cartridge I helped design in the 1990s. The Gen 9 announcement down in the LTO front page Newsbytes was in September 2021:

LTO Seeing Continued Relevance for Archive and Offline Long-Term storage.
The LTO Program Technology Provider Companies (TPCs), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM Corporation and Quantum are pleased to announce Fujifilm and Sony are now licensees of Generation 9 technology, meaning that both companies are planning to produce LTO-9 media moving forward. 

I played a little part in that, too, serving as an expert witness in the "clash of the titans" patent litigation between Fujifilm and Sony, settled after $millions were expended in defeating Fujifilm's failed bid to obtain a monopoly.

26.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This just in Permalink to this item

An email from my Medicare Advantage provider, subject "Important Plan Information," sent from "Humana Required Communications," with Sign In buttons, and instructions for where I will find said communication once I do. It seemed legit, and I clicked through to sign in, verifying that the site was what I expected. Turns out there are a stack of messages, perhaps reflecting my change to e-delivery of messages, IDK. The first thing to catch my eye is a denied claim, for which it says

YOUR PROVIDER HAS BEEN INFORMED THIS SERVICE WAS BILLED INCORRECTLY. NO PAYMENT IS NEEDED FROM YOU.

That would be great, except that the provider didn't bill it to them, I did, after I paid the contact lens vendor myself. It's the first time I submitted a claim directly, in 2+ years, so I'll have to appeal, or at least call, to see if I can sort it out. There are other messages, including some expected (and processed as usual) Explanations of Benefits, which are conveniently tabulated under the Plan Messages tab.

One in particular, indexed as "Email notification to Member of a Important Plan Communication was posted to the web." On Nov. 25. Inside the 2 page PDF, there's an email:

From: Humana
To: (an unfamiliar name, h'linked to a humana.com address)
Subject: Test - Important Plan Information
Date: Thursday, May 03, 2018 8:37:56 AM

"You are receiving this email as a test mailing. Some contents of this email may not display and/or behave properly," the body begins. Then nicely formatted with their brand signature and the Sign In buttons, etc.

Hi %%RECIPIENTFIRSTNAME%%,

A new plan communication is now available in your secure, MyHumana account....

That date was a couple years before I signed up for their plan. Anything else? Well, the site has been throwing a banner in recent weeks: "Sorry there is a technical issue with showing your information. Please try again later. If it continues, call the number on the back of your Humana ID card."

Thanksgiving, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Joy of joys Permalink to this item

A NYT piece promoting the brighter alternative to Schadenfreude said it's called Freudenfreude, which reads literally true, but seemed sort of made up. I didn't bookmark it, and then later, searched for the word to find out it has indeed been kicking around for a while.

There's a journal article indexed in our National Library of Medicine that's more than 10 years old: Freudenfreude and Schadenfreude Test (FAST) scores of depressed and non-depressed undergraduates. The "all related articles" link coughs up 120 results, going back a half century. The NLM doesn't depend on word matches to identify "related," I assume. Only 7 of them survive the "Free full text" filter.

Searching further, I found a recommendation for Brené Brown's bestselling Atlas of the heart : mapping meaningful connection and the language of human experience. Our local library has a bunch of copies, so I put in a request for that. And then since we subscribe, why not read that NYT "MIND" piece? And give you all a gift link to it: The Opposite of Schadenfreude Is Freudenfreude. Here’s How to Cultivate It. Turns out the article refers back to that 2012 study, and tells us more than its outside-the-paywall abstract does.

"The joy we derive from others’ success comes with many benefits.... A small 2021 study examined positive empathy’s role in daily life and found that it propelled kind acts, like helping others. Sharing in someone else’s joy can also foster resilience, improve life satisfaction and help people cooperate during a conflict."

As psychologist Marisa Franco boils it down: “When we feel happy for others, their joy becomes our joy.” Happy Thanksgiving, then!

Photo from my T-day trailride

Fibonacci Day, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Marching to the golden ratio Permalink to this item

On the occasion of the date that comprises the first 4 numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (and thus a "Day," once a year in the mm/dd part of the world), I learned that the guy, who lived "circa" 1170 to the mid 13th century, was a.k.a. Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo of Pisa, or Leonardo Bigolio Pisano. And that the "Fi" is short for filius, "son of." Leonardo, son of Bonacci.

Except that his biography says he was born "to Guglielmo, an Italian merchant and customs official," so who was Bonacci? Made up 600 years after his death, based on what, Wikipedia does not say. Why are we still talking about him, though?

"Fibonacci popularized the Indo–Arabic numeral system in the Western world primarily through his composition in 1202 of Liber Abaci, the Book of Calculation," not to be confused with Liberace. "He also introduced Europe to the sequence of Fibonacci numbers," which he would have had to call something else. By Wikipedia's account, he didn't invent the sequence either. Says there, the numbers "were first described in Indian mathematics, as early as 200 BC in work by Pingala on enumerating possible patterns of Sanskrit poetry formed from syllables of two lengths." But "Western European mathematics" appropriate the idea and off it went.

Graphical construction of phi

I didn't invent it either, but I did stumble upon the fact that its decimal part is the same as its inversion, when I hit the [1/x] button on my calculator and saw all the same digits right of the decimal. That's unique, in fact, the solution to x - 1 = 1/x. (That's a quadratic equation: x2 - x - 1 = 0. You may remember those have two answers; in this case, they are the Fibonacci number, and its conjugate.) It's about 1.618 in decimal form, and exactly one half of one plus the square root of five. We call it "phi," φ, no relation to the "Fi" in Fibonacci. It's a bit more than 3/2, a bit less than 5/3, a bit more than 8/5, and so on, converging to "close enough" to 1.618 in a dozen tries. Here's what it looks like, a pleasing rectangle.

