18 February 2017

No Blogging Tonight

The kids were in a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and I was taping it.


17 February 2017

Can We Please Impeach Him?

No, I am not talking about the Donald, rather I am talking about the mass of conflicts and poor jurisprudence that is Clarence Thomas:
Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is organizing in support of President Donald Trump’s agenda. And it might make her husband’s life a little complicated.

In an email sent to a conservative listserv on Feb. 13 and obtained by The Daily Beast, Ginni Thomas asked an interesting question: How could she organize activists to push for Trump’s policies?

“What is the best way to, with minimal costs, set up a daily text capacity for a ground up-grassroots army for pro-Trump daily action items to push back against the left’s resistance efforts who are trying to make America ungovernable?” she wrote.

“I see the left has Daily Action @YourDailyAction and their Facebook likes are up to 61K,” she continued.

She then linked to a Washington Post story about the group.

“But there are some grassroots activists, who seem beyond the Republican party or the conservative movement, who wish to join the fray on social media for Trump and link shields and build momentum,” she wrote. “I met with a house load of them yesterday and we want a daily textable tool to start… Suggestions?”

………

Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown Law School and expert on legal ethics, told The Daily Beast that the email could be grounds for lawyers challenging Trump’s travel ban to ask Justice Thomas to recuse himself from the case—a move that could doom the executive order.

“You can imagine circumstances easily where such conduct on the part of the spouse of a Supreme Court justice would lead to a non-frivolous disqualification motion,” she said.


This is not the first time that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have ignored the most basic rules of judicial ethics. (That case involved him refusing to recuse himself from a case involving a man who Ginni's advocacy group, set up a Clarence Thomas museum, gifted him a $19K bible, allowed him free access to a business jet, etc.)

16 February 2017

Interesting Speculation


87 miles as the crow flies
Here is an interesting bit of speculation on why a Russian spy ship is hanging out in international waters off of Long Island Sound:
I love maps. They often reveal things quickly and simply in a way text cannot. Like this map I’ve pulled together showing two points recently in the news.

To the right, Groton, Connecticut, where the U.S. has a naval facility

To the left, Glen Cove, New York — the location of a waterfront compound, Killenworth Mansion, owned for decades by Russia. The site was used for electronic spying according to the Reagan administration. A second compound, Norwich House, located five miles away in Upper Brookville, was vacated in December after former president Obama issued new sanctions on Russia in response to alleged interference in U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Multiple news reports yesterday noted a Russian spy ship “loitering” approximately 30 miles south of Groton, near Long Island’s shoreline, in international waters.

But none of them mentioned the ship was approximately 60-80 miles from the site of the Russian government compounds.

………

It’s almost if the Russians left something behind on Long Island and were looking for it.

Or listening for it.
As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating."

Linkage


God Bless the Onion

15 February 2017

It Appears that Google is No Longer the Job Mecca it Once Was

It used to be that people would crawl over broken glass to get a job at Google.

Now, employees at Google's Waymo division bailed as soon as they got f%$#-you money:
Google has spent a lot of money on its self-driving car project, now spun off into a new entity called Waymo. Much of that money has gone to engineers and other staff, according to a new report from Bloomberg. In order to keep self-driving staffers happy — and, presumably, from leaving the company for other firms doing similar work — Google backed the proverbial Brinks truck up to the self-driving department and unloaded.

Bloomberg says that early staffers “had an unusual compensation system” that multiplied staffers' salaries and bonuses based on the performance of the self-driving project. The payments accumulated as milestones were reached, even though Waymo remains years away from generating revenue. One staffer eventually “had a multiplier of 16 applied to bonuses and equity amassed over four years.” The huge amounts of compensation worked — for a while. But eventually, it gave many staffers such financial security that they were willing to leave the cuddly confines of Google.