22.11.22 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Madam I'm Adam's gas mileage Permalink to this item

Perhaps the affinity comes from the strain of slipping a verbal palindrome into conversation; I enjoy numbers lining up to read the same both ways. Our 6 year old Prius joined the fun today, by ticking past 32,223 on its main odometer:

The fuel usage journal shows a snapshot of our gas mileage seasonality, along with the grand average, 59.2 mpg. I haven't watched that super closely over the years, but I did notice that it briefly peaked at 59.8 this summer, before the cold weather set in. In round numbers, it runs 60 to 70 mpg in warm weather, and more 50-ish in winter. I got to wondering how low (for how long) does it have to be to drag us down a tenth of a mile per gallon? End of October (let's say it was), we'd gone 31,892 at 59.8 mpg, 31,892/59.8 = 533.3 gal. 331 more at 51.7 would be 6.4 gal, but 32,223/59.2 = 544.3. 32,223/(533.3+6.4) = 59.7. Something's not adding up.

The car-reported monthly averages have ranged from 48.5 up to 71.6 mpg since I started recording the journal numbers, going back to Sept. '18. (The journal saves 2 years of data.) Since I don't have the whole dataset, I can't reconstruct the whole story from that, but I do have the record of all the gas that's gone in. (In ink, in a notebook in the glovebox, a habit my father taught me.) Am I obsessive enough to tally that up? Yes, I am.

I did find one missing entry, middle of 2017. Paid cash for gas somewhere and didn't write it down? I filled that in assuming the most recent episodic mpg. As of the middle of this month, 32,087 miles from delivery, we've put in not quite 573 gallons of gas, for a grand average of 56.0 mpg (where it's been since summer). That average has ranged from 54.9 to 56.0 in the last 2 years. The first year we had it, we got 55.6 mpg overall, so remarkably consistent in spite of all variables. Can't say that the 30¢/gal premium we've been paying for no-ethanol has paid off in gas consumption, but I expect it was good insurance when we went 3 months between fill-ups during the pandemic in 2020.

20.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

News and updates, substack-style Permalink to this item

One of the gifts of the pandemic was the rise of Tomas Pueyo, a polymath who made sense out of the early days, and turned it into a substack. My internal jury is still out on substack; I love some of it, especially Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American, but I haven't been moved to go beyond a handful of free subscriptions. Pueyo is more focused on selling than HCR; his free editions always have something alluring available only to his "premium" people. Today's case in point is his "Quarterly Update Q4 2022," with a list of "update[s] on the topics we’ve touched in Uncharted Territories," 1 through 9 (of which he only shared four), and then "for premium customers only," another 8, starting with

10. Twitter as world brain

It's particularly relevant given that tweets and the links inside them were the medium that allowed his work to go viral. No pun intended. Out here in the long tail of the pandemic, another polymath, one with a personality that doesn't seem to have made the gap from adolescence to adulthood, bought Twitter on a whim and has set about remaking it into an appendage of himself, amplifying its destructive capacity. It's not the whole world brain, to be sure, but a parallel could be drawn to a glioblastoma. Anyway, that's over the paywall, so we'll just have to imagine where he went with that (and debunking plastic pollution myths; how the news is playing you, and how to avoid it; the "still enormous" role of the Mississippi River; updates on Ethiopia's civil war; and more).

What we can see (for free) is that Germany has come to its senses and will keep its three nuclear reactors running, after Die Welt reviewed 166 documents (behind their paywall, in German) to find "the exact same thing" as Pueyo had in April when Russia's war in Ukraine had roiled Europe's energy future. (Not the first time for Die Welt, either; here's an English language piece from August, 2019.)

Speaking of brain problems, Republicans did die more from Covid-19, particularly after vaccines became available, and a lot of Republicans weren't having them.

Excerpt of Fig. 1 from NBER paper
Screenshot from Twitter

Crisis = Opportunity
Pueyo's last freebie is about the evolution of remote work. The teaser tweet is about San Francisco, but the increase of remote work is a worldwide phenomenon. Nearly 2/3rds of US workers said they'd consider looking for a new job if they were asked to go back to the office; 45% of US workers work hybrid or fully remote; 35% of the commute time saved is spent working. They work more hours, have more leisure time, and sleep better. All that and more housing, too!

19.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Why SCOTUS' credibility is in the tank Permalink to this item

Oh look what Samuel J. Alito has been in the middle of for all these years. "Supreme Court justices mostly police themselves" seems a bit precious. The Rev. Rob Schenck's views on abortion have turned around, and after the Big Leak (has fallen completely out of the news), Schenk's evergreen confession: “What we did was wrong.” Sam Alito, on the other hand, will not likely be coming to Jesus anytime soon.

Gift link to NYT's blockbuster: Former Anti-Abortion Leader Alleges Another Supreme Court Breach. He alleged it to none other than the Chief Justice, John Roberts, in a letter back in July.

Schenk hasn't heard back from the chief justice, and neither has anyone else we know about. Complicated case? Or just moot, now?

In a May, 2019 op-ed, Schenck's op-ed encapsulated his turnaround, and the nut of the issue: "Overturning the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision would not be “pro-life.” It would be destructive of life."

"What is “pro-life” about putting a woman in a situation where she must risk pregnancy without proper medical, social and emotional support? What is “pro-life” about forcing the birth of a child, if that child will enter a world of rejection, deprivation and insecurity, to say nothing of the fear, anxiety and danger that comes with poverty, crime and a lack of educational and employment opportunities?"

18.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Twitter death watch Permalink to this item

Who knew a capricious, thin-skinned, bigoted billionaire could destroy asset value so comprehensively, and so quickly? I did not imagine Twitter could go from hundreds of millions of daily users to dead in the space of a few days. It hasn't happened yet, but it may well have been happened before you stumble across this blog post. The Washington Post story, Musk summons engineers to Twitter HQ as millions await platform’s collapse was datelined 4:04 pm EST today, either a delectable choice or remarkable synchronicity.

You couldn't hardly make this up. Melon Usk "summoned" all employees who "actually write software" to come to San Francisco HQ on Friday afternoon. Just fly on over! Or, uh, not.

In a third email eight minutes later, he asked employees to fly to San Francisco, saying he would be at the office until midnight on Friday and back again Saturday morning. Yet another missive an hour later said flying “would be appreciated, but is not essential.”

The new owner wanting to "better understand the Twitter tech stack" comes a wee late, given that half the employees were fired two weeks ago, and another thousand? bailed by 5pm yesterday, given the choice of 3 months' severance or committing to work longer hours / more days, doing whatever struck Usk's fancy. It's not quite certain Usk will be fulfilling any promises.

"Half the trust and safety policy team resigned, including a majority of those who work on spotting misinformation, spam, fake accounts and impersonation, according to two employees familiar with the team....

"In an opinion piece Friday in the New York Times, former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth said he had resigned recently because it was clear Musk’s capriciousness would continue, making already complex decisions about content unworkable.

“A Twitter whose policies are defined by unilateral edict has little need for a trust and safety function dedicated to its principled development,” Roth wrote.

Nothing says "employees are our greatest asset" quite like insisting they're all going to have to work in the office, rather than remotely, and then closing all the offices, and suspending badge access. Perhaps "fear that former employees may tamper with the platform before they leave"? The Tamperer-in-Chief wants to burn it to the ground on his own, apparently.

Jeanette came across a 1970 paperback edition of Sinclair Lewis' 1936 novel, It Can't Happen Here, and I tweeted out images of the cover today. Maybe my last tweet, the way things are going. Get a load of the back cover blurb, from half a century ago:

THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF THE SILENT MAJORITY
The angry workers ... the anxious middle class ... the jittery rich ... the discontented military—Senator "Buzz" Windrip brought them all together with his combination of hot rhetoric, warm folksiness, and cold calcuation.

The badly split Left and the wavering lierals were helpless to stop his drive for the Presidency. And once in the White House he swiftly set in motion his program to save the country from itself.

It really didn't take much to kill democracy in America....

Barbed wire image from book cover

13.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Say the magic words Permalink to this item

Here on the eve of Twitter's destruction, one of my last (perhaps) pithy micro-blog posts gained significant traction (if I can believe the Notifications, which, who knows what is real anymore?). It was a two-part tweet, featuring a retweet of Volodomyr Zelenskyy's message wishing US veterans a happy Nov. 11, and "thank you for your service," and for the example the US has given for prevailing against tyranny. Who knows how long embedded Tweets will survive, but they do include the verbatim text. I include this one for its video, however:

For almost 250 years the men and women of the United States armed forces have prevailed against tyranny. Your example inspires Ukrainians today to fight back against Russian aggression.

On behalf of all Ukrainians, Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service. pic.twitter.com/gnEPi6ZeKf

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) November 11, 2022

My $.02 was to say "It's fortunate that Twitter lasted long enough for this message to come across to us, on the holiday fka Armistice Day. That holiday set up after the War to End All Wars" and then add a hat tip to Heather Cox Richardson for her Nov. 11 edition of Letters from an American, in which she included the link.

As best I can tell, 148 people liked my second tweet, and 32 people retweeted it. (Just 4 likes and 3 RTs on the first of the pair, go figure.) That's a lot of traction for my humble, 11-year old account, with 693 followers (down from over 700-some, as the fluorescent lights have come up and the place starts to clear out).

Sherrilyn Ifill posted her reflection, On Twitter's End, in her substack newsletter, extending it to a broader consideration of corporate responsibility, and the scope of fiduciary obligation. If nothing else, boards should be motivated to side for democracy over autocracy for their own self-preservation. Case in point:

Rob DenBlyker summarized the TweetGeist a week and a half ago, with a RT of Melon's pathetic whining about advertisers running for cover (blaming it on "activists groups," "trying to destroy free speech in America").

day 1: take over company

day 2: fire everyone whose job is to point out when ideas are bad

day 3-6: put out as many bad ideas as possible, like a bad idea machine gun

day 7: oh no where did the money go

Mediaite listed What Elon Musk is doing right at Twitter with a short answer: Nothing. Their post was (initially) flagged as "unsafe," a designation I can't remember seeing much. A click-through of the warning elaborated that it might be "malicious," or "spammy," or "violent or misleading."

Melon's likely plan is to employ the crack-populism binary, described here, earlier this month (with a more local example).

Veteran's Day, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In disservice to country Permalink to this item

Latest spam check, 67 messages (after fishing out a small handful of false positives), it's mostly all Warnock HQ v. Herschel Walker, all the time. Pity the poor people trying to help you with your Stubborn Fat, or sell you some Huusk Knives.