Two staffers that Bloomberg spoke to called it “F-you money,” and the accumulated cash allowed them to depart Google for other firms, including Chris Urmson who co-founded a startup with ex-Tesla employee Sterling Anderson, and others who founded a self-driving truck company called Otto which was purchased by Uber last year, and another who founded Argo AI which received a $1 billion investment from Ford last week.
These were people who were eager to leave, and as soon as they were secure, they left.

This does not say positive things about the workplace.

Yet Another Reason that I Hate Apple

As an engineer, I find their elevation of form over function, which goes all the way back to not having a cooling fan on the original Mac, but their recent jihad against the right of people to have their equipment repaired just reinforces this:
Apple representatives plan to tell Nebraska lawmakers that repairing your phone is dangerous.

Apple is planning to fight proposed electronics "Right to Repair" legislation being considered by the Nebraska state legislature, according to a source within the legislature who is familiar with the bill's path through the statehouse.

The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.

Nebraska is one of eight states that are considering right to repair bills; last month, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Wyoming introduced legislation. Last week, lawmakers in Illinois and Tennessee officially introduced similar bills.

According to the source, an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify against the bill at a hearing in Lincoln on March 9. AT&T will also argue against the bill, the source said. The source told me that at least one of the companies plans to say that consumers who repair their own phones could cause lithium batteries to catch fire. Motherboard is protecting the identity of the source because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

………

The bills nationwide are being pushed by Repair.org, a trade organization made up of independent repair shops who say that their companies have been harmed by an attempt by manufacturers to gain a monopoly over the repair business. Even without readily available repair parts or service manuals, a healthy DIY repair hobby has thrived thanks to online crowdsourced instruction manuals on sites like iFixit and grey market parts that are available directly from factories in China or can be salvaged from recycled devices.
This is not a surprise for a company whose response to a stupid antenna design was to tell consumers that they were holding the phone wrong.

This sh%$ is evil.

It is Called Selling Out

A number of the more prominent civil rights organizations in the United States have been bought off by the Telcos, and are opposing net neutrality:
Leading civil rights groups who for many years have been heavily bankrolled by the telecom industry are signaling their support for Donald Trump’s promised rollback of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which prevent internet service providers from prioritizing some content providers over others.

The Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission established net neutrality by reclassifying high-speed internet as a regulated phone-like telecommunications service, as opposed to a mostly unregulated information service. The re-classification was cheered by advocates for a free and open internet.

But now Trump’s new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, is pushing to repeal the net neutrality reform by rolling back that re-classification — and he’s getting help not only from a legion of telecom lobbyists, but from civil rights groups.

In a little-noticed joint letter released last week, the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, OCA (formerly known as the Organization for Chinese Americans), the National Urban League, and other civil rights organizations sharply criticized the “jurisdictional and classification problems that plagued the last FCC” — a reference to the legal mechanism used by the Obama administration to accomplish net neutrality.

………

None of the civil rights groups that signed the joint letter responded to a request for comment.

It’s not the first time civil rights group have engaged in lobbying debates seemingly unrelated to their core missions, but in favor of their corporate donors. At a time when OCA received major funding from Southwest Airlines, the group filed a regulatory letter on behalf of the airline in support of Southwest’s bid to open flights at Houston airport. The NAACP, after receiving financial backing from Wal-Mart, helped the retail chain during its contentious bid to open stores in New York City.

………

The civil rights group opposed to net neutrality have employed several arguments against the proposal. In one filing made in 2010, the NAACP signed onto an argument from MMTC that net neutrality reforms were a waste of resources because the FCC should focus on “more pressing racial discrimination and exclusionary hiring and promotion practices of certain Silicon Valley high-tech companies.” In a separate filing in 2014, MMTC and the NAACP argued that reclassification would threaten the “fragile state of minority engagement in the digital ecosystem.”

While advocating against net neutrality, the organizations on the joint letter have raked in money from the telecom industry.
If any of these organizations make a fundraising pitch to you, you should find another recipient.

It appears that these groups have already gotten well remunerated for their services to corporate America.