The metaphors run wild. Nikki Haley crys out "Don't abandon Herschel Walker on the 1-yard-line." JD Vance, "We can't let Herschel lose." Georgia Runoff Alert, as if we needed an alert, says "Hey Patriot, we need your help." The NRSC is also addressing me as "Patriot," to say "My [sic] race is going to a RUNOFF – and it WILL decide the future of our country." The body of the message mentions Walker's name at least, in a message signed "NRSC HQ." Also, they can't emphasize this enough, with highlighting, italics, underline, and bold-face. (So apt, that bold face.)

You have been one of our STRONGEST patriots from the very beginning, and our country desperately needs you to step up ONE MORE TIME to help us TAKE BACK THE MAJORITY AND WIN THIS RACE.

ALL gifts made are for ONE HOUR ONLY.

Shoot, that came in 16 hours ago, I missed my chance. "Team Herschel Inc." sends from the magatriumphs.com domain, to "Folks." Jes' Folks. Team Herschel Inc. also sends from freedomsagenda.com to "My friend," shouting "OVERTIME!!" and "It's going to be ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK for the next four weeks." (Why-are-those-dashes-there?) Also from magadonors.com. "We need to refuel RIGHT NOW," as in SEND MORE MONEY. I suppose the "RUSH $34" suggestion hearkens to his football jersey? And from toptrumpdefenders.com, to Patriot(s). They also send from magasupporters.com, magaviews.com, magagrassroots.com, goptriumph.com, thepatriotsalert.com, housegopmaga.com, conservativeagendawin.com, us.magaalert.com, us4veterans.com, magadonors.net, supporthousegop.com, magaredux.org, magacitizen.com, magatoon.com. Seems like they're spending all their money on domain names.

Anyway. Imagine the fate of the country (or at least the US Senate) hinging between a man with a rather horrific personal history of domestic violence—haven't we seen this film already?—and a smart, principled minister who has already shown his mettle for two years in the Senate.

But you don't have to imagine! This is where we are, in a weird 50-50 divide fueled by political gamesmanship that values power (and money!) over service, and any notion of common good.

Speaking of which (and spam), Richard Viguerie has a few words, under the headline 2022 ELECTION – A Disaster for Conservatives.

"There’s no denying the fact in the 2022 elections liberals outgunned conservatives. Democrats/liberals beat Republicans/conservatives like a drum. There is plenty of blame and finger-pointing for Tuesday’s colossal failure by the GOP to achieve a resounding victory under the ideal circumstances for a wave election. Let me address, however, some of the foundational problems (and solutions) that the pundits, consultants, and Party leaders won’t tell you...."

Did not take the jump to the big reveal, but do appreciate the delicate irony of liberals "outgunning" conservatives, while their messaging continues to promote domestic terrorism and stochastic violence.

Election Day, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

How I spent it Permalink to this item

Alarms set for 6:00, 6:10 ("just in case"). Jeanette said "if you get up to see the eclipse, don't wake me up."

2:00 am - too early

4:50 am - mostly too late. Stepped out the front door in my bare feet to see it climbing out of its dark suit with a bright cap. Oh well. Reminds me of watching one in a Palouse stubble field one night. It's always cold.

6:00 am - alarm

6:30 am - Chief Judge called, car trouble.

7:00 am - We find our way to the north end and CJ's place, in the dark, transfer all the precinct gear and head for the polling place. I figure we'll be 15 minutes late. The big, full moon in the west as daylight comes into the sky while we drive.

7:15 am - CityHope Church, 8650 W Fairview. There are two signs for Cleveland ("not Crapo") by the hard-to-identify turn between Z Auto Sales and 208 TITLE LOANS.

7:23 am - Helped unload, move gear into the main room. Offered to put out the "VOTE HERE" signs. By the front door, a carload of women want to know "Is the poll open?" No, it is not. Two of them voted early, they brought their friend to vote today. She might be first, and get to witness the empty ballot box. "8:00!" I reply, cheerily. "They'll start at 8:00." I hope.

Ballot drop photo

7:48 am - Back home, put the flag out, starting my own Election Day. I won't be going to our polling place; I dropped my absentee ballot in the box on Sept 27, surely the earliest I've ever been. I'm signed up to give rides to the polls, but not sure how many requests there might be. One yesterday, one of the other volunteers took the north end location. (We ended up with 2 or 3 total requests, none answered by me.) I'd raised my hand to work at the polls the same time as Jeanette did, the county did not call my name.

8:00 am - Polls open! I hope. (Precinct #1515 did indeed open on time.)

8:05 am - While puttering in the kitchen, I see a junco flit in and land on the pot holder stand on the patio, check for hazards, then set about gleaning through the frost-wrecked garden. There is enough to go around for a flock of juncos. Bring your friends!

8:27 am - Looked up CityHope on Facebook, spun up last Sunday's video, starts with a half hour of the praise band. "Let praise / Be a weapon / That conquers all anxiety," the lyric starts. "This is what living looks like, This is what freedom feels like... We praise you... This is what heaven sounds like." I can see the attraction of the experience, even though it's not my kind of thing.

9:01 am - It's trash day, and the trucks are rolling through the neighborhood, as usual. Election Day is not a holiday.

9:05 am - After the band and a charitable appeal (from a charity Franklin Graham is running), Pastor Ted Buck is up. He talks about how they are going to "totally shut down the school on Tuesday. Do you know what Tuesday is?" "I tell you what, Vote and Pray. I think those two things go hand in hand." "Tuesday is Voting Day, so we won't be in here on Tuesday." Completely nonpartisan encouragement.

10:09 am - Listened to Paul Brady's "The World Is What You Make It" 3x. Turned the sound way up, got out a drum and played along. Shared with a friend, after he'd emailed a hopeful NYT op-ed. Just go ahead and see if that doesn't make your day more filled with joy.

10:35 am - Time for the "first thing in the morning" shower.

11:00 am - Tidied up, I eat the penultimate golden apple from our front yard tree, cutting away the core and bad spot. It is sweet, not gone all the way to mushy yet. Just in time. I think about the start of its journey, a beautiful April flower. Praise bee.

11:07 am - Daily Kos headline caught my eye, 'You will be executed': Poll workers in the infamous Maricopa County face extremist harassment. Elections and Voting Information Center at Reed College and the Democracy Fund survey of 900 local election workers this summer found "close to 40% of election workers intend to quit their position before 2024. Many of those planning to leave said it came down to worries about their personal safety and health, so they’re looking to retire."

Democracy Fund senior adviser Tammy Patrick "described election workers as being “under-resourced” and “underappreciated,” and that on top of those factors, they’re also “under attack.” “The narrative of conspiracy is pervasive. Election officials are having to deal with it in many, many places.”

Maricopa County has "had to deal with more than 100 violent threats and intimidating communications leading up to midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022. Between July 11 and Aug. 22 online, for example, a minimum of 140 threats and “hostile communications” were recorded."

And still working through the debacle after the last election: Oath Keeper leader fumbles under cross examination. Stewart Rhodes tries to lie and bluff his way through testifying at trial. Something something fool for a client. Cowardly lyin', denying he was their leader or that the thought of sedition crossed his mind.

11:22 am - Beautiful, sunny day, Mr. Blue Sky is up there. Supposed to be rain and maybe snow tomorrow morning.

12:48 pm - Shifting from news, the Oath Keepers trial, the Atlantic's takes on the election, and... time for A Closer Look (and An Even Closer Look) with Seth Myers. "Trump and the GOP Plan to Subvert Democracy and Install One-Party Rule." Then John Oliver on Election Subversion, not quite as funny. "Quiet Earp" for the guy in Arizona was a moment of levity, before we heard him tell everyone exactly how he plans to steal an election. (The Nick Offerman finale, however, was exquisite. Man, he looks good.)

2:20 pm - Read Roger Parloff's long Twitter thread of day 22 of the OK trial, until my eyes glazed over. No calls, texts, VM, or ride requests. Thinking about a bike ride, but clouds have rolled in, and it's no longer cheery.

2:47 pm - Signing up for a Mastadon account, the process is slow. They're getting a big wave of Twitter emigrants.

3:17 pm - Reading about a guy with a knife in the library in West Bend, Wis., arson in Mississippi, the continuing fallout from the attack on Nancy Pelosi's home.

4:09 pm - Cloud and end-of-day gloom upon us, darkening my mood. Need to get outside before dark. Still no ride calls.

6:22 pm - Went outside, raked leaves, picked raspberries, went for a walk around the block, heated up some leftover soup for dinner, ate, cleaned the dishes and sinks, checked in to see my mastodon confirm came in at 6:02. One last ride request, "downtown," and one of the other volunteers scarfed it up.

Halfway around the block

6:56 pm - Try Mastodon again, and it works. I'm in. As @fortboise@mastodon.sdf.org.

7:01 pm - A friend put out a message for help with her cat while she gets her house fixed from water damage, and I offered. We're going to have a cat again! (Briefly.)

7:03 pm - Jeanette calls to say she'll be done 8:15 or 8:30. I/we won't have to be the driver for any of the essentials, so yay.

8:00 pm - Time to go pick up Jeanette. Light rain when I arrive with the doors being locked. I collect the VOTE HERE signs and bring them inside, then sit in the car while the team finishes the process.

8:30 pm - Done. Home. Checked the news to see that a "red wave" didn't flush away our democracy. Yet. Not gung ho for an after-party, though.

Day after photo

Update:
Jeanette's report from her first-time poll worker day included no poll watchers (nor challengers), no glitches, no challenges, no fraud. No trouble. One anecdote:

One young man came in to ask the question, "Do you have dead people voting?" (Present tense. IDK, do you see dead people?)

The poll workers assured him they did not, explained how the process works, got him registered, explained the "R" and the "D" designations (maybe beyond their remit?), gave him a ballot. Who knows what he did with the pen and his suffrage. Let him be inspired to actually prepare next time.

Afterwards, he fetched his roommate down to have him register and vote, too.

Update #2:
The rain changed to snow overnight, and Wednesday morning, I drove around my precinct and beyond to pick up a hundred yard signs that I'd help distribute. Wet snow. Not a great day for it, but done before noon. District 16 will send three Democrats to the next #idleg.

Standard Time, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Pay Toll Now Permalink to this item

Way back in the day, south of the border into the foreign state of Illinois, and beyond, there were strange contraptions blocking the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (a.k.a. "freeways," in the more—or was it less?—civilized realms). You had to slow down and stop, and Pay Toll every so often. Two lines widened out to four or more lanes, with green and red lights over open and closed pay stations. There were Exact Change lanes, and at least one for the hapless travelers who had not suffiently loaded up with quarters before their journey. The lanes all had driver-level stop and go lights with a pivoting gate to (try to) enforce STOP.

At the no-operator lanes, you'd drive up, throw a quarter in the hopper, wait, and when it was properly digested, the light would change and the gate would swing up, and off you'd go, to the next toll station. If you left the system between plazas, the exit ramps would collect a dime from you, for a partial.

From the Tollway website

The only amenity that seemed to compensate for the trouble and expense was the "Oasis," accessible only to the captive audience, with a gas station and restaurant, easy off and back on, no driving through some strange town. The prices weren't great, but oh, the convenience. And, you could sit (or stand, with your snotty nose up against the glass) Right Over The Expressway and watch the cars whiz under your feet. A real kid magnet.

We had another family amusement from the system. After too many gates had been run into, or malfunctioned in other ways and slowed collections, they reduced the lane control to just the stop/go lights, and a loud bell that would go off if you drove through the red without paying. If you had paid, but started a little early, the alarm would ring... and then turn off on its own when your quarter made it past the counting mechanism. If you put in a bad quarter (or missed the hopper), or omg Did Not Pay At All, the Highway Patrol would chase you down and give you a ticket expensive enough to deter such misbehavior. I assume. Don't remember things ever going that far for us.

With a long station wagon full of kids, the toll quarter would be passed to the way-back seat, and with the rear window open, one of the boys would aim and shoot as Dad rolled through the light, with the goal of getting the alarm to ring with a false positive, as we drove off, laughing at our accomplishment. Ideally, the thrower would be on target, and the alarm would turn off before we got chased down. There must've been some misses, Dad stopping the car, and someone having to get out and re-do. More risk = more thrill.

Five in the family Ford, 1957

Much of the country can still enjoy the Tollway experience; 84 pages of tolled sections of Interstate Highways tallied on Wikipedia, maybe not up to date. The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority isn't indexed by that name, but it has its own page. The price blew past 25¢ almost 40 years ago, and now, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, they're not collecting anyone's dirty coins or bills, but doing it all electronically.

The sort of happy suspension of cash payments in March, 2020, was made permanent in February, 2021. You still had to pay, one way or another. There were accommodations for low income. And a reduction of the fine for unpaid tolls, from $20 down to just $3. (If they managed to get after you for the fine, I suppose they'd also want you to pay the toll, too?) Avoid the fine by registering and paying up within 14 days.

Rental car inspection photo

Fast forward to late September, 2022, and our visit to Chicagoland for a family wedding. Flying into (and out of) O'Hare, the most convient auto routes are tollways, and I had no idea what was what since years ago. "Not that big a deal," my brother who lives there assured me. Budget Car Rental's website says take your pick of e-Toll Unlimited (for a flat daily fee of $10.99 to $25.99); e-Toll fees (Standard) ($5.95 "convenience" fee for each day you incur a toll); or Opting Out of e-Toll and deal with the Tollway yourself. The live Budget agent at O'Hare didn't give me the "(Standard)" option; just the $11/day "Unlimited" gouge pricing, or DIY. I chose the latter.

Budget's website also says "Anytime you drive through a toll booth without using an alternative form of payment (such as cash or card), you opt into the Budget e-Toll service." Huh. Without investing in a transponder (or deploying the one in our rental), DIY entails registering your car, its plates, and the start/stop date-time for a rental, and giving them a credit or debit card they can charge. "Pay by Plate" they call it, a.k.a. "video tolls." You can do it after the fact; you have 14 days after you incur a toll to pay, or to register to pay. In practice, it's the latter, since the Tollway takes its own sweet time to process the video and assess the toll. "Up to 30 days," they say. (Budget says "toll fees may take 4-8 weeks to be billed to you.")

Wisconsin historical marker

Long story's not getting short yet. Thursday, September 29, we toodled out of the Budget lot at O'Hare in a Nissan Kicks with a Florida license plate, and took the I-90W tollway on our way to St. Charles. Easy-breezy no stopping at any toll plazas anymore, and the crazy-wide multilane highway was not very busy, and fast. We weren't actually in a hurry, and after getting off at IL-59, the drive was more scenic, more interesting (and slower, and more crowded). Friday was full with a visit to the Morton Arboretum, the wedding, and the reception following. Saturday, we headed north to Wisconsin to visit family there, and used Google Maps' "Avoid Tolls" routing, which was even more scenic and interesting. After stair-stepping NE on local and state roads and then US-41, we joined I-94 where it's a FREEWAY. The toll route would have been 11 miles further, estimated 16% quicker, if we'd been in a hurry. Either way, my home state has a beautiful (ground level) rest stop near (the aptly named) Pleasant Prairie, with a generous, staffed tourist information desk.

After a lovely visit with family in Milwaukee, we headed back to O'Hare on Sunday, not necessarily in a hurry, but definitely on a schedule, and not wanting to deal with wrong turns or uncertainty. I-94 to I-294 to ORD is the ticket, the Tollway. (No stops at any toll plazas, but we did stop at the The Lake Forest Oasis Travel Plaza, 20 miles out, and the best place to gas up a rental return, if you need to.)

Once back home in Idaho, and with that drove-through-a-toll-plaza alarm kind of ringing in my mind, I set about e-dealing with the Illinois Tollway, to pay our tolls, and avoid fines the next day. There was a NOTICE: THIRD PARTY PAYMENT PROCESSING message about "a national outage affecting our third party payment processor." "Please retry later today." I did, to no avail, but by Tuesday afternoon, I was able to get all the way to the end of the registration process, making up something for the middle name of my oldest child, and checkbox-lying that I'd read the TOU and PbP T&C. I sent an inquiry about how I was to pay my tolls timely, when they couldn't tell me what they were. That was answered Wednesday, to say "this process could take up to 30 days," but if they had a good credit card on file for me, no worries.

At the Wis. Rest Stop

A week after sailing through the last toll plaza, the first "activity" showed up on my account. A $2.80 toll from Plaza-21-Waukegan-Lane 63, just past the Wisconsin border, 5:03:24 PM on October 2d. A week after that, Oct. 16, they charged my credit card for it. About then, I dialed up the 3rd party TollGuru Illinois Toll Calculator to try to figure out how much I should have been charged. If I'd had my own I-Pass, $1.20 on Thursday and $2.15 on Sunday. Pay by Plate / Video is twice that, $6.70 "all tolled." (GetIPass has their own toll calculator, I saw later.)

Another week went by. Oct. 25, I noticed on my credit card charges, "Etoll Bgt" had tapped me for $8.35. I called the 800 number on the line item a couple days later (to hit their 9-5pm ET hours), and the pleasant Etoll Budget lady who answered told me where, when, and how much for my two Thursday plazas (I-90 WB: I-190 at O'Hare, and I-90 WB: Illinois 59 / Plaza 16A). Plus the $5.95 convenience fee. How and why Budget and/or Etoll were able to hijack my passing for their "convenience" was left unexplained.

That was three out of the four tolls incurred, and I wondered whether I'd get charged by GetIPass, or Etoll (with another 5.95 worth of "convenience"), or get away for free. 30 days elapsed without further action. Today, Nov. 6, T+35 days, the final shoe dropped, email notice that GetIPass tagged me for the last $1.50 yesterday. $12.65 altogether, should've been $6.70, but oh well. Better than the $44 "unlimited" (super convenient) deal that Budget tried to sell me.

4.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Corporate clown show Permalink to this item

Twitter whacked image

Doofus billionaire, unhappy with his no-diligence deal, takes it out on the work force. Naturally. "About half of Twitter’s workers appeared set to lose their jobs," the New York Times report says, after seeing one of the email notices that went out yesterday. "Decimate" doesn't work, then; something more like vivisectioning. Or King Solomon really cutting the baby in half.

"Workers were instructed to go home and not go to the offices on Friday as the cuts proceeded. The message, which came from a generic address and was signed “Twitter,” did not detail the total number of layoffs.

“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global work force,” the email said. “We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

For those who didn't happen to check their email in time, they might learn they're on the list by having their company access cut off. That comes after the top executives were axed, and "managers were asked to draw up lists of high- and low-performing employees" and Melon Usk "brought in more than 50 engineers and employees from his other companies" to, you know, just do it themselves or something.

With only 7,500 or so employees to start, an enterprise that "often lost money" with "not robust" cash flow, he's not going to set any records. This, for example is closer to home:

"The computer manufacturer HP cut 24,600 of its employees, about 7.5 percent, in 2008. It later cut tens of thousands more, reaching about 30 percent of its work force. ...

"Jesse Lehrich, a founder of Accountable Tech, an industry advocacy organization, said [Twitter's] layoffs amounted to an arbitrary purge just days before the midterm elections on Tuesday.

“There is nothing visionary or innovative about summarily firing” workers by email, he said, especially people who have “specialized expertise and deep institutional knowledge” and before Mr. Musk “even seems to have a basic grasp of the business.”

And of course Boy Blunder might not have crossed half the Ts or dotted any Is in the process. Their are laws about giving advance notice, and a class-action lawsuit was filed yesterday in a federal court in San Fran.

Also,
Cartoon: A brief history of Twitter, Jen Sorenson; and
Elon Musk feuds with AOC over eight bucks, and despite home-field advantage, he loses big. Inimitable coverage from Aldous J Pennyfarthing

And one more tweet-like substance
which, I'm not going to embed as a tweet (any more), which was a great feature, but now at risk of dissolution without a moment's notice. Can't see (don't care) Melon's this is in reply to, because I blocked him (but maybe it was this?)

@KeithOlbermann replying to @elonmusk:
"Listen to something other than the voices in your head.

"People are bailing out - users across the political spectrum are reporting shrinking follower counts - marketing groups that don't listen to anything but $ are gone. And you posted a conspiracy theory."

And ok, this last thing:
The ten + PS Twitter thread (get it before it's gone!) with Prof Paul Bernal's tuppence about what Twitter is (the community), where its value lies (that community), and what the RWNJs want (a venue where they can shout at libs).

3.Nov.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Social media get complicated Permalink to this item

While dipping back into Counter Social (which I tried a good while ago, and then forgot about), after getting in on a Discord (which seems like a too-noisy dance party so far), and then diverting to a Substack to try to find somebody's Counter Social handle to bootstrap my nil feed there, I discovered that I have a Substack profile, somehow, with four free subscriptions' worth of Reads but no Writes. I mean, sure, the blog's been getting a little spotty lately, but "You haven't written any posts yet" seems a bit harsh. On substack, they mean, and the prompt says I should "Create a publication to get started."

Give Melon Usk credit for one thing anyway, he's made a lot of people go back to "getting started" and a beginner mind in what was looking like an unshakeable duopoly. Not counting the dark cloud fringe, that is. (Speaking of beginner mind and bootstrapping, Mike Masnick's helpful "Hey Elon" letter, Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve is a fun read.)

Before I looked for Substack's "create a publication" way forward, the orange Start Writing button pulled my focus. That clicks through to "Create your account" which is unexpected. I've got a profile already, but not an account, ok. What are the barriers to entry? The click-sign of a publisher agreement maybe I should read first. It's an artfully terse URL, I like that, and the effective date is almost a year ago, so somewhat stable? A binding contract between "we" & "us" & "our" (who I will refer to herein as "they" and "theirs"), and "you" & "your" (a.k.a. "me").

They'll be calling my publication a "newsletter," it seems. And the contract is the "PA" plus four more linked documents: the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Content Guidelines, and Copyright Dispute Policy. "[A]nd all other rules and procedures that may be published from time to time by us on Substack." The pig in the poke had a litter! That's as compared to the two-sentence deal on the clean and sparse Create your account page:

"Sign up now, and publishing is free forever. Once you start charging for subscriptions, we take 10% in addition to credit card transaction fees."

Still, that agreement. Ownership, first of all: "you own what you create," which seems like it might go without saying, but is well-said. A limited license for them to push your creation out into the world, natch. Said license including "a worldwide, nonexclusive, sublicensable, royalty-free, fully paid-up, transferable right (a) to market your newsletters and to permit others to use, access, and download your newsletters through Substack, and (b) to use your tradename(s), trademark(s), and logo(s) in connection with the distribution and marketing of newsletters."

My content can be "free" or requiring a subscription fee, determined at my discretion, but with revenue sharing to them. It goes on, past the point where I started skimming. Then the other 4 documents, and it's clear "not today" for this particular rabbit hole.

Back to Counter Social, I thought I had at least one Friend there, but maybe not. "Counter.Social Status" is the only thing showing under "My friends," and I have no notifications. That (otherwise) blank column suggests I "try 'pinning' the Community firehose as a new column" in order to meet new people. Yes, gather 'round the firehose sounds like fun? Not actually pining for another firehose, I haven't even checked my email this morning. The "Search" doesn't find anything for likely terms. Sigh.

With True and Accurate History® Permalink to this item

Yard signs for Colin Nash, Tom Arkoosh (for AG)

The race for one of our two district House seats, 16B, was featured in yesterday's Idaho Press, with a déjà vu headline: Colin Nash faces Jackie Davidson again. The first-term incumbent, Colin Nash, has a record which he's happy to talk about. The re-challenger "did not return multiple requests for an interview," which is now par for the extreme right in Idaho, and around the country. The Press did its best to piece together what they could from her website, a catch-all of keywords. 6x "Freedom" or "Free" in the 3 paragraph intro. 3x "Liberty." 2x "Rights." Any questions?

Last go-round, was in the heat of the pandemic, and Facebook users benefited from removal of some of Davidson's "inaccurate information" and conspiracy theories. "She has continued to post information that has been flagged, however," Carolyn Komatsoulis reports.

"On her list of issues, she included the right of free speech as well as removing books from libraries, which is an issue many see as going against the First Amendment."

Sounds a little crazy, but they're separated under different headings, at least, so maybe her supporters won't notice. Or like it that way. The 1A statement is one of three bullet points for "PROTECTING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS," and three sections later, "EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY" comprises:

Just before the "OPTIMIZING" of natural resources and agriculture, promoting mining "cobalt and rare earth resources," easy-breezy "eliminate federal mismanagement of Idaho lands," and the heaviest lift of all, the counter-capitalism "support [for] family farms and industries instead of large corporations."

Anyhow, our homey, largely suburban district in the middle of the Treasure Valley's conurbation has been a staunch part of the blue island in the sea of red around us for quite a few years, and it might take more than 3x the spending for Davidson to convince us to go Freedom & Liberty for her. Between the Republican super-majority in the state, the extreme right going dark against the media, and almost no one answering the phone for pollsters, it's a bit of a mystery what will happen next.

The one certainty is that the rise of crack-populism and flag-wrapped authoritarianism has two (usually) unwritten bedrocks:

  1. YOU CANNOT TELL US WHAT TO DO, and
  2. WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN DO.

Capiche?

2022.11.01 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Career criminal Permalink to this item

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has intervened to "temporarily," at least, block a House committee from obtaining the former guy's tax returns. You remember, the ones he said (at first) that of course he'd be releasing, to prove how wildly successful he was, or something. Then he obviously did not, because they are a window into the corruption of his reticulating business network, designed to stymie creditors, regulators, and legal process.

Boise foothills trail marker

When people who support corrupt psychopaths spin out imagined "deep state" conspiracy theories, I think about how the IRS has managed to (mostly) keep Trump's secrets for so long, and can only shake my head. Two pithy comments on Twitter: @excitingdenise: "At some point you have to ask yourself: What is he hiding?" And, @donniekeshawarGz: "More frightening is why is the Supreme Court helping him hide it?"

If this seems like old, old news, yup. Starting at least from the 2019 lawsuit filed by House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) to obtain a court order. And an Acting Assistant AG for the Office of Legal Counsel concluding in July, 2021 that "the [Treasury] Secretary must comply with the Ways and Means Committee’s June 16, 2021 request pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1) to furnish the Committee with the specified tax returns and related tax information." From 15 months ago, to now, somehow poised to come to a head "as early as Thursday" before Roberts moved in to push it past yet another election. A federal appeals court declined to block the release last week. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled almost 3 months ago that the House Ways and Means Committee could obtain the tax returns from the IRS.

The Washington Post reports that "Trump’s lawyer Cameron Norris told the court that if it did not put at least a temporary hold on the documents’ release, it would have no time to even consider Trump’s argument." What's the big hurry, anyway?

“The Committee has no pressing need for Applicants’ information so it can study generic legislation about funding and regulating future IRS audits of future Presidents,” Norris wrote, saying that the records would almost surely be released to the public and cause Trump “irreparable harm.”

First of all, we note that the committee has been effectively stonewalled for most of two years, with the effect (and certainly the intention) of running out the clock on the 117th Congress. Secondly, that question @excitingdenise asked: What is he hiding in his tax returns that could cause "irreparable harm" if they were know to the general public? The way the returns of all previous presidents going back decades have been, voluntarily.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007